Hell hath no fury like Christians destroying other Christians.
This week best-selling author and church planter Jen Hatmaker came out in full support of the LGBTQ community and of same-sex marriage, eloquently sharing the slow evolution of her perspective as a person of deep faith committed to loving people well.
And many in the outraged Christian community responded by showing the world exactly what Jesus doesn’t look like.
The knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing troll armies of the Lord quickly descended, subjecting Hatmaker to all manner of abusive, hateful social media badgering.
Renowned loveless internet bullies like Matt Walsh and his perpetually sarcastic minions exploded like roaches from the moldy baseboards to heap scorn upon her.
Lifeway Christian bookstores pulled Hatmalker’s books from their shelves faster than you can say “Jerry Falwell Jr and Donald Trump”.
Meanwhile, Jen Hatmaker just did what Jen Hatmaker does: she quietly, steadily reflected the likeness of Jesus.
While a violent, spitting, oxymoronic horde of professed Christians circled to condemn and shun and devour her as only professed Christians can, she simply kept being who she is: a flawed but striving follower of Jesus, trying to show people just what faith expressed in love looks like.
That’s the sad, sickening irony at play here.
Jen Hatmaker’s resume is secure. Even before her evolution on the issue of LGBTQ inclusion, her life and ministry have been marked by compassion, goodness, and by a sincere desire to love people well. Her books and Bible studies have been the source of great inspiration for myself and millions of other people who found the simple joy and sweet benevolence in her work refreshing. Her ministry through the Austin church she started alongside her husband has given marginalized people the kind of tangible expression of Jesus and of Christian community, that most folks complain they never see in the world.
This is not about Jen Hatmaker.
She is not the problem.
The trolls and Matt Walsh and Lifeway are the problem.
They are the threat they claim they’re protecting people from.
They are the poison in the system.
They are the cancer in the Body of Christ.
They are confirming for millions of disheartened Christians currently laboring in churches, the truth that they’ve long suspected: diversity of thought will simply not be tolerated.
They are once again reminding the LGBTQ community and those who love them, that they are indeed not loved or accepted or welcome in the Church.
They are making the greatest argument against following Jesus, to a watching world who sees Christians as intolerant and devoid of what they understand the character of Christ to be.
They are verifying their suspicions that Christianity is irrelevant and toxic and of little practical use.
They are doing in the name of Jesus, stuff that simply bears no resemblance to him.
In an American election year where Christianity is somehow able to be molded into a completely bastardized, Frankensteined version of itself by so many Evangelicals in order to accommodate their hateful politics—Jen Hatmaker is not Christian enough. She is the heretic. She is the thing to be removed. She is suddenly persona non grata in the Church.
That someone like Jen Hatmaker (or Rob Bell before her) could go from poster child to pariah with a few heartfelt sentences is absurd and embarrassing, and for so many people it’s more confirmation that Christianity is not worth their time because of the venom it produces. It is for so many people who once called the Church home but longer do, assurance that they made the right choice.
Jen Hatmaker is going to be fine. I imagine these days must be incredibly painful and deeply wounding for her, but watching the person she’s been in the past and the way she does what she does, I’m sure she will continue to do the work of loving people in a way that resembles Jesus, and she will continue to set an ever bigger table for people to gather and be seen, known, and heard.
But it’s the Church that is mortally wounded in weeks like this.
It’s this terrible global testimony that we should be lamenting.
This kind of bullying and misogyny and discrimination are the shared sins that we who claim Christ should be corporately repenting of.
If we continue to respond to diversity of thought or divergence from orthodoxy with expulsion, condemnation, and bitterness, we will ensure our extinction.
Jen Hatmaker is simply a sincere Christian doing her best to love people as Jesus loved people.
Sadly, in this day and in this Church—that has become a liability.
Forgive them, they know not what they do.