The podcast episode is raw and heartbreaking. Host Jen Hatmaker, a popular author and speaker, invited her daughter Sydney to discuss her homosexuality and spirituality. The open discussion was part of a special “A Moment of Pride” series on Hatmaker’s “For the Love” podcast.
“This is like a known fact in our family, and has been,” Hatmaker prefaced the podcast. “This is not news, this is not new news, this is not an announcement.”
Sydney speaks of recognizing she was lesbian around 12 years old (12 years old!), having pretend crushes on boys, and finally understanding her sexuality thanks to “representation of gay people just in movies and stuff.”
She admits to struggling with confusion and, quite sadly, doing her own comprehensive Bible study to understand varying perspectives.
Sydney explained, “I just remember trying to Google it, and one of the first resources that I found was just this person talking about various Christian perspectives on same-sex marriage. And they were kind of providing some different leaders who had said different things on it.”
The article mentioned those who were “loving, but unaffirming” and then linked to an article written by Jen Hatmaker at the time. Sydney said, after that moment, “I didn’t touch a Bible for years.”
Towards the end of the podcast, Hatmaker says that among her greatest regrets is not reconciling homosexuality and Christianity sooner. In her own words:
So, it will just always be my greatest sadness that Dad and I did not do our own work early enough so that you felt safe and beloved in your own family—or that we didn’t do our work in front of you even, that that was not something that we were talking about. He and I were, but we weren’t talking deeply about what we were learning and processing in front of you, and thus left you alone, and vulnerable, and scared. And I am so sorry. And I’m so sad. And if I could go back, I would change it. I would shake myself to life before you were even born, shake some sense into me. Like, "Look at this, look at what this is causing. Just look around, use your eyes, use your ears, use your brain, and use your heart."
“I would not change one molecule of you, not one. I’m so glad you’re gay, I’m so proud that you are free. I love that this is how you were made. I’m thrilled about your future,” Hatmaker concluded.
The words of Romans 1:32 are striking. “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
Hear me, I know we are all deserving of death because of our sin. It’s only because Jesus Christ paid our debts that we have life. But Romans 1:32 is a warning to those who blatantly disregard the moral law and deadly effects of sin.
We’re listening to this happen on a podcast between Jen and Sydney Hatmaker. A popular Christian mother overlooks any recognition of sin and even apologizes for once affirming moral law.
I have no doubt that the love and experiences discussed by Jen and Sydney are genuine. As a mom of two precious babies, I feel compassion for Hatmaker. To think of my daughter feeling scared and confused because of her attractions is unbearable. So I’m trying to approach this discussion with gentleness.
Yet, it is painful to listen as there is no recognition of wrong.
It is also heartbreaking to hear of parents who deny relationship with their kids because of sin. To threaten or manipulate a child to change who is struggling with same-sex attraction is not the answer either.
Hatmaker has long spoken of motherhood and parenthood. She has a strong influence on young Christian moms. Her words and actions are effective, whether we like them or not. And how she approaches her daughter’s sexuality will influence a cohort of young moms, many thousands who attend conservative evangelical churches.
Yes, I recognize that I have little authority to speak on parenting young adults with gay identities, and so I want to proceed cautiously here.
I do wish that more Christian leaders (with more authority than this blogger has) were sounding the alarm. But there’s been little commentary, especially from female Christian leaders.
Where are the mature Christian mamas who’ve grappled with extending grace to their beloved children while also affirming orthodox Christian teachings? Their experiences and insights are what we need to hear now.
I know they are out there somewhere. Online, it’s just easier to find the Hatmakers — those who affirm without recognition of wrong. Their online communities are massive and devoted. Some other female Christian leaders just avoid the topic altogether, likely due to fear of the “Cancel culture” (but that’s a post for another day).
Affirmation of sin isn’t limited to homosexuality. We especially see it happen with cohabitation and premarital sex. Some Christian parents hand their teenage daughters hormonal contraception and IUDs and give their sons barrier methods, with little discouragement and discussion. They are buying into a culture that says: “abstinence is unachievable, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
We cannot change or control our kids. I’m learning this lesson, even with toddlers. And we do not own our kids, whether they are toddlers or young adults. I’m especially learning this lesson. Our children are gifts given to us by God that come with a responsibility to demonstrate both God’s grace and God’s law. (Thank you author Paul Tripp and his book Parenting for teaching me these principles.)
Parenthood is hard.
Somehow we must show love without sacrificing truth. I’ll be the first to raise my hand in exhaustion and discouragement and recognize this challenge.
Yet, Romans 6:23 warns, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This truth is frightening. I can’t bear to think of my children perishing and being part of the reason why they couldn’t recognize sin. This verse should be enough to motivate us to boldly denounce sin, while demonstrating unconditional love.
There’s no Christian formula or 7-step article that holds the answers to this challenge. But with Him all things are possible.
Actually, only with Him is godly parenting possible.
Chelsen Vicari is the author of Distortion: How the New Christian Left is Twisting the Gospel and Damaging the Faith. Follow her on twitter @ChelsenVicari