Sean Harris is the senior pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
He’s in the news because of a sermon he delivered in conjunction with “Marriage Sunday,” an initiative intended to get out the vote for a proposed same-sex ban. He had some thoughts about gender roles and parenting that deserve a closer look [emphases mine].
So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, ‘Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, ’cause that’s what boys do,’ [laughter] you get out the camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female and then you upload it to YouTube and everybody laughs about it and next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed [shouts of "amen"]. Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist [several in audience: "amen"]. Man up. Give him a good punch [laughter]. Ok? ‘You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male.’
And when your daughter starts acting too butch, you rein her in. And you say, “Oh, no! Oh no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play ‘em. Play ‘em to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to walk like a girl, and talk like a girl, and smell like a girl. And that means that you are going to be beautiful; you’re going to be attractive; you’re going to dress yourself up.”
Say, “Can I take charge like that as a parent?” Yeah, you can [laughter]. You’re authorized. I just gave you a special dispensation this morning to do that.
Harris disavowed portions of the sermon in an interview with the Fayetteville Observer.
“If I had to say it again, I would say it differently, no doubt,” Harris said Tuesday. “Those weren’t planned words, but what I do stand by is that the word of God makes it clear that effeminate behavior is ungodly. I’m not going to compromise on that.”
From within the church, Harris said, “the response was, ‘Pastor, we know you didn’t mean that.’ “
“We know when you’re saying something seriously and when were supposed to just understand the intent and not the application,’ ” Harris said.
Even if he was just joking, it was a tasteless and easily misunderstood joke. And, as he continues to make clear, he has an essentialist view of male and female roles, and thinks that it is sinful and contrary to the will of God to stray outside of them.
He’s dead serious about that.