|Let’s begin with this disclosure: Chip and Joanna Gaines are my favorite television personalities. Their HGTV show, Fixer Upper, is one of the most popular shows on the network. They are smart, funny, and entertaining. And the good they do in helping couples renovate houses into homes is terrific.
Now they’re in the news for something they have neither done nor said. A BuzzFeed reporter wanted to know what these devout Christians think about same-sex marriage and whether they would ever feature a same-sex couple on their show. She emailed their company, then called and sent emails to HGTV, but they were not returned.
(HGTV later responded by stating, “We don’t discriminate against members of the LGBT community in any of our shows. HGTV is proud to have a crystal clear, consistent record of including people from all walks of life in its series.”)
The BuzzFeed reporter then turned to Chip and Joanna’s pastor, Jimmy Seibert of Antioch Community Church in Waco. When she called the church, she was referred to its website which states, “Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.” Then she watched Rev. Seibert’s online sermon from the Sunday after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. She proceeded to excerpt parts of the sermon she found most offensive and provided her critical commentary along the way.
One commentator called her treatment of Chip and Joanna Gaines and their church “harassment” and noted that her article has no journalistic content. The writer never spoke with the couple or their pastor. To the degree that her article harms Fixer Upper and its hosts, the reporter will have reinforced the message that those who affirm biblical marriage are fair game for whatever vitriol they receive.
Christians facing persecution is an escalating theme today. According to Christian Solidarity Network (CSN), about 2,000 Assemblies of God churches in Cuba were declared illegal and marked for seizure by the government last year. In the first six months of 2016, CSN recorded more than 1,600 religious freedom abuses in Cuba. Four large Cuban churches have been demolished and their sound equipment stolen this year.
Open Doors notes that the persecution of Christians has increased across every region where their ministry operates. They report that more than 100 million Christians are being persecuted globally.
Of course, it is unfair to compare believers facing execution and/or confiscation of their churches and property with believers being ridiculed for their biblical beliefs regarding marriage. What the two kinds of persecution have in common is that both intend to pressure Christians to change their convictions. If believers in the Middle East would convert to ISIS-brand Islam, they would be spared. If believers in America would abandon their biblical beliefs regarding marriage, they would be celebrated.
Here’s the decision we each must make: What price will we pay to follow Jesus? Is there anywhere you will not go? Any person you will not serve? Any witness you will not give? Any sacrifice you will not make? Remembering what Jesus gave up in heaven to become an infant on earth, how can we refuse the One who loves us so?
In his sermon on same-sex marriage, Rev. Seibert told his congregation, “We’re being called to a higher calling. A greater compassion and love, but a greater clarity than ever before.” How will you answer this call?
NOTE: For my latest website article, please see Ice cream for breakfast makes you smarter.