The story of the “Houston Five” has become a hot topic on both sides of the aisle when it comes to rights of the gay and transgender community as well as the rights of church leaders to preach as they are compelled without persecution from the government.
The issue at hand for Christians is not about civil rights, nor is it about freedom of speech. The real issue here is about the willingness to stand for the Word of God without being swayed by the powers of the world.
Fox News recently interviewed one of the pastors who had their sermons subpoenaed. The attention being given to the subpoenas is overblown and misguided. This is a standard legal practice that is not out of the ordinary. It isn’t an attempt to attack religious freedoms (there are plenty of stronger examples of that happening all the time). It is an attempt to flex a little political muscle against those supporting the lawsuit, but it doesn’t go so far as something that could be called “bullying” in legal circles.
From a political and legal perspective, the outburst from conservatives and Christians against the subpoenas is ill spent. Rather than focus on them, the focus needs to turn to the meat of the lawsuit itself that opposes the city’s refusal to certify the petition to bring the issue to a vote. For over 2/3rds of the signatures in the petition to be disqualified, one of two things (or both) had to happen:
- The city is reaching with every loophole in its arsenal to disqualify signatures.
- Many of those gathering the signatures broke the rules and either misled people into signing or forged the signatures.
There is no doubt that the first is happening. According to Chron, they were able to drop the majority of the signatures “after most of the pages contained mistakes that invalidated the entire page of signatures.”
One can also assume that the second happened as well. When people are passionate about an issue, our evil ways often compel us to act outside of the bounds of ethics based upon a “moral license” to achieve the goal no matter what it takes. However, the chances of 2/3rds of the signatures on this sort of issue being manipulated or truly invalid is highly unlikely.
Take a Stand from the Top
Christians should not be protesting against the subpoenas. They are a distraction from the true political issue which is putting the ordinance to the vote of the people, but even that is not the real concern that we face.
We have become too easily distracted. Gay, atheist, Mormon, liberal, Muslim, communist, Catholic, republican – these labels that are placed on people based upon their beliefs and upbringing. As Christians, it is our responsibility to share the Gospel and to give others the opportunity to be saved. When politics becomes the focal point of our righteous vigor, it is often wasted on semantics rather than the transmission of the message itself.
We do not condone a gay lifestyle, but neither do we condemn those who live it. Only a sinless person has the right to condemn others for their sins, and there has only been One who lived a sinless life.
When the conservative Christian political mechanism brings focus on issues such as the subpoenas, they are distracting us away from the core challenges we face. It becomes an exercise in futility regardless of which side wins and which side loses. That’s bad enough, but there is a far worse result from such things.
Preparing to Stand without Earthly Support
The biggest risk in this and other issues is that it’s so easy to profess our faith behind the protections of the laws of the land. Those laws are headed in the wrong direction and the country is following.
One of the biggest questions I have to ask myself on a regular basis is whether or not it’s valid to engage in the fight to keep America as a Christian nation. Sometimes, it seems futile. The country has been heading down a dark path since its inception. Thankfully, many have fought to maintain the freedoms we enjoy, but those freedoms are slipping away. Is today’s version of “the good fight” one that defends our freedoms?
On the surface, the answer is a resounding yes, but there’s a caveat. What if it’s time to prepare people for a post-Christian America? As crazy as it sounds, there are indications everywhere that we are going to lose the fight, that America will fall into the same trap that so much of the world is falling into where atheists and Muslims are calling the shots and our freedom to spread the Gospel is taken away. Those of us who feel blessed to be Americans would never want to see that happen, but if it’s inevitable, should we be preparing to take our fight underground?
These are concepts that the majority of Americans would not be willing to accept today, but things are changing so rapidly. As a country, we have grown fat with luxuries and complacent with our ease of life. We are ripe for disaster. Is now the time to prepare for a world without the freedoms that we enjoy today? Is it better to fall away from the political battles in preparation for a different world?
Every day, people are falling for the pre-tribulation doctrine. That is the biggest concern, but we are also ill-prepared for life without religious protections. When churches are attacked by far more dangerous means than protests and subpoenas, will believers be ready to live our lives from a completely different perspective, to live under a different set of rules?
Again, I struggle with these questions constantly. Today, I believe we must fight for America and Israel and we must prepare for a world where it’s dangerous to be a professing Christian. That world is already very present in other countries and it’s very likely going to come here at some point in the near future. I urge you to be prepared to fight without freedoms, to live in a world where being a Christian is unacceptable. Today, we have our freedoms and we must continue to fight for them, but don’t let those freedoms make you complacent. We have the full Armor of God at our disposal. It is the only thing that will protect our souls in the days to come.