I share the outrage of millions who were stunned when the city of Houston issued subpoenas to five area pastors. The subpoenas ordered the pastors to submit their sermons in regard to litigation against a new Houston Equal Rights Ordinance’s protection based on sexual orientation.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker and others involved in this debacle are certainly disregarding the very heart of the First Amendment. In recent days, the mayor’s office seems to be distancing itself from the subpoena controversy. There is little doubt, however, that the mayor and her team have disdain for many churches and Christian leaders.
I too am stunned and angered by this massive encroachment upon local churches by a governmental body. But there is an additional perspective to this horrendous act. It is not a perspective that detracts from the outrage, but one that suggests how God may be working His good in this situation. Let me suggest seven such ways.
- Churches across the world historically thrive in times of persecution. Christ’s Church will not be defeated. Attempts to suppress the gospel message have only lit a fire that burns even brighter.
- This action is a needed wake-up call for American churches. Perhaps we will move from our posture of acute apathy to one of making a difference for Christ and His gospel.
- Times such as these demonstrate who will really take a stand for Christ. Nominal Christians will continue to have their blasé attitudes. Real Christians will demonstrate their faith boldly.
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Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.