Preach the Word!
Last week in Houston, the mayor, Annise Parker, a lesbian and vocal activist of gay-rights, signed off on an order to subpoena the sermons of local preachers. The subpoenas sought “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity, prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”
This all started when the mayor signed the controversial Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) into law. The Chronicle described the ordinance: “The measure bans discrimination based not just on sexual orientation and gender identity but also, as federal laws do, sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy and genetic information, as well as family, martial or military status.”
There were thousands who opposed the ordinance and signed a petition and then brought a lawsuit against the city. The preachers targeted by the subpoenas were actively involved in the petition and lawsuit. As a result of the lawsuit, the subpoenas were ordered. That subpoena has since been rescinded after receiving major opposition and outrage locally and nationally.
I don’t want to focus on the political side of this issue and how much the preachers and/or churches were involved politically or even whether they should have been. The question I want to ask is this: If our society eventually gets to the point where it is a crime for us to preach against homosexuality (or other sins), what will we do?
This is not just a question that I, as the “formal preacher” of this church has to think about; it will affect us all. I’ll go ahead and give you my answer. If it becomes a crime to speak out against such sins, I better get used to prison food, for I’m not going to stop speaking the word of God! Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4:2-5).
We obviously live in a time when many in the world don’t want to hear the truth, but instead find preachers who are willing to speak whatever pleases their ears. I will never be one of those.
In Acts 5:29, after the apostles were arrested a second time for preaching in the name of Jesus, Peter and the other apostles replied, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” The apostles were willing to be imprisoned, beaten, or persecuted in any other way for the sake of Christ, and they weren’t about to let any kind of government edict stop them.
Brethren, what will we do if we are faced with such an edict or threat? Again, it’s not just me that needs to be ready to answer that question, for we all are to be teaching and preaching the gospel message to our fellow man. I pray that we will all have the courage to continue to do and say what’s right regardless of the proposed consequences, for the consequences of not doing so are far worse. Jesus told his disciples, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
Whatever man can do to us is temporal. What God can do to those who disobey him and are too ashamed to speak the truth is eternal.
Think about Jesus. Was he too afraid to speak and do what was right and necessary? He knew he would suffer immensely during his ministry and finally be crucified. Why did he continue to do it? Because it was right. Because he loved me and you. Because he wanted what’s best for us and for God’s glory.
We owe him. We owe him our everything. So we have to be inconvenienced in this life as a result. So what? So we may be laughed at, sneered at, jeered at. So what? So we may not be as popular as we’d like at school or work. So what? So we may lose out on that chance of a promotion. So what? So we may be thrown in jail. So what? As Paul said, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).
Let’s make sure we are focused on the eternal, not the temporary. To God be the glory. Amen!