Reflections on the Jen Hatmaker Controversy: Why We Can't Agree to Disagree About Homosexuality
I first heard about Jen Hatmaker years ago when I was invited to be a part of a small group study of her book, “Interrupted”. As I began reading the book, I was struck by her uncanny ability to write like most of us think and talk. She has a disarming quality that makes her readers feel comfortable, as though they are a part of her life. Her Facebook posts read like a text from a best friend who “gets you” like no one else and shares your struggles and sense of humor. I have no doubt this is why, with a wildly successful book career and over half a million followers on facebook, she is so beloved.
This is why I was especially saddened to read about her recent statements regarding gay marriage. I'm not sad for the reasons one may expect. I have no beef with Jen Hatmaker. She's a big girl, and I respect her for being open about her beliefs, despite what it may cost her personally. Although I have never been a follower or fan of hers, it's clear she's been going in this direction for a few years now. This announcement is no surprise.
My concern is for the hundreds of thousands of people who are confused, isolated, and misled by her statements. To demonstrate that, take a quick glance at her Facebook page. One woman wrote, "Aching for HER response. Maybe she'll clear it up." Another asked a sincere question about how to know which parts of the Bible apply to us and which ones don't. Others are shouting "hate!" and "bigotry!" at anyone who would dare question her. It's a mess.
Recently on Facebook, Hatmaker wrote:
I made Jesus complicated for so long. So many rules and hierarchies. I somehow forgot
how he said, 'Here is my whole kingdom: Love God and love people. Also, come to me
for rest because I am gentle.' I got Jesus wrong for so long. He is every dream come
He IS every dream come true, but following Him is sometimes a hard and lonely road. Much like my first impression of Jen's book years ago, she seems to be leaving out some important things, like the other things Jesus said:
Jesus taught repentance. In fact, the first message He spoke when He began His ministry was, "Repent!"(5) It was His first demand. None of us get a free pass.
The heart of the gospel is this: Jesus came to save us from our sins and bring us into relationship with God. If we redefine sin, we redefine repentance. If we redefine sin and repentance, we redefine salvation. In other words, redefining sin redefines the gospel, which strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian.
I dearly love my friends who are gay. They, like me, have been made in the image of God, and we are all offered the free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It's because of my love for them that I cannot change the gospel for them. I cannot change it for myself either. Sometimes I wish I could, but I can't.
Would you want someone to change the gospel for you?
Sam Alberry is a Pastor in the UK who answers this last question with a no. Recently he wrote a book called, Is God Anti-Gay? I highly recommend his book. His heart for gay people and the gospel shines through every word. He has a unique perspective because he himself experiences same sex attraction, yet he has chosen to live a life faithful to Biblical teaching. People have told him that the gospel must be harder for him than it is for the rest of us, as if he has more to give up than other Christians. In response to that, he writes:
The fact is that the gospel demands everything of all of us. If someone thinks the
gospel has somehow slotted into their life quite easily, without causing any major
adjustments to their lifestyle or aspirations, it is likely that they have not really started
following Jesus at all.
That's a hard word for all of us. As my friend Teasi recently wrote on Facebook:
Jesus does not bend to our desires. He bends our desires to Him. That's the true
gospel. That's the good news.
We all have to let Jesus bend our desires to Him. We don't have the option to change what He taught about homosexuality.
In the first century, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to a young pastor named Timothy, who was facing a similar situation as we are today. His church was located in Ephesus, the center of pagan worship, and some leaders had begun to teach things that were different from what they had been taught by Jesus and the Apostles. Paul writes:
Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and
encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when they will not
tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for
themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. (6)
Paul also wrote:
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create
obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (7)
We all have a choice about whom we let speak into our lives. When a teacher has publicly denied essential teachings of Christianity, it's time to unfollow. No matter how smart they are. No matter how many good things they may have to say in other areas. No matter how funny they are. It's time. Love them. Pray for them. But don't follow them. We cannot agree to disagree when it comes to the core of what Christianity is.
Want great Christian women to follow on social media? Follow Nancy Pearcey, Rosaria Butterfield, Melissa Cain Travis, Mary Jo Sharp and Natasha Crain.
