Posted in chip gaines, discernment, fixer upper, hypocrisy, joanna gaines, mothers

The hypocrisy of HGTV’s Chip and Joanna Gaines of ‘Fixer Upper’

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.

———————–Family———————–

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:

The kids are part of my work (not the other way around)
I love my kids and I love that this [my work] is such a part our our lives
that they don’t walk in and wonder.They know, mommy & daddy are on a deadline,
and mommy’s probably going to be here late again tonight.

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


———————–Magnolia Branding———————–

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.

Wayfair Partners with Joanna Gaines and Chip Gaines, Stars of HGTV’s Hit Series “Fixer Upper”

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,
–home renovations,
–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,

–Magnolia Villas, a gated subdivision of 37 garden homes in a pocket neighborhood. Chip’s first house flip earned him $30,000 15 years ago. Today he said he invested seven figures for the gated community,

–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,
–a bakery,
–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.”

Like Joanna said, a few notes scribbled on scratchpaper, or a well-thought out tycoon meeting where plans were made to deliberately promote the mother for the power couple’s success?

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.

Posted in chip gaines, direct revelation, discernment, fixer upper, hearing God, joanna gaines

Looking at HGTV’s Fixer Upper Joanna Gaines’ testimony: Christianity, or Prosperity Gospel?

Part 2 here: The hypocrisy of Chip and Joanna Gaines

Several years ago a Waco business developer/realty/design/construction company generally named Magnolia run by Chip and Joanna Gaines were contacted to star in a HGTV fixer upper show. The first episode aired in April 2014 and has become an instant hit for the network. Ratings in the first season were through the roof. This phenomenon was largely attributed to the couple’s likability and charisma, good looks, and business savvy.

Source

It is also attributed to the couples’ Christian faith. This World Magazine article lays it out, even stating that the reception to the couple in the form of ratings has “launched a Christian revolution at HGTV”:

The difference, at least in all the conversations I’ve had, is that while doing stunning work, the Gaineses consistently reflect an unassuming, recognizable Christianity. … But even these obvious clues don’t quite capture the subtle loving-kindness the Gaineses exemplify in their interactions with each other and their children. When the first episode of Fixer Upper debuted in April 2014, after watching for only a few minutes, with no clear evidence, I had a strong presentiment I was seeing fellow members of the body. A little web searching confirmed it.

The couple seemed genuinely in love. The pair seemed like dependable, loving parents. In its first season the show was just nice.

So why am I writing about them?

One reason is because the show has taken on massive proportions, huge ratings, and as World Mag says, the husband and wife team are the catalyst for more ‘Christian’ programming at HGTV. Since the Gaines’s have a national platform in which to showcase their Christianity, we look at their testimony.

Also, because of hypocrisy. No matter the celebrity, or perhaps because of celebrity status, we want to make sure of who we are touting and promoting. What brand of Christianity do they adhere to? Do they live what they say they live? The Bereans said they would listen to Paul but then go back and examine what Paul taught (Acts 17:11). Paul welcomed transparency to examine his doctrine, and he was the biggest Christian celebrity of his time. Later when Paul’s integrity was attacked, he defended his lifestyle, because integrity in life mattered as much as the doctrine he taught. (2 Corinthians 5:11–15).

Therefore, my examination of the Gaines phenomenon will be two parts. This part 1 will examine Mrs Gaines’ testimony, the doctrine portion. The next part will look at their lifestyle.

I mean them no harm and I’m truly happy the couple who has worked very hard for a long time on their business goals and ambitions, are seeing them come to fruition today. I am glad that they have opportunity in interviews to share about their faith and their church. Their long-term and more recent financial bounty has afforded them opportunities to give and support others in a blessed way, as Chip hinted in one interview. I am grateful that they love each other and are raising their children with good values, from at least what we can see through the lens of what is shown to us on camera. They are attributed with almost single-handedly revitalizing the Waco downtown with business, art, and tourism, something that every small town or city hopes for. Because of the Gaines’ an entire cable channel is looking for more Christians to produce a show around. These are all good things.

