On Redefining Words and Character Assassination

Disagreement does not an assassin make.

Hatmaker did more than break ranks with evangelicals (what does “evangelical” even mean anymore?). And certainly, I could care less if you call yourself an Evangelical or an Underwater Basket Weaver. I don’t know who the “powers-that-be” are, either, although Merritt makes much of some highfalutin aristocracy that presumably controls all of us (is this like the feminists and the elusive patriarchy?).

 

Jonathan Merritt recently wrote a piece supposedly lamenting the blogosphere’s character assassination of Jen Hatmaker. Merritt’s article is rife with words and phrases about those he disagrees with such as, “warlords”, “cowardly”, “dragged…to the stocks”, “christian mafia”, “evangelical aristocracy”, “pulverizing its uncompliant members”, “raging dumpster fire”, “unhinged racists”, and “rigid tribalism”,  to name a few. I take all of this to mean, don’t assassinate anyone’s character, you warring, low-down, no-good evangelicals, capiche? 

I, myself, have not seen any such character assassination in action. That’s not to say it hasn’t happened, but that the war-lording fervor Merritt paints a picture of has largely been missing from my feed. From what I have seen of Jen online, she is funny, smart, not too shabby with the pen, and has a crazy huge fan base. She’s sarcastic and whimsy, two things I value greatly in a person. Of course, I stridently disagree with everything Jen said that got us here in the first place (more on the “everything” later), but disagreement does not an assassin make. I suppose you could say consistently characterizing an entire group of people as tribes that pulverize dissenters might be harshly characterizing an entire group of people, but let’s not get too deep in the weeds here.

I responded in a video to her interview with Merritt last fall in which she identified as a truth-denier. I did so with sarcasm and whimsy, as was befitting, which I received quite a bit of character assassination for. Not everyone responds well to sarcasm and whimsy (as Jen herself knows) and that’s just fine with me. Any time you open your mouth on the internet to disagree with someone, there will be those who believe you are just a mean, nasty, terrible person who doesn’t know Jesus. Hopefully the irony of Merritt lamenting character assassination while sloppily painting a picture of all conservatives as blood-thirty warlords is not lost on us. Ahem.

Merritt wrote,

Hatmaker’s original sin is that she broke ranks with the evangelical powers-that-be on same-sex relationships. In an interview with me last October, Hatmaker stated that if she found out one of her children were gay, she would love that child just the same. If an LGBT friend of Hatmaker’s got married, she said she would attend the wedding. And Hatmaker said she believed LGBT relationships could be holy.

In the interview, Hatmaker did not deny a line in the Apostles Creed. She did not promote a historical heresy. She merely claimed that after a careful study of the scriptures, she had arrived at a different understanding of same-sex relationships. But this was enough to outrage some conservative Christians. Lifeway Christian Stores even banned her books from their shelves.

I’d like to pause to really reflect on the presuppositions here. Hatmaker did more than break ranks with evangelicals (what does “evangelical” even mean anymore?). And certainly, I could care less if you call yourself an Evangelical or an Underwater Basket Weaver. I don’t know who the “powers-that-be” are, either, although Merritt makes much of some highfalutin aristocracy that presumably controls all of us (is this like the feminists and the elusive patriarchy?).

The problem is not some ambiguous establishment that has plotted against Hatmaker. The problem is that Hatmaker broke ranks with what Christians have believed for thousands of years: namely, that God is holy. If God is holy, in order for anything to be holy, it cannot transgress the law of God. The Law of God is abundantly clear that homosexuality is a sexual perversion that goes against God’s law. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” No one who lives in unrepentant sin will see God. And the message of Christ was, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Hatmaker’s message is that you can remain in your sin and still be considered holy. Hatmaker’s gospel is, quite clearly, a gospel “contrary” to the one given to us in Scripture (Gal 1:8).

Further, I had no idea that the Apostles Creed, short and sweet as it is, was the gold standard for what is or is not heretical. I certainly have no problem saying that anyone who says that you CAN live in sin and still please God is without question in grave error (Rom 6:1). We know where the Bible stands on the issue of homosexuality. There are a great many things that the Apostles Creed does not cover, and merely agreeing with each line in it does not make one orthodox.

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