Pastor Louie Giglio made headlines numerous times over the past few weeks with his Passion 2013 Christian conference and, subsequently, the announcement that he would be delivering the benediction at President Barack Obama’s Jan 21. inauguration. It is this latter development that sent some progressive and gay rights groups into a tailspin after left-leaning blogs discovered a controversial sermon the preacher once gave about sin and homosexuality.
The reaction to Giglio’s past statements was so intense that the pastor has now officially withdrawn from the event. In a statement issued after he alerted the White House and the Presidential Inaugural Committee that he will no longer be participating, Giglio said that he was honored to be selected — but that he feels compelled to step aside. Here’s the statement in its entirety:
I am honored to be invited by the President to give the benediction at the upcoming inaugural on January 21. Though the President and I do not agree on every issue, we have fashioned a friendship around common goals and ideals, most notably, ending slavery in all its forms.
Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration. Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.
Neither I, nor our team, feel it best serves the core message and goals we are seeking to accomplish to be in a fight on an issue not of our choosing, thus I respectfully withdraw my acceptance of the President’s invitation. I will continue to pray regularly for the President, and urge the nation to do so. I will most certainly pray for him on Inauguration Day.
Our nation is deeply divided and hurting, and more than ever need God’s grace and mercy in our time of need.
This explanation came after numerous outlets ran stories about the sermon. ThinkProgress (TP) offered one of the more comprehensive coverages of the message, claiming that it appeared to be from the mid-1990s. The outlet dubbed Giglio’s sermon, entitled, “In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality,” as “vehemently anti-gay.”
Here are some of the tidbits that TP transcribed from the sermon (these two quotes focus on the notion that homosexuality is a sin):
(9:20) [God] says very clearly in [Leviticus], verse 22, after he talks about a lot of different kinds of relationships, he says in verse 22: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female. It is an abomination.” Now if you would look forward into the New Testament context, to the passage that most of us know most commonly with this issue, into chapter one of the book of Romans, let’s read a few verses together beginning in verse 18. If you’re taking notes tonight, you might make this the note of Leviticus 20:13 and the book of Jude, we won’t look at those passages but there is some support and encouragement there to this topic.
(17:37) Men, women, I can’t say anything other to you tonight than this, that if you look at the counsel of the word of God, Old Testament, New Testament, you come quickly to the conclusion that homosexuality is not an alternate lifestyle… homosexuality is not just a sexual preference homosexuality is not gay, but homosexuality is sin. It is sin in the eyes of God, and it is sin according to the word of God. You come to only one conclusion: homosexuality is less than God’s best for his creation. It is less than God’s best for us and everything in our lives that is less than God’s best for us and his plan for us and his design for us, is sin. That’s God’s voice. If you want to hear God’s voice, that is his voice to this issue of homosexuality. It is not ambiguous and unclear. It is very clear.
This is a breaking news story. Stay tuned for updates.