SYDNEY, Australia (Christian Examiner) — Hillsong Church Pastor Brian Houston released a statement on the church's website today in response to recent media comments suggesting he had softened his stance on homosexuality.
"I encourage people not to assume a media headline accurately represents what I said at a recent press conference," Houston began.
During an Oct. 16 press conference with Michael Paulson of The New York Times, Houston said that the church's stance on same-sex marriage was "an ongoing conversation among church leaders and they were "on the journey with it."
The New York Times' headline for their report on Houston's comments read, "Megachurch Pastor Signals Shift in Tone on Gay Marriage."
In the days following its publication, conversations began to circulate online about how the church had perhaps become more open minded to the gay marriage issue, which gained a lot of legal ground last week after several court rulings brought the number of states that recognize same-sex unions to 32.
"Nowhere in my answer did I diminish biblical truth or suggest that I or Hillsong Church supported gay marriage," Houston continued. "I challenge people to read what I actually said, rather than what was reported that I said. My personal view on the subject of homosexuality would line up with most traditionally held Christian views. I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject."
Prior to his clarification, Hillsong pastors had refrained from taking a public stance on gay marriage in hopes of not creating a barrier between the church and the world.
"I was asked a question on how the church can stay relevant in the context of gay marriage being legal in the two states of the USA where we have campuses. My answer was simply an admission of reality – no more and no less. I explained that this struggle for relevance was vexing as we did not want to become ostracized by a world that needs Christ."
Hillsong Church was founded by Houston and his wife Bobbie in 1983 and attracts 30,000 worshippers weekly. Its website lists 12 locations around the world, including New York City and Los Angeles.