GRAPEVINE, Texas (ABP) — At a time when polls indicate growing distaste for politics in the pulpit, one Southern Baptist mega-pastor is launching a high-profile sermon series aimed at getting Christians off the bench and into political action.
“There’s a game going on for the heart and soul of our nation, yet so many of us have been drinking deception for so long that we don’t understand the implications and the seriousness of the game,” Ed Young Jr., pastor of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, said in a televised sermon Oct. 12.
“There’s a game going on and it's time for us to sober up, to step up and to get into the game — to not merely remain as spectators, but to be participators.
“I don't know about you, but I’m poli-ticked,” Young said. “I’m ticked at what is happening on the field. I’m ticked as I look at the scoreboard and as a responsible citizen, as someone who should be under God — because we’re one nation under God, not alongside God or above God. We’re one nation under God, but as people who love God and who want the best, we should be ticked.”
Among things ticking him off, Young ticked off a litany of what he considered social ills affecting the United States:
— Homosexuality. “God made man and woman to be together as husband and wife,” Young said. "God did not create Adam to be with Steve but to be with Eve.”
He said people at Fellowship Church love homosexuals but do not approve of their sexual behavior, “because God has said from cover to cover marriage is for one man, one woman in this covenant, in this commitment.
“I cannot believe that our nation is trying to redefine marriage,” he added. “I’m all for everyone having equal rights, but when it comes to this institution called marriage, give me a massive break.”
— Abortion. Young recalled walking on a beach and reading a sign listing penalties for disturbing a nest of sea-turtle eggs. “We’re really into protecting developing baby sea turtles,” he said. “So our government is into that, but it's OK to take the lives of developing babies? It's OK to take the lives of 3,200 developing babies every 24 hours? What’s right is now wrong. What’s wrong is right.”
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— Big government. Young said government is supposed to protect the people, but the U.S. bureaucracy has grown into a monster that he has nicknamed “Fedzilla.”
“If you do something well, Fedzilla takes the profit, and then gives the profits … to this big monster, and then hands out the profits to people, many of them who are able-bodied Americans, many of them who can work, who should hold a job, but who don’t want to, who want to sit around, smoke weed, drink six-packs and play with their iPhones.”
— Immigration. “We have the Congress worrying about steroid use in baseball, when you’ve got terrorists crossing the border who want to blow us off the face of the map,” he said.
— The economy. “We’re drowning in a sea of debt,” he said. “This $700 billion bailout: I’m no economist, but isn’t that sort of like giving booze to a recovering alcoholic?”
— Socialism. “So many people in the media, the cultural elite, they like applaud, for example, Cuba,” Young said. “Cuba's a wreck. Talk to anybody. Talk to a Cuban American who was there when a young man smoking a cigar took over.
“Socialism has wrecked and ruined that beautiful land,” he continued. “Socialism is non-biblical. It scares me to death as I see this slide toward socialism.”
Young urged listeners to tune in for the following week’s sermon, in which, he promised, “I’m going to tell you who to vote for.
“Here's what a lot of people don’t understand,” Young explained. “The church has become more and more of a ‘non-prophet’ entity. But I’m excited. A lot of churches are becoming ‘for-prophet.’ The prophets of God — the men and women of God — are standing up and saying, ‘Thus sayeth the Lord.’”
Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, said he saw nothing wrong legally with Young’s Oct. 12 sermon, but that Young would make a mistake if he endorses a candidate by name on Oct. 19.
Walker criticized the Alliance Defense Fund’s recent “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” for endorsing candidates as “divisive, corrosive and unnecessary.”
Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, faulted Young for “preaching a low-sacrifice gospel, prioritizing a moral agenda for his church members, which costs them very little.
“Condemning gay marriage and abortion, denouncing the straw man of socialism and linking — falsely — immigration with terrorism require nothing from his audience,” Parham said. “It simply feels good and feeds prejudice.”
Jesus called for a “high-sacrifice gospel” of pursuing the Golden Rule, loving neighbor and seeking justice, Parham said. He hopes that in future sermons Young “will make those who are at ease in the Zion of negative uncomfortable with the broad, proactive moral vision found in the Bible,” he added.