That’s what makes raising these issues even harder.

Recently Mrs Gaines’ alma mater, Baylor University in Waco, produced a video which has since gone viral with over 4.5 million views on Youtube alone, in which Mrs Gaines is given over four minutes to testify to the glory of Jesus Christ and her gracious salvation. And here is where it gets troubling. Mrs Gaines used the time to speak not of sin, grace, redemption, and Jesus, though she mentioned Him once at the end. But instead the video is a testimonial to Mrs Gaines’ ambitions, Mrs Gaines’ dreams, Mrs Gaines’ plans, and how God was going to fulfill them by giving her what she wants.

Source

And she knows this because He personally told her so.

We learn in the video that Mrs Gaines always knew God was going to fulfill her business dreams because He directly told her, specifically and clearly. She mentions 4 times in the 4 minute video that God spoke to her. Her story, which remains consistent in interviews as well as the testimony video, is that when her two children were young God spoke to her and said she had to close her store which had been open for two years. In the first two quotes below, in order to salve her disappointment at having her dreams of running a business shattered just so she could perform her biblical function as a mother, God comforted her thus-

“I heard Him specifically say, ‘Joanna, I have a calling for you. You’re going to have a platform one day.'”

I remember hearing God say, ‘Joanna, there’s going to come a time when I’m going to say for you to go, and I’m going to need for you to step out and go.'”

I really felt like God was saying, ‘Hey, I want you home, I want you raising these babies at home at this age.'”

I heard God say very clearly, ‘If you trust me with your dreams, I’m going to take Magnolia further than you even dreamed. Just trust me.’ And I remember hearing that and feeling completely peaceful about it, and I walked away.”

First, God does not personally and audibly speak to us today in the way Mrs Gaines relates. Whatever Mrs Gaines thought she heard is not God. Here is a post by Michael Horton to answer the question “Does God Talk to Us?

Second, God is not a dream-fulfilling machine. God is not speaking to Joanna Gaines. There is no need to hear the voice of God personally direct a mother to stay home and raise her children when the Bible indicates that her entire orientation should already mainly be to stay home and raise the children anyway. (Titus 2:3-5, 1 Timothy 5:14). God places a priority on the woman’s direct involvement at home.

In addition, though economic necessity sometimes force a couple to make a tough decision for the mom to work outside the home, and the Bible does leave some room for couples to make their decisions, in the Gaines’ case working such long hours outside the home was not necessary. Chip has always been good at making money. He made $30,000 the first year he was out of college, after having started and sold two businesses already while in college. Joanna’s store was also doing well at the time. But more on their lifestyle in the next part.

Source

But please note that Joanna’s dream in the video that God was going to fulfill was the business, not the children. I’m not saying she isn’t a good mother, I don’t know that she is or isn’t. I do know that on the show there is frequent mention of passing the children for child care to an extended family member or a babysitter. I do know that they incessantly showcase the children on the show. I am saying that when you’ve been given 4 minutes to testify to the important things about your salvation, the items one would expect to hear are absent. She chose to focus entirely on God fulfilling her business dream.

After the store closure in 2005, Chip and Joanna Gaines had two more children. They now have four kids, Drake (age 11), Ella (9), Duke (7) and Emmie (6) all as of this coming May. Mrs Gaines continues from the testimony video saying that after a few years at home with the children, working her design business from home too, she says ‘God said’ in 2014 it was OK to re-open her store.

And I felt like God said, ‘Jo, it’s time.’ And I was like, ‘Time for what?’ he said, ‘It’s time to reopen your store.’ I said, I don’t think I can do that.’ And just cool and calm, ‘No, it’s time.’

I find it curious that God told her to stay home with her first two babies when they were young but that it was OK to become a business woman while the second two were young.

