Christianity is a tough sell in Hollywood. Just ask real estate moguls and brothers David and Jason Benham. If their Home & Garden Television Network show had gone according to plan, the two probably would have been famous for their knack for buying and selling houses. Instead, they have become more recognized as leaders for religious freedom.
You’re probably familiar with the Benhams’ story. Last year, HGTV signed the Christian brothers for a new show called, “Flip it Forward.” They did so knowing full well about the Benhams' faith and beliefs. It wasn't long after, however, that special interest groups like GLAAD and Right Wing Watch bullied the network into firing them. Apparently being pro-life and pro-marriage was too controversial.
In their new book, “Whatever the Cost: Facing Your Fears, Dying to Your Dreams, and Living Powerfully,” which will hit shelves tomorrow, the Benhams explain their having to endure religious persecution and how they ultimately overcame it. They actually began writing the book two years ago before even being discovered by HGTV, but altered the message after losing their TV gig.
David and Jason were in high spirits when I spoke with them Friday about their new book. I started by focusing on the title. Since I’m sure I’m not the only who was stumped by the line, “Dying to Your Dreams,” I asked them to explain just what that meant.
“Jason and I dreamed of being major baseball players when we were kids and that’s something that we really pushed for, with everything that we had. But, when we didn’t make it to the major leagues, we realized it’s okay. You just have to die to your dreams. You can still move forward, move toward your dreams, because those are wonderful things to try and accomplish, but in your heart, you’ve got to be willing to die to them, so that when and if your dream doesn’t come true, you don’t crumble in bitterness and despair.”
Since they had learned this lesson early through their lost baseball hopes, David and Jason were able to handle another test: learning their HGTV show was going to be canceled.
“When we signed our contract, it was another dream. We were so excited, we couldn't stand it. But then it was taken from us. But we didn’t crumble over in bitterness and anger and despair because we had already learned to die to our dreams. If you learn to pursue your dreams, you can pursue them, but you’ve got to stay dead to them in your heart. Then, you can live powerfully.”
The Benhams’ decision to give up their dreams did not come easily. They had to endure being called ‘haters’ and ‘bigots’ for standing up for traditional families and speaking up for the unborn.
“What David and I learned through this, is that perception is not reality. Truth is reality. Our problem is, when we concern ourselves with perception and how we’re perceived, then ultimately what happens is we end up being a fake. It’s not true, but when we concern ourselves with how people perceive us, then we’re not going to be the real deal. What David and I knew, was that we’ve not hated a single person a day in our lives. Yet when an idea presented itself that we felt as though this idea runs contrary to our beliefs and then we present our own ideas that run contrary to that, then people label us as haters.”
This is when their book title became crystal clear.
“You have to say, ‘whatever the cost.’ I’m willing to stand up for what’s right, whatever the cost – even if they label me something that I know I’m not.”
“It’s okay if we be called haters as long as we are not being hateful. You’ll notice, with all of the accusations that came up during that media firestorm, not one time did they have any specific incident or anything that Jason and I did that was ever hateful in any way. It was only because of our beliefs.”
One of those specific beliefs, was that abortion is murder. Despite the criticism from radical liberal groups, the Benhams know that Americans are waking up to the injustice.
“America is clearly becoming more and more pro-life. We know that, despite the media bias against the pro-lifers.”
They cited the encouraging fact that the numbers of abortions, doctors performing abortions and abortion clinics are all decreasing. This, they pointed out, has all been accomplished without any sweeping federal legislation.
“The church has been faithful to stand up against the idea of abortion and to be able to provide an option for young girls to not have abortion.”
This fall, the Benhams spoke at a pro-life rally and challenged Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) on her radical pro-abortion record. They said speaking on behalf of life is not something they’re going to give up any time soon.
“As Christians, it’s our responsibility to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.”
“That’s every Christian’s responsibility – to speak up for life.”
In addition to speaking all over the country on behalf of the unborn and in defense of traditional values, the Benhams are also hard at work on another book. They are also staying busy buying and selling houses, growing their business, and putting taxpayers to work.
When I asked if they would ever consider running for office, they didn’t reject the idea. Yet, they acknowledge how difficult it would be in today’s political environment.
“It’s the furthest thing from our minds. I don’t know that we would ever get tapped on the shoulder to run, but the culture of America would have to change in order to find guys like us electable.”
Jason emphasized this point by pointing to his Savior.
“If Jesus Christ Himself were to show up in the flesh and run for president, we’re certain He would not get elected president.”
Yet, there’s hope.
“When you look out at the landscape of the culture, you’d have to be hiding under a rock to say it’s not getting darker. But the beautiful thing of that is that all throughout the history of mankind, when the culture gets darker, then the light can get lighter.”
If you’d like to read more about how David and Jason survived the onslaught of media criticism and clenched even tighter to their Christian faith, pick up a copy of their new book here.