I don’t want to be controversial for the sake of being controversial or disparage a fellow Christian. But Jen Hatmaker’s recent Facebook comments on the Orlando shooting at a gay bar by a Muslim extremist left me aghast and I could not stay silent on the matter.
A prominent Christian leader saying that her Christian brothers and sisters are somehow complicit in promoting something like this? I was at a loss.
In writing this, I am not opposing Jen Hatmaker personally – she is a wonderful Christian leader. However, I think it is important to bring clarity to the situation and process it truthfully and biblically in reference to what she said. I am simply calling out her unhelpful comments in painting her fellow Christians in such an undeservedly negative light. She joined in the assault by the liberal media in blaming Christians for inciting hate against the LGBT community to cause this atrocity, and to this, I must object.
You said, “Anti-LGBTQ sentiment has paved a long runway to hate crimes… We are complicit.” I’m sorry, but you are absolutely wrong on this. The facts do not measure up to your narrative that Christians promoted such a thing because of our “hate crimes.” Omar Mateen, the man responsible for the worst mass shooting in U.S. history was a radical Muslim extremist, who showed “strong indications of radicalization” and was inspired by “foreign terrorist organizations,” according to the FBI. He was no Christian and that is a fact. He did this in the name of Allah. He even called 911 three times during the attack and pledged allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State.
Why would you bypass the obvious fact that this was an act of terror by a Muslim and then command Christians to apologize for it? Christians had nothing to do with it. If you really want this kind of heinous act to stop, why not call out Islam and its inhumane teachings on how Muslims are required to stone and execute gays? And that many Muslims support such a thing, even in America? Would that be too politically incorrect? There is absolutely no mention of the real cause of this act of terror in any of your comments and that is concerning.
We must not shift the blame to Christians so that we can appease our gay friends because it only clouds the truth of what really happened. We cannot make a reasoned analysis of what happened and work towards a better future when we are not honest about the facts first and foremost: An avowed Muslim extremist murdered 49 people at a gay club. Let’s get that straight.
Yet your assessment is in line with what we’ve been hearing from the liberal, pro-LGBT media. For example, LGBT activist, Chase Strangio, tweeted, “The Christian Right has introduced 200 anti-LGBT bills in the last six months and people blaming Islam for this. No. #PulseNightclub.”
CNN commentator, Sally Kohn, tweeted, “You either support the dignity & equal treatment of all LGBT people or you support their systematic dehumanization.” She also tweeted, “Islamic extremists kill LGBT people. Christian and Jewish extremists just drive us to commit suicide. Either way, #HateIsHate.” You also expressed similar sentiments when you said, “We grieve not publicly for your dehumanization, suicide rates (individual deaths have failed to move us), excommunications, denial of liberties, hate crimes against you, religious exclusion, constant shame beatdown.”
So according to many LGBT leaders, if Christians refuse to support gay marriage, we are systematically dehumanizing them. If we don’t think gay relationships should have the societal sanction of the marriage institution, if we think marriage should be between a man and a woman, not just for our own religious preferences but for the good of any human society – then we are guilty of dehumanizing them. And it sounds like you are echoing that sentiment. You also think we are guilty of their “denial of liberties.”
I beg to differ. In our culture today, Christians are being persecuted for merely speaking up for biblical, natural marriage – an institution that’s been the bedrock of humanity since the garden of Eden. Merely refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding or accommodate a gay couple at a bed and breakfast is considered a “hate crime.” There are Christians who have lost their jobs, who have lost TV shows, who have had their bank accounts emptied by the government – simply for holding a biblical view of marriage. We are not playing around here. Yet you seem to stand with those who would persecute Christians for not aligning themselves with the LGBT community on the matter.
