May 2nd, 2012
04:18 PM ET

North Carolina pastor retracts sermon remarks about punching gay kids

By Stephen Walsh, CNN

(CNN) - A Fayetteville, North Carolina, pastor has retracted controversial language used during a weekend sermon in which he instructed parents to hit children who exhibited behavior associated with homosexuality.

“I apologize to anyone I have unintentionally offended,” Sean Harris, pastor of Berean Baptist Church wrote in a statement on his church’s website. “I did not say anything to intentionally offend anyone in the LGBT community.

“My intent was to communicate the truth of the Word of God concerning marriage,” the statement continued. “My words were not scripted. It is unfortunate I was not more careful and deliberate.”

Harris’s remarks at his church came a week before the state’s voters consider an amendment to North Carolina’s constitution limiting legal unions to marriage between a man and a woman.

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"The second you see your son dropping that limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist," Harris said in the Sunday sermon. "Man up. Give him a good punch."

"You’re not going to act like that," the pastor advised parents to tell their children. "You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male.”

In an interview with the Fayetteville Observer, Harris said his comments were meant as a joke. In a video of the sermon posted online, laughter can be heard from some members of the congregation, as well as cries, of “Amen!” as the pastor spoke about responding to seemingly gay kids.

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Berean Baptist explains its stance on discipline of children on its website:

“Remembering the love and forgiveness that God has shown them, parents in turn should train their children with the purpose of reflecting the Heavenly Father to their children. Parents should consider their responsibility to be the instrument of discipline in their child’s life (Prov. 19:18). At times this may include appropriate and reasonable physical means (Prov. 10:13) employed upon the fleshy portion of the child’s buttocks (Prov. 22:15; 23:13); that this method is to be viewed as correction rather than punishment (Prov. 23:13); and that this correction will result in the child’s physical and spiritual betterment.”

Harris told the Observer that from within his church, "the response was, 'Pastor, we know you didn't mean that.'"

What do you think? Watch the above video to hear Harris’s remark and leave your comments below.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Homosexuality

soundoff (2,325 Responses)
  1. God's Oldest Dreamer

    VanHagar wrote on Wdenesday, May 2, 2012 at 7:47 pm, stating, "It was in faith in God that gave us the Salvation Army, Abused Children`s Fund, Freedom 424 (serving victims of s.ex trafficking), Bright Hope International (working with the poor), Children`s Christian Lifeline Hunger and Medical Relief, Christian World Relief, Five Talents-USA, Inc., Habitat for Humanity International, Living Water International (providing clean water), etc. etc. and hundreds (if not thousands) of other faith-based charities help the poor and disenfranchised. Pure evil? O.k. If you say so."

    Then,, with hundreds if not thousands of "faith-based" charities exactly how much closer have we all come to aleve our world of such malignancies of social disfigurements,,,,,,,,,,, ? Is it any wiser to take up the charities of a nation and change them into unbridled rantings and social tirades for the favored ills and foundling woes wherever the needs suit one to place such charities' donations? Why is one's homeland not worthy of being made free its' own malignancies of social disfigurements first and foremost before calavanting all across the world doing little to almost nothing? Get one's own house in order before vesting in another's house!

    Mike Blackadder responded to my prior post on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 10:19 pm, declaring, "What an absurd response. Don't feed starving children Africa, you haven't yet obtained my approval."

    Do we in the charities here in the U.S.A. have enough donations to feed all the starving children in Africa? Do we here in the U.S.A have enough of charities donations to keep all the children in the Asian countries from being bound to fleshened slavery conditions? Just exactly how can one or any nation/homeland cure the ills of the world if their own homeland is in much need of neing repaired? A house that cannot stand on its' own merit, cannot even get another nation's homeland to stand upon its' own weightiness of their own malignancies of social disfigurements!

    May 2, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      This reminds me of a conversation that I had with a woman after church a couple of years ago. There were a number of people waiting outside a soup kitchen only to find out that no one was serving lunch that day. The woman I was with had a plate of sandwiches, and said she would love to give them away, but she couldn't because she didn't have enough for everybody.

      I remember immediately being struck by the thought that it must have been a little devil who put that thought in her head (and don't get me wrong, I don't usually think things like that). Sure enough she kept her sandwiches, and me being the coward said nothing.

      Don't let little lies like this prevent you from doing what you know is good.

