HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, who in December found themselves at the center of a cultural storm after secular media reports revealed that they attend a church that teaches the Bible and its definition of marriage, have said that humanity has never been "more divided," but 2017 is the time to change the conversation.
"This past year has been tough. In my lifetime, I can't recall humanity being more divided. Plenty of folks are sad and scared and angry and there are sound bites being fed to us that seem fueled by judgment, fear and even hatred. Jo and I refuse to be baited into using our influence in a way that will further harm an already hurting world, this is our home. A house divided cannot stand," Chip Gaines wrote as part of a post on Magnolia Market titled "New Years' Revelation."
While Gaines did not specifically address the controversy surrounding the couple's Pastor, Jimmy Seibert of the Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas, whose teaching that homosexuality is a sin was targeted by LGBT activists who demanded HGTV cancel "Fixer Upper," he wrote that the only way to treat people who are different is with "dignity and with love."
"Joanna and I have personal convictions. One of them is this: we care about you for the simple fact that you are a person, our neighbor on planet Earth. It's not about what color your skin is, how much money you have in the bank, your political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, nationality or faith," he wrote.
"That's all fascinating, but it cannot add or take away from the reality that we're already pulling for you. We are not about to get in the nasty business of throwing stones at each other, don't ask us to cause we won't play that way."
Gaines said that 2017 was the year to "change the conversation" and build bridges, along with seeking healing and compassion.
"I think we are all here for a reason. I think we all have a call on our lives. Your role is not my role, and thank goodness, because there is so much unique and important work to be done. Jo and I feel called to be bridge builders," he continued.
"We want to help initiate conversations between people that don't think alike. Listen to me, we do not all have to agree with each other. Disagreement is not the same thing as hate, don't believe that lie."
The "Fixer Upper" star then reiterated his point that the world must learn how to "lovingly disagree."
"If your position only extends love to the people who agree with you, we want to respectfully challenge that position. We propose operating with a love so real and true that you are willing to roll up your sleeves and work alongside the very people that are most unlike you," he said.
"Fear dissolves in close proximity. Our stereotypes and vain imaginations fall away when we labor side by side. This is how a house gets unified."
Other conservatives, such as Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham, likened the original BuzzFeed article which highlighted Seibert's comments against gay marriage to a "witch hunt."
"It's nothing more than a secularist 'witch hunt' against those who may not agree with them," Ham wrote last month.
"BuzzFeed plainly shows intolerance of those who believe in biblical marriage by this attack. LGBT activists usually don't just want freedom for their view but aggressively try to impose their view on others. They're often intolerant and prejudiced against Christianity — they need to learn tolerance," he added.