Justified Censure of a Reckless Pastor

The video above is going viral as I type this. It’s an excerpt of a sermon from a fundamentalist church in North Carolina. The preacher’s name is Charles L. Worley, and it is horrific.

Why highlight it here if it is so bad? The video is picking up a good head of steam on the internet, and a lot of people are starting to pay attention to it and to make judgments about Christianity. Countless news organizations are pushing the video with the implication that this is how Christians in general feel about homosexuals (e.g., MSNBC, CNN, HuffPo). Nothing could be further from the truth.

This pastor’s words are abominable and deserve condemnation and censure from all Christians. This is the kind of thing that props up caricatures of Christians and which harms the progress of the gospel. Anyone who would talk like this in a sermon is not qualified to be a pastor.

30 Responses to Justified Censure of a Reckless Pastor

  1. JP Sloan May 22, 2012 at 8:31 pm #


  2. Jonathan Pearson May 22, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    This is a horrible, horrible thing. As you pointed out, this will soon be the way that Christians, particularly the more conservative ones will be viewed. As I read an article about this, I found it very interesting that the writer felt the need to point out that this church was KJV Only. What did that have to do with the story or what was said? Nothing but to further smear an entire group of individuals because of the stupidity of one man and his foolish mouth.

  3. Sean-David McGoran May 22, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    Thank you for this Dr. Burk. This guy needs to spend some time in the Gospels, that’s for sure, but probably needs much more than that. I like to remind fellow evangelicals (and those that claim to be) that while Jesus did call people names, it was usually only the self-righteous and religious!

  4. Bill Trip May 22, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    Help me understand something. Paul said homosexuals are worthy of death. The Old Testament calls for the death of the homosexual. What’s the problem? If it’s the hokey, red neck lack of wisdom and self-censorship, I get it.

    Does this pastor make normal everyday Christians look bad? Sure, and he fulfills a sterotype of what homosexuals already think about us. Does the Bible itself not call for the death of the homosexual in the Old and New Testament?

    I am a Christian. I want this fleshed out if possible. I don’t disagree with what you are saying concerning this man’s lack of wisdom but the Bible does teach homosexuals are worthy of death. In fact, all sinners are worthy of death and God would be morally justified in hurling the earth into the sun.

    • Trey Medley May 23, 2012 at 9:54 am #

      To be fair, the New Testament says we all deserve death and we all deserve the eternal fires of hell. The difference is, this is one man saying that a human has authority to sit in the place of God and decide who lives and who dies (in a horrific manner). The difference is, no sin puts you beyond redemption and until that “pastor” says the same thing about liars, adulterers, thieves, alcoholics and essentially everyone else, he is out of line and unnecessarily singling out one sin as somehow worse than all others or beyond redemption, or outside the purview of God’s love. That is just contrary to Scripture (where God seems to show the most love to the greatest sinners, particularly those who don’t even know it). Want to know what convicts of sin? It’s not hate. It’s love (see Jonah).

  5. Jim Jacobson May 22, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    Wow, that is frightening.

  6. Jared Moore May 22, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    Bill, America is not a theocracy. We do not have the right to apply Israel’s laws to our laws and say “God’s ok with it.” We’re not Israel. God’s holiness was directly associated with Israel. God’s holiness isn’t directly associated with America in the same way it was with Israel in the Old Testament. Yes, homosexuality was punishable by death in Israel, as was disobeying one’s parents, and a host of other sins, but God’s holiness is not directly associated with America. His holiness is instead directly associated with His church. And, how did Christ save His church, and tell His church to save others? By laying down His life. We must do the same. So, how should Christians respond to homosexuals? We must be willing to lay down our lives for them that they might know the greatness of our God. Jesus loves them, and we should as well. Tolerance is not the answer, but neither is murder. We evangelize by laying down our lives, not by taking lives.

  7. Jason Silverthorne May 22, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

    This is a good example of why the Independent Fundamental Church movement is flawed. This man is seemingly working without oversight. As a result, he gets to “preach the hell out of” whatever he wants.

    (Side note: I would verify that the church is also independent, but their website won’t load… probably because of all of the attention they are getting in the news and online.)

    • David Doran jr. May 23, 2012 at 8:49 am #

      your argument is flawed- almost every denomination has a pastor who goes out and says what he wants. Repercussions should come from the church body that he serves.
      simply pointing to one foolish pastor doesn’t speak to any movement as a whole. Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists- they all have their “crazy uncles.” this does not validate or invalidate their beliefs on church government.
      A persons failure to correctly obey the Word does not negate the validity of the instruction he received.

  8. Joshua Thompson May 22, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    Jared, you are absolutely correct. Well stated and explained.

  9. Leah DeLaune May 22, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

    This man is disgusting. He is not bringing glory to God and the sad thing is that he is probably proud of himself for delivering this.

  10. Chris Taylor May 23, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    Presbyterians don’t generally have such egregious issues, since the elders from the surrounding local churches can actually censure an offending pastor. Just sayin’.

  11. David Doran jr. May 23, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Thanks for posting and correctly assessing this man’s poor leadership and incredibly unhelpful speech. Homosexuality is condemned and Christians must not appease the popular culture. BUT- this kind of showmanship is not preaching.
    this does not help the cause of Christ.

    When you said, “Anyone who would talk like this in a sermon is not qualified to be a pastor.” i wholeheartedly agree. Unfortunately, many people flock to certain pastors who have spoken in just as grievous and foolish ways. Explicit descriptions of sexual conduct, jokes about the God of the Universe committing sexual perverse actions, and many other instances have been documented for someone like Mark Driscoll as well. Which is too say- we should hold every pastor to this standard. Sometimes we are quick to stone the hicktown preacher and leave the cool preacher. They both should be confronted.

    • Dom Aquilino May 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

      I agree. Great thoughts.

    • Jason McGrath May 24, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

      Right. WWF-style preaching is not unique to this guy’s pond.

    • David Pitman May 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

      Well said! David Doran jr

  12. Barry Joslin May 23, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    It’s over 500,000 hits this morning. This is not how we want this discussion to progress.


  13. Daniel Stevens May 23, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    Very disturbing indeed. Until Christians rediscover that Christ left a living authority built on the successors of the apostles, we will continue to fragment and divide. It is easy to pick on one sermon, but it is ultimately our disunity as believers that scandalizes the world, as is implied by Jesus’s high priestly prayer in John 17. If we look at today’s general state of affairs as Jesus sees them, should we not be just as dismayed when contradictory doctrines are preached from pulpits across the globe?

    Until 1930, all Christians of every denomination taught that artificial contraception was gravely immoral. What I would ask the pastor in this video is: do also you uphold the traditional Christian teaching regarding contraception? If not, do you acknowledge the possibility that the radical change in the way we view sexuality enabled by giving in to the contraceptive, anti-life culture has led to an increased acceptance of homosexuality?

    While I am ashamed that so few of my Catholic brothers and sisters actually follow the Church’s teaching against contraception, I pray that many of my (often) more faithful non-Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ might rediscover this significant moral teaching (believed even by the earliest Christians), live it faithfully in their own marriages, and then strengthen your Catholic brothers and sisters by your faithful witness. (Of course, I pray this for my Catholic brothers and sisters as well…as well as hosting study sessions where my parishioners can learn more about the Church’s unwavering teachings in the areas of human sexuality.) I pray that we as Christians can be reunited in Christ on this issue, and I pray that in doing so, we will collectively be more humble before the Lord as we realize that to some extent, our own sins have made it easier for other sins to propagate.

    God bless you, Denny, for your Christian witness. I always enjoy reading your blog!

  14. Daryl Little May 23, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    This is the kind of thing the KJVOism leads to.

    Which happens to be the kind of church this man leads…

  15. John Larrabee May 24, 2012 at 5:59 am #

    Dear Mr. Burk, Greetings. Did you and all of the others who are condemning Pastor Worley hear his entire message, or only the selected part on YouTube? I do not know Mr. Worley, but I had heard about the “backlash” to a sermon, so I wanted to really know for myself. I was immediately struck by the fact that he was obviously speaking in hyperbole, a well-known and legitimate oratorical technique. At no point did he seriously advocate that the authorities build such a fence (we can’t even finish the one on the Mexican border). The important point he was making is that those who practice homosexual behavior cannot reproduce. Their ranks only grow through recruitment. Aggressive and predatory men and women actively seduce and solicit others into their life-style of misery. Unless you believe that God actually makes some people homosexual, their behavior is largely a result of life experiences and personal decisions. If the majority of those who practice homosexual behavior were separated from the rest of the general population (a hypothetical concept that would never happen) it is in fact true that they would eventually die off without spreading their filth and rebellion to the next generation. Mr. Worley never said they should be killed, never advocated violence against them and never attempted to organize anyone to fulfill his hypothetical scenario. He never once misquoted Scripture or took it out of context. The next week’s message confirmed the biblical position that he, like the Lord, loves the sinner but hates the sin. He went on to emphasize that ALL sin is that way, not just homosexuality, and that the ultimate solution is regeneration. Would I have expressed things exactly as Pastor Worley did? Probably not. In over 40 years as a public speaker have I said things, especially in a hyperbolic sense, that someone could have taken out of context to condemn? Probably so!! In fact, I am certain that most, if not all, of the most careful of pastors and teachers have said things that their enemies could twist. I believe that the correct path for the brethren in this case would have been to carefully analyze what he said and the overall point (which none of the commentators I have read online got). Then, if one believed that an error had occurred Pastor Worley should have been approached personally in the spirit of Matthew 18, prior to any public censure. I have ministered to many men and women who struggle with homosexual tendencies or behavior, including some people very close to me. I have heard many express a desire to change. Only a few ever have, but some of those have become shining examples of God’s grace. In today’s electronic age, Mr. Worley should have used more discretion. I did encounter “rash speech,” but at no time did I sense I was hearing “hate speech.” At the same time, it is a shame that those Christians who joined in the attack against him have failed to show ANY of the spirit of love they accuse him of lacking. I almost never write to editors, etc. In this case, I felt that I needed to address the issue. I do not know you, but you seem to be someone who would seriously consider what I have said. God bless you.

    • David Pitman May 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

      A clear, calm and Christian response. Thanks!

  16. Dom Aquilino May 24, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    When it comes to garbage like this, I am again it….totally again it……

  17. Mitch Dean May 29, 2012 at 1:10 am #

    Hey, Denny I’ve just been catching up on your blog. I usually have to read several at one sitting so it’s hard to post comments but I had to on this one. There are two things that really strike me here.

    The first is the astonishing (or actually maybe not) posts from a couple of your followers who seem to want to defend this man. Irrespective of the fact that this was only part of the sermon he delivered, there’s really not a “taken out of context” defense here when this buffoon is using the hate-filled term “queers” to refer to gay people and advocating that they be put into electric fenced camps (anybody remember the last people who did that?).

    The second thing that I have noticed is the concern you and several of your followers have with this video about the way it makes Christians look. I don’t think there’s a big PR problem here because I doubt people are apt to assign this kind of ignorance to all Christians in general. Rather I think it’s pretty clear to most folks that this fool belongs to and speaks for a subset of hate-drunk zealots who are ready, willing and able to spew this kind of garbage (i.e. the wonderful examples of humanity from Westboro Baptist Church).

    • Denny Burk May 29, 2012 at 1:20 am #

      Thanks for reading, Mitch, and for taking time to comment.


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