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Here’s Your Sermon, Houston

houston-skyline-photoIt sounds like something straight out of an Orwellian universe: government leaders demanding that clerics turn in their homilies to be inspected under threat of prosecution.  But this isn’t some dystopian novel.  This is modern-day America, and that is exactly what’s happening in Houston.  The nation’s first openly lesbian mayor, Annise Parker, is making a name for herself by singling out Houston-area ministers who were vocal in opposing the city’s new non-discrimination ordinance which allows for, among other things, the use of opposite sex bathroom facilities as long as you claim to identify as that gender.  She has subpoenaed any sermon having to do with homosexuality, the new ordinance, or her.  Needless to say, this has stirred the evangelical hornet’s nest that is the deep south, and the stingers are poised and ready. “Pastors need to step forward and challenge this across the country. I’d like to see literally thousands of pastors after they read this story begin to challenge government authorities – to dare them to come into their churches and demand their sermons,” said Tony Perkins, the head of The Family Research Council.

Now, I don’t live in Houston, so I am well out of Ms. Parker’s jurisdiction, but I feel compelled to offer a sermon of my own.  I promise, it won’t be as long as my typical sermon, but I pray it is more effective.

Jesus loves you.

He doesn’t love you because you are good.  He doesn’t love you because of your accomplishments.  He doesn’t love you because you are such a wonderful person.

In fact, quite the opposite is true.  He loves you in spite of yourself. He loves you when you fail.  He loves you when you are spiteful and prideful.  He loves you when you behave horribly.  In short, He loves you when you are unlovable.

And He loves you so much that He’s not willing to leave you alone.

He invented humanity, relationships, gender, and sex.  He also knows how they best work.  So when He places boundaries on relationships and sex, He’s not doing it to be a killjoy; He’s doing it to protect us and guide us into holiness.  In other words, He knows what is best for you and wants you to live and thrive in that.

I know, it’s unpopular, and you most likely will reject this truth.  But He still loves you.

And because He loves you, His followers should too.  I hope they don’t seek out civil disobedience just to make a point.  Instead, I hope they reach out to an entire city with such radical love that the city itself rejects anything that smacks of religious persecution.  I also hope His followers love you and pray for you and find a way to reach out to you.

But I also hope that God emboldens His followers to preach the truth, no matter what the consequence.  That truth is that He loves you.  But that truth is also that He is the very definition of righteousness, which means He makes the rules, not us.  And the truth is that He is absolutely just, which means unless you accept the forgiveness He offers, there is no hope.

That’s not just true for you.  It’s true for all of us, which brings me full circle to my original point.

Jesus loves you.  The question is, will you love Him in return?  I hope you do.

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4 thoughts on “Here’s Your Sermon, Houston

  1. What you miss out is the reason for the subpoena. There was a city ordinance to protect citizens from discrimination. Churches who want to discriminate, who think it’s OK that someone should be sacked for coming out as gay, raised court action against the city. The subpoena is part of the court action. They brought it on themselves. Do not be so quick to say words like “religious persecution”.

    You see, you sound so loving and reasonable to yourself. You are using some beautiful words. Then you go and spoil it by saying “religious persecution”. This is not the love of Christ. This is passive-aggressive whining, clothed in words which should be reserved for the love of Christ.

    • First and foremost, thanks for reading my blog Clare. I know you have commented on other articles and I appreciate you taking the time to read and interact with my writings.

      Second, your comment opens the door to a lot of issues. Big issues. First amendment rights issues and the question of whether the government has any business telling religious institutions who they can fire/hire because of doctrinal/sin issues. Frankly, these issues are well outside of the scope of this article, which brings me to my third point.

      My purpose in writing this was twofold. Primarily it was a reminder that the Church is called to respond in love to all groups of people, regardless of race, gender, orientation, etc. Secondary to that, it was my hope to get fellow Christians to think twice before acting out. We are called to love our enemies and those who persecute us. Yes, I used the word persecution. Why? Because that is how the vast majority of evangelicals perceive this action. They view it as a violation of their constitutional rights. Just as the LGBT community wants the government out of their bedrooms, Christians want the government out of their pulpits. My point was to say that sometimes we have to lay down our “rights” in order to show the love of Christ.

      I hope this brings further clarification. Trust me, I am not whining about being persecuted. Compared to my Christian brothers and sisters in Syria and Iraq, I have it easy. Peace.

  2. This is absolutely 100% religious persecution. The new mayor is not going after Business people. She’s not going after news reporters or teachers or construction workers. She’s going after churches. Why? Because she’s a lesbian that has some power, and she wants to bully people around.

    Bullying people is not going to change the Bible. It’s not going to change Christ’s teachings. As the left pushes their progressive agenda rife with political correctness and acceptance of everyone (except those that don’t agree with them), followers of Christ will come under more and more scrutiny as we hold to solid truth, not relative truth depending on what time of the day it is, or if I got my morning coffee in time.

    As progressive ideologies infect our society, Christians will automatically be labeled discriminatory. Our unwavering beliefs will be a slap in the progressives faces and this kind of reverse discrimination will happen more and more. Punish a Christian because he won’t do a homosexual wedding. Punish a Christian because he won’t bake a cake for a homosexual couple.

    All of a sudden Christians are discriminating because we are holding to our beliefs. The left can’t stand that, so they make new laws, and bully and cry out that Christians are being intolerant and discriminatory. The further people drift from the real truth, the angrier they will get at Christians when we point out to them that their actions are still wrong. Absolute truth will always be poison to those that want relative truth.

  3. Pingback: Three Ways to Lose the Culture War in Houston | The Pondering Preacher

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