About this time every two years, I am asked if I am going to preach on issues surrounding the upcoming election. Will I speak out on presidential, gubernatorial or legislative campaigns? Will I share my opinions on the hot-button issues of the day? The short answer is “no”.
I do not share the perspective of many of my pastor-brethren that the pulpit should be used to promote politicians or political parties. Week-in and week-out, I’m given about 40 minutes to address the people at Life Spring, and I don’t really want to waste it sharing talking points published by politicians. I won’t shy away from preaching tough sermons on issues rooted in Scripture, but I won’t try to make a political speech using the Bible as cover. I’d much rather talk about Jesus.
Over the years, there have been numerous warnings of dire consequences that Christians and churches in America would experience as our nation becomes less tolerant of the beliefs and practices of people of deeply held faith. I must admit that I have largely dismissed many of these concerns, chalking them up to a “chicken little” mentality that exists among many conservative evangelicals. For many of these folks, the sky is always falling. I have believed—and I still believe to a large extent—that we focus too much on the temporal to the exclusion of the eternal.
But a recent event has sent shivers up my spine, and it should be a cause of concern among all Americans, regardless of religious affiliation or political persuasion. Recently, the City of Houston subpoenaed several pastors’ emails, texts and other communications—including sermons—that dealt with gender identity, homosexuality and comments regarding Houston’s first lesbian mayor, in connection with a recently passed Houston city ordinance.
My primary concern is not with the ordinance or the efforts to put that ordinance to a public vote—that is a completely different issue. You can read more about that matter on several news sites, including at: http://www.chron.com/default/article/City-subpoenas-pastors-sermons-in-equal-rights-5822403.php
My great concern is with a governmental entity issuing a broad directive to provide notes and sermon manuscripts or outlines for some government official to review. What is the purpose of such a review? How would such material be used by the government?
Don’t get me wrong. I’d be happy to send a few dozen sermons to the Mayor of Houston, with prayers that they would be read and considered for their effect upon her relationship with God. I’d love for her to come to know Christ and to turn from sin and wickedness.
But I don’t think that the purpose of such a review is for them to prayerfully consider their ways. The idea of the government—at any level—having the ability to randomly and arbitrarily secure the notes, sermons and correspondence of pastors is extremely troubling. Is government now going to put itself in the place as an arbiter as to what can and cannot be said from the pulpits in our churches? Will they decide what is acceptable and unacceptable theology?
There has been a strong public backlash against this governmental intrusion, even by many sympathetic to liberal politics and causes. I hope that this translates into an immediate effort to stop trying to intimidate pastors and churches from speaking out on Biblical teaching—however unpopular or politically incorrect it may be.
But we who take our faith seriously must constantly be on guard, and we must make our voices known. Because whether we admit it or not, maybe the sky really is falling.