Dallas-area megachurch pastor draws criticism online for wedding night ‘joke’ – The Dallas Morning News

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Josh Howerton, senior pastor of the Rockwall-based Lakepointe Church, is facing backlash online from people critical of what he called an “old preacher joke” about couples having sex on their wedding night.

In a February 2024 sermon, the megachurch pastor shared what he described as a “gold nugget of advice” from the church’s recent “Marriage Night” event. He first told the men in the audience that women have been planning their entire lives for their wedding days.

“So here’s what you need to do, man,” he said. “When it comes to that day, just stand where she tells you to stand, wear what she tells you to wear and do what she tells you to do. You’ll make her the happiest woman in the world.”


He then reversed the advice for women on their wedding nights.

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“Now, ladies, when it comes to his wedding night, he has been planning this day his whole life,” he said, “so just stand where he tells you to stand, wear what he tells you to wear and do what he tells you to do, and you’re going to make him the happiest man in the world.”

Sheila Gregoire, an author who has written several books for Christian women about sexuality, shared a clip of Howerton’s comments toward women in a tweet last week that has been viewed over a million times. “If you think this is funny, you may want to ask the women in your life if they find you safe and kind,” Gregoire wrote in the thread.


Howerton appeared to respond to Gregoire in a since-deleted tweet. “The person who originally posted this took an old preacher joke about marriage, edited out the comment immediately before aimed at men, and then very conveniently ended the clip before it’s made clear it’s part of a joke,” he said.

The Dallas Morning News reached out to Howerton via phone and email and could not reach him. The church did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment from Howerton. His full sermon is available on the church’s YouTube page.

Lakepointe, a Southern Baptist church, has six locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that draw more than 25,000 people a week, according to the church. Howerton started at the church as a co-pastor in 2019 and became senior pastor in 2020.


Howerton’s comments sparked a conversation online about purity culture and evangelical teachings on sex and relationships.

“The following is an example of why I’m in therapy,” @aprilajoy said in a TikTok video sharing Howerton’s comments toward women. “What he’s saying is not this obscure ideology. I was raised to believe that it is the wife’s duty to satisfy her husband,” she said. “If a woman, a wife, doesn’t satisfy that need, that man can look elsewhere, and really, who does the woman have to blame but herself.”

In another TikTok, @theempresscjj called Howerton’s comments a “hot mess of a purity culture speech.” “As a deconstructed survivor of said culture, it is traumatic even listening to that man speak,” she said.

Southern Baptist churches have come under increased scrutiny for their teachings about sex, gender and relationships in the wake of The Houston Chronicle’s 2019 “Abuse of Faith” series, which reported on a sexual abuse crisis within the church. The Chronicle’s series found 700 victims, most of them children, had been sexually abused in Southern Baptist churches over a period of 20 years.

In 2022, the Southern Baptist church released a third-party investigation into sexual abuse within the denomination. The investigation found several senior leaders within the church “largely controlled” the denomination’s response to reports of abuse and were “singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC.”

Joy Ashford covers faith and religion in North Texas for The Dallas Morning News through a partnership with Report for America.

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