Bishop T.D. Jakes has clarified that his method of ministering to gay people who choose to attend The Potter's House church was "evolving" and said he does not endorse same-sex marriage, after a recent HuffPost Live interview led some viewers to believe he had "shifted" in his biblical convictions regarding human sexuality and marriage.
Christians and Americans in general remain divided in their opinions on the morality of homosexuality and the legality of same-sex marriage, and the Supreme Court's ruling in June effectively affirming same-sex marriage as a constintutional right has not bridged the divide.
"Currently, 54 percent of Americans say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, with 39 percent opposed. In May, 57 percent favored legalizing same-sex marriage, while 39 percent opposed," the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank, reported on July 29.
In another report updated the same day, Pew revealed that "among Catholics and white Mainline Protestants, roughly six-in-10 now express support for same-sex marriage." The fact tank added: "Support for same-sex marriage among black Protestants (34 percent) and white Evangelical Protestants (24 percent) remains lower than among other religious groups."
Responses to Bishop Jakes' recent appearance on HuffPost Live exemplify just how divisive discussions about homosexuality and same-sex marriage can become, especially when prominent figures, such as Jakes, once presented by Time magazine as potentially "the next Billy Graham," are in the mix.
Jakes took to his Facebook account on Sunday to blast a news report that suggested his HuffPost Live appearance indicated that his opinion of homosexuality was both "evolved and evolving" and that the Dallas, Texas, minister had "come out for gay rights and LGBT churches."
"Do not take everything you read online or hear repeated as truth. 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 said in his Facebook post. "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 [sic] marriage! My position on the subject has been steadfast and rooted in scripture [sic]."
Jakes, 58, concluded: "For the record, I do not endorse same sex [sic] marriage but I respect the rights that this country affords those that disagree with me."
The minister followed up that weekend post with a second statement on Tuesday, seeking to further make clear his beliefs regarding what the Bible says about marriage and sexuality — and noted that the brief time alloted during the HuffPost Live interview was "inadequate to explain complex theological principles or to evaluate societal norms from a biblical perspective."
"The inference is that I am 'developing' in my approach to the LGBT community that I may share the Gospel most effectively so as to lead 'whosoever will' to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Granted, 'evolving' is a non-church word," Jakes states, addressing his use of the term that was also used by President Barack Obama when he explained in 2012 his change of heart on same-sex marriage.
Jakes goes on to explain that "my beliefs about sexuality and marriage — as with all topics — is based on Scripture."
He adds, first citing 2 Timothy 3:16:
"I firmly believe that marriage is ordained by God as a union between a man and a woman. (Ephesians 5:31) My stance on the topic has never wavered. It is fixed, steadfast and well documented.
Nor am I ashamed of the gospel, for fear of appearing politically correct. It is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.
I believe that all sex outside of that sacred union is sin and that would include but is not limited to, homosexuality. I use Romans 1:24-29 and Hebrews 13:4 as the Scriptural basis for what I believe. I believe in transforming power of God's Word. It is the ultimate aim of Truth.
I also believe in balancing that truth with grace, so that the word becomes the personification of Jesus Christ, his love, mercy and compassion. (John 1:14)."
The minister goes on to explain that he refuses to participate in "the extra-biblical exercise of calling people names, ostracizing or humiliating them because our beliefs fall on opposite sides of the spiritual chasm."
"My hope is that the church will always be 'evolving' in how we address and minister to the LGBT community in ways that are in line with our biblically-based beliefs without losing sight of Christ like compassion," Jakes adds. "That way of communicating isn't lack of courage, but exhibits the grace and love and forgiveness that reflects God's divine nature!"
"I love all people — even those with whom I do not agree. I do not support same sex-marriage. But it is entirely possible to 'speak the truth in love' and I shall never stop trying to do just that," Jakes concludes.
The Christian Post sent emails on Aug. 6 to public relations representatives for both The Potter's House and T.D. Jakes Ministries seeking clarification on remarks he made in the HuffPost Live interview. On Tuesday, Lewis emailed Jakes' second Facebook post in response to CP's questions.
Jakes, who has been in ministry since 1976, established The Potter's Church with about 50 families in 1996. Since then, the megachurch, which describes itself as "a nondenominational, multicultural church and humanitarian organization" and is known for its numerous outreach ministries, has grown to about 30,000 members. Jakes has also been successful as an author, film producer and music recording executive, and is helming a new inspirational talk show simply titled "T.D. Jakes."
Below is Jakes' initial response published on Facebook Sunday, Aug. 9:
Below is Jakes' second response published on Facebook Tuesday, Aug. 11: