Juli Slattery

by Juli Slattery


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Jen Hatmaker, Gay Marriage and What We've Forgotten About God

A.W. Tozer wrote, “The most important thing about you is what you believe about God.”

There is a lot in the news today about what Christian leaders think about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and gay marriage. Specifically, Jen Hatmaker’s recent comments have created debate and confusion. I’ve had several in the Authentic Intimacy community ask me to respond to Hatmaker’s statements. I’ll answer by referring to Tozer, “The most important thing about you is what you believe about God.”

Take a step back for a moment.  In 2001, only 35% of Americans were for gay marriage. If Jen Hatmaker and others who support the LGBT movement had been in Christian leadership fifteen years ago, their opinions on social issues would likely have been much different. In fact, Hatmaker’s statements just a few years ago reflect a different theology of sexuality than what she currently proclaims. So what has changed?

As a clinical psychologist, I can tell you that we haven’t discovered any ground-breaking truth about human sexuality that has influenced society to embrace a new sexual ethic. Our cultural shift has less to do with what we’ve learned about humanity and far more to do with what we’ve forgotten about God.

Another profound statement from A. W. Tozer:  "When large numbers of adherents in the Christian churches come to believe that God is different from who He actually is, that concept becomes heresy of the most insidious and deadly kind!" Tozer taught that such heresy begins when we emphasize one attribute of God above all the other attributes. In other words, we can be holding to truths about God, but favoring certain truths to the point where we disregard the totality of God's character.

Because we are flawed, limited human beings, we will always get some things wrong. We can see the “generational pendulum” swinging back and forth between God’s wrath and His grace. If Jonathan Edward’s were to preach his famous sermon “Sinners in the hand of an angry God” in America today, we would likely see both revival and outright hatred toward his wrathful representation of God’s righteousness.

The average American Christian is more likely to learn theology from Jesus Calling than straight from God’s Holy Word. While I have nothing against devotionals like Jesus Calling, we must recognize that they pick and choose the verses and character traits of God we prefer to meditate upon. Can you imagine a modern devotional called "365 Days of God’s Wrath and Judgement"? No one would want to read it. Yet, read the Bible cover to cover, and you will be forced to wrestle with the holiness and righteousness of God.

In our quest to embrace and share Jesus’ love, we’ve chosen to ignore His justice. We have embraced what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.”  Bonhoeffer defined “cheap grace” as “the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.” (The Cost of Discipleship).

Instead of telling you what I believe about Hatmaker’s statements, I’d rather tell you what I believe about God. I believe that He is love, He is holy, He is righteous and that none of these character traits cancel out the others. I believe that He is Lord and that surrendering to Him will cost each of us something precious. I believe that disciples of Jesus are called to take up their cross, denying themselves (even potentially denying their sexual desires). I believe that God’s Word is true. It is relevant, living and life-changing in 2016. I think that my opinion counts for little when weighed against the majesty and sovereignty of the One whose thoughts are so much higher than my thoughts.

Young Christian leaders are right to emphasize the love of Jesus Christ. When He walked the earth, He spent time with those the religious leaders had rejected. Yes, Jesus would do the same today, walking the streets and healing the most wounded and marginalized among us. He would have sharp words of rebuke for our self-righteousness and judgmental attitudes. Yet His love would never approve of sin. He loves too much to celebrate a lifestyle of brokenness (including homosexuality, but also greed, pornography, cohabitation or bitterness!). He would heal, forgive and call each of us to “be holy as I am holy.”  

In spite of current debates, God’s word spells out for us a clear sexual ethic. I Thessalonians 4:3 says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” Sexual immorality is defined for us in several other Old and New Testament passages. It includes sexual activity outside of a heterosexual covenant of marriage, namely fornication, adultery, prostitution, homosexuality, and lustful thoughts (I Corinthians 6:9-11, Galatians 5:19, Ephesians 5:3, I Peter 4:1-3 among other passages).

What you think about the sexual issues of our time must ultimately be rooted in what you believe about God. My heart grieves over recent shifts in the opinions of Christian leaders, not because of the implications of sexual issues, but because of our rejection of God as the Sovereign Lord of the universe.

Although our cultural lens has shifted, God’s character is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. His word is unchanging.

“In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,

   and the heavens are the work of your hands.

They will perish, but you remain;

   they will all wear out like a garment.

Like clothing you will change them

   and they will be discarded.

But you remain the same,

   and your years will never end” (Psalm 102:25-27)

I care little about what you believe about sexuality, but I care greatly about what you believe about God, and the two are inseparable.

Here are a few other Authentic Intimacy resources on this topic:

Comments

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  • Andrea Nicole Guzman

    Andrea Nicole Guzman

    With a resounding Yes and Amen. What a post. Thank you so much Juli.
  • Linda Reeb

    Linda Reeb

    Thank you for speaking so well to this topic. I share your blogs with a group of 35 women that I mentor. Keep up the good work!
  • Cheri Fletcher

    Cheri Fletcher

    Thank you! The word "tolerate" that our church's and Christian organizations use dismiss that we need transformation through grace. I have not found biblical proof of Jesus tolerating sin, he tolerated the sinner but required transformation through Him. I love this article!
  • Rosie Parker

    Rosie Parker

    Thank-you....well said.
  • Christena Imhoff

    Christena Imhoff

    Amen!
  • Kim Parker, LCSW

    Kim Parker, LCSW

    Thank you for this post from a Christian social worker and therapist in Texas.
  • Sally Skiera

    Sally Skiera

    Absolutely dead on! Thank you for your loving response that includes both grace and Truth.
  • LoveHeals

    LoveHeals

    Hey...I definitely believe that Christians are to abide by God's laws. But are non Christians held to the same standards? I am not saying that homosexuality is not a sin - - it clearly is. But, a person who doesn't know Jesus biggest problem is that they are not a believer, not what they do in or outside of the bedroom. When it comes to God's thoughts on the subject, it is hard to believe that there is a debate. But are God's standards meant for non believers? Yes, it is sin,but do we ever hold non believers to God's standards? For example, I am not a muslim, so I eat pork. I think were Christians get it wrong with the gay community is that they make it about the lifestyle of the gay community rather than I want you to know Jesus and that is the most important thing of all. And I don't think gay marriage has destroyed marriage - - plenty of christians have done a great job of doing that. I agree what God has to say about marriage - but I don't care if what the US government says about it. I don't care if gay people are allowed to marry. That is not destroying marriage. People behaving badly destroy the marriage. Why would we expect any non Christian to go by God's laws? The biggest problem is the hypocrisy in the Christian community. Let me give you another example - - the baker who refused to make a gay couple a gay themed wedding cake because it was against his religion. Wouldn't helping obese or fat people get fatter or more obese by serving them sweets be against his religion? Most fat people are sinning -- they are gluttons. Or should a christian hotel owner refuse non christian couples a room in the event they may sleep together? Wouldn't that be against his religious beliefs? Sometimes we seem too quick to pick and issue and make it a divisive rather than preach...Jesus loves you. He died. He rose and He lives again. He wants you to be with him forever....will you accept His free gift of grace.

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