A pastor who's sermon on hypocrisy in the Church went viral last week says his words have been taken out of context and he is not in favour of same-sex marriage.
Pastor Dewey Smith, of the House of Hope Atlanta, became an internet sensation when his impassioned sermon on homosexuality was posted to YouTube, gaining almost 400,000 hits at the time of writing.
Smith criticised the way Christians often "pick and choose the scriptures that we want to use to beat folk up with, rather than look at our own lives."
"You quote homosexuality is an abomination – from Leviticus. You say that right after you ate some shrimp, some catfish and some lobster. You quote Leviticus while you wearing a wool blend suit. It's also in Leviticus that you shouldn't wear mixed linens," he said.
"We have done what the slave master did to us. Dehumanise us, degrade us, demonise us, but then use them for our advantage."
The sermon was used widely online to suggest that Smith was advocating for gay rights. The Huffington Post ran a story titled, "Georgia Pastor Has No Time For Anti-LGBT Hypocrites" while the Metro headline read, "Pastor speaks out for gay rights and criticises 'hypocritical' congregation in emotional video".
An emailed statement from Smith's church says that the intent of his message was not "an affirmation of equal rights for the LGBT community" and has been taken out of context, however.
"That clip was posted without our knowledge by someone who was in attendance and gives absolutely no context concerning the overall message. Since that time enumerable media outlets have posted the clip with captions best suited for their journalistic and editorial priorities. It's important to know that the descriptions of the posted sermon clip are not the opinions of E. Dewey Smith Jr.," a statement from Tigia Finn, executive assistant to Smith, said, according to the Christian Post.
"By no means is Smith now, nor has he ever been a proponent of same-sex marriage. Smith has always believed and taught that marriage is only designed for a man and a woman. This reality was clearly stated during the sermon but not included for some reason by the person who posted the clip. Smith believes that same-sex marriage isn't the Will of God."
Finn suggested that media outlets have "bent" Smith's comments to suit their own agendas.
"Many publications have tried to present the message as affirmation of equal rights for the LGBT community. Regardless of how the clip is 'bent' that was not the content nor intent of the message," she said.
"The message was taken from Acts 8:1-8 and presented the responsibility of the 'church leaving Jerusalem and going to evangelize in Samaria.' The clip that you heard referenced a pastor who was born as a hermaphrodite. It also dealt with the historical challenges associated with the Jews ministering to the Samaritans. The message spoke of the hindrances and hypocrisy associated with ministering to people considered as 'outcasts,'
"The aim of the message was simply for believers to learn how Philip preached and walked out the message of Christ. As a result of Philip's ministry, many 'unclean' Samaritans were healed, delivered and set free. The message was designed to encourage the church, not to omit self-examination, while also examining our 21st century context. The goal of ministry should be deliverance."