Cosmopolitan and Buzzfeed recently discovered that the church Chip and Joanna Gaines attend, Antioch Community Church, is led by a pastor who does not support same-sex marriage and who believes that homosexual practice is a sin. In other words, Chip and Joanna Gaines attend a historically Christian congregation on the matter of sexual ethics.
Now, not all Christians will agree with some of the statistics cited by the Gaines’ pastor, his linking homosexuality in most cases to abuse, or his portrayal of the “gay lifestyle.” But there is nothing newsworthy about a Christian church teaching that male-female marriage is God’s original design and that newly invented definitions fall short of God’s intention for human flourishing.
What is newsworthy is the religious undertone of the Cosmopolitan article. It reads like a heresy hunt. The magazine has “uncovered something many fans will likely want an explanation for—a startling revelation that has left many wondering where Chip and Jo stand.”
Buzzfeed is seeking clarification from HGTV, hoping (apparently) to hear the Gaines recant their pastor’s heretical beliefs. Until then “their silence speaks volumes.”
Uncovering the ‘Heretics’
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen reality TV stars come under fire for Christian beliefs. It’s happened to the Duck Dynasty patriarch, the Duggars (before their other scandals), and the Benham Brothers. After an initial “uncovering” of the disturbing perspective, outrage ensues, ultimatums are given, the stars are expected to recant, or the company is pressured to punish the heretics by cutting ties.
If my use of religious terminology to describe this phenomenon surprises you, it shouldn’t. Mary Eberstadt has pointed out the religious dimension to the Sexual Revolution:
The fundamental impulse leading to the penalizing of moral traditionalists today is not libertarian. It is instead neo-puritanical—that is, it is aimed at safeguarding its own body of revealed and developed truths, and at marginalizing, silencing, and punishing competitors.
The bedrock of contemporary progressivism can only be described as quasi-religious. . . . Exactly like followers of other faiths, they believe both that they are right, and that people who disagree are wrong—and that those other people ought to think differently.
The so-called culture war, in other words, has not been conducted by people of religious faith on one side, and people of no faith on the other. It is instead a contest of competing faiths: one in the Good Book, and the other in the more newly written figurative book of secularist orthodoxy about the sexual revolution. In sum, secularist progressivism today is less a political movement than a church.
Exclusion in the Name of Diversity
Supporters of same-sex marriage once leaned on libertarian terminology to make their case. “Just live and let live,” we were told. Nowadays, despite surveys showing that only half of Americans support same-sex marriage, the traditional view, accepted by nearly all societies across the world for thousands of years, is treated as if it is a fringe position, worthy of public scorn.
The Cosmopolitan article says the revelation about the Gaines’ church is startling due to “the diversity of their audience.” If diversity were truly valued, then it wouldn’t be controversial to have a traditional Christian on an HGTV show.
Just think. If uniformity on sexual ethics is required, then Cosmopolitan would, in the name of diversity, bar the door to a Muslim host of a show, or an Orthodox Jew, or a convictional Catholic. No, this is not about diversity and inclusion; it’s about enforcing the new moral orthodoxy by shaming “cultural heretics.”
Christians as “Sex Rebels”
One of the chapters in my new book, This Is Our Time, is called “Sex Rebels” because it makes the case that Christians in our generation will be known for dissent from this ideology.
In the 1960s and ’70s, the sexual rebels were the hippies who wanted to throw off moral restraints in favor of “free love.” In the 21st century, the sexual rebels will be Christians who dissent from Sexual Revolution dogma.
But there’s no reason to be gloomy about the task we have before us. We have the privilege of bearing cultural reproach for the sake of the kingdom, and accepting the challenge to embody a different way of life.
If we’re going to be outcasts and dissenters, let’s be the kind of rebels that don’t just expose the lies of the Sexual Revolution. Let’s answer the longings of our society by offering an entirely different vision of sex and marriage. Let’s declare what God is for. After all, God’s “no” to certain kinds of sexual behavior goes along with God’s “yes” to sex in its proper place (marriage) and also celebrates various kinds of non-sexual but vitally necessary companionship within the community of faith.
Meanwhile, pray for Chip and Joanna and their church. The cultural inquisition is coming.