I would like to take a point of personal privilege (to use parliamentary terms) and address the pastors of Houston, of Texas and of the nation on what happened last Saturday in our runoff election for mayor and several city-council positions. First, I will let the victor speak for herself on the nature of the outcome:
“This election has changed the world for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community … just as it is about transforming the lives of all Houstonians for the better.”
So stated Annise Parker, lesbian mayor-elect of Houston, Texas, after 54 percent of the 16 percent of voters who cared enough to show up declared that her private moral life and radical agenda to redefine family was irrelevant. Eighty-four percent didn’t care enough.
I have to first of all ask forgiveness of the rest of the country on behalf of those in Houston who were entrusted with choosing godly leaders and failed to do so. As I have stated often, the first responders in that line are the churches who profess Christianity and adherence to the Bible as our authority. We let our position on the wall be breached by the enemy.
Now to the business of learning from our mistakes and failures – and it was a failure of the church as well as the Republican Party in Houston, in that order. There are some essential lessons that this provides, as all elections do, and those lessons are universal to every city and state.
Elections are won by those who show up in two ways – first, by filing to run for office.
Those who don’t run don’t win, and often those who win are simply the ones who cared enough to put themselves forward, whatever the motivation.
In addition, liberals have mastered the art of building a farm team and winning by starting at the bottom and running to the top. Conservatives notoriously have the “King Complex” that municipal districts, school boards and city councils are below us, and start at the top without either experience or political capital.
Annise Parker ran and was elected to the Houston City Council, served three two-year terms as allowed by city term limits, ran and was elected to city controller, served for one term, and now ran and was elected as mayor. Perfectly planned, perfectly executed.
In summary, pro-family values lost this election long before Election Day because we didn’t field a credible, seasoned candidate, as did the left. Why? It was important to them, and it has not been important to pastors and Christian men of this city.
Next, elections are won by those who show up and vote.
The numbers don’t lie. Read and weep:
|Votes needed to win||76,256|
In the city-council races, the number of votes needed to win a district seat in the fourth-largest city in America was even more astounding, with the candidate with the most votes for any district race receiving 17,644 out of about 100,000 registered voters (from the Nov. 3 General Election). In the runoff election, a similar illustration shows only 9,258 votes was the highest received.
Let me repeat for impact – this is in the fourth-largest city in America. What would the number be in your town or city?
Houston has over 3,000 churches, including “Big Boys” like Ed Young, Joel Osteen and Kerry Shook who alone represent over 100,000 people – yet not one of those pastors spoke out during this election. Shame on them.
Fortunately, a strong base of pastors of smaller and midsize churches and a few larger church pastors like Steve Riggle of Grace Community Church – including a growing segment of Hispanic pastors – were actively involved. The results show it was not enough.
I believe the questions of the hour for pastors in every city are as follows:
- Does it matter to God who governs us?
- Does it matter if the laws of our land conform to or violate God’s standards of justice?
- Do we as Christians have personal and corporate responsibility for choosing godly leaders?
- Are we willing to call out and equip men of ability, reputation, character, integrity and proven faith to serve in governing positions?
- Are we willing to establish a clear, bold and unquestioned priority of voting consistently and biblically for every voter in our churches?
One of Texas’ most well-known conservative leaders asked his pastor to stand with other pastors in holding the Houston Chronicle accountable for a vile political cartoon involving this leader. His pastor’s response was symptomatic of the real reason for the lack of Christian impact on culture and government:
Early in my ministry, I determined that I must resist opportunities to engage in political dialogue or causes within the public sphere in an effort to maintain the integrity and distinctiveness of my role as a minister of the gospel and representative of ________ Church. … I urge individual Christians responsibly to engage culture, seek justice, and compassionately promote the welfare of the city of Houston and the rest of the broken world in which we live, for the glory of God.
He should have added a final sentence, “Please just don’t ask me to lead where it might cost me something.” God has not revoked Genesis 1:26-28, and neither should we.
Our recipe for transformation is simple, but will cost us the same as our ancestors of faith and country – everything.