Progressives, Jen Hatmaker, and Grace & Truth

The Christian internet has once again exploded. On Tuesday, in an interview with religionnews.com, popular Christian author, speaker, and HGTV star, Jen Hatmaker, voiced her belief that gay marriage can be “holy”. Kaboom!

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On blogs, Facebook threads, and articles across the internet, progressive Christians are celebrating Jen while fundamental Christians are destroying her.  Both camps are also viciously tearing into each other. Sometimes I hate social media and the internet. I hate what it does to us and what it allows us to do to others.

I totally get why “progressive” Christians react against people they see as “fundy and stuck in the past”. I am right there with them, frustrated with tradition and religion and rules. But just because some people who believe the Bible literally are ignorant, stubborn, and judgmental, it doesn’t mean that we can pick and choose which parts of the Bible we like and which parts we throw away. That’s also an ignorant way of dealing with things…as though we, limited creations, are somehow capable of deciding which parts of the All-powerful God’s Word are true and which are worthy of the trash can.

Both parties are guilty of sweeping black and white assumptions and judgement.

Just because I believe that homosexuality is a sin (as is gossip, lying, pride, lust, etc.) and I’m not a supporter of gay marriage, does not mean that I am not a supporter of people who are gay. I love them because, just like me, they were created in the image of God and Jesus died for them and wants them to have a relationship with Him.

Guess what? I have can opinions and beliefs but keep them to myself while loving the people around me. I do not have to vocally attack homosexuality, but neither do I have to support it to be a loving, Jesus-like Christian.

If only Christians were as passionate about their love for and relationship with Jesus as we are about stupid issues…

I chose to stand on a literal belief that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. But that does not mean that I am obsessed with morals and getting people to do “the right thing”. It means that I am obsessed with the amazing, mind-blowing God who created us for one purpose – to know Him.

Yup, I’m crazy enough to believe that Genesis is the literal history of a huge, amazing, loving God who personally created the first people, joined them together as a married couple, made a beautiful garden for them to enjoy, and walked in that garden with them. Before they chose to disobey, God KNEW His children in a personal, real, intimate way. I think that has always been His goal.

I believe that the rest of the Bible, when you read it in context, shows the story of God pursuing the people He created, culminating in the death of Jesus, the God-man, for the sins of the world. Jesus’ death changed everything. The veil in the temple was torn, and humanity once again had access to their Creator. Knowing God through Jesus transforms us. He changes us. It’s not about people trying to earn something from God, behaving so that we can get His blessing or favor. It’s about Jesus doing everything for us, so that we can enter His Presence, delight in a real relationship with Him, and allow Him to make us into the person He created us to be. When we actually experience Jesus, we will be changed. As Jesus makes us like Himself, our behavior will change. This is good news! Why aren’t we yelling about this?

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We have no business condemning or judging other people. But neither can we rewrite God’s Word. There must be a balance of Grace and Truth. Jesus beautifully illustrates this perfect balance. I love this story from John 8.

The prideful, religious guys catch a woman “getting it on” with a man she isn’t married to. They drag her out of the house and down to Jesus where they want Him to stone her for her sin. Jesus puts the religious guys in their place by telling them to go ahead and stone her if they are sinless themselves. They all begin to leave. Finally it’s just Jesus and the woman sitting in the dirt. He doesn’t judge her or condemn her. And being God, the only perfect one, it would absolutely be okay if He did. But He doesn’t. Jesus affirms her, tells her he doesn’t condemn her, shows her radical grace, and then speaks truth “go and leave your life of sin”.

Friends, fellow believers in Jesus, and seekers of Him, we lose our power when we stop being like Jesus. We must have grace and truth. We do not condemn, we do not reject. We love like a tidal wave, overwhelming, all-consuming Jesus’ love. But we also speak truth. We do not shy away from uncomfortable truth, despite what our culture thinks or if it is politically correct. Our God is indescribably bigger than us and we don’t have to understand Him to believe Him. We must live like Jesus in this broken world, shinning like stars, pointing others to the incredible possibility of an actual relationship with the God of the Universe.

