Recetly Hillsong’s lead pastor, Brian Houston, was questioned about his beliefs on homosexuality in conjunction with the Hillsong NYC conference. News outlets around the world heralded what could be considered blurry answers as a progressive move in the church with others saying that ‘Houston will not take a position on LGBT issues.’
When I read a few of these articles my heart broke. One of the most influential people on the planet seemed to balk on what should be considered a pretty black and white issue. Homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle for someone that calls themselves a Christian.
Halfway through my second article, just searching for hope in his answers, the Holy Spirit whispered to me ‘why are you trusting Babylon’s news when it concerns my messengers?’
I was convicted immediately and repented! Today Pastor Houston (aka The Eagle) released a statement clearing up his position. Read a bit of what he says.
“I encourage people not to assume a media headline accurately represents what I said at a recent press conference,” Houston says in a statement emailed to The Christian Post on Saturday.
“Nowhere in my answer did I diminish biblical truth or suggest that I or Hillsong Church supported gay marriage,” he adds. “I challenge people to read what I actually said, rather than what was reported that I said. My personal view on the subject of homosexuality would line up with most traditionally held Christian views. I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject.”
This may not be as aggressive as some of you would like, but the point is not to be aggressive and push people away, the point is to issue a clear answer in love. This is a clear ‘yes, homosexuality is sin. Marriage is between a man and a woman.’ It may be said differently from a pulpit to local church on a Sunday morning, but this is perfect for an international response to bring clarity. And, it’s said in a way that is both clear and doesn’t close doors or alienate LGBT people to be affected by his ministry. Hostility towards the lifestyle of LGBT has pushed them away from Christians. Have we so quickly forgotten the parties that Jesus frequented with prostitutes and other ‘questionable’ people? Boldness and brashness are two different things. The only people I find that Jesus ever outright insulted and condemned were the smug religious crowds.
This is not the first time a Christian leader has been thrown under the bus when his or her words on hot topic issues are taken out of context and spun to line up with liberal media. I want to give a few tips on how to respond to these articles.
1) Don’t trust the media…any of it.
Hello! Did you trust FOX when they were reporting on Ferguson? Did you trust NBC when they talked about Iraq and Syria and ISIS?
NO! Why would you trust secular news outlets when they report what a pastor or church leader is saying. If you don’t trust secular news stations to report secular events…then why the heck would you trust secular news stations to accurately report happenings in Christianity.
Every news station has an agenda!
When I say every, I mean every. Do you know where those two articles I read when I was convicted are located? Two Christian news sources. The sad truth is, pastors falling or making bad decisions create tons of buzz, especially in Christian news outlets. I wish an article on a powerful move of God got the same traffic that a pastor cheating on his wife got. At the end of the day, even while these Christian outlets have a lot of good stuff, they will spin it in the way they can to get the most web traffic. There’s an agenda even in Christian media. There’s ads on that page for a reason, and that’s to make money.
2) Assume the Best.
Knowing that the media will spin an answer to follow their agenda, wouldn’t you want to assume the best of the leader who’s words are being reported. It’s honor!
When I read a Charisma article about how Pastor so-and-so said something off color and theologically incorrect my knee jerk response needs to look at this article in conjunction with a pastor’s track record.
Have you ever heard Brian Houston preach? He preaches the Gospel. He preaches the cross. He preaches Jesus.
I may react differently when a leader has a history of even semi-heretical thinking. I mean, I’m not gonna ‘assume the best’ when I read some crazy article about Rob Bell’s crap. His track record of heresy precedes him and it is clear that what he brings is anti the Gospel.
But when I read an article about Pastor Brian, his track record of fruit and fruit that remains precedes him. He preaches a clear gospel, but he and the Hillsong movement have great influence in the secular world. Studying the life of Jesus it’s clear that Jesus spoke his followers differently than he mingled with non-believers.
Like Paul, Hillsong and many others have done a tremendous job of contextualizing the Gospel without compromising it.
3) Wait for the Follow Up
I’ve made a habit of not posting about leaders that either seemingly to fall into some type of sin or say something that could be interpreted differently, and definitely not the ‘day of.’
I generally always look for a follow up report from the leader, usually looking specifically for one posted on the leader’s website or gives a full quoted statement from them. In fact HERE is Pastor Houston’s response. Let’s be honest, most are too lazy to read a full statement and even more seem to glory when a pastor falls, choosing to wear a smug ‘I told you so’ instead of grieving. Like I said, pastor’s falling will sell! Way too many of us fire arrows, and create a war, when had we waited for the follow up and shown some of the fruit of the Spirit, we could see that it could have all been averted. We end up playing damage control.
How do I know this? Because the reach of the original articles charging the ‘sinful leader’ will be much greater than the leader’s statement trying to clarify what was said. This should grieve the heart of the believer that believes in honor and unity.
When you wait for the follow up it’ll save you from playing the part of an international gossip and sinning too.
4) Don’t Call Wisdom Cowardice
Let me ask you this. When was the last time you gave an interview on an international stage in Madison Square Garden on some hot topic issues, knowing that how your answer could be the difference between thousands finding Jesus or not?
While I’m grateful for Pastor Brian’s follow up and it brings great peace to me and clarity to the body of Christ, I still think his answers, while blurry but never hesitant, showed wisdom in the face of knowing that no matter what he said his answers were going to be taken out of context. Again, I’m not talking about the snippets that news sources heralded, I’m talking about the interview.
A few years ago, as an angry young prophet I would have relished that platform to be able to declare once and for all my stance on the LGBT issue with indifferent brashness disguised as bold zeal. Over the past few years my views on the issue haven’t changed. Sin is sin. Paul is clear. But the way I’ve presented that answer has changed. It had to! As I said, there always a way to contextualize the truth to stay relevant without compromising.
The topic wasn’t even ‘what are your beliefs on this’ but ‘how do you stay relevant when homosexual marriage is a reality.’ His answer was basically stating this is a reality that needs more than a simple yes or no. I will say the way he answered yesterday did give me a cause for concern, which is why I’m writing this in the first place, but I think wisdom prevails because it knows condemning non-believers on an international platform will not produce fruit and only further separate us from the ones we are trying to reach with the hope of the Gospel.
You can’t really believe that had he said ‘marriage is only to be between a man and a woman, but there is grace and hope to come out of a homosexual lifestyle through the blood of Jesus’ that any news source would have said anything less than he is a hate mongered and would have cut out any hope of redemption, choosing rather to herald his ‘hate speech.’ Words are always going to be taken out of context, but I’m very grateful for the clarity that Hillsong sought to bring with Pastor Houston’s statement today. For many, including me, this follow up became the difference in whether I follow this growing ministry or not.
Final thoughts? There’s not a hotter place in hell for homosexual sin than there is for heterosexual adultery. Our goals in communicating this are two fold: 1) preserve truth and 2) bear fruit.
What are your thoughts on how Hillsong has handled this and how Christian media outlets railroaded him?