The influential Christian megapastor John MacArthur has said that 'no one is gay', comparing homosexuality to robbery or adultery and arguing that no one person is 'hardwired' with such a disposition.
MacArthur, a conservative evangelical pastor based in California, was speaking earlier this month at a conference for Ligonier Ministries in Los Angeles, according to the blogger Friendly Atheist.
MacArthur was asked, 'knowing that we are all sinner saved by grace', would a gay Christian enter the kingdom of heaven?
He responded: 'Well, I don't know if [the question is] for me, but no one is gay. If you mean by that, that that's some hardwiring... no one is gay. People commit adultery, they commit sins of homosexuality, they lie, they steal, they cheat.
'That's like saying, "You know, I keep robbing banks, but I'm a robber. I'm a bank robber. What am I gonna do? I'm a bank robber." That is not an excuse for what you do.'
He added: 'Are there certain kind of impulses that lead people in that direction? Yes. But I think one of the really deadly aspects of this is to let people define themselves as gay.
'They are not gay any more than an adulterer is hardwired to be forced by his own nature to commit adultery. Those are all behavioral sins that are condemned in scripture. God didn't hardwire anybody in such a way that they are not responsible for certain behaviors.'
MacArthur then said, though it's not clear what he meant, that: 'we need to cancel that out of the sin list and welcome them into the Kingdom of God, because you can't do anything else. But I think we do no service to people who are caught in the vicious sins of homosexuality by letting them define themselves by that sin.'
Macarthur's response can be watched in the video above.
Perhaps surprisingly, MacArthur was less conservative on the hotly contested question of whether it was sinful for Christian to bake a cake for a gay wedding.
'No its not sinful for a cakemaker to make a cake for a gay wedding, any more than its sinful for a guy who runs a restaurant to serve dinner to somebody who is gay...what the issue is is not whether that's sinful, it's whether the federal government can demand that people do certain things which goes against their Christian conscience.'
Although warning against government interference on conscience, he also said: 'I actually think that we need to show love to everyone, and particularly we need to good to all those that are outside the kingdom as well as inside the kingdom as much as possible.
MacArthur said that a 'gesture of kindness toward some unregenerate person is in itself not a sin, but if it violates your conscience in some way then you don't want to rain yourself to ignore your conscience, so I think it's a personal issue.'