Dear Nichole,

I don’t know who you are, but my producer alerted me to the fact that you had commented on my video, and that I should definitely read it. You sound like a very busy, talented woman, so I just want to say thank you for taking the time to watch my video and respond. You spent a lot of time and effort in responding, and I would like to do you the same courtesy here. You said:

Yesterday, I was texting with a friend about how heavy hearted and deeply grieved I was by some of the hurtful things I have read in response to Jen’s interview. My friend responded by saying, “Then, you might not want to watch this: “ and included the link to your video.

I’ve gone and back and forth about whether or not to post a comment. It’s been such a loud, hard week around all this, and it is certainly not my aim to add more noise.

Jen is a very dear friend of mine and I struggle to think of a person who loves people with more authenticity and tenderness. This is why so many people from all walks of life and faith, trust her with their brokenness. Because she’s a safe person to hand the pieces to. It’s been pretty rough for those of us who love her, to watch the tsunami of ugliness crash on her shores. I certainly don’t take issue with any respectful conversation about actual disagreement, or any voices of opposition. I’m so grateful for a culture and country where we all get a voice. We all get to stand by our own convictions. Thank God for that. But it’s just human nature to want to defend and protect our friends, when they are being hurt and ridiculed. I’m sure you have friends from whom you would lay across railroad tracks, so you know what I’m talking about.

I do know what it is like, and I empathize. Since coming out for the traditional view of marriage, I have been called ugly, stupid, incompetent, disgusting, better off dead, better off muzzled, etc. I’ve been told I should be put in a lion’s pit. I’m what’s wrong with America. And, [insert words I would never put in to print here]. The internet is such an ugly place, so I can imagine that Jen has had a difficult week, and I am very sorry about that. 

That said, I’m going to try and put my affection for and protection of my friend to the side here, and not respond from that emotional place.

I’m also going to try not to debate or argue the issue(s) with you. That is an endless loop of back and forth Biblical ammunition, interpretation, bias, and theological leanings. You are very clear about your position. It would be a waste of oxygen and blinking cursors for us to attempt to get on the same page. I am okay to disagree. Thankful for the space and freedom to do so.

Here’s what I do want to say to you:

You are clearly a bright, young woman. You are quick and funny. You have an interesting platform that seems like a fresh idea. Any time women find their voices outside of the typical churchy women topics that normally lull me to sleep, I want to cheer. That’s clearly what you’ve tapped into with your podcast and website. I think that’s awesome. I can recognize that you have a unique voice, and people are connecting.

But in this particular video and on this particular topic that voice sounds smug and condescending and arrogant and snarky. I almost couldn’t finish watching it because it was so awful. I did actually watch it in its entirety, as I felt I couldn’t authentically respond after having just “skimmed” it. And honestly? I feel like I can say these things to you, because it takes one to know one. Sarcasm is my love language. I get it. I get the dry blank stares at the camera, and the clever little pop up icons. This is the brand of humor I generally love. It is your shtick. You do it well.

First, thank you for watching, and for your compliment on the podcast and blog. I really appreciate that. Thank you for recognizing that we are not striving to be like every other churchy women’s group. 

Secondly, I see you, like many, have been offended that I mentioned I had only “skimmed” the article prior to the video. I explained in the video that I decided I wanted to read it *with* the audience *live*, and my intent was never to only skim the article. I think that explanation has been lost on many. I’m not sure why, since I responded rather fully and read Jen’s responses almost entirely and in full. No one that will go back and read her interview will think I misrepresented her. It seems kinda crazy to me that people want to throw in a little jab on this particular point in the video. Anyway….

What’s really blown me away this week (and you did it here better than most) has been the amount of insults that have been hurled my way by people who are upset because they think I’ve been insulting. You accuse me of arrogance and condescension and call the style of video my “schtick”, as if that isn’t insulting. This would be as if I had made a video about Jen Hatmaker, and called her a wimp, a flop, a fake, and said her bleeding-heart mentality is just her “schtick”. Now, THAT would be rude and condescending and not something I would ever do. In fact, it’s not something I did. I sought to engage with her arguments, something you’ve already said you have no interest in doing. I have no interest in labeling Jen or calling her names. And yet, I continue to receive the insults, all while being told I’m the one that is insulting. Can you see the double-standard here? 

But it so heartbreaking to watch someone do any shtick around this.

These are people, friend. Not material for banter.

Out of 41k views of your rude, sharp, biting, finger wagging commentary on Jen’s interview, I wonder what percentage of people who’ve seen it, would identify as LGTBQ. I wonder what percentage of them have felt so bruised and battered by the church that they can’t imagine what the arms of Jesus actually feel like, though they desperately long to. You have a right to your shtick. It’s your website. It’s your podcast. But your snark needs to be saved for topics that aren’t as tender.

Nichole, as I said in my video in regards to Jen, I applaud extreme care for the hearts of people. I do. But this is why we MUST engage on the topic at hand, and not just the feelings around it because you are asking that people consider “the arms of Jesus”. The arms of Jesus had nails pushed through them for the healing of the very sins that we are discussing. Jesus did not come to hug anyone in the LGBTQ community and encourage them to continue on in their sin, he died for these very sins! He did not sit with tax collectors and prostitutes in order that they may continue on in their sin (Romans 6:1-2), he came to save them from their sin and he called them to repent of their sin. No hug from you or I can bring peace between the LGBTQ community and Jesus. Only repentance and faith in Him can. 

