Mega-church Pastor Carl Lentz defended his controversial comments about abortion again this week, saying he made the conscious decision to focus on Jesus rather than sin during his appearance on “The View.”
In a new interview with Relevant Magazine, the lead pastor of Hillsong Church in New York City explained why he said what he did about abortion on “The View.” Lentz said he prepared in advance, knowing that the talk show is fast-paced and unfriendly to pro-lifers.
“I just felt like the best thing I could do in the moment was point to Jesus,” Lentz said.
The influential Hillsong pastor faced a lot of criticism this month after he side-stepped a question about abortion on “The View.”
“So, it’s not a sin in your church to have an abortion?” pro-abortion host Joy Behar asked.
Lentz responded: “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?’”
His unwillingness to say whether abortion is a sin disappointed a lot of pro-life Christians. Many want their clergy to speak boldly about the value of unborn babies, the atrocity of abortion and the love that should be shown to both mother and child.
Lentz later clarified that he does believe abortion is a sin, but he chose to emphasize grace instead of sin.
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He told Relevant:
“I went in with this chapter of interviews going, ‘I’m gonna speak a lot more clearly on things that we maybe in the past, we’ve willfully chosen to go, You know what? let’s keep the conversation moving,’ in particularly about abortion. And I went in there prepared, because I knew that’s what they were gonna say.”
He explained that in the fast-paced environment of the roundtable, he didn’t have the opportunity to fully address his point.
“I was going to talk about Psalm 139, because she said ‘How do you feel about homosexual marriage? How do you feel about abortion?’ and then before I could even say anything, the other host jumps in and immediately asked me a question about something so specific … the host who asked me the question is not a Christian, doesn’t believe in God, doesn’t believe what we believe and she asked me about sin. So I felt like a higher question would be ‘Let’s talk about who Jesus is before we go there,’” he explained.
“The View” is notoriously hostile to pro-life advocates. The panelists openly and repeatedly express disdain for pro-life advocates and their work to save unborn babies. So, Lentz was wise in realizing that he would have to choose his words carefully. But many thought he should have been more bold and open about the sin of abortion, as well as the grace and love that should be shown to both mother and unborn child.
Studies indicate many pastors are hesitant to speak about abortion. A 2016 Pew Research Center poll found that just 29 percent of respondents heard their clergy member speak about abortion during a religious service. Most who did said their clergy spoke out against abortion (22 percent), while a few (3 percent) said their clergy spoke in support of abortion.
Mega-church pastors, popular Christian authors and other ministry leaders can make a huge impact by speaking out against abortion, and some do. Author and Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church, Franklin Graham of Samaritan’s Purse, Todd Wagner at Watermark Church and popular author Ann Voskamp are just a few. They use their voices to speak a message of love and compassion for the hundreds of unborn babies who are being slaughtered daily in abortions and their mothers who are being deceived and broken by the abortion industry.