This week news hit the web that Mayor Annise Parker and the City of Houston (my town) issued subpoenas to several pastors in Houston requiring submission of, “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO (Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance), the petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity, prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by, you or in your possession.” Read the story here.
The controversial portion of HERO involves a section pertaining to gay and transgender rights and particularly the definition of sexual orientation. Pragmatically this opens a can of worms in our city as it relates to public restrooms, etc. As Mayor Parker has championed HERO in our Mega-City, Pastors touting a Biblical worldview have preached and clarified the Biblical position on sexuality, which is a right protected by the Constitution of the United States. This weeks’ news has enraged pastors and Christians around the country. The question is how should the church respond, particularly in Houston?
It’s no secret that our culture is quickly changing. Biblical Christianity, in the opinion of many, is no longer the majority worldview. In fact, even in Houston, it is becoming a minority worldview. In light of this, the church must approach issues like this one understanding that we are no longer the moral majority even as we are Biblically correct. What is the church to do?
The Catholic church is very recently relaxing it’s stance on homosexuality. Is this the proper approach? What are we (pastors) to do? Here are my thoughts:
1. Defend our constitutional religious liberty with veracious tenacity. Just as Paul invoked his rights of Roman citizenship we must invoke our rights as American citizens. We are protected by the First Amendment and we must demand our rights. This is just another example of continuing attacks on Christianity.
2. Preach the Word in love and expect persecution. As the culture changes, the Biblical view on sexuality is becoming increasingly grating for many Americans. It is our responsibility as Pastors and Christians to preach and teach God’s Word concerning issues of sexual sin while at the same time loving those in range of our sermons and blog posts. There are many sexual sins. Homosexuality however, is celebrated in our culture and will be a point of emotion as the Bible and its preachers expose the truth concerning an age old sin. The anger caused by this truth, I am sure, is leading to the current persecution and will continue do so with greater intentionality. We must accept this as preachers called by God. Did they not persecute all the Prophets who were before you? Truth in love is essential right now.
3. Equip our people to approach the LGBT community with love in hopes of winning some. Our congregants do not know how to properly respond. We must equip our people to share the gospel hope of Christ with everyone in their regular circles of influence in genuine love; including the LGBT community. I constantly remember Romans 5:8. “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
4. Teach our people that “mean-ness” in person, on social media, or in passive aggressive ways is counterproductive and not a conduit for the gospel message. Might we teach our people to apply 1 Peter 3:13-17? “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who ask you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”
5. Equip our children concerning biblical marriage and family. It is now, more than ever, imperative to equip our children at a young age with the truth concerning gender identity, sexuality, and Biblical marriage. At this moment in American history, the church must empower parents and grandparents with the knowledge, resources, and counsel necessary to teach these concepts at home. If you think we live in a sexual-ized culture now, just wait. As we are teaching our children a Biblical worldview we must major on the topic of sexuality as part of God’s design and expose the lies of the world in this regard.
I am not typically an “issues” based preacher. In this case though, the culture in my town is clashing hard with the Scriptures. On October 26, 2014 at 9:30 and 11:00 I will preach a sermon called “Culture Clash: The Church and Changing Sexual Norms in Houston” to address the issue from a biblical perspective and teach the people of our church how to walk the Jesus way in all of this. What does it mean to Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself in moments like these? Reader, whatever your persuasion you are invited to attend or listen online at bafbc.org/sermons and hear the great hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You are loved and Jesus proved it.