It’s no secret that boxing star Manny Pacquiao is a Christian who holds strong biblical values, but the famed fighter found himself apologizing on Tuesday after saying that gay couples are worse than animals, according to ABS-CBN.

Pacquiao, who has served on the house of representatives in the Philippines and is currently running for the senate, made his controversial remarks about same-sex couples during an interview with local outlet TV5 earlier this week.

“It’s common sense. Will you see any animals where male is to male and female is to female?” he said, according to the BBC. ”The animals are better. They know how to distinguish male from female. If we approve [of] male on male, female on female, then man is worse than animals.”

I'm sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I've hurt. I still stand…

Posted by Manny Pacquiao on Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The remarks set off a firestorm and led Pacquiao to apologize in a video posted to his Facebook page on Tuesday. Despite his apology, the boxer said that his views on gay relationships haven’t changed.

“I’m sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I’ve hurt,” he wrote in Facebook message that accompanied his apology video. “I still stand on my belief that I’m against same sex marriage because of what the Bible says, but I’m not condemning LGBT.”

He continued, “I love you all with the love of the Lord. God Bless you all and I’m praying for you.”

Hours before sending that apology, though, Pacquiao shared a photo and message on Instagram that seemingly doubled down, saying that he would rather follow God than obey “the desires of the flesh,” explaining that he was simply speaking about what the Bible says.

“I’m not condemning anyone, but I’m just telling the truth of what the Bible says. The truth from the Bible is what changed me from my old ways,” he said, before citing the text of 1 Corinthians 6:9, which reads, “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men.”

Pacquiao has openly discussed how the Christian faith has transformed his life, telling TheBlaze in a Jan. 2015 interview about his conversion experience — one that changed the entire trajectory of his life.

“I heard the voice of God and I saw two angels,” he said of the conversion experience that he claims unfolded deep inside of a beautiful forest amid flowers. “When I heard the voice of God I felt like I died. … I was in the middle of the forrest and I was kneeling and praying with my face on the ground and then I saw a light, a very white light and I heard the voice.”

After that experience, Pacquiao began to read his Bible every day and rather than womanizing and gambling as he did in the past, he continues to live a devout Christian life.

“I’m really thankful that God has given me this kind of a heart,” Pacquiao told TheBlaze of his religious devotion.

The boxer, known for his brutal takedowns in the ring, also had a heartfelt message for those who might not share his devotion to Christ.

“I just want to let them know that — all over the world — that there is only one way of salvation, only through Jesus Christ,” he said. “They have to know about Jesus and believe. If they don’t believe, they don’t have salvation, because the Lord Jesus is the only way of salvation.”

Read more about Pacquiao here.


Follow the author of this story on Twitter and Facebook: