A Baptist preacher gave parents in his church a “special dispensation” to beat their effeminate sons last Sunday.

Pastor Sean Harris of Berean Church, Fayetteville, NC, made the remarks in a sermon in favour of Amendment One, a proposed law to make marriage between one man and one woman “the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized” in the state of North Carolina.

Harris’s audience laughed as he advised giving a four-year-old son a “good punch” if he “acts a little girlish.” Listen to the nauseating audio (courtesy of Jeremy at Good As You), or read the transcript below:

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, because that is what boys do,” 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 the next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed.

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. Man up. Give him a good punch. Okay? 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 to butch you reign her in. And you say: “Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.”

You say, “Can I take charge like that as a parent?”

Yeah, you can. You are authorized. I just gave you a special dispensation this morning to do that.

The pastor has now apologized, saying he was joking about the physical violence. He reaffirmed his view that gender nonconformity is ungodly. Presumably emotional abuse and psychological bullying would be the more appropriate way for fathers to shame their gay sons into manning up.

Of course, he also had harsh words for butch daughters, but his advice on how to convert lesbian daughters seems merciful compared to that dished out by a Cleveland, Ohio, radio host last week. DJ Dominic Dieter had this to say to a father who suspected his daughter was gay after he caught her kissing a girl: “You should get one of your friends to screw your daughter straight.”

Dieter’s ugly advice is hardly original, and nor is Pastor Sean Harris’s. Girls as young as 13 have been subjected to “corrective rape” in South Africa, just as effeminate kids the world over know what it is to be physically punished by their parents and their peers. Neither approach is anything new — you just hope not to hear it from your pastors and radio personalities.


Update: Listen to Pastor Sean Harris’s non-apology here. After psychologically bullying gays by suggesting they be physically beaten, he says he has never advocated psychological bullying or physical beating. Most of the “retraction and response” is taken up with complaining that his statements were taken out of context and misinterpreted. He’s sorry that some people were “unintentionally offended.” And don’t forget God really, really hates gender nonconformity and homosexuality. And that, not “beat your kids,” was what he meant when — after asking, “Can I make it any clearer?” — he recommended cracking wrists and giving out punches.

The apology (which is more an apology in the academic sense of a defence) means nothing. As someone Harris professes to follow once said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” You don’t say such things unless it comes from a deep place. And those ugly, ugly ways of thinking don’t disappear just because you were cornered into saying sorry.

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