Yesterday a Christianity Today email touted the 2017 CT book awards list, so, always looking for new books to read, I went online to CT. A sidebar add for Bethany Jenkins, The Gospel Coalition’s Director of “Every Square Inch,” caught my eye so I checked out her blog on CT’s Christian Living channel. The post I read was entitled “The Most Revolutionary Thing a Woman Can Do.”
Bethany started her post by talking about women’s apologetic nature, that perhaps they apologize too much. Then she referred to a fellow female author and popular Christian speaker Glennon Doyle Melton as being unapologetic in her recent revelation that she is in a romantic relationship with another woman. Referring to Melton’s Instagram post
https://www.instagram.com/p/BMxd_1rBbfF/?hl=en Jenkins then proceeds to analyze Melton’s statement about her newfound love, and her not being concerned about what others think of her choice.
In the article Jenkins goes on to talk about the human need for outside approval, and that human approval is not what we need, but God’s approval. In doing so she criticizes Melton’s attitude of “self-approval,” that Glennon didn’t feel a need for outside approval. What follows is not particularly bad theology, but is applied in an unloving manner:
“But there is no peace in self-affirmation, since we’re not reliable sources. We’re fickle, vacillating daily between accusing and affirming ourselves. Our hearts are deceptive, seeking ways to embrace our selfish desires. Like Eve, we crave the words of the serpent: “Make yourself happy. Don’t worry about what anyone says. Do it your own way.”
We need someone—someone outside of us, someone who isn’t fickle or deceptive—to tell us who we are, what we need, and that we’re okay. In short, we need God. He is the only one who tells us that we’re far more broken than we think, but far more loved than we can imagine. His stamp of approval is the most affirming, since it is the most accurate.”
“Since God is coherent, life is not arbitrary. Following personal truths is cheap. Seeking revealed truth is costly. It requires the hard work of discernment, weighing alternative truth claims and counting the cost of discipleship.”
Bethany continues with a typically Evangelical appeal to the Absolute Truths of the Bible as opposed to Glennon’s “personal truths.”
I don’t follow either women, so I am not all that familiar with Bethany Jenkins. I am somewhat familiar with The Gospel Coalition, having read two books by members. I am also all too familiar with Bethany’s holier-than-thou preaching presented here. Bethany exhibits what is typically wrong with the Evangelical interaction with “the World.” She judges. Here we have a situation where a popular Christian female author and speaker has the courage to come out as Gay amongst a group that has a history of Gay-bashing, of turning on their own when they dare come out of the closet. Glennon is in a particularly vulnerable position. She may say she does not need outside affirmation, but her career, her livelihood, her friendship base, all are on the line. She needs affirmation! She needs support. She needs those, even those who disagree, to do the Christian thing and come alongside her.
Instead of offering love, Bethany offers correction. The fatal flaw in Evangelical interaction with others revolves around their “traffic cop” mentality. Being a “witness” usually devolves into some sort of speck-out-of-my-neighbor’s-eye plucking. It is why “love the sinner, but hate the sin” is so ineffective. Once you’ve defined another by their “sin,” you’ve objectified them and they’ve lost their humanity and worth. The fact that Glennon is a woman who’s world fell apart when she found out her husband was cheating on her seems to have no bearing on Bethany’s post. Glennon’s pain is not the important thing here, correct theology is.
Bethany, I am disappointed in you. You’ve selected to take a cheap shot at another woman, all in the name of theological certitude. The most revolutionary thing a woman can do is offer another unconditional love.