The intersection of sexuality and faith is deeply personal and nuanced and complex. If you know someone in your life, a friend or relative, who has taken the risk to confide in you about their orientation and to wonder aloud about whether or not they have a place at Christ’s table…if you have actually seen those tears fall, you would know the tenderness that is required. The listening. The asking. You would know intuitively that it is not fodder for an online stand up routine.

My deep-seated belief is that anyone, no matter their sin, has a seat at Christ’s table, should they repent and believe the Gospel (Luke 5:32). I have gay friends, too. I’ve heard their struggle. I’ve cried with them. The difference between you, and Jen, and I, is that I love them enough to say the hard thing to them. Nichole, you cannot love your gay friends well and withhold the Gospel from them. You just can’t. 

The world is watching us. Watching the church. Watching how we respond to our gay brothers and sisters, and watching how we respond to each other…even if as Christians, we land in different places, theologically. And as a woman who has a growing platform and audience, and who claims to want to point people to the loving Gospel of Jesus, I’d love to see you put gentleness and kindness a bit higher on the list.

I am a little bit ahead of you on the road…a little older…and have had different platforms professionally over the last few decades, and I have learned this the hard way. I’ve made the mistake of trying to get a laugh from a stage, when my audience wanted me say something meaningful or transparent. Or just to say simply acknowledge my own confliction or sensitivity to an issue. I’m embarrassed to remember that girl, sometimes. She had a lot to learn, before she was instructed by humility and grace. And pain.

Thank you for your warnings. I don’t begrudge them in the slightest. I’ve found that no matter what I say, or how I say it, those on the opposing side will feel hurt and rejected. We disagree, and it’s 2016. As you’ve shown, people want to deal much more with the feeling on a topic than the actual topic itself. Buzzfeed produces videos like this all of the time that put Christians like me down, and no one blinks. Actually, I haven’t even blinked. All I have wanted to do is engage with the issues, but alas, I am a small fish in a big sea. 

Please hear me. While I do not share it, I don’t begrudge you sharing your position.

The church is going to have to get confortable having more and more and more of these conversations. It’s not going away. I have had plenty of these conversations myself with people who might not share my convictions, but who share my commitment to speak with love and respect. It’s the only place to start. No one ever runs to Jesus because they’ve been belittled or “educated” or shamed. We run because we are welcome. We run because we are loved in our brokenness. We run sometimes because somebody held our hand and offered to run with us, when we were unsure about our own worthiness.

Respectfully, if I am as arrogant and condescending as you think I am, you should begrudge my position. If I am pointing people away from the Gospel, please, begrudge me that. Stand in my way if I’m barring believers from Christ’s table. The Gospel is all that matters. 

People are hurting.
People need Jesus.
As a young woman with a microphone and a budding platform, please be more careful.

Nichole, please hear me. You believe I’ve made errors and you came and felt the need to correct them, so please take this as me doing the same, with the same encouraging intent. You want to hear my heart on the matter? Here it is: you have a huge responsibility, given your large audience, to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t waste it. Don’t bring shame to the arms that were pierced for these sins. You are absolutely right, people need Jesus. Please give them that. Anyone that denies the necessity of repentance and faith in Christ is preaching another Gospel, and if you lock arms with Jen and the LGBTQ community and demand inclusion, you are preaching another Gospel, plain and simple. 

It is not nuanced. There is no such thing as a “Christian thief” or a “Christian murderer” or a “Christian homosexual”.  If you have been made alive in Christ, literally a new creature, you are no longer defined or bound to the sins that once held you. Paul says, “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.” Such were some of us, Nichole, but it not our identity any longer. Are you encouraging sinners to identify with Christ, or identify with their sin? Love for the world is enmity with God. Are you encouraging enmity with God and asking that we believe it is the loving thing to do?

Much of the response I have gotten has involved questions like, “What about gluttony? Do you care about other sins?” Well, of course I do. I do not have it out for the LGBT community in some special way. I was responding specifically to Jen’s claims in the video, which were about this topic. But again, it’s 2016, and this is a major issue the church is facing. You are correct in that we must become comfortable having these conversations. I want to offer you this article, as it deals with much of the reason why we should care about this topic, why we should talk about it, and what the actual, Biblical view is. 

Honor Christ with your platform, Nichole. The dying world needs the Gospel. The hurting people you are talking about need the Gospel. Peruse my Facebook page and you’ll see that taking this stance won’t get you very many friends. I’m okay with that. Jesus said that he did not come to bring peace, but a sword, and anyone who loves his father or mother more than they love him, doesn’t belong to him (Matthew 10). Do you belong to Jesus? Are you willing to proclaim the Gospel that actually does bring peace, even when it’s hard and uncomfortable, and lose listeners? If your answer is no, I urge you to reconsider. 

Sincerely, 

Summer

P.S. This took me so long to write because I had babies to attend to. I didn’t know it was you until now, but your song “Slow Down” and the accompanying video? Oh my. Tears. All the tears. Every time. Thank you so much for that song, and sweet reminder!

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