Hillsong New York City pastor Carl Lentz said he backs the biblical definition of marriage as between one man and woman. He added that both the Christian right and leftists target his church, however.
Lentz was asked in a video interview on HBO's "Vice News," what he believes about "marriage equality," to which he replied:
"I think we have a P.R. problem. Marriage equality, it's a non-issue, because the laws of the land in New York City [are that] gay people can get married."
When asked what he himself believes about marriage, Lentz responded, "My opinion is secondary to what we believe the Bible's opinion is. So Hillsong Church, traditionally, for 30 years, we would say the Bible is really clear that marriage is between a man and a woman. And I believe the Bible says what it says, and I interpret it exactly as the Bible says."
The popular megachurch pastor then said that his church "gets killed from both sides."
"The Christian right thinks we're too open; the super left thinks we're not loud enough in our affirmation," he added.
Australia's Hillsong Church Senior Pastor Brian Houston also recently backed the traditional stance on marriage during the nationwide postal plebiscite on legalizing same-sex marriage.
Houston warned, however, that there are those who "use Christianity to alienate and even condemn those who are gay and dismiss their desire to pursue happiness."
Some conservatives, such as Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, have accused Lentz and Hillsong of trying to avoid dealing with controversial issues.
"There isn't a great deal of historical Christianity or explicit theological content in their worship," Mohler told The New York Times last month.
"I think there is a determined effort on the part of these churches, to avoid dealing with hard theological questions that might offend people."
Lentz was also recently criticized for failing to clearly state his views on abortion in an appearance on "The View" last week, but has since clarified that he believes the practice to be sinful.
"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 wrote in a statement.
Lentz has become a popular pastor among celebrities, including Selena Gomez, Kyrie Irving and Justin Bieber.
When asked by Vice News about popstar Bieber's ties with Hillsong, and whether it's fair to compare that relationship to actor Tom Cruise and his advocacy for Scientology, Lentz responded, "No, it's apples and oranges."
He argued that Scientology attempts to indoctrinate people and make them into its spokespeople.
"We've never done that. Justin has never set foot on stage," he explained.
The pastor also noted that Hillsong often engages with culture, but that doesn't mean they have "sold out to culture."
"Our job isn't necessarily to always villify culture," he said. "We're gonna hustle culture, rather than culture always hustling maybe the church."
Speaking about politics, Lentz said that he has had some interaction with President Donald Trump's administration.
"I've had some small moments," he said, without getting into specifics.
"I've done some White House stuff on the sly. I've been in rooms with people who make big decisions," he added.
Watch Lentz's interview with "Vice News" below:
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