From various interviews within the last year or so, Joanna is quoted as saying,

I really felt like God said, ‘You’re gonna have a platform one day with women.’ (source)

I kind of felt like God just kept saying, ‘This is gonna be something that I’m going to take to another level,’ (source)

But I felt like God said, ‘Hey, this is the season to be home, and you need to trust me.’ (source)

But I felt like God said, ‘If you trust me with your dreams, I’m gonna make Magnolia bigger and better than you could have ever dreamed.’ (source)

So God is great because He gave her a big store. That’s her testimony. Not so much about raising her babies, nor about the blessing of marriage and a husband. Her dream, her store, her things.

The ‘key‘ as Joanna said in the video’s conclusion, is to let God speak to you and “let his father heart say this is what I have for you.” Again, an emphasis on self and the things God will give her, not the blessing of knowing Jesus, of being redeemed from sin’s curse, for escaping wrath, of being made holy in sanctification, for the promise of heaven, for the pleasure of enjoying God forever. Nothing of the sort. Just gratitude that He will “take the store further than she ever imagined.”

Source

On a lengthy thread discussing the show Fixer Upper and the Gaines’, two comments caught my attention. Here they are, speaking about the close, intimate, audible relationship Mrs Gaines says she has with God.

But apparently Mrs. Gaines has been giving interviews, especially this past fall, attributing their success to Christian faith. She says specifically that God spoke to her directly and promised earthly riches if she was faithful. Which is interesting because that makes her just one more proponent of the self-serving “prosperity gospel” movement.
(I’m episcopalian and many of us regard God speaking directly to an individual as both unlikely and a sign of possible mental health issues or blind ambition.)

Another commenter:

I googled Joanna’s testimony on youtube today. I’ve never had God talk so fluently and directly to me like He does with her. I wish He’d provide me with such specific instructions and reassurances. That’s really something.

They nailed it.

When Jesus spoke to Saul He knocked him flat on the road to Damascus, rebuked him for persecuting Jesus, struck Saul blind and told him he must suffer. When God spoke to John on Patmos it was to have John pen letters of rebuke, condemnation, and warning to several churches in Asia. When God spoke to Jeremiah it was to tell him do not marry or have children because the times are going to get rough, then spent 40 years prophesying so through the weeping prophet. Not that He isn’t tender, he is. (Genesis 16:7-13).  But not once did God say to anyone He talked with in the Bible “I am going to fulfill your dreams.” Even to Moses who God said was a friend, in the end God banned Moses from entering the Promised Land because Moses had disobeyed God.

After the Apostolic era, nothing is ever said that indicates God interposes Himself audibly to specifically instruct or reassure people in life. This is because the completed Bible does that. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Revelation 22:18, Hebrews 1:2).

God wants His people to be people of obedience, honor, integrity, repentance, bearing fruit of the Spirit, making disciples, witnessing to the Gospel, and persevering. Nothing is said about someone’s dreams, platforms, or levels. Self-serving prosperity gospel on display, for sure.

The other problem with Ms Gaines’ testimony is that it normalizes audible conversations when they are not normal at all, nor are they even from God.

Beth Moore, Kim Walker-Smith of Jesus Culture, Christine Caine, Sarah Young of Jesus Calling, and many other women “with a platform” claim to have nearly daily conversations with God, visions, strong impressions of the heart, and other messages that speak of fulfilling their dreams and hopes or otherwise give specific instruction. These are not from God. The kind of Christianity Mrs Gaines puts forth in her testimony video and in interviews is the kind that diminishes God in holiness and stature and exalts the recipient of these messages to an undeserved status. As in, “Wow, she must be special because God talks directly to her just like He did with Moses and Abraham!”

Millions of women who see Mrs Gaines’ seemingly vibrant and healthy relationship with God as expressed frequently and audibly presents itself as the norm – when it is not. And this is a problem when the network goes searching for another person or couple that displays this “recognizable Christianity.” It might be recognizable to the world, but it is not recognizable to God.

Part 2 here: The hypocrisy of Chip and Joanna Gaines