      And although there are certainly suffering people closer to home you miss the forest from the trees if you don't recognize how incredibly rich we are. We buy cellular plans and we go on vacations. We drink beer, we buy new dresses for special occasions. And on the other side of the world it costs a dollar a day for a child to eat, have basic medicine and clothing and go to school. Good is good my friend.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
  2. Florida11

    This was clearly not a "joke." I go to church every Sunday, and I've never heard a pastor talk, or joke, like this. If I had, I would have probably walked out and gone home. The most worrying thing is that people in the congregation were actually agreeing with this inappropriate outburst.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  3. n8263

    Anyone who is voting in NC should vote against this anti-gay legislation in protest of this asshole.

    This Christian trash is exactly why we need a separation of church and state.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  4. tolajn

    Really? And has this pastor, aparently steeped in Hebrew and Greek interpretation of scripture, also sees that if anyone in his congregation has committed adultry should be stoned? What are the chances of not one of the congregants in that church not involved adultry at some time in their life? Is there a statute of limitations for adultry in scripture? Jesus save us from this heretical preaching. If Jesus is the head of his church he needs to read the story of Jesus healing the centurion's slave. There is more than meets the eye and it is nothing less than wreckless and lazy to lead people to know Jesus without really reading the story, fully.....not the cliff note version.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  5. Son of a SB Preacher

    I read some of these comments with sadness. The church's - all - place is to teach respect kindness and acceptance. Love not hate. We are living in 2012.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  6. haha

    this pastor is a closet bootie bandit lol

    May 2, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  7. Potrzebie

    Ten to one he's a pedophile.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  8. rafael

    He should still be arrested for advocating child abuse.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
  9. paul

    I am constantly amazed at the "need" people feel to dress up on Sunday and go to church to listen to these types of moronic rants in the name of christian values. I think I heard people making noise in agreement. Oh well, I am a very happy without the fantasy of religion and god. I am ehtical and moral even without the belief in an all knowing god watching over my every move. is that really the reason christians stay in line ethically and morally most of the time?

    May 2, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
  10. Jamie

    Right on Jack!!

    May 2, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
  11. profart

    I cannot figure out how this could not be intentionally offensive to people in the LGBT community. This was very intentionally offensive language, with the very strong intention of devaluing people who in the LGBT community, or even people with traits and characteristics outside what he sees as a "norm" for gender roles. Those norms are culturally determined. What you think is masculine is not universal. For example, you don't see many men running about the USA in a toga these days.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
  12. Jamie

    And he (Harris) is supposed to be a man of God? Ya, right!!

    May 2, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  13. really

    It's patetic, people opinions are jsut products of thier times and what everybody else tells them to think. Being a q.ueer is sick, disgusting, and nature, God, scinece whateve ryou beoive in sall it fit that these people can;t reproduce and arent fit to make offsrping in theri likness on this planet. hom.oes are disgusting, why so many people want to defend this nonsense?.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Jamie

      Its people like this that there is so much hatred in the world!!

      May 2, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Danno

      Why do you even care what other people do? Mind your own business. You clearly have no life if you're this concerned about what gay people do in their own homes.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  14. n8263

    Why do Christians hate gays so much?

    This is disgusting. Thank God Christianity is dying out. Even Mother Thereasa died an atheist.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • profart

      Most Christians don't.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • edwardo

      @Profart – ummm yes they do. Xtians train their children to hate from day 1. The polls prove their hatred.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  15. AudieHO

    Wonder why they report this but has anyone seen this?


    May 2, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • TripleB

      Wow, that's one of the most amusing things I've seen in a while. TFP? GFY =)

      May 2, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • edwardo

      Gee... thousands of years of tyranny inflicted on us by Xtians, and now they are surprised we're pi55ed ?? really?

      May 2, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Danno

      Gay people aren't trying to make it illegal to be Christian. Letting gay people marry and have families does not take rights away from anyone else. Christians are the ones trying to limit civil rights and create a legally defined category of second class citizens. Y'know, Third Reich stuff. Jesus would be so proud.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  16. Shane

    It was a joke, get over it.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Right, it was a joke and I'm a multi-millionaire.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • MC

      Yeah, sounds like a great way to alienate one's children! I would think Christians would encourage communication and support in a family.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • profart

      I don't see how "punch your child!" is funny.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Religion is a joke – get over it!

      May 2, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Danno

      Can I joke about punching your kids in the face and call it God's way?

      May 2, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  17. NSB008

    You can say anything in the name of "religion" and get away with it.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  18. Andrew

    how about the part that says you should kill your disobentant son...thats my fav part of the bible.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  19. edwardo

    Good job preach! I was hoping some Xtians hatred, would be put on the big screen, for everyone to witness for themselves. Xtians get a black eye for a change!

    May 2, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  20. Jack

    Parents need to learn to communicate/talk to their children. They need to learn to accept that their children may be different than they are. This idea of beating children is so 19th century. This idea of gay being evil is ignorance.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • edwardo

      Good post!

      May 2, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.