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Target, Jen Hatmaker & Matthew 7

I have never particularly enjoyed shopping at Target. I know that disqualifies me from some sort of secret stay-at-home motherhood club (I don’t like wine, either, though, so…whatever). I have never strolled through the aisle of the bright red store, sipping a Starbucks, while my child munches on popcorn.

So I doubt they will miss me much.

But I cannot shop there anymore for the few things I did buy there on a limited basis.

Every one, I am sure, has heard, that last week Target announced that their bathrooms and dressing rooms are now open to transgender customers. This means that any customer who self-identifies as a male can use the male restroom or dressing room, and any customer who self-identifies as a female can use the female restroom or dressing room.

On Saturday, Jen Hatmaker, a rising star among the ranks of Christianity’s finest 2 Timothy 4:3 female teachers, published this on Facebook. In part, it reads:

“One things I said was that it is high time Christians opened wide their arms, wide their churches, wide their tables, wide their homes to the LGBT community. So great has our condemnation and exclusion been, that gay Christian teens are SEVEN TIMES more likely to commit suicide.

Nope. No. No ma’am. Not on my watch. No more. This is so far outside the gospel of Jesus that I don’t even recognize its reflection. I can’t. I won’t. I refuse.”

What, you maybe be asking, do these two things have to do with one another?

To start with, both sadden me to a great extent.

I am not saddened at all about not ever shopping at Target again, but I am saddened that this is a battle line in the sand. Christianity will be divided over this; I can see it now. The battle won’t actually be over Target – it will be over how one views sexuality and sin.

The battle will be over whether you lovingly accept people’s (sin-full) choices, or hate people; there will be no in between.

There will be no room for the truth of God’s Word.

You will be painted as one or the other: a tolerant lover (of evil) or a hate-spewer.

Yes. You. I mean, look what Hatmaker said: our condemnation and exclusion has been great. All of us – including you and me, regardless of our reality.

(regardless of our actual real-life relationships with people who are LGBT. we, Christians, are all condemners and exclusionary. you read it right there, people. you haters.)

I am saddened because people who struggle with sexual sin already believe that Christians are “haters” and “homophobic.” Now we have a FAMOUS CHRISTIAN AUTHOR & SPEAKER perpetuating this idea with a statistic that I cannot verify anywhere.

(I can find statistics verifying increased suicidal ideation among teenagers who identify as LGBT, but no where do I find that Christian teenagers who are LGBT are seven times more likely to commit suicide. but perhaps I should have researched longer than an hour…)

I am saddened because the arguments people are having are ridiculously stupid.

(No, I am not afraid of transgender people. I am afraid of some pervert pretending to be a transgender person and taking advantage of this new policy and attacking innocent women and children, either physically or by taking illicit photographs.)

I am saddened that a woman who has the responsibility of knowing Scripture, because she claims to be a Bible teacher, has just butchered the gospel of Jesus – the good news of the Bible – to affirm for her untold thousands of follower that there is no such thing as sexual sin in her version of the gospel.

In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus says this:

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Mrs. Hatmaker proclaimed that Christianity needs to be wider, that Christianity needs to open itself up and be more welcoming to the world of the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, in case you don’t know what that means).

Wider? Jesus Himself said that it is not a wide path; Jesus Himself tells us, in red letter words if that matters to you, that what is wide is the way to destruction.

Why would a Christian who claims to love people (and real Christians do love people, by the way), want to lead them down the path of destruction?

Matthew 7.13

Interestingly, the very next verses in Matthew 7 just might give us the answer:

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits…Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’.” (Matthew 7:15, 16, 21-23)

Those are some of the scariest verses I have every read in Scripture. “I never knew you; depart from Me.”

There are women out there claiming to be working in the name of Jesus, and He does not know them.

He. Does. Not. Know. Them.

Ladies, we have to be telling people the Truth – the real Truth, not some watered down, hold their hand, pat their head, tell them they’re all pretty truth.

We have to tell people the Truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, not the truth of culture that tells people they can self-identify as whatever they choose.

The Truth: we are all sinners. Sin separates us from the Holy, Creator God. Narrow.

Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

Romans 3:10 “as it is written: there is none righteous, not even one”

The Truth: the penalty for this sin is death – eternal death – complete separation from God. In Hell. Forever. Narrow.

Romans 6:23a “For the wages of sin is death”

The Truth: God loves us too much to let us languish as sinners, so He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sin on the cross. Narrow.

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”

Romans 6:23b “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”

The Truth: this is not a wide path. This is a very, very narrow path to salvation. There is no other way. You cannot self-identify your way to salvation.

Do we open up our arms wide and offer people love? Yes. Do we keep loving them, even when it’s hard, painful, and messy? Yes.

Do we tell people that the path to salvation is wide, broad, all-encompassing, and they can get to it just about any way they choose?

Absolutely not.

John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’.”

Narrow.

We must be telling people the Truth, not trying to usher them down the wide path of destruction.

Throw open our arms wide?

Only if it’s to catch them and direct them down the narrow path to Jesus that He Himself offers.

