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. Jo

    Sick !!! People who follow him...,,Sick!!!!

    May 3, 2012 at 2:33 am |
  2. Ed

    This pastor's words are nothing but a thinly veiled expression of fear of people different than himself, and a desperate search for justification of his fear in what he believes to be the Word of God. He is the one that needs to "Man Up" and recognize his words for what they are. He should be ashamed of himself as a leader of a congregation.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:33 am |
  3. Liz

    Its a shame people can't live and let live. Love is for everyone and is not limited to ignorant people's boundaries.

    thankfully, we live in the USA and people like this will never get control again. Hopefully, they will all just die out.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • GrowUp

      Don't hold your breath.

      May 3, 2012 at 2:35 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Liz, they never die out. They just resurface in another form. Its like wondering if good people will ever die out.

      May 3, 2012 at 3:22 am |
  4. lance corporal

    yeah, beat your kids when they act at all effeminate........ that's not gonna have unintended consequences.......

    when are we going to start taxing these "churches" who FOR PROFIT intentionally inflame people????
    when are we going to start calling it what it really is........ a business

    May 3, 2012 at 2:31 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Exactly right.

      May 3, 2012 at 2:53 am |
  5. Tortfeasor

    What a weak individual. He said it, why apologize? He obviously meant it!

    May 3, 2012 at 2:29 am |
  6. Michigan

    The next thing you know, the pastor himself is gay. Sounds familiar?

    May 3, 2012 at 2:28 am |
  7. Smokey

    Well, he's not wrong. Someone has to keep these kids in line.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:27 am |
    • GrowUp

      I sure hope you don't have any gay kids. God help them if you do.

      May 3, 2012 at 2:29 am |
    • lance corporal

      he's very wrong and it is not out of line to be what god created you as, gay or not
      this guys definition of "manhood" is simply wrong

      May 3, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • sam stone

      smokey is a troll. do not feed the troll

      May 3, 2012 at 3:31 am |
  8. GrowUp

    @BeverlyNC– well put and thank you for standing up as a good Christian! Btw, I too am Christian but very dismayed and disgusted with what is going on in the name of Christ.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:23 am |
  9. Sue Thom

    Somebody should beat the living hell out of this degenerate 'pastor'.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:23 am |
  10. Sue Thom

    This "pastor" is sub-human dirt.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:22 am |
  11. tallulah13

    This "pastor" is more honest when his words are unscripted. He is also wholly evil.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:19 am |
  12. jferg

    People in here are calling for other pastors to step up, but my church, a UCC congregation, has been "open and affirming for years." our head pastor even wrote a letter to the editor in the major morning paper criticizing leaders for insulting the other side by using the term "prolife" and engaging in inflammatory and very non_christlike commentary about something they, as men , could never really understand (himself included). boy, were some of the responses nasty. in sum, this great country is full of pastors who reflect the values you speak of. But they mostly keep it in the church.
    With all the hate, can you blame them?

    May 3, 2012 at 1:59 am |
    • GrowUp

      Based upon what you just wrote, it sounds to me like the "nasty" Christian folks far outnumber, or wield more influence than, the good ones. Hence, the negative reputation Christians have for themselves. Either stand up or let the "nasty" ones define what it means to be Christian.

      May 3, 2012 at 2:05 am |
  13. GrowUp

    The guy is clearly unbalanced. What is the excuse of his followers?

    May 3, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • Badda Bing

      Well, a lot of the usual religious people here are REAL quiet, so I have to believe that many did not like to get a look at one of the ugly realities of religion. I would hope it is a wake-up call, but denial is an amazing thing, especially after some time passes.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:54 am |
    • keyser

      They're just as goofy as he is.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:55 am |
    • mandarax

      Keyser, as nice as it would be if it were that simple, I don't think it is. The reality is that otherwise normal, rational people get twisted up by religion, often fanning the flames of the worst aspects of their nature.

      May 3, 2012 at 2:07 am |
    • BeverlyNC

      The whole church is as hateful and non-Christian as their pastor. DId you see the video? They were Laughing at what the pastor was saying and some were yelling out comments like "that's right". Will this Republican/conservative hate ever end? This is NOT Christianity. It is a cult where they have made up their own religion, their own version of Jesus, ignoring the truth of what the Bible says or what Jesus taught. It's disgusting. These people are really twisted and need a dose of real Christian teaching and visit back to the planet of reality where Christians reach out and embrace others, care for the poor, those most in need – do not lie, spread false witness, play multiple choice with the Ten Commandments, and do not use religion as a social weapon of self-righteousness. Jesus would not know them if they went before Him.

      May 3, 2012 at 2:17 am |
  14. criticalthinker

    "Get your house in order and stop being a crybaby." Hello, I said that I'm an atheist. I did not say that I identify with what this man is preaching. My point is that you cannot say that everyone who is a Christian is ignorant, hate-spewing, and worthy of immediate dismissal. You cannot define a diverse community by its most radical members.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • GrowUp

      Then that "diverse community" needs to stand up against the "radical" members and I don't see that being done. Do you? You can't go along and then cry foul when you get a black eye for going along. Ever hear of Nazi Germany? I suppose it would be "discriminatory" to fault the "diverse" Germans who went along with the "radical" elements in their midst. Sorry, but the Christian community has no standing to complain about getting a bad rap unless it does something to clean up its image.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:56 am |
  15. HereWeGoAgain

    Organized Religion. Sowing the seeds of intolerance since time immemorial...

    May 3, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • sam stone

      top down faith is toxic

      May 3, 2012 at 3:34 am |
  16. thes33k3r

    This episode of The Destructive Nonsense Show was brought to you by.....the makers of....Religion.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:39 am |
  17. ladymarchhare

    his "retraction" is no such thing. All he did was cite verses that support striking and WHERE to strike a child.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • tallulah13

      This is an evil man, and his bible is foul book. There is no goodness here.

      May 3, 2012 at 2:20 am |
  18. Saywhatyoumean

    Just another example of people using religion to control others. Also an example of hypocritical liars – unintentionally offended ? yeah right.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • FireChaplain

      And where do our children learn how to "bully"? Just look at all the power and control being the mode of operation used by the Republican Party Leaders, the so called "tee-tee party", and so called "religious right" to bully their agenda. In NC Legislator Paul Stam (GOP Majority House Leader) has shown he wants his 15 minutes of fame by "bulling" his "religious dogma" in sponsoring the NC Amendment One to be voted on May 8th. Heaven help us. Just like the Publicans of the New Testament Stam and others of his ink sure do not know what the true message of Christ is: of love, kindness, justice and knowing what is spiritual as opposed to "rules and judging" other's against their proud "religious" selves.

      May 3, 2012 at 2:49 am |
  19. Phosphorus

    I'm really liking how CNN has been bringing these religious debates out in the open. This video was an excellent example on why people are getting fed up with the segregation and prejudice that Christianity has been and still creates, and why so many people are leaving this faith behind and becoming more tolerant human beings in the process.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:23 am |
  20. Joey

    Never mind what he thinks about the LGBT community. Listen to what he had to say about the way girls should act. It was a bit creepy. Just sayin'!

    May 3, 2012 at 1:19 am |
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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.