A South Carolina megachurch pastor is passionately defending his decision to buy his wife a Lamborghini Urus, a luxury SUV that starts at $200,000.
John Gray, a pastor of Greenville’s Relentless Church, said in a Facebook Live video on Thursday that “not a nickel, not a penny” from his church went toward the gift, an eighth-anniversary present for his wife and fellow pastor, Aventer Gray.
John Gray said that his “heart is pure” after presenting the luxury vehicle to his wife during a wedding vow renewal party on Dec. 8. He said he was able to purchase the SUV because of revenue from his book deal, a reality show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, his savings and “wise investments.”
In a video responding to criticism he has gotten for the extravagant purchase, John Gray tearfully defended his right to buy nice things for his family. He said that as long as what he does is “honorable, ethical and not illegal,” it’s nobody else’s business how he chooses to express love to his wife.
“The stories that I hear, and I’ve tried to not listen to it, but one of them is, ‘Pastor buys his wife, you know, this expensive car,’” John Gray said in the video. “First of all, it wasn’t a pastor that bought the car. It was a husband that bought the car.”
“I’m a husband first. Don’t confuse what I do with who I am,” he added. “What I do is, I pastor God’s people. Who I am is a husband and a father, and I’ll do anything to honor them, and I won’t ask permission from anybody to do it.”
John Gray is a former associate pastor at Houston’s Lakewood Church, the megachurch run by the popular American televangelist Joel Osteen. Gray moved to South Carolina to work at Relentless Church, a megachurch that was named Redemption Church and had five campuses and an active membership of 22,000 people when he assumed leadership in May.
A video of John Gray presenting his wife with the keys to the SUV during their vow renewal celebration was widely viewed on social media. The Grays said that they didn’t post the video and that it was shared by someone else. Still, the video sparked backlash online, with some people using it to link Gray to the prosperity gospel, a Christian teaching that suggests God wants all Christians to be prosperous and that material wealth is a sign of God’s favor.
In his Facebook Live video, Gray rejected the idea that he was a “prosperity preacher” ― saying instead that the gift stemmed from his desire to make his wife happy.
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