(1) Matthew 4:17
(2) Luke 5:32
(3) Luke 13:3,5
(4) Luke 9:23
(5) Matthew 4:1-17
(6) 2 Timothy 4:3
(7) Romans 16:17
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6/19/2017 10:33:56 am
Alisa, this is an excellent commentary, but I would challenge you to be a bit more precise with your language. You, and you're not alone, have fallen into the secular trap of referring to homosexual people as gay. These folks aren't gay, they're homosexual. Using the term gay to refer to homosexual people was started, as you know, decades ago by the homosexuals and their advocates to try to change the general publics perception of the homosexual lifestyle, and it worked. So today the terms gay marriage, gay lifestyle etc are used routinely by Christian people. This indicates to me that Christians have been corrupted by the secular language and, as a result, our witness to the sinfulness of homosexual practice has become severely compromised. Please consider eliminating the term gay in your future writings, speeches, and podcasts when discussing or referring to homosexuality. Have the courage to call this sinful behavior by its proper name, homosexual not gay.
9/27/2018 12:33:32 am
At first when I read Scott's post, I thought it was a bit picky but then I realized that for similar reasons, I don't like the term "affair" when someone commits adultery. Obviously homosexual and adultery are the Bible's words, and gay and affair are not. However upon further reflection, when Christians are talking about these sinful behaviors, I wonder if it really does matter that much, because the discussion is the sinfulness of them, not the nomenclature. Regardless of what the purpose is that the secular world had in changing the terms, faithful Christians will point out that responding to God's provision for their sin and separation from him is only and always repentance and faith. Just a thought, open to other ones...
3/2/2019 02:31:07 pm
Praise be to God that Jesus died for ALL sin, and not just some.
2/5/2020 02:00:08 am
I wholeheartedly agree about the use of the word ''gay''. I was very upset when the word was ''stolen'' to refer to homosexuals. It had had a lovely application to the disposition of people and suddenly it was not possible to continuing to use it. There is a parallel to this in the use of the word feotus instead of baby. We do not have a foetus, we have a baby.
10/1/2018 11:44:30 am
Gay is much shorter to write than homosexual and it means the same thing...same thing with words that describe minorities...I was once corrected by some well meaning white lady not to say black but African American...I told her the history of minority labeling...how "colored" became "negro" became "black" became "African American"...those that hate blacks will say the correct word forced on them by society with all same hate in their heart - I have heard it. The same with "retarded" becoming a bad word which was made a new word when "moron and imbecile" (legit words in their day) became fodder for bullies. It will not be long before the descendants of those idiots will turn the word mentally handicapped or impaired or whatever the "proper" catch word is today into a bully word that will have to be changed to something else to prevent stigma or hurt feelings. Jesus should have said "the bullies, idiots, lowlifes will always be among you."
2/7/2019 08:14:47 am
So technically the word homosexual was not written in the "inerrant" original text. So if our argument is to stay true to the original text, we had better pick up Aramaic, Greek, and Latin. This would help us get a better handle on the "original" vocabulary used.
2/19/2019 02:12:51 pm
Josh, I was thinking the same thing. Homosexual was coined in the late 19th century.
9/9/2019 07:56:08 pm
The word in the original text is sodomite. That is even more of the ugly reality, is it not?! Let's be real here, this is the issue that will cause persecution for the Christians who choose to stay true to the Word of God because the LGBTQ mafia (alphabet people) will not allow for dissent. I show love to all but the Gospel must never be watered down! Persecution is coming, be prayerful and SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE!
2/6/2020 01:15:58 pm
If I’m not mistaken the biblical term would be “sodomite.”
8/10/2020 08:50:42 am
Scott, with all due respect, the bible was not written in English but translated. Does homosexual translate to gay? yeah it does.
