Five seconds. Maybe less. That’s how long it took identical twins David and Jason Benham to recover from the kick-in-the-gut feeling they had when HGTV officials told them on May 7 that their new show had been canceled amid complaints about their stance on biblical values.
“All of a sudden it was like my back stiffened, and I kind of bobbed my head like a fighter who wipes away the blood (before continuing),” David said. “We knew instantly we were going after the bully.”
The “bully,” they say, is the obnoxiously intolerant side of the gay and pro-choice agendas—not a cable network, or any person or people group.
“Jesus loves all people, but He does not love all ideas,” Jason said.
With the Benhams on the brink of debuting a real estate investment show, HGTV succumbed to pressure from the liberal Right Wing Watch website, which posted an article about the Benhams passionately supporting traditional marriage and opposing abortion.
Those viewpoints, although biblical, are increasingly treated as politically incorrect by the liberal cultural agenda seeking to silence public expression of Christianity and to marginalize biblical positions.
Sensing a call to confront the issue, the Benhams, 38, resisted recommendations to shop for another network to air their TV show.
“Our goal was never to get our show back,” David said. “Our goal was to go and bring down this stronghold.
“We talked to many people who said, ‘You need to protect your image,’ and ‘There’s a way to get around this so other networks will come for you.’ We were like, ‘You can take our image and put it in the trash. We’re not running from this.’”
At a time when many Christians—pastors and laypeople alike—are caving to cowardice, the Benhams are being as bold as lions, as stated in Proverbs 28:1.
Their controversial dismissal gave them a national platform to stand strong for Christ. They’ve appeared on ABC’s Nightline and Good Morning America, Fox News, CNN and CBN, speaking uncompromisingly about biblical values and exhorting the church to rise out of its slumber.
“We’re not doing it because we want to fight,” Jason said. “We’re doing it because we love Jesus. We’re compelled by love, and we’re willing to be bold because of that love.
“We’re not men who follow a purpose-driven life. We follow a Person-driven life. We let the Person of God take control of the purpose.”
The Benhams, whose thriving real estate business is located in Concord, N.C., near Charlotte, draw inspiration from the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.
“David didn’t say, ‘Wait, hold on a second, how is this going to affect my path to the throne?’” Jason said. “Instead, he (told Goliath), ‘Who do you think you are? You defy the armies of the living God!’”
Like today’s liberal agenda, Goliath’s intimidating tactics were intended to stifle the people of God from advancing His Kingdom.
“Goliath didn’t even throw one punch,” David said. “It was just taunts and threats. He was really just a big bag of hot air. David ran to the roar, and we have run right smack into this monster.”
The Benhams, who are planning to release a book next fall, say the same evil that fueled Goliath is trying to demolish Christianity today.
“The devil comes to rob, kill and destroy,” David said, referencing John 10:10. “His agenda is like a fist. That fist punches people in the gut. It hits them when they’re down and tries to beat them until they die.
“The fist has worn different gloves throughout history. In Nazi Germany, the fist demanded silence from the church. That fist is now demanding silence from the church in America. But as citizens of Heaven, we have an obligation to be good citizens of the earth, and our No. 1 civic responsibility is to restrain evil so that good may flourish.”
To say that the brothers are like-minded is an understatement.
They look alike, think alike and sound alike. As their website notes, they live on the same street, work out at the same gym and drive the same kind of truck. Both played minor league baseball, attended Liberty University together and drink organic green vegetable juice daily as part of an ultra-healthy diet.
They share an office for their real estate business—which leads to the part of their story about how their courage was forged through trial.
Were it not for personal brokenness, they say they would be more cowardly than courageous.
“We tell folks there’s a path to boldness, that if you’re not broken over your own sin, keep your mouth shut,” Jason said.
David puts it this way: “Boldness without brokenness makes you a bully on both sides. That’s why the Bible says to get the plank out of your own eye so you can see clearly how to get the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3, Luke 6:42). There’s a major speck in America’s eye right now, but the plank is in the church’s eye.”
Just as Peter denied Jesus before becoming emboldened, the Benhams point to their disobedience to God in 2010 as a defining moment in their faith journey.
Despite clear direction to no longer go in debt, they borrowed money to fund their current business headquarters. Three months after the 12,000-square-foot office building was completed, it shook so violently that it had to be evacuated. That was followed by heavy rains, which caused the 30-foot retaining wall at the back of the property to collapse.
The cost for repair was $1 million, which the brothers did not have. Their insurance company wouldn’t cover the damage, and the contractor moved out of state.
The Benhams viewed the situation as a lesson not to compromise biblical principles.
They knelt before God in confession and repentance, and emerged with what they felt was a divine message from God: “I made you ambitious, but your ambition has jumped into the driver’s seat. You need to keep it in the passenger seat. Ambition is a great follower, but a terrible leader.”
Their business prospered that year and they were able to pay for the rebuilding of the wall outright.
Now, the Benhams say, it’s time for America’s Christians to call a solemn assembly and get face down before the Father in brokenness and repentance.
“The church has to confess that we’ve taken Jesus off the throne and put man on the throne,” David said. “The fear of man and a man-pleasing spirit is everywhere. It’s a very dangerous place for our nation to be.”
Two of the foremost ways evangelicals have caved to culture is by failing to courageously stand for religious liberties and failing to vigorously resist the same-sex marriage movement.
“There’s wickedness in the church, which is the reason for being cowardly,” David said.
“We’ve got to be willing to stand strong and say, ‘If it costs me my 20,000-member church,’ or ‘If it costs me as a business leader, like Hobby Lobby is doing,’ so be it. Let’s take up our cross and carry it.”
The Benhams say the church also needs to redefine key terminology in its battle with the liberal agenda. Just as “anti-abortion” was positively rephrased “pro-life,” the brothers say there has to be a way to cancel out the “anti-gay” label that gets assigned to those who biblically oppose homosexuality.
“When you say ‘anti-gay,’ you’re saying anti-people because there are people who are gay,” Jason said.
“We’re pro-people,” David added, “because Jesus is pro-people.”
One of the most critical lies permeating society is the redefinition of sin.
“The Bible (in 1 Timothy 3:15) says the church is the pillar and support of the truth,” David said. “So if truth has been redefined, then who’s responsible to define it back to the way God wants it?
“The church must articulate that sinners can be redeemed, but that sin cannot. We can’t be thinking about our buildings, our salaries, our nice websites and our logos because it is going to be a fight.”
As the Benhams know so well, it is already. ©2014 BGEA