Being critical of popular writer and speaker Jen Hatmaker feels a bit like kicking puppies. If you are unfamiliar with Hatmaker, she is a blogging, self-depreciating, too-much-info sharing pastor’s wife and author of Seven and Interrupted. She manages to be funny and heartfelt all the while sharing her clear desire to see the Gospel impact the world around her. She also has a great collection of oversized earrings that I confess to greatly envy.
Since setting off on my journey to become a published writer, Jen Hatmaker has served as a model for what I would like to achieve; walking that razor-thin line of approachable yet substantive. She is authentic and real but without making excuses or compromising her convictions. Do you sense the giant “but” approaching? Here it comes…
BUT, having enjoyed and been inspired by her writing so much, I was that much more disappointed when I read Hatmaker’s recent blog post regarding World Vision and it’s since reversed decision to allow for the hiring of married gay employees.
It isn’t Hatmaker’s position on gay marriage that disappoints me since her position is unclear. (She has clarified her position in her latest post if you care to know.) What I find so disturbing is her dangerous mischaracterization of the nature of biblical truth and our ability to discern that truth, all in the name of peacemaking.
Hatmaker says “…the Christian community is not going to reach consensus on gay marriage.” I actually disagree with this view since the church has historically been in agreement on this issue for thousands of years. But putting that aside, supposing that we will never agree, in her opinion, mean that we should throw in the towel and just agree to disagree?
What if the early church fathers had taken this approach regarding the biblical canon or heresies that plagued the early church? Should they have simply thrown up their hands and agreed to disagree? Despite her claims that there was a significant lack of agreement among the early church regarding major aspects of the faith, we have hard won creeds and doctrines that have been passed down to us that say differently.
Speaking of the early church fathers, this brings me to my second beef with Hatmaker’s assertions that “we” will never agree. When it comes to the church—and I mean the church beyond 21st century evangelical protestant America—and its view of same-sex marriage, there is actually a larger consensus than she is willing to admit. When one takes into account the whole of the church, through history and across continents, the overwhelming majority comes down on the side of traditional marriage. I find it ironic that too often those who claim to speak for the open-minded crowd neglect the opinions and perspectives of literally billions of believers.
Hatmaker asserts that “Thousands of churches and millions of Christ-followers faithfully read the Scriptures and with thoughtful and academic work come to different conclusions on homosexuality (and countless others). Godly, respectable leaders have exegeted the Bible and there is absolutely not unanimity on its interpretation. There never has been.” This is simply not true. It isn’t true of homosexuality and it isn’t true of any of the major tenets of the Christian faith. If it were, we wouldn’t be a single religion but rather a collection of sects.
Has there been disagreement among certain traditions regarding issues such as baptism, predestination, and more culturally relevant issues such as slavery and the role of women? Absolutely. But there is also a rich history of common ground that as Christians we all enjoy and should fight, yes fight, to defend.
I absolutely agree with Jen Hatmaker that the world needs to see the Church work through these issues with love and respect. I just don’t want to see us sacrifice what is true in the name of let’s-all-just-get-alongitus. For then, if we allow the truth to slip away while we are too busy making nice with one another, what will we have to offer a lost and dying world? What Good News will there be left to tell?
We must wrestle with the truth and with one another not in order to prove we’re right or win points for our side. We must preserve it in order to give it to those who so desperately need it. The truth is there to be discovered and in the end it will set us all free.