In Support of Chip and Joanna Gaines

In a recent article, Buzzfeed let drop that the pastor of evangelical HGTV personalities Chip and Joanna Gaines opposes same-sex marriage.

According to Cosmopolitan magazine, this is a matter worth answering for:

As the article explains, the Gaines family are devout Christians and attend Antioch Community Church — where their pastor, Jimmy Seibert, is both staunchly against same-sex marriage and a strong believer that homosexuality is a “lifestyle” choice and a “sin.”

Many of us who appreciate the Gaines and their family-friendly home-renovation show Fixer Upper have wondered when this shoe would drop. For several years, the Gaines have been clear about their Christian faith while maintaining a consistently friendly witness. Now, however, they and their church are being cast as hateful and intolerant by the mainstream media.

This is deeply lamentable. Chip and Joanna Gaines believe what billions of people around the world believe. If you add up the rough numbers of global Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims, you recognize that 3.6 billion people belong to a religious tradition that teaches that same-sex marriage is not God’s design. Billions of people believe that homosexuality in some form is sinful. This is not news. It is not culturally or historically aberrant. It is the historic view of much of humanity, past and present.

American society is premised on religious freedom. Religious traditions have the right to teach their doctrine and call their followers to abide by it. Sadly, this historic principle of American life is under fire today. America must choose for itself: does it wish to marginalize religious people? Under the banner of tolerance, will it enact persecution against religious individuals and communities? These are the central societal questions of our time.

Fair-minded individuals should push back against the culture of intolerance that now seeks to tar and feather the Gaines family. Christians and other religious folks should speak up on their behalf, but so should reasonable people of every stripe. Nothing is more intolerant than ideological persecution. Nothing is less progressive than attacks on citizens who are living out their convictions. The true progressive, after all, seeks the conservation of all that is best in a society and culture. So I have argued before at some length.

We are in a strange moment as a nation. The Muslim attacker at Ohio State is defended by public leaders for his religious views while an evangelical couple that builds houses for single mothers is under fire for believing what billions of people hold. This is wrong, and unfair, and citizens should oppose this illogic as it picks up speed.

America should not be a nation friendly to only one group, one point-of-view. America should welcome people of all creeds and faiths and views. Many agree, and so I predict that this attack on the Gaines family will backfire. As we have seen politically in recent days, there is tremendous—and justified—opposition to the cultural policing of people whose views run counter to the mainstream media. Many of us want to live in a culture where we can disagree like adults, and where many views compete for cultural adoption.

That, to use a metaphor familiar to HGTV viewers, is a societal house worth living in.