Southern Baptist mega church pastor shelved his prepared Mother's Day sermon and instead led 6,000 worshippers in prayer over President Obama’s May 9 statement that he supports gay marriage.
“This past week we had a historic moment in our nation,” Senior Pastor Gregg Matte told the 9:15 a.m. congregation at First Baptist Church in Houston May 13, “of our president publicly claiming – not any surprise to me that he would think that – but to declare for the first time in the history of our nation that homosexual marriage is the appropriate thing.”
Matte said “righteous anger” is one response that many Christians feel about Obama’s statement, but for him, “I don’t think anger is the primary emotion; I think it’s grief.”
“When you lift man higher than God, human choices are higher than God’s commands,” Matte said. “And so the issue of gay marriage has become a civil rights issue when it is truly a theological issue.”
Matte said Christians have a responsibility not only to pray for their government, but also to vote. “We’ve been given an opportunity to vote so that we can make our views and our expression known,” he said. “We must first vote our theology. Then we vote our preferences on policy.”
Matte prayed “for the homosexual community of our city,” that they “would come to know Jesus Christ, that they would forego a shortened lifespan to have eternal life in you.”
“We pray the same for adulterers,” he continued. “We pray the same for the immoral. We pray the same for the greedy, the swindlers, the drunkards -- all of these things mentioned in First Corinthians.”
Matte said in an introduction to the message on the church Vimeo page [http://vimeo.com/42159579] that as he got up to lead the message he had prepared for Mother’s Day: “I just felt like God stopped me.”
“I just felt like there was a wall between me and the message,” he explained. “And at that point I was just like, ‘Lord, what are you going to do?’”
Matte said that earlier in the service he had prayed that God would “give me something at the pulpit,” and that the Holy Spirit responded.
“I just couldn’t go into the message,” he said. “Instead I called the church to prayer.”
Matte, formerly founding director of Breakaway Ministry at Texas A&M University, has served as pastor of Houston’s 24,000-member First Baptist Church since 2004. He is active in denominational affairs of the Southern Baptist Convention, and spoke last year at the SBC Pastor’s Conference held in conjunction with the 2011 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix.
-- Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.