North Miami Pastor Jack Hakimian Says He’s Not Anti-Gay
But also believes it will be the destruction of our society
The half-Armenian-Lebanese, half-West African was born in Liberia and fled with his family to the U.S. in 1979, avoiding a civil war. He spent a majority of his teenage years incarcerated, calling himself a "troubled" teenager. In 1992, the 19-year-old Jack Hakimian accepted Jesus Christ as his savior while sitting in a dark cell in the L.A. Penitentiary.
"Since then, I’ve been walking as a Christian," said Jack Hakimian, who’s now a pastor in North Miami, and has been labeled by local media and politicians as anti-gay.
He left L.A.’s Pasadena and headed to South Florida with his wife, who grew up down here, in 2008 - a move he was reluctant to make.
"I hated South Florida because of the humidity and the extreme cultural shock that’s here, and said to myself I’d never move to Miami or South Florida," Hakimian said and paused to smile. "But, you know, you want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans."
The couple moved to South Florida in 2008 and wanted to plant a church. They saw an ethnic hodge-podge and a place where wealth was divided, an urban setting perfect for the work they hoped to accomplish.
Four years later, in mid-June, the pastor was involved in an effort to extinguish the potential reversal of a North Miami ordinance prohibiting strip clubs. A local PBS-subsidiary, WPBT, partnered with Hakimian on the distribution of a leaflet calling citizens to fight the law reversal, which eventually passed. This alignment was attacked by openly gay North Miami Commissioner Scott Galvin, who labeled Hakimian an anti-gay pastor and accused WPBT of "sloppy politics."
But the pastor refutes this claim - somewhat. Hakimian calls his sermons "expositional," or relying on the literature of the bible and its study more so than topical themes, as other sermons might do.
"This makes us confront topics that sometimes are not very popular," Hakimian said. "I think the word anti-gay is loaded. I know for a fact that many of people in the gay community wouldn’t consider me anti-gay."
To have the theological view that homosexuality isn’t okay in the face of God is okay, Hakimian argued, as long as a given pastor isn’t propagating or endorsing bullying, lack of civil protection or hate of the LGBT community. He said he believes that the LGBT community should have a voice and rights in the public arena. He considers the issue a purely theological one, and said he wants to see the government protect and provide same-sex couples the same rights they offer heterosexual couples, as long as these notions stay out of Christian pews.
"I do believe that homosexuals should have the civil liberty to be married. My beef has been with people who are - very wisely so - using Christianity to endorse their behavior," he said. "I’m arguing a Christian perspective of sexual ethics, social ethics, and so on. But always with a condition that we understand that this is not the defining issue of our century."
Hakimian said that homosexuality is not high on his list of priorities, but had to begin dealing with it as it entered the public realm more and more - he had people asking him about the issue. The topper on the list is unbelief, which according to Hakimian is unforgivable. The second on the list would be pride, which according to Hakimian was the folly of Satan. Selfishness and greed - which he called "two twin sisters" - take third place on the list, homosexuality not even making it to the top three.
"I’m not God’s hit list polltaker, but I’d say that homosexuality is wrapped in a quadruplet - fornication, adultery, homosexuality, incest," Hakimian said. "I do see them as equal sins. All of us human beings struggle and have the potential to struggle with these things." The sanctioning on a societal level of homosexuality and the other items - specifically not on a micro level - are a mark on that given society, Hakimian maintained.
He said he thinks the concept of marriage has historically been between men and women, and has always allowed the potential for procreation. Repeating that he’s speaking from a Christian perspective, he explained that this type of marriage - of the Judeo-Christian variety - needs to be maintained.
"I think there’s a an argument there for it to be protected. I think it’s good for a society to not blur those lines, because marriages and children are good," Hakimian said. He added that the founding fathers, who were in the least bit influenced by Christian philosophy, saw the world through a Christian lens and couldn’t have imagined present-day America, where the question of gay rights exists. "Did they ever think of homosexuality as something within the framework of the constitution? No. You had sodomy laws in almost every state."
Hakimian concluded that there’s "no way" that the founders themselves saw the Constitution as one that would eventually protect LGBT couples. But he still thinks that this day, those rights are deserved, though the effects of such rights will have an adverse effect on society.
"It’s spiritually - I don’t believe it produces the blessing of God," Hakimian said. From a biological and evolutionary perspective, Hakimian said that "the hard facts are just slapping us across the face. A male penis is made for a woman’s vagina. Nature is speaking." In an anticipated defense of the homosexuality-in-nature-argument, Hakimian called it an abnormality, which he said God permits, but that it still negates what he called the "overarching theme of the Pentateuch (Judaism) - biological species procreate."
But, later, Hakimian said not procreating is not the major sin of the homosexual. There’s another. The homosexual partner who’s not procreating, he continued, is "evil" because of the emotional and sexual bond that negate God’s intention. While there’s a natural love amongst men, it’s not supposed to "distort" into homosexual relationships.
Eventually, these relationships will turn against the society that allows them, Hakimian said.
"I don’t think that the negative consequences of homosexuality are obvious right now. When you study history, the practice of homosexuality has a slow, degenerative consequence when it comes to morality, when it comes to the way that it begins to spread and compete with heterosexual intimacy," he said, comparing it all to the Romans, where he claimed homosexuality became a desire stronger for men than being with their wives. "We’ve yet to see the ramifications of it. From a theological perspective, even if there is no consequence, the Christian is forced to question where God is in this."
Pastor Leslie Tipton, associate pastor at the Church of the Holy SpiritSong, however, told SFGN that there’s no theological basis for Hakimian’s claims, at least no foundation from the Christ. At the Holy SpiritSong, a class called Homosexuality and the Bible showcases only facts, and none of them come from the gospels, she said.
"Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. Anytime any group tries to make someone feel ’less-than,’ less than them or someone else, that’s not preaching the gospel," Tipton said. "Jesus didn’t put people down. Jesus tried to teach people how to love his way."
But Tipton didn’t want to define the term anti-gay for SFGN. Others took a shot at it. Nadine Smith, the executive director of Equality Florida, said that if a pastor believes in gay rights, but hates homosexuality, he or she is anti-gay. And, of course, the reverse is true, as well.
"Anyone who believes that gay people should not be treated equally under the law is anti-gay," she said.
Commissioner Scott Galvin of North Miami told SFGN that "A religious leader does not have to follow the stereotype of preaching ’fire and brimstone’ in order to be anti-gay. Simply by calling gays sinners and saying that we can ’change’ shows where one stands."
Hakimian readily admits that his sermons involve the "wrath of God" and aren’t always beloved by mainstream churchgoers.
"[Scripture] forces you to look at reality. I mean, the bible is not a rated-G book. It’s an MA-rated book, as I like to say," Hakimian said. "It’s full of incest, it’s full of murder, bigotry, conspiracy. You’ve got horrific, horrific, stories with very dramatic detail of what the human potential is capable of doing."
The fundamental issue of homosexuality is that it disobeys God, Hakimian holds.
"I think that the Christian community should be proposing a social ethics that discourages homosexuality."
Recently, public outcries over his "anti-gay" sermons have surfaced and resulted in the Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent releasing a statement promising to look intending a local school’s contract with the pastor. SFGN will follow the story online, go to www.sfgn.com for more.
Pastor Jack Hakimian preaches with his Impact Church on Sundays at 11 a.m. at North Miami High School, at 13110 NE 8th Ave, North Miami, FL 33161.
For SFGN’s story about Pastor Jack Hakimian and public claims that he’s anti-gay, the pastor agreed to sit down for an interview as long as the full interview supplemented the story. Visit www.sfgn.com for the full interview.