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In a cute sailor jacket with “je t’aime” embroi­dered in white thread over the heart, Hillsong Church pastor Carl Lentz dis­cussed faith and pol­itics on “The View” talk show last week.

Despite his charming nod to French ten­derness (and its $2600 Saint Laurent price tag), he forgot to extend his “I love you” to all people — only to those who are already born.

When host Joy Behar asked Lentz if it was a sin in his church to have an abortion, Lentz hedged.

“Um,” he started. “That’s the kind of con­ver­sation we would have, finding out your story, where you’re from, what you believe. Yeah, I mean, God’s the judge.”

On Tuesday, after backlash over his non-answer had per­co­lated for more than a week,  Lentz retreated via Twitter, writing, “I do believe abortion is sinful.” But this reaction came a little late. Abortion is not an “um” issue.

Instead of explaining the values of his faith, the megachurch pastor dodged the question at the moment when he had a chance to reach an audience beyond the 7,000 attendees of his New York City church.

Worse, moments before, Lentz com­plained to the show’s hosts that people think dis­agreement with each other means the end of a con­ver­sation. He must agree, however, because instead of risking the ire of Behar, he refused to take a stance on an issue where he should’ve expressed clear prin­ciples.

“People have to live to their own con­vic­tions,” he added.

If I believed that, I’d spend my weekends shopping for thousand-dollar jackets, not wresting myself from a sleep-deprived stupor to attend church on Sunday morning. Last year, I spent the summer attending Lentz’s church in New York City. But, as I realized by August, going to church felt more like fitting in than embracing uncom­fortable, but essential, truths.

When Behar asked the talking Saint Laurent jacket whether abortion was an issue with two dis­tinct sides, Lentz was quick to paint himself as a judgement-free safe space — and offend all pro-life Chris­tians in the process.

“Some people would say it is,” he said. “I think to me I’m trying to teach people who Jesus is first, find out their story. Before I start picking and choosing what is sin in your life, I’d like to know your name.”

So those who say abortion is immoral — aloud, and not just on Twitter — cannot also explain who Jesus is, listen to others’ stories without judgement, and learn and speak their names? Nope. We’re those Chris­tians, you know, not the cool ones — the ones who have con­vic­tions and don’t shop at Saint Laurent.

Having a con­ver­sation with someone about her back­ground, deter­mining the best way to explain truth to her, is acceptable. Scrapping moral stan­dards alto­gether is not.

Lentz may not have read this in “Always Only Dodging the Question” or whatever he keeps on his night­stand, but learning who Jesus is includes learning what he teaches. And he teaches rev­erence for all human life.  

As Advent and the Christmas season approach, many Chris­tians will hear a par­ticular story from the gospel of Luke read in church: Mary, car­rying Christ in her womb, visits her cousin Eliz­abeth, who knows without words the miracle Mary bears within her. How does the Holy Spirit choose to share this spir­itual wisdom with Eliz­abeth? Through her own unborn child, the infant John the Baptist, who senses the presence of God’s son and leaps within her womb.

“In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!’” (Luke 1:42 – 45).

At this, Mary praises the Lord in a beau­tiful prayer, the Mag­ni­ficat, repeated in churches today.

But not Hillsong, probably. Scripture reading is limited to whatever pas­sages strike the pastor as suitable for his sermon. Plus, the pro-life under­tones might offend somebody.

Lentz may hope to draw in more believers by side­stepping doc­trine, but I’m sorry I ever attended his church. Next time he has the oppor­tunity to witness to non-Chris­tians, maybe instead of spending almost $3000 on a jacket, he could buy himself a few books on the­ology.

 

Madeline Fry is a senior studying French.