Chip and Joanna Gaines have created an empire.
Given their humble spirits and southern courtesy, they likely would not agree to such a magnanimous statement. However anyone familiar with the Magnolia brand knows the far-reaching effect this couple has.
Not only do the Gaineses run a successful business in Waco, TX, but their business has been credited for revitalizing an entire town and industry. The silos of Waco, TX have become a place of modern pilgrimage. Their HGTV Show, Fixer Upper, is one of the most popular shows on television with a wide audience of viewers. Chip and Joanna have graced the cover of People magazine as well as many other publications. They are the authors of an award-winning book. They have their own lines of home décor, clothing, jewelry, and art. Joanna even has her own line of premium interior paint (#LifeGoals).
But ask any fan of the Fixer Upper TV show, and they will quickly tell you while they enjoy the show itself, it is Chip and Joanna themselves who are the center of their affections. From Chip’s quirky sense of humor to Joanna’s seemingly endless flow of creativity, this couple has humbly embraced the fame and status of recent years, yet continues to be the same down-home loving couple who weekly draw the eyes of millions.
Chip and Joanna are also Christians.
Their faith has been explicit on the show, and in other avenues, as they pray and share their stories about God’s leadership and their joyful submission to Jesus Christ. While their faith is not a centerpiece of the show, it is difficult to truly understand Chip and Joanna as spouses, business owners, and parents apart from their faith in God.
While much praise has been lavished on the couple, Buzzfeed and Cosmopolitan recently ran articles questioning and criticizing the couple. What they criticized was not their business dealings. It was not a great revelation about public sin or hypocrisy. It wasn’t even a hit piece on what this happy couple may be hiding in the silos (can you say “underground nuclear launch pad”?).
In fact, the articles were not really about Chip and Joanna at all.
The articles centered around some statements from Jimmy Seibert who is Chip and Joanna’s pastor and friend at Antioch Community Church. These statements were in affirmation of the cross-cultural, orthodox, long-affirmed, Christian principle that marriage is a gift from God meant for one man and one woman for life.
In response to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling affirming gay marriage, Seibert took the opportunity to uphold the biblical view of marriage that Antioch has held to since its inception and that orthodox Christians (as well as Muslims, Jews, Mormons, and Catholics) have affirmed for thousands of years.
Both of these articles, as well as a host of online voices, instead of simply stating disagreement or disappointment at the pastor’s words, are taking the opportunity to call Chip and Joanna into the dock. Calls and emails have flooded the Magnolia office as well as those of HGTV and Antioch Community Church.
These inquiring minds are calling into question Chip and Joanna themselves and demanding that they make a statement in regard to their beliefs regarding homosexuality and gay marriage. And the tabloids are salivating.
Both articles stop just short of labeling the Gaineses as hateful bigots. However, simply scroll down to the comment section and you will quickly see the fire ignited by the articles’ kindling. Many are calling for HGTV to cancel the show. They are calling for Chip and Joanna to recant their pastor’s words or face the painful throws of culture’s anti-Christian wind.
Again, Chip and Joanna have never been accused of discrimination on or off the show. They have never expressed harsh words or ideologies regarding homosexuality or homosexuals. They didn’t do anything other than be a part of an orthodox Christian church.
Among many things of note here, one for Christians to see is that we who hold to biblical authority and principles are no longer judged by our own actions – even if we have been proved as loving, hospitable, charitable and gracious (as Chip and Joanna have). Rather, the label of “hate” or “bigotry” can apparently be added despite one’s overall character or belief.
Chip and Joanna have stayed silent on the issue, but my assumption is they would agree with their pastor’s statements (at least most of them), but don’t want to cause unjust scrutiny based on a culture war in which they never took up arms.
Can a Christian believe in orthodox biblical manhood, womanhood, sexuality and marriage while still loving their neighbor regardless of sexual orientation? Can Jesus call prostitution, swindling, lying, and abandoning sin, yet still love the Luke 7 prostitute, Zacchaeus, Peter, and the other disciples?
The answer unequivocally is yes. However, the fact that prominent media sources would dig through a pastors sermon archive (the sermon in question was from June 2015 – almost a year and a half ago) simply to attack Chip and Joanna Gaines by association is perhaps a new low.
Christian, we shouldn’t be surprised at this. Many in our culture have become bent toward destroying the lives and character of those who profess Christianity and biblical authority. This isn’t new. Christians have been persecuted for thousands of years and the degree is much worse in other parts of the world.
So what are we to do about this? I believe Chip and Joanna have offered us a good model. Even in a few secular media outlets, some kickback is beginning to arise against Buzzfeed and Cosmopolitan for such a hit piece. Why? Because Chip and Joanna have lived lives marked by grace, love, conviction and charitableness.
The way we live our lives every day matters even if we aren’t being followed by a camera. We who affirm the Bible’s words that engaging in the homosexual lifestyle is sin must also daily affirm the Bible’s words that every one of us has sinned and has no hope apart from Jesus Christ who has the power to cleanse us from every sin and give us new life in Him.
Don’t shy away from declaring truth because Chip and Joanna are being held up to the light of scrutiny. Antioch Community Church will not be the last church to have its sermon archives examined, and pastors (as well as their church members) will be held accountable for their words. But remember, our accountability ultimately is not to Buzzfeed or Cosmo. Our accountability is to the Lord God.
So may we speak boldly like God, but may we also love boldly like God. May our daily lives speak louder than our enemies’ attacks – ultimately that many would come to joyful repentance and life in the gospel.
And pray for Chip and Joanna Gaines.
“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (Titus 2:7-8).