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Dear Jen Hatmaker, Can We Please Stop Doing This?

After the United Methodist Church recently voted to keep promoting God’s moral standard of human sexuality as their own, rather than embracing the spirit of the age, author Jen Hatmaker (who originally rose to fame within the realm of Christian literature) was beside herself.  Taking to Facebook, she posted:

“A quick heartfelt note to my LGBTQ darlings, especially the dear young gaybies, beloved by Jesus:

You are so incredibly precious and wonderful and needed.  You are gorgeously created, every molecule.  We love you.  You are our friends and teachers, our co-creators and fellow members of the mysterious body of Christ.  Nobody decides if you ‘get to come to church’ or ‘get to serve the church’ or ‘get to lead the church.’ You ARE the church…

Lead on, precious ones. You are immensely loved by Jesus, perfectly created and capable of great holiness…Thank you for loving the church when she hasn’t loved you back.  You are a marvel, and I am so proud to be your sister.”

Was it a red herring?  Of course.  But it was worse than that.  Literally no one that I have heard speak out against open homosexuality being embraced amongst those in pastoral or leadership roles would suggest that the individual embracing homosexual sin is any less loved by Jesus or any less wanted and capable of holiness than the individual embracing any other sin. 

Every last one of us is incapable of holiness in and of ourselves.  Only when we confess, repent, and receive the Holy Spirit of God in our lives can He start bringing us towards holiness.  One who repents of homosexual sin is just as capable of that as one who repents of idolatry.

The argument has never been about that, so I’m disappointed to see Hatmaker (and others) continue pretending that it is.  It may lead to book sales, increased cultural attention, more likes on Facebook, more invites onto Ellen, but it damages the name and reputation of the church of Jesus needlessly.  Shouldn’t a Christian be most concerned with that?  Shouldn’t we be talking to one another about the real issue rather than talking about one another in front of our worldly fans?  Please note that I am not self-unaware.  I played this game too for years, albeit on the opposite side of Hatmaker.  It brought me attention, but I don’t think it did anything for the Kingdom of God.  That’s why I want to be done with it.

The issue has always been that there are biblical requirements for church leadership, and one of them is that the person must not be engaged in unrepentant, persistent, and intentional sin.  You can’t properly lead people to crucify their sins when you are embracing your own (the whole “plank in your own eye” thing).  Many churches fire ministers or remove elders who fall into sin, sexual or otherwise.  It would be hypocritical, unethical, unjustifiable, and most of all unbiblical for those churches to do that while simultaneously embracing a different group simply because they have the approval of Jen Hatmaker and pop culture.

Given that is the real debate, this extremely popular post of Hatmaker’s is a frustrating and unhelpful misdirection, and I’m unclear of her intent.  Is she attempting to slander people by attributing motives to them that they do not have?  Is this a political game to her?  If so, it’s grown tired and annoying.

Why not address the core, fundamental disagreement?  Why can’t professing Christians who disagree with how the church responds to homosexuality communicate with one another frankly and honestly?  The simple truth is that we disagree about the nature of homosexuality – whether it is sinful to engage or whether it can be exercised in a holy manner.

For someone like Hatmaker who believes the latter, it is completely logical to me why she would see the exclusion of gay preachers as bigoted and unnecessarily hurtful.  Even though I believe she trusts in her own understanding rather than leaning on God’s in this regard, I still can acknowledge that her intent is clearly to love people.

I just wish I could understand why she is so unwilling to grant that same charitable acknowledgement to those of us who cling to Scripture for our understanding of the nature of homosexual attraction.  And I wish I could understand how she thinks such lack of charity is beneficial to the Kingdom of God.  A proclamation that you champion love is undermined severely when you’re unwilling to extend it to fellow Christ followers, after all.

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