Mega-Church Pastor Gives Terrible Answer to Abortion Question on Live TV
Mega-church pastor Carl Lentz, lead pastor of Hillsong Church appeared on The View recently where he wasn’t quite sure if abortion is sinful. The exchange took place when host Joy Behar said: “So, it’s not a sin in your church to have an abortion?”
“That’s the kind of conversation we would have finding out your story, where you’re from, what you believe. … I mean, God’s the judge. People have to live to their own convictions. That’s such a broad question, to me, I’m going higher. I want to sit with somebody and say, ‘What do you believe?’”
This evasive non-answer has landed Lentz in a bit of trouble. And well it should.
The question asked was simple, it needed a simple, truth based response. For any Christian the answer to whether abortion is sinful is a resounding yes. Some want to talk about nuances and specific circumstances, but such a discussion is not necessary when talking about human life. As one that used to believe abortion in the case of rape was acceptable, I am familiar with these conversations. But once one understands that life is life, regardless of how it is conceived, the nuances disappear and the conversation becomes simplified.
Lentz, however, seems to believe it is not quite that simple. He was asked whether abortion is “an open and shut case to you?” Lentz replied:
“Some people would say it is. To me, 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.”
I understand the sentiment of where Lentz is coming from. He doesn’t want to appear judgmental towards people he doesn’t know. But his statement in this situation is dangerous. Lentz made it seem that abortion may not be a sin, but he won’t know for sure until he gets to know someone and their situation. In other words, there might be a situation in which an abortion is permissible. This, however, is not the evangelical, biblical position, this is the position of liberal religious leaders that have departed from Scripture in critical areas.
Furthermore, Lent wasn’t asked about one person I particular, he was asked whether abortion is a sin and he didn’t give an answer. He hedged and evaded the question in favor of a fluffy religious sounding answer. As soon as he was off the big stage of The View, however, he decided it was a good idea to give a more straight forward answer. Whether this response from Lentz is due to backlash from his interview or not is up for interpretation, but Lentz took to Twitter to clarify his position:
“I do believe abortion is sinful…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.”
I appreciate his position and hope he is solidly pro-life. But if Lentz wants to point people to Jesus, he had the perfect opportunity when The View asked about his beliefs. There is no better time to point people to Jesus than to share how people are sinful, and when we sin there is someone that stands ready to offer grace and forgiveness. Lentz could have tied his belief that abortion is sinful to the amazing grace of Jesus that forgives our sin and takes away our shame and guilt.
More than anything, we live in a society that doesn’t know what to do with it’s shame and guilt. With no understanding of why we feel shame and guilt our society is aggressively seeking to affirm everything so no one feels shame, guilt, or regret. What our society doesn’t understand is the need for a Savior that can take our guilt and shame away. Lentz had the opportunity to convey this truth and why the Gospel is such great news.
Lentz later said he thought “the best thing I could do in the moment was point to Jesus.”
Pointing to Jesus without first pointing to sin is worthless. In every encounter with Jesus, people were first pointed to their sin and their need for a Savior. Then, lovingly, Jesus showed people how He is that Savior and can forgive their sins. Without first pointing to sin there is no need for a Savior. If people have no sin that needs forgiven, why do they need Jesus? But, if Jesus is the only One that can forgive their sin (even abortion) and remove their shame and guilt, that is indeed good news.
I hope the next time Lentz is given the opportunity to share the Gospel while clearly communicating the biblical position on a critical issue he will do better. For that matter, I hope each of us will be ready when the opportunity presents itself. We know that our “spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38)