In June of 2015, Ed Stetzer of LifeWay Research told The New York Times, “Well-known evangelicals who have shifted on same-sex marriage, you could fit them all in an S.U.V." But prominent evangelical Christians continue to become publicly affirming of LGBT persons, and serious religion-watchers only expect the trend to continue. Stetzer's S.U.V. is quickly becoming an convoy, and now prominent Christian author Jen Hatmaker appears to be riding along too.
In a Facebook post on April 23, the bestselling author of 7 and For the Love told LGBT persons "there is nothing 'wrong with you'" and said she believes it is time to offer LGBT persons full inclusion into the Christian community:
So whatever the cost and loss, this is where I am: gay teens? Gay adults? Mamas and daddies of precious gaybees? Friends and beloved neighbors of very dear LGBT folks?
Here are my arms open wide. So wide that every last one of you can jump inside. You are so dear, so beloved, so precious and important. You matter so desperately and your life is worthy and beautiful.
Hatmaker and her husband, a prominent pastor in Austin, Texas, recently starred in a home renovation show on HGTV. She is a popular speaker at major Christian events and runs a popular blog.
In 2014, after Christian relief organization World Vision announced they would no longer refuse to hire married LGBT persons (before reversing their decision), Hatmaker penned a controversial response to the news on her blog. In it, she asserted, "Godly, respectable leaders have exegeted the Bible and there is absolutely not unanimity on its interpretation." After an online backlash, she wrote a follow-up post asserting a more conservative position on the matter os sexuality and marriage.
Her seeming shift will undoubtedly anger some conservative Christians who have decided that homosexual marriage and relationships are a hill on which to die. Hatmaker acknowledged that some Christians may abandon her in light of her evolution on this issue, but appears willing to accept whatever blowback is coming because she believes the stakes are too high.
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.
The Facebook post has received more than 34,000 likes as of the time of this posting. The comment section on the post were filled with a mixture of celebration and lament from her Christian fans.
Hatmaker, who did not immediately return requests for comment, concluded the post by saying, "Anyhow, my message to you today is simple, LGBT gang and all those who love you: You are loved and special and wanted and needed. The end."