The following is copied from a post on my Facebook wall. You can read the post in its original setting here. I wanted to post it here as well for those of you who follow me in this space. You can find the original post by Jen Hatmaker here.
On Monday I retweeted a post by Jen Hatmaker in which she responded to the firestorm of criticism, anger and insults that had come her way in reaction to an interview she gave to Jonathan Merritt. The only commentary I added to that retweet was “Yes yes yes” (you can see the post and my comment below). I’ve received some interesting feedback from people (both directly and indirectly, kind-hearted and vitriolic). A few people who initially had some concerns did an amazing thing — they chose to contact me to talk about it. That’s a sad rarity in our world today, but I cannot express the respect and love I have for people who show that type of kindness and consideration. But I thought it would be good to post an explanation and respond to others who might be wondering. So here are a few thoughts and background to what I meant by that simple “yes yes yes”:
1. The outrage and hate (and I do not use that word lightly here) directed at Jen since that interview has been shameful. We Christians have an amazing ability to eat our own at nearly every turn. I completely understand if you disagree with the Hatmakers’ conclusions. You can say they are wrong and state specific reasons why. But there was no love in much of the response to Jen. And as Christians, if we are not acting out of love, then we are working against the very core of our nature.
2. Jen’s response to the bitterness was loving, patient and full of grace. This is how our dialogue should look. We can disagree and even kindly argue over scripture and how best to follow Jesus, but we must be kind to one another. There is way too much rhetoric and an overload of harsh words to be found out there. There is absolutely no reason why we cannot be kind and loving to one another even when we disagree.
3. An image Jen used in her response was open hands. She said she was not looking for applause or to start a war. She was open. Too many times we retreat to our talking points or lob rhetorical grenades over walls we have built between one another. And then we wonder why our church or our nation or our world is so divided. Perhaps if we approached one another with open hands instead of pointed fingers we could actually talk about important issues rather than fighting with one another.
4. Often our response when someone expresses an opinion that is different from our own is to immediately call their motives into question. “She’s just doing this to be relevant or cool to the world.” “She cares more about people’s opinion than Scripture.” That’s a defense mechanism. If you have made this assumption, I ask that you go read Brandon Hatmaker’s explanation of how they came to their decision. Even if we don’t agree with their conclusion, we can respect the process they have gone through to come to their decision. It is motivated by love of people and of God’s Word. We should stop assuming that simply because people disagree with us that they have selfish or fiendish intentions. We live in a complicated world and we have to be serious about studying the Scriptures and discussing how best to follow the ways of Jesus in it. We cannot do this together when we assume the worst in one another.
5. How we talk matters. The words we use matter. One point Jen made in her post was that the LGBTQ community is listening and watching how Christians respond. If everyone is loved by God, if everyone is created in his image, then everyone deserves to be treated with the love and respect these realities deserve. So even when we disagree, may we all speak in ways that are always honoring. You can tell someone they are wrong, you can call sin “sin”, you can disagree and still show love & respect to another who bears the image of God. Christians have too often failed in this area and we need to do better.
I have lots more thoughts on these things, but I will leave that for another time. And if you still have concerns or questions, I would love to talk to you. But we will talk in love, honor & respect. Because that’s how Jesus would do it.
Grace & peace.