7/29/2017 03:42:20 pm
Some reasons, I personally believe homosexual marriage (not feelings) has issues is this:
2/20/2018 10:56:35 pm
I am reminded of how God chastised me , I used to shake my head in disgust at the lifestyle ,and many other lifestyles, and God spoke to my heart and said , bow your head and trust me to reach them ! Our prayers are powerful ,they are like a wrecking ball on a building, eventually after that building has been hit enough it all falls down!!! I used to idolize Elton John ,or Reginald Dwight, but now I find myself praying for God to grant him repentance , which God granted me !For if it were not for the grace of God there go I !!!! IF my people who are called by my name will HUMBLE themselves and pray, and turn from THEIR WICKED WAYS, then will I hear !!!!! Our nation needs healing , and healing comes only from God ,and his children crying out for it , the ball is in (our court , the Christians, the people who are called by that Great Name , the name of Jesus!!!!!!!!!
6/23/2018 01:13:45 pm
Hi Alisa... I'm so glad I found your blog because you say exactly what I've been teaching lately. The church is on a destructive pathway and it's refreshing to find an author who stands on the side of truth. I do a Monday night Walk in Truth LIVE broadcast on Facebook (on my Solid Truth Ministries page) and I was discussing the biblical stance of homosexuality and how TRUTH should always trump feelings, opinion, and loved ones. A girl contacted me and said that she was going through that with her son as he recently informed them that he's gay. She told me that she and her husband went to three different Christian counselors and they all told them that they need to accept it. She was thrilled to find someone who didn't say that. I had given them some biblical ways to respond. Alisa, this is so common in the church... the New Age philosophies and Progressive Christianity that once was seeping in and is now infiltrating the church. Thank you for your biblical stance. I look forward to reading more articles you write.
9/4/2018 01:05:12 pm
Great post that I just came across! Do you have any Christian women of color that you reccomend?
9/25/2018 10:48:03 am
To readers from all walks of life, whether you are followers of Jesus or not, and of course to the writer, Alisa:
9/25/2018 11:04:16 am
9/26/2018 12:18:34 pm
9/27/2018 08:51:34 am
Grace, thanks for your thoughtful comments here. Is there any issue/topic/doctrine that you would say we can't agree to disagree about as Christians?
3/4/2022 12:01:44 am
I cant get past "I believe that the Bible verses that address sexuality do not address sexual orientation, but rather lust, depravity, and excess." Perhaps one of the first relevant verses is Leviticus 18:22, and it indicates nothing about lust or excess. So I have to conclude that it regards sex between men as inherently depraved.
10/1/2018 12:01:46 pm
11/4/2018 09:26:35 pm
11/5/2018 04:00:03 pm
Hi Katherine :)
6/27/2020 03:07:09 pm
Grace you are awesome.
1/30/2019 09:07:25 am
I enjoy your blog and found very useful information from you post on the 10 facts outside the bible about Jesus. I have been in constant debate with the atheist community as they are trying to say that Jesus never existed. I have found strength in this post, This is not the subject of my question however. On the subject of homosexuality and the bible. The bible is very clear on this issue i.e. the Old Testament, Paul's wittings etc. One argument I am running into is there are voices that say Jesus never condemned homosexuality. I am having trouble finding a direct answer to this issue. Please, can you help me in this.
1/30/2019 09:10:54 am
Hi Glen, maybe this will help? https://www.str.org/articles/jesus-didn-t-say-anything-about-homosexuality#.XFG-Xi2ZPR1
2/6/2019 06:44:06 am
That was a good article. Thank you so much. I also refer to Luke 16:17 and to Matt 5:17-18. Jesus very much stayed within the law of Moses..
1/15/2020 02:53:22 am
5/23/2020 04:24:54 pm
Redefine sin, redefine the Gospel. Couldn't agree more. On a side note, and I'm getting a little tired of this, many people equate the gay marriage issue with interracial marriage. As I point out to people this is a false argument. A black man who marries a white woman does not attack what Hod has designed. It attacks cultural prejudice, but that's a good thing. Actually there is no such thing as interracial marriage. There is only one race, the human race! Many ethnicities but on race. The Bible never condemns people of different ethnic groups marrying, but homosexual marriage is wrong because homosexuality is sin, in both testaments. We must bow down to this idol even if the culture makes it hot for us.
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