Megachurch pastor responds to claims he plagiarized apology for viral wedding night 'joke'

Josh Howerton, senior pastor of Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas, delivers a sermon after holding a 'Marriage Night' for his congregation.
Josh Howerton, senior pastor of Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas, delivers a sermon after holding a "Marriage Night" for his congregation. | Screenshot: YouTube/Lakepointe Church

A megachurch pastor has denied allegations that he plagiarized an apology as he continues to face pushback for suggesting in a joke that married women should do whatever their husbands want on their wedding night. 

Josh Howerton, the pastor of Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas, took to X on Wednesday to respond to online commentators who say that his recent apology for comments made in a February service closely resembled an apology made by Joby Martin of Church Eleven22 in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2022.

In response to the plagiarism allegations, the pastor posted a picture of himself with Martin, whom he calls "my preacher."

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"We both said goodbye to each other, but I said it 2nd, thus plagiarizing his farewell," he wrote. In another post as part of an X thread on the matter, Howerton added context for the photo.

"Someone accused me of 'plagiarizing' part of a Joby sermon last week, not knowing Joby called me to encourage me, help w sermon, gave me language, and that we frequently help each other w sermons."

"If you ever hear anything of mine in one of Joby's sermons — YUP, he's got my permission and we probably texted about it," he added.

In a sermon posted online on Feb. 26, Howerton told his congregation that because women plan their wedding days their entire lives, their husbands should "stand where she tells you to stand, wear what she tells you to wear, and do what she tells you to do" on their wedding day.

Howerton told the men in the audience that following this advice would make their wives "the happiest woman in the world." At the same time, he told the women in the audience that the man they marry has been waiting for his wedding night for his whole life and said that if they "just stand where he tells you to stand, wear what he tells you to wear and do what he tells you to do," they will "make him the happiest man in the world."

The second portion of his comments drew blowback, with podcast host Sheila Gregoire interpreting his remarks as a signal to men that "at the wedding night, you get to act like a porn director and direct her every move so you get exactly what you want." Howerton addressed the outcry over what he described as a "joke" during his April 7 sermon.

While insisting that his remarks were taken out of context because the viral clip of his sermon failed to include the first part directed at women, Howerton still offered an olive branch to anyone whom the joke "may have just landed on" wrong. 

Howerton summarized a passage from the Book of Proverbs: "Careless words can stab like a sword, but wise words lead to healing."

"What that means is that … sometimes even jokes can be a careless word," he said. "I like to have fun around here. I want this to be a place where you have a little fun. I like to do that. At the same time … I never wanted to … toss something out there that feels like a careless word."

Howerton provided a detailed analogy in an attempt to explain the meaning of the Bible verse, comparing his actions to someone who "had a steak knife and they like had the intent to cut their steak and their hand slipped and accidentally stabbed you in the face." He stated that in such a scenario, "I still need to own that."

Howerton expressed gratitude for the "grace" his congregation showed him amid the outcry, telling them, "I love you," and illustrating how he wanted "to be doing this with you for decades and decades and decades." 

In an August 2022 sermon, Martin apologized for talking about "breastfeeding" instead of the intended topic in a sermon that took place the previous week. The words Martin used in his apology are very similar to those used by Howerton in his message to the congregation last week. 

"The Bible says in Proverbs 12:18 that careless words stab like a sword, and wise words lead to healing," Martin said.

He characterized his actions as part of "what I thought was a lighthearted, goofing off" attempt to "joke around" while acknowledging that "in an attempt to do that though, I was careless with my words."

"What the Bible means in Proverbs 12 when it says careless words stab like a sword, it means regardless of your intent, like if I was careless with a pocket knife and it slipped out of my hand and stabbed you in the face, it is still my responsibility," Martin said. "I am sorry, I apologize for my careless words."

"I love you, I love this church, I love getting to do this thing together, and again, I am sorry."

Like Howerton, Martin thanked his congregation for showing him "grace" in the wake of the negative attention he received and expressed a desire to continue in his position as pastor for "decades and decades to come." He assured the audience, "I love you, thank you, and I'm sorry." 

In his X thread Wednesday, Howerton also shared a link to a blog post he wrote in September 2022 titled "On 'Sermon Plagiarism' Allegations." 

"A church-sermon is not an academia-dissertation or a book/journalism-publication," Howerton wrote. "I freely give away my notes to other pastors because pastors aren't preaching to make themselves look good, sound smart, or sell something proprietary. We're preaching for life-change and to grow the kingdom. Those differing goals of written communication in journalism or academia vs. the goals of verbal communication in preaching lead to very different standards."

Howerton cited his views on "sermon plagiarism" allegations as the reason why such "accusations almost never come from other pastors, but from journalists, writers, or academics (or professional pastor-critics who need to manufacture new 'scandals' to generate clicks for their monetized sites)."

Howerton suggested that said individuals have a desire to "impose the standards of their industry onto another field." 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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