The evangelical author who faced backlash last week after being invited to preach at Washington National Cathedral despite opposing homosexuality apologized for disrespecting and hurting the LGBT community.
Max Lucado, who is pastor of the nondenominational Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, was invited by the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Paul in the City and the Diocese of Washington, D.C., to preach earlier this month, but his public opposition to homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage outraged many members of the liberal Episcopalian denomination to which the National Cathedral belongs.
Lucado’s detractors circulated a petition that highlighted a 2004 sermon in which he likened homosexual sex 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,” the petition said. “To our knowledge, Lucado has not publicly renounced these views.”
In a Feb. 11 letter to the Washington National Cathedral, Lucado wrote, “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.”
“I wounded people in ways that were devastating,” Lucado 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.”
Lucado nevertheless maintained that he still believes “in the traditional biblical understanding of marriage[.]”
Read Lucado’s full letter below, which was obtained by Episcopal News Service:
Dear Cathedral Community,
It was a high honor to serve as your guest preacher on February 7, 2021. It has come to my understanding that my presence in the Cathedral is a cause of consternation for many of your members.
I was invited to Washington National Cathedral 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.
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. I wounded people in ways that were devastating. 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.
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. 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.
I share the Cathedral’s commitment to building bridges and learning how to listen — to really listen — to those with whom we disagree. That work is difficult, it is hard, it is messy, and it can be uncomfortable. But we need it now more than ever.