Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Houston and the Subpoena of Sermons

Word is going around that the city of Houston is issuing subpoenas for sermons to see if they criticize homosexuality.

Is it true? Who knows. It could be. It might not be. Like a lot of stuff on the internet, it might be overblown. Like a lot of the stuff on the internet, it may be entirely true.

But here’s the question: Why is Houston using court resources and tax payer resources issuing subpoenas for things that are publicly available?

If they want the content of these sermons, can’t they just show up at church? Or download them from the internet?

But it seems like Christians like a persecution complex and tend to go into crisis mode at the drop of a hat. So it’s a great time to note that the end of the world is almost here.

I think if I were a pastor in Houston, I would invite the people charged with this task to come to church and hear it first hand. I speak publicly several times a week, and to be frank, a lot of what I say is not in my notes, and a lot of what is in my notes never gets said. So getting my notes is no guarantee that you will get what was actually said. Not to mention that my notes often contain the opinions of people that I don’t actually agree with. In a nutshell, my notes are quite often useless for anyone other than me.

However, you are welcome to come, record (or just use our recording), take notes, just sit and listen, or whatever, so long as you do it peacefully and quietly. We will even give you some coffee.

Here’s another thought: If this is actually true, then the government of Houston must be run by a bunch of second-graders. Or the Detroit City Council. Seriously. This is like (insert whiny second grade voice here) “Johnny said something mean about me.”

You know what, kid. Get over it. Move on. Go swing on the swings, or slide down the slides.

Can the mayor of Houston really not endure a few pastors saying things about her lifestyle? She’s a politician. Surely this can’t be the worst thing ever said about her, can it? Why is she so insecure in her lifestyle?

When you embrace a lifestyle (whether homosexual, Christian, vegan, video-game lover, etc.), expect that people will think you are strange, weird, wrong, stupid, silly, etc. If you like your lifestyle, then go on with your life. If avoiding criticism is that important to you, then change your lifestyle. But don’t whine because someone disagrees with you. You are not smart enough and don’t know enough to demand complete agreement.

And why are pastors in Houston, or anywhere else, naming names of political officials when they are supposed to be preaching the Bible? What verse does that come from? Seriously, if we are supposed to preach the Bible, that should limit us to things God actually said. And there is more than enough of that.

Here’s what I think I would do: First, I would invite any interested person to come to our services. Come for six or eight months to every public meeting. Listen, engage your mind, engage with the people around you. Let’s have some conversations together over coffee or lunch. You might be surprised at what will happen.

Second, I would also complain that the city of Houston is using taxpayer resources to issue subpoenas for things that are publicly available. Don’t waste my money on this nonsense. If you want it, come and get it firsthand, every week.

Third, I would let the legal process play out. I don’t know if I would turn anything over. On what biblical grounds could I? I don’t know. I think this will be challenged in court and overthrown. So I think, in the end, it will be much ado about nothing.

But Christians, let’s embrace the fact that people don’t like Christianity. We shouldn’t have a conniption over it every time we see it.

Sure, let’s use the courts and resources available to fight it, but let’s not be scared of it. Let’s go on about our business, Let’s do what we have been called to do.


Chip Van Emmerik said...


I think there is an inherent danger in the government demanding sermons from the churches even if they are available publically already, but I will leave that to a different discussion. However, the articles I have read indicate all communications with parishioners covering the same topics were also demanded. It wasn't just the sermons, but emails and letters as well.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Larry,

I think it is true that when the world acts like the world, Christians are surprised or even shocked the world is acting like the world.