Recently Jen and Brandon Hatmaker went public with their stance on homosexual marriage (Source). While they received some support there was also a severe backlash from the Christian community. Jen’s Bible Study books were pulled from Lifeway, and they’ve received some pretty harsh criticism.
This narrative seems to play out every time a Christian leader says something theologically off (or grey) or falls into sin (even something minor).
I’m not writing this to debate if what Jen said was right or wrong, or defend the actions/words of others. There’s plenty of articles already written on that already. Honestly I think there is too much discussion on this topic and not enough prayer and personal study on it. If you are spending more time discussing homosexuality (for or against) then you are praying, studying Scripture, AND seeking how you can honor God and love others with your stance than something is out of whack in your priorities. Too many Christians have decided where they stand not off their own study and seeking of God but rather off opinions. That needs to change. It won’t change because of some article; it will change when we each get alone with God and seek Him.
The real reason I’m writing this is because it bothers me to see Christians fighting other Christians. Our fight is not against flesh and blood. In other words, we aren’t supposed to fight ANY human. No human is the enemy. Every. Single Person. EVER. Is loved by God. Unconditionally. People are not the enemy. Make no mistake, there is a battle going on that has eternal consequences. But our enemy is not people. We have too much friendly fire going on. And when a Christian leader stumbles, falls, or says something theological off we need not throw them under the bus.
Here’s a few things I think are important to remember in situations like this.
There Stance Doesn’t Negate Everything They’ve Said
Listen, I’m not saying we should blindly follow people that are theologically off. However let’s offer some grace. Every single one of us is wrong on something that we think we are right in. When you read an article, listen to a sermon, or buy a book we should always run what others say through the lens of Scripture. They aren’t God, and they will get things wrong. But just because someone may be wrong on one issue doesn’t mean we have to throw everything they’ve done in the trash.
I suspect that I have something in my theology that is wrong. I probably won’t know what that is on this side of heaven. That is probably true for you too. Let’s be wise, study what God says, and when we hear someone say something off let’s toss that idea out, not the person and everything else they’ve said.
They Are Not The Enemy
People are not the enemy. Whether they knowingly taught something wrong or out of ignorance they are not the evil we are fighting. Often Christians get focused on fighting people rather than fighting the real enemy. Look no farther than this past election. I cannot count how many Christians I saw make accusations and pronounce their fight against the opposing candidate. Our fight isn’t against any person.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:10-12
We need to recognize who the real enemy is. We love people, we pray for people, we offer grace freely, and tell truth in love.
Stop Bashing Them
Jen Hatmaker and Perry Noble are two people in the Christian circle that have said or done something this year that caused backlash. What I find sad is if you hop on Twitter or Facebook people are tearing them apart. Listen, that is NOT what we are supposed to do to our Christian brothers and sisters. There is a difference in lovingly correcting someone (which we are called to do) and condemning and bashing someone.
The next time a Christian leader falls from grace, before you say anything about them spend time praying for them.
Does this mean we should say anything when someone says something that stands opposed to what God’s word says? No, absolutely not. But we need to say it in love and humility. With concern for the person and not condemnation. We need to speak the truth and point out wrong teaching, we need to warn others, but I believe there is a way to do that without bashing the person.
Too often we stand for truth and ignore the damage it’s doing. If your truth is hurting and bashing someone else you need to add in some grace. Let’s remember who our real enemy is and stop fighting other Christians. Instead let’s support each other and push each other closer to Jesus.