Greetings, friends and followers of all things Jen Hatmaker.
I write to those of you who find yourselves disturbed by Jen’s recent, very public response to LGBT issues, specifically where she declared gay marriage “holy.”
My oldest daughter is Jen’s age. In fact, my daughter first introduced me to Jen’s writing, through which I gained respect for this writer’s humor, personality and slightly off-kilter take on Christians.
Jen has opened some windows and the church today needs the fresh air.
I write because Jen Hatmaker declares herself a Christ-follower. Like the rest of believers, flawed head-to-toe, she needs God’s grace every single day. And so do I. I will not condemn her, or gay people. Period.
But that does not mean I can agree with her theology.
Legal is one thing. Holy is something else.
My Big Time Trip to Buda to meet Jen
It just so happened that I was chosen as one of 500 people (among 5000 who applied) to be part of a launch team for her most recent book, For the Love.
Jen has a following. A platform. A tribe.
A bunch of people love her, including me. A bunch of people relate to what she writes.
After the book was published, to celebrate the success of that venture, Jen invited the launch team––all 500 of us––to a party at her house in Buda, TX. Yes, the house shown on HGTV, My Big Family Renovation project.
Meeting Jen face-to-face, being there with her raucous friends and family (including Mom and Dad), I can tell you Jen is a huggable, laugh-and-cry-at-the-same-time, fun-loving human being. Not a bit pretentious.
She’s tall. Hair piled on top of her head in a messy bun to deal with Austin heat, to her own party Jen wore a checked shirt and shorts with cowboy boots.
Creating a style, Jen projects the image of friend.
Approachable. Non-threatening. Trustworthy.
The next day, I heard her preach at her church. Jen is as intense as a gathering storm when she opens her Bible.
Which is why the latest public declarations are troubling.
When I read for myself Jen’s interview, to me my daughter’s first comment revealed discernment.
“She doesn’t get to decide that,” my daughter said.
Meaning, Jen Hatmaker does not get to decide that gay marriage is holy.
Popularity and platform do not give any person the right to make authoritative declarations that contradict biblical teaching.
What’s That Mean?
Sanction means “authoritative permission or approval for an action.”
Authority means “the power or right to give orders or make decisions.”
Sanctify means “the quality of being holy.”
Jesus, to whom God granted authority, said in his prayer for believers––then and now––“Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17)
So this LGBT issue, as well as other current issues like divorce and remarriage, and pornography and abuse, lying, stealing and all manner of deviancy the Bible describes as wickedness can only be measured against the straight, unchanging standards of God’s Word, not man’s variations on a theme of suppressing the truth.
D.L. Moody said, “The best way to tell if a stick is crooked is not to argue about it or spend time denouncing it, but to lay a straight stick alongside it.”
The Bible is the one and only straight stick for measuring human morality.
Which is why the Jen Hatmaker debacle led me to recall some years ago when a similar controversy struck the Christian community, sending shock waves throughout.
A well-known evangelical changed his position on something. Does it really matter what?
What matters is that at the time, I was a BSF Teaching Leader. In response to that esteemed person’s declaration, Teaching Leaders were instructed to avoid quoting and citing individuals who were still alive.
Apparently, the only safe source is a dead source. They don’t change their mind.
What’s love got to do with it?
I write to you because I am one of 418 people who still participate in the private Facebook group that began before Jen’s book was released. Each of us first read a preview copy and submitted endorsements. Our names are printed in the back of For the Love.
Right after the interview news broke, the real Jen Hatmaker (she uses a nickname) posted to this FB group she trusts before unplugging from the Internet to avoid the media storm. In Texas, we hide when the tornado siren sounds.
“It is not helpful to join the fray,” Jen said. She is right.
Then Jen said something that illustrates what happens when people venture from private opinion territory to public discourse.
“People are not built to handle this much attention, positive or negative” she said. “It isn’t healthy or good for anyone. I am absorbing a large amount of hate, not just disagreement. My heart feels broken and I am tired.”
The backside of celebrity is like the dark side of the moon that faces away from the sun. Always there, whether we see it or not.
And remember what I said about Jen, she is a real human being. She has feelings. She is tender. Her heart is bruised by assault. Assault by other Christians hurts the worst.
In fairness, however, it is what Jen said next that represents the spirit of the age we live in.
“You obviously know me well enough to know that nothing said came easily, flippantly, or carelessly. It was born of work, study, prayer, years of conversations and exposure, and a hard-core inquiry. Your friend Jen is not a feelings-based scatterbrain that makes rash decisions with the gospel.”
Here, like many before her, Jen Hatmaker derails. Self-defense never helps either.
Sincerity, study, and “hard-core inquiry” does not grant anyone the authority to sanction what the Bible declares “unnatural.” (Romans 1)
She doesn’t get to decide.
I can’t tell you who said it, and maybe he’s not dead, but it’s still true. “Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn.”
Knowing this, let’s be gentle with one another. For the sake of love.