Thursday, October 16, 2014

Houston, we have a (Constitutional) problem

There are multiple reports from across the nation about the insanity that is unfolding in my metropolitan area (Try:  Here or Here or Here or Here).  I pastor a suburban church, so until this blew up I was basically unaware.

Here is one man's perspective:

1.  This is a constitutional issue at its roots.  No government entity or representative should be able to demand, subpoena, or stomp their feet until churches do what they want.  The whole idea of the First Amendment is to let churches continue to be and do as churches see fit.

2.  The whole Separation of Church and State bit is a treasured Baptist principle (one of the good ones, as opposed another one like pronouncing their own names with two 'b's instead of a 'b' and a 'p').  But man, it needs some clarity these days.  The church is separated from the state so it can continue its important work of being the conscience of both culture and government.  Furthermore, by all accounts, IRS regulations allow tax-exempt organizations like churches weigh in on issue-related politics and even participate in petition drives.  So what's the problem in Houston?

3.  The Mayor's and City Attorney's stories keep changing., it wasn't me.  It wasn't my hand in the cookie jar.  My hand was in the bubble gum jar.  Uh...wait, it one time was in the cookie jar.  I took a selfie while doing it.  Uh...hey, did you see the Texans game?  My bet is that they continue to hedge until the story falls below the fold.  Then people will basically forget.

4.  In our social media culture, I think winsome responses win more often than angry responses.  What if (as a few did but a little too late) the narrative of response to the subpoena was, "@AnniseParker can get my sermons anytime. I preach almost every Sunday and she's welcome! #InviteAnnise."  Being winsome so often wins (think internet memes).

5.  Being winsome isn't enough though and I'm glad the Alliance Defense Fund has stepped in to call the government of Houston to account.

6.  No one from the Mayor's office wanted the sermons and private correspondence pieces of liberal-leaning churches who supported their HERO issue.  Churches advertised for the HERO issue (like this one).  So yes, it was 100% about vengeance politics.  Let's not pretend otherwise.

7.  Ultimately, there are still various people of various stripes, persuasions, and orientations who need to hear the Gospel.  I hope none fall prey to the temptation to ride this outrage to a very temporary fifteen minutes of fame.  I hope instead we all speak to the First Amendment issue (like Paul appealing to Caesar, so we appeal to the Constitution) and then just get up and go about our business of sharing the Gospel.

There will come a day when preaching the Gospel will cost us a lot more.  I don't think that's today...but it's coming.

No comments:

Post a Comment