Jen Hatmaker, the Christian author and speaker whose books were pulled from LifeWay Christian store after she said same-sex relationships can be "holy", has said she "dreams" that one day the church will be "safe" for the LGBT community.
"I just sort of have this dream for the church where it is safe and it is wide and it is generous and it includes all of our voices," Hatmaker recently told Religion News Service. "For the longest time, the church has essentially had one voice - sort of the white, male voice. I'm starting to realize how much the church is missing when we silence whole people groups, like you're either not welcome at all, or you're welcome but not your voice, not your experience, not your life, and I saw that with the LGBTQ community."
Hatmaker, who today released her latest book "Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life", added that "when you see that much pain in a people group at the hands of the church, just my fundamental spiritual sensibility says something is wrong here simply because this is not the way God designed his community."
She continued: "In God's community when you read Scripture he says these are the things you're going to see in a healthy spiritual space: You're going to see love, you're going to see joy, you're going to see peace and patience and kindness and generosity and unity and community. So when, in any scenario with any people group, we see the exact opposite - we see pain and harm and self-harm and broken families and rejection and loss in mass capacity, not as an exception, but as a rule - at some point, we just have to ask questions."
As reported, Hatmaker last year set off a debate when she said she affirmed same-sex marriage. At the time, she said that gay couples need marriage and parenting guidance, which the church could give them.
"From a spiritual perspective, since gay marriage is legal in all 50 states, our communities have plenty of gay couples who, just like the rest of us, need marriage support and parenting help and Christian community," Hatmaker said. "They are either going to find those resources in the church or they are not."
She added that gay couples are our "neighbors and friends" and our "brothers and sisters in Christ" who belong to the same family as Christians.
"They are adopted into the same family as the rest of us, and the church hasn't treated the LGBT community like family. We have to do better," she said.
Hatmaker also said she would gladly attend a friend's gay wedding, and when asked if she believes an LGBT relationship can be holy, she said yes.
While some - including popular author Glennon Doyle Melton - backed Hatmaker, author and writer Rosaria Butterfield, herself a former lesbian, penned a powerful op-ed explaining that Hatmaker, by affirming the gay community, was damaging those created in God's image - not helping them.
"A few years ago, I was speaking at a large church," Butterfield shared. "An older woman waited until the end of the evening and approached me. She told me that she was 75 years old, that she had been married to a woman for 50 years, and that she and her partner had children and grandchildren. Then she said something chilling. In a hushed voice, she whispered, "I have heard the gospel, and I understand that I may lose everything. Why didn't anyone tell me this before? Why did people I love not tell me that I would one day have to choose like this?"
That's a good question.
Why did not one person tell this dear image bearer that she could not have illicit love and gospel peace at the same time?
Why didn't anyone-throughout all of these decades-tell this woman that sin and Christ cannot abide together, for the cross never makes itself an ally with the sin it must crush, because Christ took our sin upon himself and paid the ransom for its dreadful cost?"