Conservative Christians are speaking out against Texas Pastor Brandon Hatmaker and his wife, Jen, the stars of an HGTV reality series, for claiming that the Bible affirms gay marriage, saying the couple are "100 percent false" and leading people astray from the Gospel.
Earlier this week, Brandon Hatmaker issued a lengthy Facebook post saying that he 100 percent agrees with his wife when it comes to the belief that monogamous same-sex marriages can be considered holy.
Last week, Jen Hatmaker, who along with her husband stars in HGTV's "My Big Family Renovation," said in an interview with Religion News Service that she does think LGBT relationships can be holy. In the aftermath, Hatmaker received tons of criticism from conservative Christian commenters. Additionally, LifeWay Christian Resources announced that it will no longer sell books and materials featuring Hatmaker.
Brandon Hatmaker took to Facebook Tuesday to defend his wife from critics and opened up about how the couple has come to the opinion that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality, as long as it is in the form of monogamous marriages.
Hatmaker said that he and his wife have, over the past several years, been trying "to lead the church to a better posture toward the LGBTQ community." But as the couple continued to receive criticism and were pressured to state their beliefs on homosexuality, Hatmaker wrote that he and his wife came to the decision to to "take a new and hard look inward to be able to explain our position with love."
In doing so, Hatmaker explained that he and his wife committed themselves to "a season of study" on what the Bible has to say about homosexuality.
"For more than a year we studied every version of every verse in the Bible that appeared to discuss 'homosexuality,'" Hatmaker said. "We studied the Greek. We studied the Hebrew. We read every commentary we could find related specifically to the related passages."
The Hatmakers also read numerous books on the subject written by both affirming and non-affirming authors like Michael Brown, Preston Sprinkle, Mark Achtemeier, Brad and Drew Harper, David Gushee and Colby Martin.
After conducting their study, Hatmaker said they came to the conclusion that the Bible's position on homosexuality is "not as simple as traditionally taught."
"Every verse in the Bible that is used to condemn a 'homosexual' act is written in the context of rape, prostitution, idolatry, pederasty, military dominance, an affair, or adultery. It was always a destructive act. It was always a sin committed against a person," Hatmaker argues. "And each type of sexual interaction listed was an abuse of God's gift of sex and completely against His dream for marriage to be a lifelong commitment of two individuals increasingly and completely giving themselves to one another as Christ did for the Church."
"But not one of these scriptures was written in the context of marriage or civil union (which simply did not exist at this time)," he continued. "Each act mentioned in the Bible was sin, no doubt. In context, we believe the same today. Just like heterosexual sex outside of marriage is sin for obvious reasons, whether consensual or not, we still believe homosexual sex outside of marriage is a sin."
Hatmaker explains that he and his wife "don't believe a committed life-long monogamous same-sex marriage violates anything seen in scripture about God's hopes for the marriage relationship."
Additionally, Hatmaker states that Christians who do affirm same-sex marriage "have not 'abandoned' the Bible in order to shift their thinking, as many accuse."
Hatmaker also cited the Kinsey Scale — also known as the Heterosexual–Homosexual Rating Scale — which he urged other Christians to research because it "makes sense of why one person's journey does not match another person's journey or to speak authoritatively as a one-size fits all solution."
In response to Hatmaker's post, Brown, a nationally syndicated conservative radio host and author of the 2014 book Can You Be Gay and Christian? told The Christian Post Wednesday that the Hatmakers' argument that the Bible only talks about homosexuality in reference to destructive situations like prostitution, rape and adultery is "100 percent false."
"It's a common gay-Christian apologetic," Brown said. "But it is 100 percent false. You can disprove that within one minute just looking at the Bible."
As Leviticus makes clear that practicing homosexuality is a "detestable act," Brown, a Messianic Jew, believes that the Hatmakers "are grossly misinterpreting the passages" and "reading them through the lens of gay-Christian apologetics, rather than reading them in the straightforward way that God gave them."
Responding to Hatmaker's assertion that "God's dream for marriage is so incredibly nuanced," Brown said the Bible makes clear that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.
"There are nuances within the beauty of a life-long committed relationship of a man and a woman," Brown said. "But the only design for marriage is male and female and that is explicit through the entire Bible from beginning to end."
Brown also took issue with Hatmaker's claim that affirming Christians haven't "abandoned" the Scriptures.
"They deny the full inspiration the scriptures, saying that biblical authors weren't aware of certain things that pertain to human nature," Brown told CP. "They deny the deity of Jesus by saying that he was not aware that people were struggling with these things when he was on the Earth."
Jen Hatmaker took to Facebook on Monday to issue a response to the criticism she has received for her comments. In the post, she warns that the "LGBTQ community is watching" and listening to how Christians respond and are looking to see "how we actually feel about them in our churches."
In a blog post, Denny Burk, a professor of biblical studies at Boyce College in Kentucky, stated that the fact that the LGBT community is watching is exactly why "faithful Christians need to bear witness right now."
He states that Hatmaker's remarks could set back a number of same-sex attracted individuals who are working to resist the temptation of their sinful desires.
"And now these dear souls — precious in the sight of God — are hearing from Jen that they don't really need to turn from sexual immorality. Jen tells them that their sexual immorality is 'holy' in God's sight," Burk wrote. "I would simply encourage Jen to remember that they are indeed watching and listening to her. And she is leading them away from mercy, away from life, and away from everything that matters in this life and the next. Her public departure from the faith is not helping these dear people. It's harming them."