Megachurch leader and author T.D. Jakes says that he is “shocked” by how his comments last week regarding homosexual rights have been interpreted as some across the nation are now calling his theology into question over the opinions he provided about the issue.
FINDING GAY-AFFIRMING CHURCHES AND ‘RESPECTING’ GAY RIGHTS
As previously reported, during an interview with the Huffington Post last Monday, Jakes was asked by a viewer if he believes that homosexuals and the black church can co-exist.
“Absolutely,” he replied.
“An obvious yes; the Church ain’t turning nobody away,” interviewer Marc Lamont Hill added. “How should the black church and the LGBT community co-exist?”
“I think it is going to be diverse from church to church. Every church has a different opinion on the issue and every gay person is different,” Jakes replied. “And I think that to speak that the church—the black church, the white church or any kind of church you wanna call it—are all the same, is totally not true.”
Jakes said that he thinks homosexuals should find congregations that affirm their lifestyle.
“LGBT’s of different types and sorts have to find a place of worship that reflects what your views are and what you believe like anyone else,” he outlined.
“The church should have the right to have its own convictions and values; if you don’t like those convictions and values [and] you totally disagree with it, don’t try to change my house, move into your own … and find somebody who gets what you get about faith,” Jakes added.
When asked if his thinking has “evolved,” Jakes agreed that it has.
“Evolved and evolving,” he replied. When asked how, Jakes said, “I think that where I am is to better understand we, the church, bought into the myth that this is a Christian nation.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states must legalize same-sex “marriage,” igniting a battle between the Church and State over the issue. In his comments last Monday, Jakes advocated for the separation of Church and State, which would allow for “all types of people” to have whatever rights they desire despite biblical prohibitions. He said that politics don’t need to be based on Christianity.
“[O]nce you get past [thinking America is a Christian nation] … Once you begin to understand that democracy—that a republic actually—is designed to be an overarching system to protect our unique nuances, then we no longer look for public policy to reflect biblical ethics,” Jakes explained.
“If we can divide—or what you would call separation of Church and State—then we can dwell together more effectively because atheists, agnostics, Jews, all types of people, Muslims, pay into the government. The government then cannot reflect one particular view over another just because we’re the dominant group of religious people in [this] country because those numbers are changing every day,” he asserted. “We need a neutralized government that protects our right to disagree with one another and agree with one another.”
“That’s outside the Church,” Hill remarked. “Inside the Church, has your thinking shifted biblically, Scripturally, hermeneutically at all? The reason I ask that is because I talk to a lot of ministers now …. and one of the questions [at a recent African meeting] was, is there a way to approach Christian tradition—Christian Scripture—in light of a new understanding of LGBT?”
Hill then pointed to the issue of slavery, and that “irrespective of what [biblical] text says literally, we don’t support slavery as a body.” He asked if there was likewise “room for that same kind of shift” when it comes to homosexuality.
Jakes said that he believed that the shift needed to occur “behind the closed doors of the church” to avoid being called names by society for disagreeing on the matter. He added moments later that the issue of homosexuality is “complex.”
“Paul spends a lot of time wrestling back and forth, trying to understand should a woman wear a head covering, should you cut your hair,” Jakes stated. “I mean, they grappled back then and we’re grappling now because we’re humans and we are flawed and we’re not God.”
“Once you understand you’re not God, you leave yourself an ‘out’ clause to grow,” he said.
JAKES ‘SHOCKED’ BY HOW COMMENTS WERE PERCEIVED
Following Christian News Network’s report on Jakes’ statements, he shot back on Facebook, remarking that he was “shocked” at how his comments were interpreted, but reiterated that while he personally disagrees with homosexual “marriage,” he “respects” the government’s provision of it.
“My comment on HuffPo TV drifted into issues of the Supreme Court ruling and changing the world through public policy versus personal witness. Further, I have come to respect that I can’t force my beliefs on others by controlling public policy for tax payers [sic] and other U.S. citizens,” he wrote.
“Jesus never sought to change the world through public policy but rather through personal transformation. All people didn’t embrace him either,” Jakes continued. “That’s what I said and what I meant …. Nothing more and nothing less.”
He contended that when he used the phrase “evolved and evolving” in response to Hill’s question, he was only referring to the methods used to minister to homosexuals, not his position on the issue.
“When asked about the ‘black church’ and its role in ministering to gay people, I briefly mentioned (we were running out of time) the word ‘evolved and evolving’ regarding my approach over the 39 years of my ministry to gay people who choose to come to our services,” Jakes wrote. “I simply meant that my method is evolving—not my message.”
“I was shocked to read that this was manipulated in a subsequent article to say I endorsed same sex marriage! My position on the subject has been steadfast and rooted in Scripture,” he continued.
However, it was rather Jakes’ remarks in support of the government making provision for “all types of people” to live as they wish outside of “biblical ethics” that raised concern about his views on the issue.
Jakes concluded by stating that although he personally opposes same-sex “marriage,” he “respects the rights” given to homosexuals by the U.S. government—as he had outlined during the Huffington Post interview.
“For the record, I do not endorse same sex marriage but I respect the rights that this country affords those that disagree with me,” he remarked.
CONCERNS EXPRESSED OVER JAKES’ STATEMENTS, THEOLOGY
On Monday, author and speaker Dr. Michael Brown wrote an open letter to Jakes for Charisma, expressing that Jakes’ “answers [to Hill] appeared to be intentionally ambiguous.”
“At best, your comments left your hearers in the dark; at worst, they gave the impression that you now support same-sex ‘marriage,'” Brown wrote.
He then outlined his concerns regarding Jakes’ remarks.
“You … counseled professing gay Christians to find a church that supports their views, as if there is no right or wrong and as if the goal of the church is to make everyone feel comfortable, regardless of their lifestyle, their morality and their beliefs,” Brown said. “That’s the counsel of a servant of God? [That] regardless of what you believe, just a find a place that agrees with your views and makes yourself at home?”
“I thought the church was called to bring people to Jesus, to stand for righteousness, to care for the needy, to shine like light in the darkness, to declare God’s will and to live it out,” he continued. “And don’t you have a responsibility as a leader to warn people about deception?”
Brown opined that Jakes spoke in roundabout terms that did not provide a direct response to Hill’s questions.
“[M]ay I ask how the question of whether America is or is not a Christian nation relates to Mr. Hill’s question of your own view of homosexuality?” he asked. “Is it that difficult to say, ‘I believe according to Scripture that homosexual practice is sinful in God’s eyes, but I don’t believe I have the right to enforce that belief on others because of the separation of church and state’—if that is, in fact, what you believe?”
Even so, “does a ‘neutralized government’ make no laws concerning marriage or morality? Should the government also accommodate polygamy because Mormons and Muslims pay into the government?” Brown inquired. “Again, I do understand part of the point you were making, but ultimately, your comments avoided addressing some of the questions Mr. Hill was asking you (or, at least, that your listeners wanted answered)…”
Others reading Brown’s article expressed similar opinions.
“I read the interview by TD Jakes, and it amounted to a murky, unnecessarily verbose, stuff and nonsense,” one commenter wrote. “These days there seems to be a pattern. Some secular journalist asks a question. The preacher gives the most uncertain, ambiguous answer presumably designed to appease… The preacher gets blowback. He claims to be shocked and then issues a statement ‘clarifying’ his position.”
“Jakes is savvy enough to know that the surest way to arouse the snorting bull of suspicion is to wave the red flag of ambiguity and [use] words like ‘evolving,'” another stated. “Why is he surprised by the blowback?”
Jakes’ The Potter’s House did not return calls seeking clarification from Christian News Network or other news outlets.