David French has a piece that you need to read about the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando back in June of 2016. It is an article demanding that those who slandered American Christians in the aftermath of the attack, for creating a “climate of hate” towards LGBT citizens, be held accountable for their despicable mistake.
Though French seems to focus on the New York Times editorial board for their anti-Christian bigotry (as well he should, given that the Times pretends to be opinion shapers from the country’s most influential newspaper), I don’t hold out much hope for their penitence. They are worldly, harboring an irrational hatred for those who belong to Christ, and believers shouldn’t expect to be treated kindly by them.
Real disappointment and accountability from Christians should be levied, however, towards those of their own number who sought to puff themselves up as paragons of virtue while trampling the church under foot in the days after the Pulse attack.
One such Christian was author Jen Hatmaker. Having received worldly acclaim for her abandonment of God’s Word on sexual ethics, Hatmaker sadly saw in the slaughter of dozens of gay men and women the opportunity to blame the brethren for being at least partially responsible for the terror. She wrote two days after the attack,
“It is very difficult to accept the Christian lament for LGBTQ folks in their deaths when we've done such a brutal job of honoring them in their lives. It kind of feels like:
‘We don't like you, we don't support you, we think you are a mess, we don't agree with you, we don't welcome you, we don't approve of you, we don't listen to you, we don't affirm you. But please accept our comfort and kind words this week.’
Anti-LGBTQ sentiment has paved a long runway to hate crimes. When the gay community is denied civil liberties and respect and dignity, when we make gay jokes, when we say 'that's so gay', when we turn our noses up or down, when we qualify every solitary statement of love with a caveat of disapproval, when we consistently disavow everything about the LGBTQ community, we create a culture ripe for hate. We are complicit.”
Everyone gets carried away by our passions, but such a sweeping accusation against the redeemed of God would seemingly give pause to even the most emotional writer. Not Hatmaker. Though God was undoubtedly desiring to see from this horrific tragedy a unified voice of His church reaching out to the hurting, Hatmaker opted to make the case for good cop Christian vs. bad cop Christian. That was disappointing and harmful to the body of Christ. Rational Christian thinking would indicate that our grief would actually be greater and more intense if those who died were among the number we understood to be in rebellion to God. It's curious Hatmaker did not realize that.
But now we know her accusation also ended up being completely wrong.
After the trial of the killer’s wife, authorities now know that it was a random terror attack. Not premeditated. Not instigated by any bizarre hatred towards LGBT individuals. In fact, the Pulse nightclub wasn’t even the desired target:
The available evidence indicates that Mateen’s original target was Disney Springs and EVE Orlando, but he was deterred by “heavy, visible security.” He then googled “downtown Orlando nightclubs” before targeting Pulse. Mateen’s attack was a “crime of opportunity, the location chosen at random.”
Oof. To say that Hatmaker owes her fellow Christians an apology for her callous and unsubstantiated, slanderous accusation is a bit of an understatement. Moral disapproval of what the Bible calls sexual immorality is not creating a climate of hate that makes believers complicit with random acts of terrorism.
When Jesus affirmed the man/woman design for marriage He was not ripening the fruit of hatred. When the great Apostle Paul identified homosexual passions as those that must be resisted and made obedient to the will of Christ, he was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, not paving the road to hate crimes. And neither are Christ-followers today who echo them.
When speaking directly to his followers, Jesus instructed them plainly: “This is how the world will know you are my disciples: if you love one another.” In other words, when the world looks and sees the way Christians treat other Christians – as though they are true brothers and sisters, real family – it will be enticing.
There was nothing enticing to the world about Hatmaker’s ill-advised maligning of her brothers and sisters who choose allegiance to the word of God. For that she should repent and apologize.