Yesterday I looked at a popular HGTV personality, Joanna Gaines, and her testimony. She and her husband Chip are stars of a new show that are getting so many huge ratings it has sparked a revolution to find other Christians to put on the HGTV schedule. To this end, both Matthew West and Jen Hatmaker have been given series of their own.
With all the national attention given to folks who claim to be Christians, and have been given a platform to speak it or live it out for all to see, we should examine both their theology and their lifestyle to see if indeed what they are saying lines up with the Bible.
In Ms Gaines’ case, her testimony was not biblical. That’s what we saw in yesterday’s essay. Today we examine the Gaines’s lifestyle.
Some object to looking at how a famous Christian lives. They say, “Let them be! Their lives are private! We have no business looking at their home lives.” Five years ago I received much flak for looking at how Beth Moore lives. More recently I looked at the IF:Gathering ladies to see if their lifestyles are as solidly biblical as they claim. (Answer: no). I learned early on that what a Christian says and what they do are just as important as their theology. (Acts 18:3, 2 Corinthians 5).
If there is a gap between what they say and what they do, this is hypocrisy. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their hypocrisy (Matthew 23:1-12) and warning the people not to become like them. “They do their deeds to be seen by others,” He said. (Matthew 23:5)
We must look at whether a leader teaches what is true, and whether they live with spiritual integrity. If you want to be sure that examining the life of a teacher or Christian celebrity is biblical, listen to this sermon, “Why Integrity Matters.”
That said, the Gaines say they have made a commitment to put Christ first. Well, have they?
From this excerpt from GotQuestions’ essay “What does putting God first really mean?”, we read the following,
Jesus’ life was characterized by submission to the Father’s will, service to others, and prayer. It is interesting to note that Jesus never pursued worldly ambition in any way and never pursued the glory of this world. He had every gift, talent, and ability to make Him the most famous and wealthiest man who ever lived. But there was only one goal that He considered worthy of His talents—the glory of the Father.
This should be an example to believers. The time, resources, energy, gifts, and knowledge of God that we’ve been given should be used not to gain influence, make money, or fuel pride, but instead to multiply glory for the Kingdom (Matthew 25:14–30) and to save the souls of the lost (2 Corinthians 5:20)
In my opinion, though the Gaineses say they put Christ first, they don’t. I offer these thoughts for your consideration and meditation and leave the ultimate decision up to you. In other words, I am not making generally dogmatic statements, only that I have done the work of looking at what the Gaineses say and what they do and have come to the personal conclusion that they are hypocrites. The ultimate goal of this essay is a teaching lesson on, firstly, the importance of looking at a Christian’s life as they live it as well as their beliefs as they state them, and secondly, as a lesson on how to discerningly do that.
There are two areas I am looking at in regard to the Gaines’s lifestyle.
1. Their family
2. Their brand
Please note that I am not saying that it isn’t OK to be rich. It is. I am not saying it isn’t OK to be in business. It is. What I’m saying is that it isn’t OK to pursue one thing and pretend to be another at the same time.
|Kids visiting mom at work.
Joanna: “If I could get a couple hours alone to do this work, that’d be great.
Chip: OK, I’ll take the kids
|Mom & dad leaving the kids to go to work
Joanna: Mommy & daddy are going into town to meet with clients,
so Grandma and Grandpa are going to watch you guys, OK? Bye! I love you!
|Joanna and child labor
Joanna brings the kids at work to do some art projects
so she can use them as part of her staging for her client
|Birthday party at work
It’s Chip’s birthday. Usually said Joanna, they like to go out of town
or do something fun, but she was busy staging a house
so she made a party for her husband at her workplace instead.
And most telling of all:
It is well known that
“Every “Fixer Upper” episode is filmed in or within miles of Waco, mostly so the parents can be close to their 4 small kids,…”
And yet in every episode, Joanna is working late staging the house and someone, either an extended family member, the dad, or a babysitter, brings the kids in and they get a piece of pizza or a burrito shoved in them, the kids re-arrange a few flowers for their mom, and then they get shuttled off the set with promises from mommy to see them real soon. It doesn’t matter to a 6 year old if the mommy is 20 miles away or 200 miles or 2000, if there is a babysitter on scene because mommy is working late a lot, and fast food, and daddy taking on roles he is not biblically mandated to, then that is not putting Christ first. Christ maintains that the woman’s primary role is oriented to the home. Mrs Gaines is not putting the children first, as even admitted by her husband. He has said many times she is the main part of the show, she’s the draw. The show would not go on without her. So when they had a chance, they signed on for four more years. That means they sacrificed the kids. Period.
Secondly, I have to say that there’s nothing in this world that gets me exercised than a hypocritical mother. Bible twisting saddens me, spiritual extortion and snake oil duplicity makes me shake my head in disgust. But let me see a mother who is trading on her motherhood in the name of Jesus to make money, and you have another whole level of righteous anger from me. I’ve written about the hypocrisy of these women previously, examples are Beth Moore, Diana Stone, Raechel Myers.
We have Joanna Gaines who says she puts Christ first, which means she should put her family first, but we have already seen in her testimony that Mrs Gaines’ dream is to have a big store. That’s her priority. As a matter of fact, when they signed on with HGTV for another four seasons, they were told they WILL have to travel to promote the show. They accepted. So when you see Mrs Gaines on the show, trotting out her children as a Christian trophy, eating a hurried piece of pizza with them and sending them back out into the night with a babysitter, just know that she didn’t HAVE to spend so much time apart from her kids nor use them as set props on a reality television show. That was the parents’ choice.