That Dang Proverbs 31 Woman!

This is, if you couldn’t tell from the title, a rant. Fair warning!

I thought I was over her, had moved past, and was able to let it go. Guess not! Last night I came across a blog post written by two young, single, childless women about motherhood, and being a “godly” mother, and the evils of day care or working outside the home… (First off, sorry girls, but you don’t get an opinion on being a mother until you are one! Not to mention, people in their late teens, early 20’s (Especially home-schoolers. I can say this because I was one.) always think they know everything and have every answer (I did), but they don’t. Not by a long shot!!) Of course they cited my least favorite passage as one of their proofs, Proverbs 31.

There is nothing inherently wrong with Proverbs 31 in itself, especially if you read it in a version other that the King James. But that dang woman was held up as the epitome of womanhood All. The. Freakin. Time. growing up in my conservative, homeschooling “cult”. It was this impossible goal to try and attain. We heard about her every Mother’s Day at least, maybe more. The “Proverbs 31 Woman” home-schooled, and gardened, and made all her own clothes, and baked fresh ground whole wheat bread, all while running a home based business, and having 12+ children, and being super submissive to her husband. She wore skirts only, maybe even a head-covering, and always spoke in a soft, quiet voice (to demonstrate her quiet and gentle spirit). Sound like anyone you’ve ever seen before? *coughMichelleDuggar*

Okay, it’s possible that I might be exaggerating a very, little bit… Don’t get me wrong, I am not against gender roles (in a relaxed and casual fashion). I am a mostly stay-at-home mother of two little children and have been for the past 5+ years. I even started gardening a couple of summers ago. But, the teachings I was raised with, almost destroyed me as a mother. More on that in a bit.

I AM against re92570055strictive gender roles! I’m against the idea that women can’t or shouldn’t get educated or have a job. I’m totally against the idea that somehow women staying home and living like its the 1800s (or even the 1950s) is more godly! I absolutely HATE how some conservative groups still treat women as inferior. Have you read about Jesus Christ and his radical interactions with women??

If you want to stay home and bake whole wheat bread because You Want To, great! Fabulous! But if you want to go to college and have a career, that’s also great and fabulous! Our personal choices as a family shouldn’t be automatically viewed as a representation of our “godliness”. Can you say Pharisee?!

If you actually read Proverbs 31 (my version is ESV) you will notice a couple of things.

  1. It’s really more about a business woman than anyone else. She’s working hard, buying and selling, and making things.
  2. The lady has maidservants. MAIDSERVANTS!! Plural!!! So someone else is doing all her cleaning, cooking, and possibly caring for her children! Which is how she has time to be a business woman. (This was NEVER talked about in my fundy days!)
  3. Her children aren’t even mentioned until vs 28 and all they do is “rise up and call her blessed”.

So there! Ha! Go take your out of context Scriptures and insinuated opinions and stuff it!

By the time I had children, I was well out of my “cult” days. But the teachings I grew up with followed me. Somehow I still believed that motherhood was the ultimate calling of woman, and that I should be totally fulfilled by being a mom. But it was WAY harder than I ever imagined… Honestly, I really struggled the first few years with babies. I didn’t even like being a mom most days and the guilt of those feelings nearly destroyed me. Until…one day I realized the truth. God never said I had to be fulfilled being a mother. God never said being a mother was the ultimate pinnacle of being female. My feelings were validated! Surprisingly, that knowledge actually freed me to enjoy being a mom.

I am a woman, mom, wife, daughter, friend, blogger, hopeful author, pastor’s wife, lover of nature, substitute teacher, part time jewelry artisan, camp health officer, restorer of old furniture, etc. But most of all, I am a child of God, loved and valued, redeemed, able to have a relationship with my Creator because of my amazing Savior, Jesus Christ. Actually, I might even be a Proverbs 31 woman…someone who is working hard, using her gifts, and seeking to love and serve her family.

Striving to be meet certain “criteria” will never bring us fulfillment, whether we are staying at home or not. Only a real relationship with Jesus satisfies us, and that should be our ultimate goal no matter what else we do.

“….a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30