Few things stir up a good political battle like the possibility of censorship.
In Houston, the new ‘equal rights’ ordinance remains a controversy. The ordinance forbids businesses open to the public from stopping individuals from using opposite-sex bathrooms if their ‘gender identity’ doesn’t match their biological sex. Expectedly, this issue has been discussed in churches, from the pulpit, and in the Christian sphere.
Ignoring this issue would be turing a blind eye to the affairs of our culture, and that is just what attorneys in Houston expect their city’s churches to do. Houston attorneys have filed subpoenas for all documents, presentations, sermons, and speeches from several pastors who have opposed the ordinance or spoken about gender issues. The city wants to know what the Church is saying and they want to put a stop to it by calling it a hate crime.
The Houston Subpoenas matter, and they have become a national story for a few reasons.
1) It is an election year.
With the midterm elections at our doorstep, the media (across all political spectrums) is stirring up controversy for controversy’s sake. Heated arguments are unfortunately a good motivator for votes. In reality, we should care about these important social and political issues without our interest in them being sparked by an ideological fight.
Ultimately, as Christians, we should love our neighbor enough to be our brother’s keeper. This will sometimes involve doing everything we can to remove the stumbling blocks of unwise or unrighteous laws.
In the midst of these political and cultural storms, we must be fixed upon the compassion of Jesus, who gave Himself up on the cross pleading with the Father, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
With this in mind, we are also called to preserve righteousness and a holy standard in our culture. This standard not only sets a good precedent for justice, but it also serves to protect us. As a father, I would think twice about allowing my daughters to use a public restroom if I were living in Houston.
The ordinance makes no sense. I understand that gender confusion exists, as well as individuals believing they have a different gender identity than their biological gender. I personally believe that these ideas are rooted in deception, but I also cannot expect someone to believe what I believe unless they have a personal transforming encounter with Jesus Christ.
What I do expect is some common sense in the public sphere. There is a difference between a man who thinks he is a woman and a sexual predator looking for young girls. I feel bad comparing those because they are so different. However, something as seemingly simple as a bathroom sign limiting penises to the room with urinals is wisdom when there are pedophiles living amongst us. It is a very simple line of defense that is not perfect, but every small line of defense is good and just.
2) The Truth Cannot Be Censored
The Kingdom of God is a higher authority than the Federal Presidential Constitutional Republic of the United States of America. We are called to walk in obedience to governing civil authorities so long as they do not require we forsake biblical truth. Our civil authorities are a lesser authority, and as Christians our first and foremost ‘pledge of allegiance’ is not to a flag, but to our Savior.
The government shall not become a god before our Heavenly Father.
As Christians, we should be setting the example as law abiding citizens, endeavoring to please our authorities and set a high standard of goodness for our culture. However, we must equally preach the truth even when the truth is not lawful according to our country’s laws. To do less than this is falling short of the calling of Christ. May we remember the mercies of the Lord, continuing to stand faithfully in these matters, or repentantly expecting the Lord’s grace to equip us to hold the standard of faithfulness.
3) Our tendency is often ‘fight or flight’.
There is a fight, but most of that fight should be fought in the place of prayer. We are not battling against flesh and blood. We are battling against the spirit of darkness that is clouding the the hearts and minds of those who do not believe.
Our fight comes in taking a stand for the truth, which begins with “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Our fight takes place when we preach Christ in love, extending to others the mercy that Jesus first gave to us.
Our fight can even take place in the voting booth, where we make changes by degree with the vote our country gives us.
Our fight is to speak truth with our mouths and with our actions. This is where we must flee hypocrisy, for it is no service to others when our words are truth but our lives are a heresy.
Censorship is wrong and we cannot bow to it. The culture crisis is real, but we must live according to the standard of goodness before God in our own hearts. A culture divided and torn apart by the lies of the enemy is the sign that the Church has so far failed to reach this generation with the mercies of Christ.
Flight is not the answer. If we run away, it will chase us down and devour us. However, if we fight as the world fights we may win the battle, but we may also lose our soul in the process.
Let us be wise in the fight.
-J. S. Marek