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. Coastal0ne

    He is a fake Christian! True Christians are non-violent, love their neighbor and turn the other cheek when attacked. Jesus never preached of harming anyone; he condemned that behavior. He stressed that we should all love each other, no matter our differences.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      What idiot turns the other cheek if they are being attacked?

      I hate my enemies and those who wish me harm, and I wish death and pain upon them.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • JT

      It seems every Christian I come in contact with has their own interpretation of True Christian®. I guess that's why there are thousands of donominatiions, Catholic, Protestatnt, etc., etc.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  2. gotheart

    From San Diego, Ca.
    it is just his opinion.
    he is in a position to voice it.
    if he will say this type of thing in public, what must he be saying in normal conversation ....
    people of his church should of gotten up and left. hindsight.

    hatred is taught. at an early age i might add.
    he should be speakin on how to "beat" that hate out of himself, use himself as an example.
    he should speak on how he needs to see others as human beings, all in need and how we can help one another.

    i am a christian but i no longer use that term in describing me. in fact i do not tell anyone.
    i do not go to church anymore because i do not want to be brainwashed with lies that are being taught at church.

    i think all churches should put their money where their mouth is and drop their non-profit status and contribute to our country like any other business. being non-profit IS depending on the government as much as folks that use government aid. It IS mixing "church with state."
    i bet if this was put into effect this preacher would no longer have a church.
    just some of my 2 cents and that is bout all it is worth.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  3. Dan Halen

    Somebody needs to beat the bigotry out of him and most of his congregation.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  4. JB

    Just throwing this out there as some food for thought: Perhaps pastors and other religious zealots should view someone's being gay with another approach. Perhaps God saw how overpopulated the Earth is becoming. Perhaps God saw how many children around the world are neglected or mistreated by unloving parents. Perhaps these might be course-correcting reasons why God created men and women who should not procreate and should love and care for each other and raise the neglected youth. Is that really too difficult to accept?

    May 3, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Dan Halen

      AND perhaps gays and lesbians were put here as a test for the good preacher and others - to see how they react - to see if they uphold the teachings of Jesus - FAIL!

      May 3, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • JB

      @Dan Halen: That's another way to look at it. As much as I don't like to think that we are being tested, it's a good way to live your life; that when you have options presented to you, the good or bad choice you make is yours to live with.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  5. MikeMazzla

    Id liek to say Im suprised but lets be real...a bunch of uneducated red n ecks sitting in a church listening to a "pastor"..what do you expect a mensa convention?

    May 3, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • gotheart

      Double Dang!
      I do not appreciate your use of Redneck. Let me educate you.

      This term characterized farmers, having a red neck caused by sunburn from hours working in the fields.

      Your miss use of this elite group of folks who provide food for you is a form of hatred that you are speaking out about.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      You deride "rednecks" as uneducated yet your punctuation and capitalization are appalling.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  6. Claudine Chinetti

    While you are for everyone's freedom and equality and no stereotyping, do the same for real Christians. Just because one labels him/herself, "Christian", doesn't mean he/she is one. Anyone could go and put a sign out in front of their work place saying Doctor, but they may not be one. Even Christ said it will be said, "Depart from me..., I never knew you." We are to be in the "image of God", of course, we will fail, we are human not God. We are to be like him, but we are humans. Every time, I read posts like some of those below, I see that you have only seen labels on people. You must judge them by their fruits. You must "try" the spirits and see if they be from God. I read the posts about Christians and Christianity and then try to match them to what I know as Christ-like, a Christian and they don't match. I don't throw them all in one category "Christian",and then say eradicate them all. You want to eradicate something that isn't even Christ-like and then claim that is Christianity. It isn't . Even you can tell that it is false. If one searched they could find actual Christians, but they are on a very narrow road that not all are traveling, so you may not chance upon them everyday. What you are seeing is not Christ-like, don't throw out Christ, go in search of Him, with all your heart and you will find Him. You don't follow people, you follow Christ.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Doctor is a legally protected term, Christian isn't.

      Who gets to decide who is a Christian if not the individual making the claim to being a Christian.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  7. atypical

    ignorance does not discriminate and knows no boundaries. i try, try, try not to judge people who cultivate and perpetuate such ignorance, but damn, it's hard.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  8. Well then....

    As long as a congregation keeps paying these yahoos....

    May 3, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  9. j

    Just another demonstration of "Christ's Love".

    These simple-minded fools are the scourge of the planet. Christian Cancer.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Well then....

      It's 'paid ministry' cancer

      May 3, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  10. doesntmatter

    Don't judge all Christians on this idiot. I am a Christian, a non-denominational Christian who does not go to church because of all the wrong these "pastors" are preaching. So don't let these brain washed fools make you hate what a true chritstian is supposed to be.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • AusieSceptic1

      how can one do anything but judge the tree by its fruit

      May 3, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Jablonski

      I don't judge all Christians on this guy. I judge them on the fact that they necessarily subscribe to a dogma that states mankind is broken and evil and deserves infinite punishment by default. It's a sickening doctrine that demeans all men and women.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  11. Kathy

    Is he for real? A joke? Yeah right! You have been pastor too long, YOU ARE NOT GOD

    May 3, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  12. ken845

    Uh oh. Another closet case.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  13. Steve Barr

    Has anyone notice the pastor has ordered the email address removed from the church's website? He thinks he's "man" enough to make such ridiculous statements but he's not "man" enough to take the heat that comes afterwards. He's not a man...he's an egotist! They all apologize ...AFTER the fact.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  14. ALFTL

    He is clearly NOT joking, I want to see a close up picture of this dinosaur, there needs to be a boycott by all gay supporters and gay people so much so that exile is the only option. Come out of the closet Pastor.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  15. Rosslaw

    Needless to say, pastor Harris is screaming to be able to come out of the closet. Nobody obsesses about a human condition that has existed forever unless they know they are gay and cannot reconcile it with the way the think of themselves.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  16. mb2010a

    I wonder if it's OK to hit a pastor...

    May 3, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Brent Slensker

      THIS one is certainly "Fair game"....

      May 3, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Sand

      Best response yet! Keep it simple. Do onto yourself, as you want done to others.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  17. John Q. Public

    Misquoting phrases of the Bible for his own political agenda is no different than what the Taliban does. Ministers like this ought to be defrocked. There is nothing funny about hateful remarks.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  18. jaintn

    I'd have more respect for the hypocritical bigot if he DIDN'T retract his statement. He said what he meant, and he meant what he said. He's yet another "Christian" who have no clue what being a Christian means, like most of them. This preacher is ignorant white trash, and evil through and through.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  19. Moon

    I am so sick & tired of all the gay bashing religious groups do! They arent teaching love as jesus taught they are teaching hate and hiding behind god. This is the exact reason i refuse to have a religion. Yes i believe in god & love jesus but i refuse to let "religious leaders" tell me how to worship & who to love.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  20. Wake up

    Yes you did you religious Bigot! You meant all of that hatred directed at gays. Its in the DNA of conservative's sick minds. But most of all, it goes against Jesus's commandments and they were only 2. To "Love God above all things" and to "Love one another as you Love yourself". I would go as far as to say that all people in that congregation would do much better to just stay home and watch the Simpsons. These Damned Evangelicals will join all muslims in Hell soon.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:35 am |
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