Last week I noted Jen Hatmaker’s sad departure from the Christian faith. In an interview for RNS, she revealed that she believes sexual immorality to be compatible with following Christ. As you can imagine, the response to this announcement has been mixed. I am happy to see that many Christians have expressed dismay at Hatmaker’s stance and have said that where she is going they cannot follow.
Yesterday, Hatmaker posted some additional thoughts on Facebook. I had hoped and prayed that she might return to the fold, but that is not what she did. Instead, she admonished her detractors to remember that the LGBT community is watching this controversy. She writes:
All around you, the LGBTQ community is watching. They are listening. They are watching how we respond, how we talk about them, how we actually feel about them in our churches. They are your neighbors, your colleagues, they are in your churches already, some of them are in your homes, some of them are your children and you don’t know it. Most of them are quiet because they are scared. With good and obvious reason. But they are beautiful people loved by Jesus and no matter what, we should speak in a way befitting the way of grace, the same way that found and saved and redeemed and healed us too. Please don’t mistakenly take me to the mat in public or private and imagine it doesn’t carry weight with tender, beloved people who are bearing witness to all this.
I couldn’t agree more with this, and it is precisely why faithful Christians need to bear witness right now. The LGBT community is watching. And there are some within that community who have heard the gospel. They have been confronted with the message that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–including them.
They have also confronted the fact that while the grace of the Lord Jesus is free, it will cost them everything (Matt. 16:24; Gal. 2:20). To have Christ, they will have to renounce their sin–including sexual immorality–and trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
And now these dear souls–precious in the sight of God–are hearing from Jen that they don’t really need to turn from sexual immorality. Jen tells them that their sexual immorality is “holy” in God’s sight. I would simply encourage Jen to remember that they are indeed watching and listening to her. And she is leading them away from mercy, away from life, and away from everything that matters in this life and the next. Her public departure from the faith is not helping these dear people. It’s harming them.
I would also encourage Jen to remember that same-sex attracted people are not “those people” out there. I have same-sex attracted friends and loved ones who have not only been a part of my life but who are also faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. God has already brought them into my church, and it is my joy and privilege to encourage them to love and good deeds and for them to do the same for me (Heb. 3:13). They are very much a part of us already, and they are watching this conversation too. And instead of being cheered on to greater faithfulness, they are hearing a siren call back into slavery to sexual immorality (Gal. 5:1). They too face genuine harm by this public departure from the Christian faith.
Yes, let us remember who is watching this conversation. We want every sinner–gay or straight–to know that the grace of the gospel is available to them. Our arms are wide open to them. And we desperately want them to hear the gospel and to be saved. But we are heralds of a kindgom that is not of this world (John 18:36). And people come into it on the King’s terms, not on their own terms. This King demands our all. And it does great, everlasting harm to our LGBT friends to tell them otherwise. By all means, let us remember who is watching this conversation.