You said, “We cannot with any integrity honor in death those we failed to honor in life.” Does that mean we cannot feel compassion and sorrow for our LGBT friends if we don’t support their lifestyle? That is absolutely ridiculous. Many Christian leaders have expressed solidarity with the gay community in affirming that violence against any group is wrong and evil. Many Christians have expressed heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of this horrific shooting, although much of it has been met with hostility. For example, when Mike Huckabee expressed his sympathies, lesbian author Victoria Brownworth, tweeted back, “We don’t want your hypocritical prayers. You led the fight against the LGBT people. You promote this every day.” Yet you also called the Christian response towards the Orlando shooting “disingenuous.” That’s the response of many in the LGBT community, but I did not expect that from a Christian leader.
I admit, there are the few truly deplorable churches and pastors who have even praised the attack and been vehemently condemned by Christian leaders at large. But those are not the Christians you are calling out. You are calling out the conservative Christians who don’t agree with the LGBT lifestyle and calling that hate (Never mind the fact that the shooter wasn’t even a Christian, but a devout Muslim who was also a Democrat). I admit, we all can do a better job at loving our neighbors. But loving our neighbors does not mean we take the blame for something we had no participation in. Loving our neighbor does not mean we concede on the issue of marriage because an atrocity happened in a gay club. It is not “Christian disdain” to oppose the LGBT agenda and to halt the onslaught of government sanctioned sexual immorality.
Lastly, you said to call up our LGBT friends and say, “we’re sorry.” While your reasons for why Christians should be sorry differ from mine, I did call up my friends. One of my best friends, Kim, is an ex-lesbian who lived with her partner for 8 years and came out of that lifestyle 3 years ago. She was part of the LGBT community before she started coming to church and being transformed by the power of the gospel. I asked her what she thought of the shooting and your comments on it.
Here are her thoughts:
I feel like these comments are divisive and they come across as pandering to LGBT friends and movements. To me, Jen’s call for “Christian love” is a misguided incitement of Christian guilt, guilting Christians into conceding on the gay agenda at this opportune time and not calling the attack for what it really was: an act of terror by an Islamist. This reads like we are playing identity politics and not trying to bring unity at all. It undermines the attempts of genuine condolences and prayer and that aggravates me. Who are we to say “that’s not good enough”? And it perpetuates the mentality that there are helpless classes of people in our society who constantly need a hero. I don’t think it is fair to coddle LGBT people – or any minority group as perpetual victims. It comes across like a pat on the head and that is demeaning. In the same vein, Christians – as a group – and Muslims too for that matter – don’t need to be demonized as the bad guys. I find it unhelpful and more divisive. It makes it even harder to trust each other. We just need to be real. Be the individual person God created us to be, love each other, and communicate. Period.
Oh! And it’s a little ludicrous to suggest I call up my gay friends and personally apologize for the attack. I didn’t call up all my black friends when the shooting happened at the AME Church in South Carolina. What would I say? I’m so sorry for the deaths of all these people, whom you don’t even know on the other side of the country? But I have to confess…I watched Dukes of Hazard all of those years ago and there was a confederate flag on the roof of General Lee so in case my inherent racism played a part in this shooting, please accept my apology? My friends would think I’ve lost my mind.
As one who’s been part of the LGBT community for years to finding real “Christian love” in Jesus Christ and the church, I think her perspective in assessing this situation is very insightful for those of us who’ve never been on both sides.
Behind all this talk of Christians needing to love more, Jen, what are your true intentions? What is it that you want your audience to take away from this incident and do in the future as our strategy at large? I agree that we shouldn’t make fun of LGBT people and those who struggle with same-sex attractions. We shouldn’t shun them from our churches but we should speak truth in love, just as our church did with my friend, Kim. But it sounds to me like you don’t think that’s sufficient. Are you wanting full Christian acceptance of the LGBT lifestyle? Do you believe Christians should give in to the LGBT community’s demands for civil liberties, gay marriage rights, etc? Do you have an agenda behind what you are saying? I’m not sure, but those are the questions I have for you.
In closing, I hope you will reconsider your approach in how you talk about LGBT-Christian relations so that we can bring more clarity instead of confusion to an already devastating situation. That is my prayer for the whole church as we all grieve the lives lost in this senseless atrocity.
Lisa Smiley, a fellow Christian
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