October 14, 2014.
Will that be a date that is remembered and taught to future generations? It very well may be for evangelical, Bible-believing and practicing Christians. On this date the mayor of Houston, Texas (that’s right, Houston…not New York, D.C., San Francisco, or L.A. but Bible belt, home of thousands of churches…Houston) ordered pastors of that city to turn in “All speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.” ‘HERO’ is Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance and has provided an ambitious mayor and city council a bully pulpit of intimidation and discrimination against people who disagree with either the ordinance’s content or implications (i.e. religious conservatives).
This kind of event has been discussed by evangelical Christians with much more frequency over the past few years, as the homosexual agenda and the push for same-sex marriage has made incredible strides of acceptance in general society. Some evangelicals predicted this very thing as they told us ‘the sky was falling,’ and it was a sign of God’s judgment on our nation. They got their prediction right, but the sky is never falling if Jesus is still on the throne. The other side of the spectrum told us not to worry. Nothing would come from the aggressive pushing of the homosexual agenda. Marriage would not be redefined, and even if it were, it would not affect Christian churches and ministers. While optimistic, this position was wrong, as well, and seemed to drastically minimize the potential of fallen man.
The title’s question of ‘are we ready?’ is not a question of are we ready to mount protests, legal challenges, petitions, and the like to stand up for biblical principles, rights of conscience, and our First Amendment rights. All of those actions may be done and may need to be done, and I am grateful to God for organizations that help with those types of things (ADF, Becket Foundation, CLS, etc.). But the question of ‘are we ready’ actually is much deeper and more foundational than outward actions. Are we ready to stand firm on what the Bible says about this issue (and all issues) now that we know, without a shadow of a doubt, what is the endgame is for those who disagree with us? Are we ready and willing to not only take a stand but to take the consequences as well? Are we ready to stand on God’s Word, not because we have a First Amendment that allows it (which we absolutely and emphatically do) but because it is the right thing to do regardless of our geographic location? Are we ready to follow what the Scripture teaches in both our beliefs and in how we communicate them? It would be incredibly easy at this point to see the leaders of Houston, those trying to redefine marriage, and those who seem to be flaunting their sexual rebellion as enemies, and design our efforts in that way. But this is not the case, and it would be wrong for us to make decisions in this way.
Here are few reminders as we go forward:
- Houston is the first domino to fall. In the name of political correctness, this trend will continue and probably intensify.
- We may not know everything that needs to be done, but we certainly know what cannot be done, and that is abandoning the authority of Scripture. Compromise will not earn us a better seat at the table but will prove us faithless and fearful.
- Stop being surprised. The writing has been on the wall since Genesis 3. The Gospel is not about making good people better or nice people nicer. It is about reconciling enemies and giving dead people life.
- God is sovereign and in control. He was not surprised, frustrated, or shaken in the least by the decision of the Houston mayor.
- The answer is still the Gospel.
- In an act of gratitude to both God and those who have gone before us, we have every responsibility to take full advantage and use of all the means provided us by being citizens of the U.S. We are protected by the First Amendment; we can ask for a hearing; and we can try to effect change through the ballot box, legislation and people recognizing government as a legitimate vocation.
- Civil disobedience may be the right and unavoidable course of action for some. I believe this is to be done as a last resort and never in a way that dishonors the name of Christ but follows the godly example of the apostles in the book of Acts.