North Carolina pastor Sean Harris felt the full sting of the Internet’s wrath yesterday when a clip of a sermon wherein he advocated violence against “girlish” boys and “butch” girls hit the blogosphere like wildfire. But maybe we were all too rash in condemning him – after all, as he tells the The Fayetteville Observer, he was only “joking”:
A Fayetteville pastor says he was joking when he told parents in a sermon Sunday to hit children who show signs of being gay.
Sean Harris, pastor of Berean Baptist Church on Glensford Drive, said he does not advocate hitting children and wishes he could take back a remark encouraging fathers to punch boys who act effeminately.
But he defended his belief in the need to reinforce traditional gender roles in children.
"If I had to say it again, I would say it differently, no doubt," Harris said Tuesday. "Those weren't planned words, but what I do stand by is that the word of God makes it clear that effeminate behavior is ungodly. I'm not going to compromise on that."
He’s also taken to his personal blog to “issue an official statement of retraction” – and a textbook notpology:
I apologize to anyone I have unintentionally offended. I did not say anything to intentionally offend anyone in the LGBT community. My intent was to communicate the truth of the Word of God concerning marriage. My words were not scripted. It is unfortunate I was not more careful and deliberate. I can understand how these words could be misunderstood without the context of years of ministering to the people of God at Berean Baptist Church. I have received nothing but notes of appreciation and support from the people within the church. To those in the greater body of Christ in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and the world--I seek your forgiveness if I have offended or hurt the cause of Christ. I have learned from this and will seek to be more articulate and deliberate with my words in the future.
However, I do not apologize for the manner in which the Word of God articulates sexual immorality, including homosexuality and effeminacy, as a behavior that is an abomination to God. Nothing in this official statement of retraction should be perceived as an apology for the overarching intent and message of the sermon and the need to define marriage as one man and one woman and to maintain the gender distinctions that God created from the beginning when He made them male and female (Genesis 1). I recognize that there are those in the LGBT community who believe that their sexual behavior is not sin. I do not agree with them and this official retraction should not be misunderstood as an apology for the gospel of Jesus Christ or the Word of God.
Shorter Harris: “I’m sorry if all you limp-wristed sinners were offended when I joked about beating the gay out of kids.”
Here’s his original sermon, so you can more aptly judge the sincerity of his regret:
But remember – it was a joke! A harmless joke, with laughter and lightheartedness and no possibility whatsoever that any of his sycophantic congregants might actually apply his totally-not-real teachings about punching the “girlishness” and “butch” out of children.