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TRANSCRIPT: Hillsong’s Brian Houston on same-sex issues

The leader of one of the largest evangelical ministry conglomerates in the world says his church will not offer a "yes" or "no" on LGBT issues.

(From left: Joel Houston, Bobbie Houston, Brian Houston, Carl Lentz) - Image courtesy of Jonathan Merritt


Michael Paulson, The New York Times: Can I ask you to clarify something you said in regard to the relevance question? You brought up the subject of same sex marriage, and I wasn’t sure what you were saying. You’re now operating in New York and California where same sex marriage is legal. Can your pastors preside at same-sex marriages?

Brian Houston, Senior pastor of Hillsong Church: It can be challenging for churches to stay relevant. Because many mainstream churches upheld what they would believe is the long established view of what the Bible says about homosexuality. But the world has changed around and about them. On the subject, I always feel like there’s three things. There’s the world we live in, there’s the weight we live with, and there’s the word we live by. The world, the weight, and the word.

And to me, the world we live in, whether we like it or not is changing around and about us. Homosexual marriage is legal in [New York City] and will be probably in most Western world countries within a short time. So the world’s changing and we want to stay relevant as a church. So that’s a vexing thing. You think, “How do we not become a pariah?” So that’s the world we live in.

Then the weight we live with is the reality that in churches like ours and virtually any other church, there are young people who have serious questions about their sexuality. And who maybe, hypothetically speak to a youth pastor and says, “I think, you know, I’m gay.” And maybe they feel a sense of rejection there. Or maybe even their own Christian parents can’t handle it and exclude them at the time when they are most vulnerable in their life.

So you can have churches—not just our church, but churches—young people who are literally are depressed, maybe even suicidal and, sadly, often times grow up to hate the church because they feel that the church rejected them. So there’s the world we live in, the weight we live with, and then the word we live by.

The word we live by is what the Bible says. And it would be much easier if you could feel like all of those three just easily lined up. But they don’t necessarily. And that’s what Carl [Lentz] always says for us, it’s a conversation. For us, it’s 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, it is an ongoing conversation, that the real issues in people’s lives are too important for us to just reduce it down to a “yes” or “no” answer in a media outlet.

So we’re on the journey with it, aren’t we?

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