After facing criticism over recent comments about gay marriage, pastor Brian Houston of Hillsong Church, a famed megachurch with locations across the globe, released a statement noting that his theological worldview on the subject aligns "with most traditionally held Christian views."
The clarification of his conservative stance on homosexuality came after he appeared at a New York City news conference Thursday and declined to give a firm "yes or no" stance on homosexuality following questions about how Christians and churches should handle gay rights.
"I encourage people not to assume a media headline accurately represents what I said at a recent press conference," Houston said in his statement responding to the controversy. "Nowhere in my answer did I diminish biblical truth or suggest that I or Hillsong Church supported gay marriage."
Pastor Brian Houston and his wife Bobbie (Hillsong Church)
The preacher went on to encourage anyone critical of his comments at the press conference to actually read what he said when asked about the issue — and he affirmed that his views coincide with traditional understandings of homosexuality.
"My personal view on the subject of homosexuality would line up with most traditionally held Christian views," he said. "I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject."
The New York Times, among other outlets, reported last week that Houston said his church is in "an ongoing conversation" about gay marriage and that the issue is a complex one that must be addressed with care.
"The world we live in, whether we like it or not, is changing around and about us. ... The world’s changing, and we want to stay relevant as a church, so that’s a vexing thing," he said during the press conference. "It’s very easy to reduce what you think about homosexuality to just a public statement, and that would keep a lot of people happy, but we feel at this point, that it is an ongoing conversation, that the real issues in people’s lives are too important for us just to reduce it down to a yes or no answer in a media outlet."
What followed was speculation over Houston's stance, leading the popular megachurch pastor to issue the aforementioned clarification on Hillsong Church's website.
Read his entire statement below:
I encourage people not to assume a media headline accurately represents what I said at a recent press conference.
Nowhere in my answer did I diminish biblical truth or suggest that I or Hillsong Church supported gay marriage. 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.
I was asked a question on how the church can stay relevant in the context of gay marriage being legal in the two states of the USA where we have campuses. My answer was simply an admission of reality – no more and no less. I explained that this struggle for relevance was vexing as we did not want to become ostracized by a world that needs Christ.
I made the point that public statements condemning people will place a barrier between the church and the world (and I note that Jesus came to save and not to condemn), which is why at Hillsong, we don’t want to reduce the real issues in people’s lives to a sound bite.
This – like many other issues, is a conversation the church needs to have and we are all on a journey as we grapple with the question of merging biblical truth with a changing world.
Listen to Houston's comments last week that created a stir below:
(H/T: Christian Post)