NEW YORK — Following public outcry and remarks of disappointment, Carl Lentz of Hillsong New York took to Twitter this week to acknowledge that he did not provide a direct answer when asked on a recent episode of “The View” if his church believes that abortion is a sin, and to clarify his position by stating forthrightly that he does indeed believe that “abortion is sinful.”
“Recently in an interview, I was asked directly if abortion was sin. I did not answer the question directly for a number of reasons and that has caused some confusion about our stance as a church on this matter,” Lentz admitted. “I do believe abortion is sinful.”
“Our prayer is that we can continue to help and love those that deal with the pain of regret from personal choices, rather than cast further shame and guilt on those already carrying so much and create a church that can teach people how to form convictions based on God’s Word, that will be the driving force in all their decisions,” he added. “I will continue to point people to Jesus, above all else, every opportunity I get.”
As previously reported, Lentz was asked about the issue of abortion during an episode of “The View” that aired on Oct. 30.
“Hillsong is seen as this hip, progressive church that’s drawn huge millennial crowds, but it’s still evangelical,” co-host Sara Haines noted. “So, where do you stand on social issues that young people are particularly passionate about, like gay marriage [and] abortion? Like, how do you address those types of things?”
“I think our job is still to help people—not necessarily change how they think—but try to point them to what God has said, what we believe the Bible [has] to say,” Lentz replied. “We believe that God is good, that God loves everybody, that Jesus was here to set people free, and that’s still the good news of the gospel.”
He said that he tries to allow everyone who would like to hear the message to come to Hillsong because sometimes evangelicals and others shut out those who disagree on the issues.
Bringing Lentz back around to the question, co-host Joy Bahar then asked, “So, it’s not a sin in your church to have an abortion?”
“Um, that’s the kind of conversation we would have—finding out your story, where you’re from, what you believe,” Lentz replied.
“Work through it,” Haines interjected. “Like, talk about things.”
“Yeah, I mean, God’s the judge,” Lentz answered. “People have to live with their own convictions, and I think if I have to tell you…”
His response drew applause from the audience, which seemed to sense that Lentz was saying that he wasn’t going to judge and that the matter should be left up to God.
“That’s such a broad question to me. I’m going higher,” Lentz said. “I want to sit with somebody and say, ‘What do you believe?’”
“So, it’s not an open-and-shut case with you,” Bahar stated, sensing that it seemed like a grey area to Lentz.
“Some people would say it is,” Lentz replied. “I think, to me, I’m trying to teach people who Jesus is first [and] find out their story. Before I start picking and choosing what is sin in your life, I’d like to know your name.”
After Lentz clarified his position on Twitter on Tuesday, stating that he does believe abortion is sin—although not elucidating the “number of reasons” as to why he chose not to answer the question directly—some expressed support for Lentz and opined that he handled the situation rightly.
“The Bible says to avoid vain conversations. He had the insight to avoid a ‘gotcha’ question the media would have twisted. Genius on his part,” one commenter remarked.
“I thought you handled the situation the right way. You spoke of the relationship and the situation and didn’t take the bait,” another stated.
“Being afraid and being wary are two different things. This is a tough question to respond to. He would’ve gotten criticized whichever way he chose to answer in the moment. Can’t win,” a third said.
However, others noted that Lentz should have stated the truth that abortion is murder, while explaining God’s word in a loving manner.
“I’m amazed at the frequency of Christian leaders who fail to answer simple questions in key moments about the things they say they love,” one commenter stated. “To have simply answered ‘yes’ to this does not immediately heap shame or condemnation on anyone. Leaders don’t choke.”
“The answer you gave didn’t point people to Jesus. It sounded like you were saying everyone should do what’s right in their own eyes,” another remarked.
“Sadly, you may have misled many into thinking it is okay to kill their unborn baby. Truth is important. I am praying for you. Stop trying to be popular with the world,” a third exhorted.
Ezekiel 33:8-9 states, “When I say unto the wicked, ‘O wicked man, thou shalt surely die,’ if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity—but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it, if he dost not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity—but thou hast delivered thy soul.”