If you’re a fan of home improvement shows, it’s hard not to love Chip and Joanna Gaines, the stars of the hit HGTV reality program “Fixer Upper.”
The couple has taken the television world by storm since the show first aired in 2013. And while they’re talented home renovators and savvy businesspeople, those aren’t the main reasons for their popularity.
Fans will happily tell you there’s something different about the Gaineses. They’re kind, funny, and devoted to their four young children. They have a strong marriage, treating each other with love, appreciation, and respect.
There’s good reason for the way Chip and Joanna live their lives: they’re Christians.
The couple is open about their faith, sharing their story with I Am Second, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, in a video for The Gathering that’s been watched almost 6 million times, and with their home church, Antioch Community Church.
And it’s their association with Antioch that recently put the Gaineses under scrutiny. Last week, the digital media news and entertainment company BuzzFeed targeted them in an article some are calling a “hit piece.”
“Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Church Is Firmly Against Same-Sex Marriage,” the headline breathlessly proclaimed.
The sense of outrage continued within the article, where Kate Aurthur quoted the church’s stance on the topic. “’Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.’ The church has held the same position since [Pastor Jimmy] Seibert founded it 17 years ago.”
Perhaps Aurthur isn’t aware of this, but there are countless other Protestant and Catholic congregations across the U.S. that teach marriage is between one man and one woman. In fact, there are at least 14 different faith traditions around the world that teach that very thing.
So is it really news that a Christian church teaches God’s design for human sexuality?
BuzzFeed thought it was.
Cosmopolitan did, too. A few days later it published its own version of the “news,” where reporter Gina Mei was seemingly aghast that the Gaineses’ “pastor preaches ‘homosexuality is a sin.’”
Mind you, BuzzFeed and Cosmopolitan don’t even officially know what Chip and Joanna’s stance on marriage is, because they’ve never publicly addressed the topic. And there’s no evidence the couple has ever said or done anything mean-spirited against a person who identifies with a different sexual orientation.
So apparently, in today’s world, merely going to a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church is enough to warrant an inquisition that can threaten a family’s livelihood.
So much for tolerance.
How did the Gaineses respond to the storm swirling around them?
In characteristic fashion, their response has been consistent with their Christian faith. Go to Chip’s Twitter account and you’ll see a man living out his beliefs in unassuming fashion. Here are four things I see modeled in Chip Gaines’ tweets.
1. Christians find refuge in God’s Word.
When the “story” first broke, it was evident Chip has been reading his Bible and meditating on Scripture. He tweeted 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, writing, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. DO EVERYTHING IN LOVE.”
A few days later, he shared the passage from Ephesians 2:8-9: “Its by grace u have been saved, through faith, & this is not from yourselves, it’s the gift of God. Not by works, so that no one can boast”
When things around us seem shaky, Christians can securely stand on the solid ground of God’s truth.
2. Christians seek support and counsel from their faith family.
We weren’t meant to walk this road alone, which is why God places us in community. Wise Christians will turn to their church and faith family for the encouragement they need to persevere. So when we see Chip tweet, “In times of trouble … you’ll find the gaines family at church,” we can be heartened to know they’re receiving the support they need.
3. Christians are thankful.
No matter how hard things might get, God’s mercies are new every morning. There’s always something to be grateful for. Maintaining an attitude of thankfulness protects Christians from discouragement and keeps us from developing a sense of entitlement.
Chip shows that grounded perspective when he shared that “even as all hell ‘appears’ to be breaking loose” he can “look at my 4 precious babies, or kiss Jo good morning … and at least at that moment, at my house, all is right with the world.”
4. Christians show love.
So far it seems that the articles by BuzzFeed and Cosmopolitan aren’t going to have the effect the outlets seemingly wanted: Chip and Joanna’s fan base remains, and – perhaps somewhat surprisingly – HGTV continues to support its stars. In fact, there’s been considerable backlash against BuzzFeed.
And with that comes some individuals who might show their support for Chip and Joanna – and disdain against the thought police – in inappropriate ways. Chip addressed them in a tweet that said, “I ask that people please! respect @KateAurthur & @ginamei.”
Aurthur even responded with a tweet of her own: “Thank you, Chip.”
What a beautiful way to model Christian love.
I share all of this with you because, as the culture continues to move away from biblical truth, Christians will continue to receive a heightened level of scrutiny about our beliefs, especially when it comes to issues related to sexuality.
Will we respond to that rejection in truth and love and with faith?
The time to set our priorities and steel our spines is now. This way, when the trials come, we’ll be ready.
I’d like to hear from you. What do you think about the criticism Chip and Joanna have received? Do you think increased opposition is coming to Christian beliefs in the future? How do you think Christians should respond? Let me know in the comments section, below.
The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today. Purchase Chip and Joanna’s book today!