A pastor in North Carolina has apologised for causing ‘unintentional offence’ by telling a congregation at the weekend they should ‘crack the wrist’ of an effeminate son, but said he was not sorry for church teaching on ‘sexual immorality’.

The blog Good as You had posted an audio clip of paster Sean Harris telling his congregation that they should force their children to conform to gender norms.

He told parents in the audience, which laughed and cheered at parts of his speech, he was giving them a “special dispensation” to discipline their children.

He told the congregation: “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. 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.”

Pastor Harris subsequently said his words “about effeminate behavior in children are being completely taken out of context by those in the LGBT community”, saying he “would never advocate for such discipline or actions on behalf of a father or mother”.

In a blog post addressed to members of his church he wrote: “I would never advocate for such discipline or actions on behalf of a father or mother. I misspoke. Hopefully, you understood that I was speaking in a forceful manner to emphasize the degree to which gender distinctions matter to God; and therefore, must matter to each of us and especially parents […]

“I want to stress just how much I love your children and my desire is only to see them glorify God in the lives they live in obedience to God’s will for each of them as revealed in the Word of God.”

Pastor Harris has now issued “an official statement of retraction of any and all words that suggest that child abuse is appropriate for any and all types of behaviors including (but not limited to) effeminacy and sexual immorality of all types”.

“I should not have said what I said about “cracking,” “punching,” and particular bias toward outward attraction of girls. Nor should I have used the words “special dispensation.” I did not say that children should be squashed. I have never suggested children or those in the LGBT lifestyle should be beaten, punched, abused (physically or psychologically) in any form or fashion […] I apologize to anyone I have unintentionally offended.”

But Pastor Harris pointed out he still believed homosexuality was sinful and was keen to stress that gays should not misunderstand him.

He continued: “I do not apologize for the manner in which the Word of God articulates sexual immorality, including homosexuality and effeminacy, as a behavior that is an abomination to God. Nothing in this official statement of retraction should be perceived as an apology for the overarching intent and message of the sermon and the need to define marriage as one man and one woman and to maintain the gender distinctions that God created from the beginning when He made them male and female (Genesis 1).

“I recognize that there are those in the LGBT community who believe that their sexual behavior is not sin. I do not agree with them and this official retraction should not be misunderstood as an apology for the gospel of Jesus Christ or the Word of God.”

North Carolina will be voting next week on Amendment One, a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriages in the state.