Max Lucado is the author of over 100 books and pastor of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas and has recently been the center of controversy. When the Dean Randy Hollerith of the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. invited Lucado to speak at the church earlier this month, some in the congregation said Lucado’s teaching on homosexuality disqualified him as a guest speaker. Nevertheless, Lucado preached. After that, apologies were issued—one even penned by Lucado himself.
The Washington National Cathedral affirms same-sex marriages and LGBTQ inclusion within the life of the church. The church’s website reads: “A longtime supporter of the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the life of the church, the Cathedral considers LGBTQ equality one of the great civil rights issues of the church in the 21st century.”
Later in the week, Dean Hollerith issued an apology for inviting Pastor Lucado after it was brought to his attention the author’s stance on the LGBTQ community. Hollerith said, “What I did not know was that he also had written and said some horrific things about LGBTQ people.”
An unsuccessful petition that called for rescinding Lucado’s preaching invitation received over 1,600 signatures. The petition said the pastor of Oak Hills Church preaching “inflicts active harm on LGBTQ people,” and cited an article Lucado wrote entitled “What God Says About Gay Marriage” that was published by Crosswalk.com, which has since been removed at the request of the original owner.
Kathleen Moore, the petition’s creator, posted a statement after Lucado’s sermon that read:
As you are likely aware, Max Lucado preached during Washington National Cathedral’s service this morning. First, I want to say I am so very sorry to those who are hurting today and those who will continue to hurt as a result of this decision. If you need someone to talk to or to pray with, please reach out to a trusted person. My inbox is also open. Do know that the number of signatures here (over 1,500) represent just a fraction of the number of Episcopalians who stand in solidarity and community with you. Each of those signatures will serve as a record of the voices Dean Hollerith and Washington National Cathedral chose not to hear. Thank you for your contribution to this witness. It is clear we, especially those of us who claim to be allies, still have much work to do. I pray that with God’s help, we will.
On February 11, 2021, a day after Dean Hollerith posted his apology, Max Lucado released a letter apologizing to the Cathedral Community. In the letter the guest preacher apologized for a sermon he preached in 2004 that revolved around the topic of same-sex marriage. Lucado said, “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.”
The ‘Growing the Marriage of Your Dreams (Max on Life)’ author wrote, “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… the church has harmed LGBTQ people…we must do better to serve and love one another.”
Read Lucado’s full letter below:
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.