In a recent interview on ABC’s The View, Hillsong NYC pastor Carl Lentz was asked whether or not abortion is a sin.
“That’s the kind of conversation we would have finding out your story, where you’re from, what you believe … 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?’” Lentz answered.
“So it’s not an open and shut case to you?” Joy Behar, one of The View‘s hosts, asked.
“Some people would say it is,” Lentz responded. “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.”
In the following days, some Christians have been publicly critical of Lentz’s response: Some alleging that he dodged the question, failed to speak truth, or fully crossed the line into pro-choice “liberal” heresy.
Following the backlash to his comments, Lentz published a statement to Twitter clarifying his position, stating “I believe that abortion is sinful.”
Thoughts addressing a recent interview: pic.twitter.com/WoAcFwy8UQ
— carl lentz (@carllentzNYC) November 7, 2017
This week, RELEVANT’s Cameron Strang followed up with Carl Lentz to ask about the controversy, and his approach to controversial topics. Carl explained, “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.
“I just felt like the best thing I could do in the moment was point to Jesus,” Carl said.
“My answer was, ‘Before I tell you about what I think sin is, I would like to know your name.’ I still stand by that. I’m still gonna do that,” he said. “It doesn’t mean I’m not going to get to the truth; it doesn’t mean that I don’t have anything to say. My point is, ‘You want go there, before we do, [I want to exercise] my right as a human to say: ‘What’s your name? Where are you from? Why did you get an abortion? Who is the other factor in this? Where were you raised?’ Just so it will be more effective.”
He also addressed some of the criticism he’s faced since then. “A lot of Christians that don’t know who we are say things like ‘You’re a coward’ and ‘Truth is truth’ and ‘You need to speak out.’ I just say, ‘I think me and you–first of all–might know a different Jesus.’ I think I did what I would always do, which is try to get to know a person. To me, I’m going in there with the intent of pointing to Jesus and hopefully speaking a language the world can understand.”
is managing editor at RELEVANT Media Group. He holds a B.A. in Practical Theology and an M.A. in Theology with an emphasis in Biblical Languages. He's passionate about music, faith, racial justice, and social change. You can find him on Twitter @andrehenry, and more of his writing at http://andrerhenry.com