As long as I can go home at night and be with the babies. It’s worth it just to be able to do that locally. Joanna Gaines #hypocrisy
The second area to look at in terms of lifestyle and whether it matches up with the reality is their conscious, deliberate branding of themselves. They like to put out there that they are just an ole country couple, surprised by all this fame, but that is far from the truth. Joanna has always wanted to be on television, and Chip has always wanted to make money. It is their dedicated, conscious, and planned goal in life for their careers. There is nothing accidental about it.
Joanna has a degree in broadcast journalism, interned locally at KWTX, and interned for Dan Rather in NYC at the show 48 Hours. She returned to Waco and spent ten years filming tire commercials for her father in hopes of getting on TV in a more formal way.
Chip started and sold two businesses while still in college, and after graduating with a business degree, earned enough to buy and flip his first house. He made $30,000. Stating in an interview,
“I made $30,000 on my first house flip that I ever did. It became obvious to me that I could work an entire year and make $30,000, or I could work for three months flipping a house and make the same amount of money,” he explains. “I became very excited about investing in rental property and flipping property.”
Joanna’s goal was to be on TV (fame) and Chip’s goal was to flip houses (money). It’s what drives them. Now, neither of those things are bad. Not at all. But it’s the hypocrisy of the quotes you find where they say, for example,
She appreciates the old ways of living, simple and hard-working with home at the center.
Oh really. Or this one,
Chip and I run a few businesses here in Waco, Texas, but Magnolia Market holds a special place in my heart
Let’s see about the “few businesses” and “simple living” with “home at the center.” These are screen shots from their business and property holdings, which is public information.
Third Street Ranch is owned by the Gaineses.
BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Wayfair (NYSE:W), one of the world’s largest online destinations for home furnishings and décor, today announced a partnership with Joanna Gaines and Chip Gaines, the stars of HGTV’s hit series “Fixer Upper” and owners of Magnolia Homes. Wayfair will feature the popular renovation duo and their design tips in an upcoming marketing campaign.
What they’ve got going is-
–a television show to which they have committed for 6 years,
–a realty office with employees,
–4,000-square-foot store with 140 employees,
–two vacation rental properties (not B&B’s),
–speaking engagements at $62,000 per,
–Magnolia Farms and its own apparel line,
–a new partnership with case goods manufacturer and importer Standard Furniture to create a comprehensive furniture collection called Magnolia Home. Joanna is designing the pieces,
–Magnolia Market’s online business, ships 700 packages a day, employing 32 people,
–an autobiography due out in Fall 2016,
–a 600 square foot working garden,
–a 40-acre working farm with chickens, goats, cows, turkeys, horses, cats, dogs and bottle calves. Over 60 animals in all,
–craft workshop with tickets costing $100 per,
“I don’t know if we’ll ever get used to it because I feel like we’re just so normal,” Joanna said.
Aw shucks. Just a small town couple. Who’ve hired an entertainment attorney and an agent.
Their brand is that they want us to believe they are a casual couple riding a wave of popularity thrust upon them and cheerfully acknowledging it’s all a bit bewildering. But no, it’s conscious and planned and exactly what they want. Here is the brand:
To think that my business plans scribbled on scratch paper have turned into this online store is unbelievable to say the least. Joanna Gaines
Here is the reality. Their business plans may at one time have been scribbled on scratch paper but they certainly aren’t now. Chip talks of a seminal business meeting where their brand was hashed out and their future decided.
An August 2007 meeting served as a catalyst for the current Magnolia business model. Joanna was spending more time at home, yet adding in time for business at the office. The couple sought inspiration on possible future directions for the business with Chip calling a meeting with some of his closest friends to seek their advice.
“It wasn’t all top executives invited from all over the country,” Chip jokes. “It was a gathering of friends that God had provided for us. I remember some of the specific bullet-point outcomes–what an asset we had in Joanna and her design style, and her as a human being, her looks and her character. Basically, we established that Joanna had the ‘it’ factor. That meeting was a defining moment. We regularly go back and recall what was discussed at that meeting.”
Let’s go back to family for a second. Is their priority really ‘for the kiddos’? How much is enough? When you have little ones at home and you have plenty of money and a 40-acre working farm, a 600 sf garden, and over 60 animals, anyone who was really putting Christ first would have said, ‘I’m stepping out. I want to focus on my home. Working the garden, the farm, and raising the kids will keep my busy enough.’ THAT is Christ-exalting. That is putting Him first.
When one owns as many diversified holdings as Joanna Gaines does, how much is enough? When do you stop? CAN one be a home-centered mother raising children with multi-million dollar corporations at stake? Are you really biblically child-oriented and putting Christ first when you have the opportunity to stay at home and you choose NOT to? When in fact, you choose to make your life even busier? When you focus on your own dreams and career?
I am not happy to write this kind of essay. Not at all. I do not like to do it. It’s even worse than when I looked at Mrs Gaines’ testimony video and compared it to the Bible. These kind of discernment essays are the worst of all. They’re unsavory, distasteful, distressing, and sickening.
It is important because Jesus hated hypocrites. He excoriated them, the men who lengthened their tassels so as to look more religious. Joanna marketing her kids on tv to show what a good mother she is and merchandising them within Christianity as trophies of wifelihood is the same as making her tassels long. I hate it. I absolutely hate it and become very angry over it. Beth Moore did it. Rachael Myers did it. Diana Stone did it. I hate it. Using your children to hypocritically say one thing while doing another IS worthy of a woe.
They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues (Matthew 23:5-7).
I know the woes Jesus pronounced on hypocrites and they were heavy. God said,
You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'” (Matthew 15:7)
The most I hope for is that I’ve made you think about what you’re seeing and thinking about it a little deeper with some common sense. When you see a teacher or celebrity say one thing, but do another, it’s a problem. It’s hypocrisy. And it is a sin.