8 thoughts on “Target, Jen Hatmaker & Matthew 7

  1. So what I struggle with through all this is…in it not of it. Jesus did welcome sinners…He did reach out to them…but He never gave up the stance that He is the only way. Are you saying that Jen makes it sound like there’s another way by accepting sinners into our churches? Don’t we accept sinners into our churches every Sunday…those who won’t give up their idols, their pride, their _____? How will they know more about Jesus if we don’t reach out to them? Where’s the line? And please keep in mind that (I think) you know I love your thoughts, our friendship, and our sisterhood in Christ. And that I’m typing this early in the morning and could possibly have said it waaaay better in a few hours:/

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    1. That is absolutely what she is doing. She’s compromising truth to gain followers. Jesus NEVER tolerated sin; every single time He encountered someone in their sin, He told them to stop sinning. He told them to repent: turn 180* and walk the other direction. What does that look like in a situation of habitual sexual sin? It is not continuing to practice that lifestyle.

      And yes, we should accept people into our churches every week who are sinners (otherwise, where would you and I go?) – but we must teach them to stop sinning! Once you accept that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, you begin the process of sanctification – of becoming more and more like Him – more and more toward holiness and sinlessness. We cannot lie to an entire community of people, though, and tell them that they will be able to receive salvation AND continue to live in sin. Continuing a purposeful, continual, intentional lifestyle of sin is not compatible with anything Jesus says about His saving grace; this is the false teaching SO popular today (and not just by her: by Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, heck, even a number of local preachers!). The popular false teaching is “but grace! grace covers ALL your sins so you can just keep sinning and still have Jesus!” Except…no. That’s not at all what Scripture teaches us.

      So where’s the line? We tell sinners the truth like we always have, like I said. We are all sinners, separated from God by our sin (whatever that sin is: idolatry, pride, sex, lying, etc.). We need Jesus to be reconciled to God. And once we are saved by the blood of Jesus, we strive to live a sin-free life. Do we ever make it? No, of course not, but the longer we walk with Jesus, the more we study Scripture, the less we should sin, and the holier our lives should look, especially compared to those around us who live “in the world,” to borrow a phrase from the apostle John (that’s called progressive sanctification). And if someone is genuinely saved by Jesus, sin should grieve them anyway…this conversation shouldn’t even be necessary (which leads to a whole other discussion: if you aren’t grieved by sin, are you sure you’re saved?).

      Of course, none of this matters if you don’t believe sex outside of a committed marriage between one man and one woman is a sin…which is where the conversation has to start, and where culture is so destructive. Also, if you don’t actually believe the Bible is the inerrant, inspired Word of God, we also can’t have this conversation. Again…the ruler of this world is very powerful and is doing powerful, destructive work.

      (“you” by the way doesn’t necessarily mean YOU, my friend, just people in general here 😉 )

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    1. I was completely honest about the research, if you had read carefully. In fact, I wrote that I CAN find evidence supporting the increase of suicidal ideation among LGB youth (and I used the source you sent, thank you, as the basis of that comment). The research itself, which, again, I agreed with, states, “Research from several sources also revealed that LGB youth are nearly one and a half to seven times more likely than non-LGB youth to have reported attempting suicide.”

      However…Mrs. Hatmaker specifically said “gay Christian teens are SEVEN TIMES more likely to commit suicide”. There is no research associated with your paper you sent me (or anywhere I researched) that correlates religious views with that increased risk of suicide, nor that specifically states gay Christian teens are at a SEVEN TIMES greater risk. Is it likely? Do people have personal stories to back up cases? Probably. But public speakers have a responsibility to speak truth, and to not just whip up facts & figures out of thin air whenever it suits their purposes. It’s inflammatory and does a disservice to everyone involved.

      She was the one being dishonest, so I assume you also pointed that out to her?

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  2. I’m sorry, my comment was too short and vague so it’s not surprise that I was misunderstood. I didn’t say you didn’t find evidence supporting the fact of LBG youth suicidal rates. I simply didn’t think you were being fair with the research. It might have helped if you had cited some of the sources you claim to have looked at, like the one I posted. My point was that LBG youth are seven times more likely to attempt suicide, which you seem to admit with your citing of the research. This is the extreme number on the spectrum of the study, but it is there. Furthermore, that paper I linked does say there is a link between religious views and LBG suicidal rates. In addition, there are numerous studies that make this connection as well. Google search engine is not always are sufficient for such tasks since it does not provide a data base of scholarly articles in the same way ATLA or EBSCO do. This isn’t really much a disputed issue in fact. For example, the SBC has taken a strong stance against conversion therapy because it recognized the seriousness of suicide among those gay Christian teens. Albert Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has even voiced this rejection of conversion therapy. The fact that such conversion therapy has been endorsed and led by Christians should be enough to show how religious views have played a vital role in the suicidal rate. By the way, the paper I linked recognizes that the suicidal rate among LBG youth is due to social environment, victimization, discrimination, etc. I think it’s pretty clear that religious behavior toward these young children has been guilty of discrimination. Some churches, of course, are remarkably better at calling homosexuality a sin, without forgetting how to love well.

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