Well this is exactly what five Houston, Texas pastors have been faced with, and their dilemma is forcing pastors all across the "Land of the Free" to consider their own response in similar circumstances. For many of us it seems surreal that a government agency, in this case the mayoral office of Houston, would go after pastors who have exercised their First Amendment rights to speak on moral issues of the day. But herein lies the trouble. Is homosexuality still a moral issue?
Unfortunately we have come to a place in our society where homosexuality is becoming less of a moral issue and more of a political one. And if it is a political issue then the government (local, state and federal) may believe it owns the issue. And if it owns the issue then it will determine who can speak on the issue and influence public policy.
I've read an actual copy of the subpoena issued to the Houston pastors. It's demands are hard to believe. It is disturbing to think that any American government agency would take such an aggressive approach to collect, by law, any and all materials related to a pastor's position on an issue such as homosexuality. But this is where we've been heading in America.
Many causes for our slippery slope can be named, but I'd like to highlight one that I believe to be at the top of the list. One of the reasons traditionally moral issues that have been upheld by our mostly Christian society are now falling into the category of "political" is because we have slowly replaced the Bible as our source of authority. A slow erosion of the Bible's authority to shape individual lives and communities has left us to choose our own truths apart from God. And this erosion has even crossed over into the church. It's not unpopular to hear Christians say, "I know what the Bible says on this issue, BUT..." Our "buts" are getting us in trouble!
A latest survey by the American Bible Society in cooperation with the Barna Group discovered some discouraging facts regarding Americans and the Bible. Their survey shows that while 88% of American households own a Bible (4.7 Bibles per household), only 37% read it once a week. So how can the Bible influence our personal and family life if we are not interacting with it?
The Bible's influence is even less among Millennials (18-29 yr. olds). The survey discovered that only 35% of Millennials believed the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life. So if the Bible is losing its place of authority then what authority is influencing our lives and public policy? It's a long list.
If our society, especially our government, can deminish God's Word and its authority to speak to the moral issues of the day, then I can imagine a time when government regulators will be monitoring the "free speech" of pastors all across this land. And in some ways this is exactly what is happening in Houston, Texas. A mayor and her minions are upset that pastors actively opposed her ridiculous law that allows a "gender confused" individual to use the same public bathroom as a person who is biologically the opposite sex. How do you even begin to rationalize that?
Now back to my question. What will I do if served a subpoena demanding my emails, voicemails, sermons, notes, conversations, etc. in a case that involves a position I've taken on an issue like homosexuality? While I hope it will never come to that I am also unafraid to join the ranks of the Apostle Paul who was also imprisoned for boldly preaching the Word of God. I will not bow down to a heavy handed government that wants to politicize Biblical issues and therefore intimidate me to silence. It's just not going to happen.
I think it is high time that Christians blow the dust off of their Bibles are start reading it again. It's not like we don't have access to it. The majority of people today have some type of digital device (smartphone, tablet, computer) where you can access multiple Bibles. It's time to open up the Bible apps and study the Word of God.
And this may require us to shut down Facebook for a while. And yes, we can survive without Facebook, Twitter and all other forms of social media for a moment. It's actually very sad that we know more of what is happening in someone's life we haven't seen in 20 years than we do of Jesus who gave His life that we may have eternal life.
Will you stand ON THE TRUTH of God's Word for how you live your life as a follower of Jesus? And will you stand FOR THE TRUTH of God's Word in the public arena? It's time to take a bold stand on and for God's truth. And I'm thankful to have pastors leading our HeartLink Network churches who are willing to take such a stand, but they need you to stand with them.
2Ti 3:16 NLT All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
Heb 4:12 NLT For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.