David and Jason Benham, two brothers who had their show cancelled by HGTV on account of “anti-gay” comments, called on Americans to show solidarity with Chip and Joanna Gaines, the “Fixer Upper” stars who came under fire last week for their pastor’s beliefs on same-sex marriage. The brothers called on Americans to hang magnolia wreaths on their doors to show their support for religious freedom.
BuzzFeed attacked the Gaineses, not for anything they said or did, but for the declarations of their pastor, Jimmy Seibert of Antioch Community Church. Other outlets followed suit, quoting Seibert’s views on homosexuality as beyond the pale and insinuating that HGTV should distance itself from the Gaineses. Even an openly gay man (and fervent supporter of same-sex marriage) condemned these attacks as “a non-story.”
Adrienne Royer at RedState suggested that in solidarity with the Gaineses, Americans should hang magnolia wreaths on their front doors. The magnolia wreath symbolizes Southern hospitality and it played a large role in the Gaines couple’s romance — which is why their book is called The Magnolia Story. When asked about the idea, the Benham brothers supported it and compared it to the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day in 2012 where Americans showed their support for the fast-food company after CEO Dan Cathy had taken fire for opposing same-sex marriage.
“With Chick-fil-A people bought chicken, and with the Gaineses people buy wreaths — it’s a great way to show solidarity with those who stand for religious freedom,” David Benham told PJ Media in an email statement. His brother Jason agreed: “In the same way people showed up to Chick-fil-A in droves when Dan Cathy was under attack, showing solidarity with people of faith is something the church can and should do when persecution arises.”
The brothers, who recently published the book Living Among Lions:How to Thrive like Daniel in Today’s Babylon, told PJ Media they are “traveling the country encouraging Christians to stand boldly for their faith.” Jason called for Christians to “refuse to bow down to the cultural pressures of today and stand strong in God’s Word. This is the role God has called us into.”
This is why David went further than just calling for solidarity with the Gaineses, saying that “the best thing people can do is to be a voice for the florists, bakers, and photographers that nobody knows about—the ones who are losing businesses for living according to their consciences.”
The Gaineses have not yet spoken out about their own position on same-sex marriage, and the Benham brothers agreed with Royer that they need not do so. “They shouldn’t be bullied into discussing their beliefs no more than any other business owner should be forced to share his,” Jason argued. “There are times to speak and there are times to stay quiet. I agree with their decision to remain silent at this time, as it’s clear they were being bullied into talking.”
“The time may come for them to speak, and when it does we’re certain they will make the right decision,” Jason added.
His brother agreed: “We stand with their right to stay silent, but the thought mafia won’t leave them alone. At some point, they’ll speak—but never when they are bullied to do so.”
As for the pastor, Jimmy Seibert, Jason had nothing but praise. “We fully agree with and support their pastor’s position on the issue and are proud of him for taking a fatherly stand on the topic,” he declared. “More pastors should follow his lead.”
Next Page: But how have the Benham brothers been doing after their show got cancelled?
Both brothers described a great deal of support following their own public struggle with HGTV on this issue. “Literally, we’ve had millions of people reach out to support us,” David said. “People from all over encourage us to keep standing and never back down. There’s a movement happening in this nation—it’s a righteous push back.”
Jason also praised their supporters. Upon hearing their encouragement, “We always reply, ‘We didn’t do anything that you wouldn’t have done in the same situation.’ We’ve learned that when you’re faithful when nobody is watching you will be faithful when everybody is watching.”
Both brothers also said they have been doing well since losing their show two years ago. “Business is strong and our books are encouraging thousands of Americans to live boldly for Jesus as well as stand courageously for our freedoms,” David said.
A magnolia wreath may be a fitting symbol for the subtle but firm defense of faith and religious freedom. When PJ Media asked Royer what inspired her to select that particular symbol, she pointed to a Southern Living article about how to make a magnolia wreath, and then mentioned the way Chip and Joanna Gaines live out their faith: “The Gaineses are subtle abt their faith, but you can tell it’s real. A magnolia wreath seemed like a good reflection.”
This kind of witness also points the way forward for conservative Christians to reach out in love to all people without compromising their beliefs on moral issues like same-sex marriage.
In their book Living Among Lions, the Benham brothers have a chapter dealing with this specific issue called “Hard Head Soft Heart.” Jason explained the crux of it:
You have to have a hard headed resolve toward principle, but a soft heart toward people. You love all people but you don’t love all ideas. Only the Holy Spirit can draw that delicate balance.
Christians are called to love everyone and to preach the saving faith of Jesus Christ to all. That faith requires repentance, and all people need it. Gay or straight or anything in between, every person needs to repent and accept Jesus’ death and resurrection — which is the only way to restore the relationship with God, in whom is all joy, whose very presence is Heaven and whose absence cannot be anything but Hell.
Yet Christians must also stand for biblical principle. Accepting all people does not mean accepting all actions or ideas, and Americans should always have the right to express their beliefs — or stay silent about them when necessary. So go out and find a magnolia wreath, because religious freedom is the first freedom, and the Gaineses can use your support.
In times of trouble.. you'll find the gaines family at church.
— Chip Gaines (@chipgaines) December 4, 2016