Jimmy Seibert, who pastors the Texas church attended by HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, says there is a reason to be "grateful" for the recent BuzzFeed article targeting him and the popular Christian couple because of his biblical teachings in opposition to same-sex marriage.
After BuzzFeed published what some consider to be a "hit piece" on Tuesday criticizing the Gaines for their association with Seibert and his views against homosexuality and last June's Supreme Court gay marriage decision, Seibert spoke with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on his "Washington Watch" radio program on Thursday.
As the BuzzFeed article and other websites piggybacking off BuzzFeed directly linked to a sermon that Seibert, the senior pastor at Antioch Community Church in Waco, preached the Sunday after the Supreme Court deemed gay marriage to be a constitutional right, Perkins asked Seibert if traffic on the church website had spiked in the days after the publication of the BuzzFeed piece.
Seibert responded by saying that the traffic to the sermon and website increased "a thousandfold yesterday."
"That reminds me of another passage in scripture [Romans 8:28] that says 'All things work together for good, for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose,'" Perkins stated. "You know, the evil meant for good is actually giving a platform to the truth. A lot of people are seeing something they may not have seen before."
Seibert agreed and said the increase in Web traffic has been the "most encouraging" development that spawned from the BuzzFeed article, which many Christian conservatives believe was meant to incite LGBT outrage toward the Gaineses.
"Thousands and maybe hundreds of thousands of people are now getting some Scripture, getting some clarity, some truth and some thought on this issue or marriage and life and sexual identity and all that," Seibert explained. "In a weird way, we are grateful that message is getting out."
Perkins went on to praise Seibert for preaching the biblical truth with a "redemptive heart" and said "that is not what the Left wants as the image of those who subscribe to a biblical worldview."
"My whole deal is that I call it compassion and clarity. God defined what marriage is, not you or I or anyone. God defined what male and female are and as a person of faith, I just decided that God is going to be right," Seibert asserted. "That means there has to be tremendous compassion for anyone in any sin or any journey, any challenge. There is great compassion for the journey but we can't change the fixed point."
"That is what I try to communicate over and over again," he continued. "If you are struggling with same-sex attraction, if you are in a homosexual lifestyle, if you are divorced, if you are broken, whatever it is, welcome to church. We are here for you with arms open wide. But we want to be clear that God's truth and God's Word is going to be our fixed point that we are all journeying toward."
Seibert added that the "fixed points are ultimately what set people free."
"Nobody is happy, ultimately free, until we allow God in our lives," Seibert stressed.
In his sermon on the Sunday after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, Seibert stressed that Christians willing to stand and defend the biblical definition of marriage and gender should be ready to face persecution.
Perkins asked Seibert if he ever believed that his teachings on sexuality and marriage would cause him to be at "the center of some kind of firestorm."
"In a weird way, actually yes," Seibert answered. "Whenever anybody is clear and loving in a culture that is trying to vilify anybody that believes something as clearly as marriage definition or gender definition, it is just built into the system that we get persecuted."
"What happens at times, people will get incredible favor — the Red Seas will part, you will be blown away at the favor your get to really share Jesus and to help people," Seibert added. "Other times, you will be persecuted just like Jesus. Whichever one comes, it's OK because God is not only with us but the only way the people get rescued and set free is when they stand in the battle and are willing with loving compassion to be truthful with people."
The Family Research Council is one of a handful of organizations that have launched online petitions in support of Seibert and the Gaineses. FRC's petition has been signed by over 21,400 people as of Friday afternoon.
Another online petition organized by the American Family Association, which calls on HGTV to stand by the Gaineses and their show "Fixer Upper," has amassed over 69,000 supporters as of Friday afternoon.
The controversy surrounding the Gaineses and Seibert comes after HGTV scrapped plans for a show featuring Christian conservative real estate entrepreneurs David and Jason Benham after LGBT activists complained about their views on marriage and sexuality in 2014.
Another petition launched by Life Petitions, a product of LifeSite News, has amassed over 7,000 signatures.