Christian author and pastor Max Lucado, who holds biblical Christian views on marriage, issued an apology for “disrespecting” and “hurting” the LGBT community in his past sermons after the Washington National Cathedral was criticized for inviting him as a guest speaker.
“In 2004 I preached a sermon on the topic of same-sex marriage. I now see that, in that sermon, I was disrespectful. I was hurtful,” wrote Lucado, pastor of Oak Hills Church, a nondenominational Christian church in San Antonio, Texas, in a letter last week to the Episcopal Church’s Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Paul in the City and the Diocese of Washington, also known as the Washington National Cathedral.
“I wounded people in ways that were devastating,” Lucado, who spoke at the National Cathedral on Feb. 7, continued. “I should have done better. It grieves me that my words have hurt or been used to hurt the LGBTQ community. I apologize to you and I ask forgiveness of Christ.”
Some members of the Episcopal Church, a denomination known for holding liberal views on marriage and sexuality issues, launched a petition asking the cathedral’s dean, Randy Hollerith, to rescind Lucado’s invitation to preach.
“Lucado’s teachings and preaching inflicts active harm on LGBTQ people,” the petition read. “To cite one example, in 2004 he wrote of his fears that homosexuality would lead to ‘legalized incest’ and likened same-sex marriage to incest and bestiality. Fear-mongering and dehumanizing messages from powerful speakers like Lucado have been used to justify rollbacks of LGBTQ rights and to exclude LGBTQ people from civil protections and sacred rites. To our knowledge, Lucado has not publicly renounced these views.”
Mentioning that the remains of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was murdered in 1998, were entrusted to the cathedral, the petition maintained that inviting “a man who preaches the kind of dangerous theology that promotes oppression of and violence toward the LGBTQ community does not honor that trust nor serve his memory.”
Lucado wrote that faithful people may disagree about what the Bible says about homosexuality, “but we agree that God’s holy Word must never be used as a weapon to wound others.”
“To be clear, I believe in the traditional biblical understanding of marriage, but I also believe in a God of unbounded grace and love," he said in his letter. "LGBTQ individuals and LGBTQ families must be respected and treated with love. They are beloved children of God because they are made in the image and likeness of God.
“Over centuries, the church has harmed LGBTQ people and their families, just as the church has harmed people on issues of race, gender, divorce, addiction, and so many other things. We must do better to serve and love one another.”
The cathedral’s dean also responded to the petition, which had been signed by over 1,600 people, falling short of its goal of 2,500 signatures.
Hollerith wrote, “When we only engage with those whom we agree on every issue, we find ourselves in a dangerous (and lonely) place. My hope is that all churches and faith communities will find ways to open their doors to perspectives different from their own.”
In his letter to the cathedral, Lucado clarified that he was invited to preach on the topic of the Holy Spirit. “My desire was to highlight the power of the Spirit to bring comfort in these chaotic times. However, instead of that sermon, many only heard my words from many years ago.”