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Some thoughts on a megachurch pastor’s evasive comments about abortion and his further clarification

by | Nov 7, 2017

By Dave Andrusko

Pastor Carl Lentz (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

For a variety of reasons I held off commenting on Pastor Carl Lentz’s observations about abortion, when he appeared on (of all places) The View to promote his new book, “Own the Moment.” His megachurch, Hillsong, is based in Manhattan, and he’s been mocked/ridiculed/excoriated for his tip-toeing around the question if his church condemned abortion as a sin.

I wanted to see if he would clarify. Today he did post a tweet which we’ll discuss in a moment.

Here’s the entire exchange.

Once the show got rolling, literally within 12 seconds, co-host Sara Haines asked (noting his church’s great appeal to Millennials)

“Where do you stand on social issues that young people are particularly passionate about, like gay marriage, abortion — how do you address those types of things?”

“So we’re going right there?”Lentz quips. He begins his response by talking about pointing people to what God says in the Bible–the Good News of the Gospel–the disunity in the country, the racial diversity of his church…

But co-host Joy Behar had already run out of patience.

“So it’s not a sin in your church to have an abortion?” she asks/states.

“Um, that’s the kind of conversation we would have, finding out your story, where you’re from, what you believe.”

“God’s the judge,” he added. “People have to live to their own convictions, and I think if I have to tell you [applause] … that’s such a broad question to me. I’m going higher; I want to sit with someone…”

Behar asks again, “So it’s not an open-and-shut case with you?”

“Some people would say it is,” Lentz responded. “I think, to me, I’m trying to teach people who Jesus is first, find out their story before I start picking and choosing what I think is sin in your life, I’d like to know your name.”

Seems pretty clear. For whatever reason–his own convictions (or lack thereof), an audience he would intuit wouldn’t be receptive to a “cool” pastor forthrightly condemning abortion as a sin, or (to be generous) brain freeze–Pastor Lentz filibustered.

Then came a tweet that appeared today. Here it is

Recently in an interview, I was asked directly if abortion was sin. I did not answer the question directly for a number of reasons and that has caused some confusion about our stance as a church on this matter. I do believe abortion is sinful. Our prayer is that we can continue to help and love those that deal with the pain of regret from personal choices, rather than cast further shame and guilt on those already carrying so much and create a church that can teach people how to form convictions based on God’s word, that will be the driving force in all their decisions. I will continue to point people to Jesus, above all else, every opportunity I get. The story of God’s redemptive grace, available to all, is the best news available.

What can we say? In his tweet Pastor Lenz says directly what he wouldn’t say directly on The View: he believes abortion is sinful. But the bulk of the tweet is to act as if concluding abortion is a sin means you bash women who’ve aborted–condemn them to a kind of outer darkness.

That is the kind of characterization, in a much more virulent form, you’d expect from Behar. It is the antithesis of the pro-life response.

Loading guilt on women, many of who very reluctantly aborted and/or have subsequently come to deeply regret their “choice,” is the last thing we would do.

We want to help them bind their wounds, not deepen them. We want to restore them, not keep them outside the community (and that includes the community of faith). We want to help them carry their burdens, not add to them.

I am glad Pastor Lentz addressed his answer which he described as “caus[ing] some confusion about our stance as a church on this matter.” But I would also hope he would come to know the pro-life community which both fervently desires to save babies from death but if that tragedy does occur, to assist their mothers to heal.

Categories: Abortion Religious