Declaring to his congregation that homosexuality is a distortion of God's creation, Southwest Missouri megachurch pastor, Rev. John Lindell of James River Church, urged his followers in a recent sermon to vote to repeal Springfield's contentious sexual orientation and gender identity law in that city's local elections on April 7.
Question 1 on the city of Springfield ballot will ask voters whether they would like to repeal the amended version of the city's Nondiscrimination Ordinance, which was expanded in October 2014 to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes for housing, jobs and public accommodations.
"I do think it's important for you to have at least heard from me my concerns relative to the repeal of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity bill. And if you live in the city of Springfield, we are asking you on April 7 to vote 'yes,' 'yes' to the repeal of the ordinance," said Lindell, whose church attracts about 9,000 people weekly, in the March 15 sermon highlighted by News-Leader.
"It is possible for someone who has practiced a life of adultery to stop," he noted in the sermon. "It is possible for someone who has been a life-long alcoholic to stop. It is possible for somebody who has a cutting tongue and a big mouth to stop. It is possible for someone who is engaged in homosexual behavior to stop."
Despite the issue being a political conversation that could land Rev. Lindell in trouble with the IRS for speaking out, he charged that what he's doing is perfectly legal but warned that if Christians don't stand up against the ordinance, speaking out like he's doing could soon be against the law.
"Addressing this topic or the subject of the upcoming vote from the pulpit is not against the law in this country, although it may be in the future. Nor is it outside the parameters of a Gospel ministry," he explained.
"Let me put it to you this way: To those who struggle with same-sex attraction and say God made me this way, Paul's point in Romans 1 is that our human nature has turned against what God intended and that is at the heart of all sin," charged Lindell.
"Lest we think of God's judgment primarily being lightning bolts falling from heaven on people, God's judgment as it is expressed in Roman's chapter 1 is that He gives every human being who rejects His Word and His way over to their own desires, which is a catastrophic judgment. We all have desires that are warped as a result of our fallen nature: pride, selfishness, greed, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, lust, envy, covetousness, chemical addiction. Our desires for things God has forbidden is a reflection of how sin has distorted us rather than a reflection of how Christ has made us," he noted.
"If you're a Christian living in the city limits of Springfield, I urge you to vote yes for the repeal of the ordinance. As you leave today, we'll have ['yes' signs available for you to take with you to display.] And part of the reason the signs are going up is just simply the ballot language is confusing. You'd think if you were against the ordinance you'd vote 'no,' but no, you need to vote 'yes,' because you are for repealing the ordinance; so it's a bit confusing," he continued.
"All of us need to pray, we need to pray for the well-being of our city. For some who are sitting there and you are saying 'well, you know, at least we don't live in Springfield.' "Let me just encourage you to consider that what happens in Springfield will happen in the rest of the area," he said.