By now most have heard about city officials in Houston, Texas subpoenaing pastors there for “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.” For the most part, reaction has been swift and predictable.
But over at the Federalist, one writer has a different take:
My response? So what? Sermons are public proclamation, aren’t they?
If a government entity comes to me and demands that I turn over my sermon manuscripts, well… I think I’d be inclined to send them along. And I’d be sure to send each one with a carefully written cover letter explaining exactly how the blood of Christ redeems sinners from death and the grave.
The writer goes on to say:
The government’s request for sermon manuscript—even a mandate to that effect—seems to be one a Christian can in good conscience submit to, and even celebrate as an opportunity for bearing witness to Christ.
Now, be sure, this isn’t a call to capitulate. In fact, it’s a call to be bold and unashamed:
It may indeed be the case that Houston’s mayor is acting to infringe this right, and hoping to shame pastors into changing their tune, and adapting their message to one more suitable for our age of tolerance. This does have every appearance of bullying. Christian preachers should, however, proclaim a message founded squarely on the Word of God, a message that can stand up to such scrutiny
Pastors should absolutely not be bullied, and should absolutely not change what they preach. But nor should they be ashamed of it, nor afraid of the public dissemination and scrutiny of their words spoken from the pulpit. Even under the threat of persecution and imprisonment, preachers who take their calling seriously should continue to preach Christ and him crucified, even under the penalty of imprisonment and death.
There’s little question the action by the mayor and government elites in Houston is an attempt to bully and intimidate pastors into silence. And, it clearly violates the First Amendment. Expect more of it, not less. With the IRS at their disposal, and pastors more interested in church attendance than truth teaching, it’ll likely work in more cases than not. (Sorry if I don’t share the optimism of the “This will finally make pastors take a stand” camp.)
I suspect we’ll be reading more and more stories like this one from Houston in the coming months, especially in light of the courts’ imposition of same-sex marriage on the culture. Anyone naive enough to believe that those who are driving the “gay” rights train are going to stop at the church door is in for a big surprise. But, instead of viewing the coming intimidation as negative, pastors should see it as an opportunity to spread truth farther than they ever imagined they could.