Along with many other writers, I recently reported that Justin Bieber’s pastor — Carl Lentz of Hillsong Church in New York — defended abortion and refused to call it a sin while being interviewed during a taping of The View. Lentz has since backtracked, and affirmed that he does believe that abortion is a sin.
In case you missed the initial brouhaha, when asked if abortion is a sin, Lentz responded, “God’s the judge; people have to live to their own convictions.” He then added, “I’m trying to teach people who Jesus is first, and 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.”
After the interview went viral and he received pushback, the celebrity pastor released a statement on Twitter saying,
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.
Thoughts addressing a recent interview: pic.twitter.com/WoAcFwy8UQ
— carl lentz (@carllentzNYC) November 7, 2017
I applaud his clarification, and am happy that Lentz is publicly affirming that abortion is a sin. However, I do wish that he had taken the opportunity during the taping of The View to boldly take a stand in defense of the unborn.
The way these things go, it’s likely that far more people are going to hear Lentz’s apparent defense of abortion than will hear his clarification. Even though he has unequivocally denounced abortion as sin, many people are going to be confused and misled by his interview on The View. The damage has been done.
Carl Lentz is no stranger to the spotlight. Whatever flaws he may or may not have, lack of media savvy is not one of them. He’s not one to be easily manipulated by the media. To that end, he had to be aware, on some level at least, of how fellow Christians would respond to his initial answer. And there’s a lesson in this for all Christians, especially pastors and teachers.
2 Peter 3:15 admonishes Christians to “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for the reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
While that verse specifically applies to defending and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, Christians are also expected to stand firm on all the truths of God’s Word. Christians need to be prepared to give a bold defense of the truth at all times. This means that Christians need to be prepared to winsomely, clearly, and succinctly answer questions about hot-button issues. We should expect to be asked and prepared to give bold answers about things like abortion, same-sex relationships, and transgenderism. It’s better to know how we’re going to answer beforehand than to attempt to walk a tight-rope of offending no one, which usually ends up offending everyone. Carl Lentz is finding this out the hard way.