Before this week, I had never heard of Rosaria Butterfield. For that matter, before just a few weeks ago, I had never heard of Christian author, speaker, and reality TV personality Jen Hatmaker. Mrs. Hatmaker came to fame after a humorous blog-post about the end of the school year got her a segment on NBC's Today Show. After seeing her appearance on the Today Show, HGTV contacted Hatmaker about developing a reality TV show featuring her and her large (husband and five children) family.
Thinking it might give the network pause, Hatmaker, whose husband Brandon is a pastor and author, informed HGTV of her family's "religious lifestyle." Nevertheless, My Big Family Renovation first aired in August of 2014. With 8 episodes in the first season, the show was successful enough to warrant a subsequent series: Your Big Family Renovation.
Unless my mother is in charge of the TV remote, I never watch HGTV, thus, I had not encountered Mrs. Hatmaker until sometime in early October of this year. What brought her to my attention was, of course, the issue of homosexuality and same-sex "marriage." (Along with abortion, is there any issue on which our culture is more divided?)
In addition to her television show, Mrs. Hatmaker is the author of several books. With titles like, For The Love, and Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity, Hatmaker has written extensively about spiritual issues. She also speaks to "sold-out crowds of evangelical women." In spite of her evangelical aura, when interviewed last week by Jonathan Merritt of Religion News Service, and asked "Do you think an LGBT relationship can be holy?" Hatmaker, going into some detail, answered in the affirmative.
As a result of this, LifeWay Christian Stores--affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention--pulled all of Hatmaker's materials. In addition, Hatfield was rightly and widely criticized. Not surprised by Hatmaker's capitulation to the homosexual agenda, at Patheos, Chelsen Vicari wrote that she was more disappointed than shocked. Vicari also noted,
On reading her thoughts on the pro-life movement, I just rolled my eyes at the strawman she creates while saying, "There's something incredibly disingenuous about a Christian community that screams about abortion, but then refuses to support the very programs that are going to stabilize vulnerable, economically fragile families that decide to keep their kids." Right. It’s only religious lefties who believe this talking point and I’m probably not going to change their minds. Because if you actually get involved in the pro-life movement, which is young and vibrant, you see the same people marching beside you at the annual March for Life are the same people volunteering in non-profit pregnancy centers, opening their homes to foster children, or quietly offering financial support to the single moms in their churches.The best response to Mrs. Hatmaker came from Rosaria Butterfield at The Gospel Coalition. With a piece entitled, Love Your Neighbor Enough to Speak Truth, Butterfield writes,
If this were 1999—the year that I was converted and walked away from the woman and lesbian community I loved—instead of 2016, Jen Hatmaker’s words about the holiness of LGBT relationships would have flooded into my world like a balm of Gilead...Today, I hear Jen’s words—words meant to encourage, not discourage, to build up, not tear down, to defend the marginalized, not broker unearned power—and a thin trickle of sweat creeps down my back. If I were still in the thick of the battle over the indwelling sin of lesbian desire, Jen’s words would have put a millstone around my neck.
To be clear, I was not converted out of homosexuality. I was converted out of unbelief. I didn’t swap out a lifestyle. I died to a life I loved. Conversion to Christ made me face the question squarely: did my lesbianism reflect who I am (which is what I believed in 1999), or did my lesbianism distortwho I am through the fall of Adam? I learned through conversion that when something feels right and good and real and necessary—but stands against God’s Word—this reveals the particular way Adam’s sin marks my life. Our sin natures deceive us. Sin’s deception isn’t just “out there”; it’s also deep in the caverns of our hearts...
Calling God’s sexual ethic hate speech does Satan’s bidding. This is Orwellian nonsense or worse. I only know who I really am when the Bible becomes my lens for self-reflection, and when the blood of Christ so powerfully pumps my heart whole that I can deny myself, take up the cross, and follow him.
There is no good will between the cross and the unconverted person. The cross is ruthless. To take up your cross means that you are going to die. As A. W. Tozer has said, to carry a cross means you are walking away, and you are never coming back. The cross symbolizes what it means to die to self. We die so that we can be born again in and through Jesus, by repenting of our sin (even the unchosen ones) and putting our faith in Jesus, the author and finisher of our salvation.As I've said before, one of the greatest acts of love is to speak uncomfortable truths to those who don't want to hear them. As I've also pointed out before, we are at a momentous moral crossroad in our culture. The choice before us is somewhat like it was in the days of Nebuchadnezzar and his ninety-foot high “image of gold:” fall down and worship at the altar of the modern-day Baals, or defy those bent on immorality and face their consequences. Those with Christian, or similar, worldviews, will soon face, if they are not already facing, some stark choices. While the Hatmaker's have chosen poorly, on marriage and sexuality, Mrs. Butterfield shows us the way.
Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the brand new book The Miracle and Magnificence of America