Category Archives: Society and Culture

The Problem with “Going to the Basement”

A response to Jen Hatmaker’s “In the Basement” blog post:

Jen Hatmaker’s “above-the-fray” stance here strikes me as ironically judgmental.  What is more, she lobs this intellectual hand grenade into a house embattled with debate and then claims to retire “to the basement,” urging those who witness the explosion to refrain from applying its sentiment to subsequent volleys of the “culture war” she is fed up with.

She is right to say that there are far better ways for Christians to engage the culture than thoughtlessly echoing or initiating bitter Facebook rants.  And I acknowledge that many of us are called to fight more spiritedly in battles other than the one involving same-sex marriage.  Still, I respectfully question whether Jen Hatmaker is in a position to decree that this particular issue–because it is divisive–categorically ranks below the causes she champions (as worthy as they are).

Again, I agree:  how we participate in the struggle matters, and the love of Christ is the indispensable tool we must employ boldly as we labor amid the storm.

But the grace-filled message that Hatmaker conveys with respect to the sin of homosexuality is confusing.  Grace does not flow from the heart of God concurrently with a subtle undertow that seems to condone sin.  Rather, grace is received with repentance.  By going to “the basement” and barring the storm door to avoid the din of a specific controversy, we sidestep the fact that truth goes hand in hand with grace.  When compelled to think about difficult emotion-infused issues, we must try to condition our minds to ask not “what is working?” but “what is true?”  The answer to the second question may make us uncomfortable.

In the recent flare-up over Chick-fil-A’s long-held and rather unsurprising position on same-sex marriage, there have emerged calls for Christians to “break the spiral of silence” in a way that upholds the grace and truth at the core of the gospel.  I “get” how Jen Hatmaker’s message resonates with believers who feel bombarded by the prolonged, often spiteful, exchange.  But must we all go down to the basement only to embrace love in a safe place, eat our chicken nuggets in peace, and thus muffle our voices on this issue?  Can any of us imagine Jesus–the good shepherd of grace (Jn 10:11) and truth (Mt 25:32)–“going to the basement” as Hatmaker exhorts?

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the head, that is Christ.”–Ephesians 4:15

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Posted by on July 28, 2012 in Society and Culture, Truth