A Texas pastor who was roundly criticized for objectifying women in a sermon has apologized for hurting women with his sermon illustration.
Jonathan Pokluda, pastor of Harris Creek Baptist Church in McGregor, southwest of Waco, gave the apology at the end of his Feb. 26 sermon. He had made the offending comment in a Jan. 22 sermon.
Writing for Baptist News Global, Sheila Wray Gregoire was among those who called out Pokluda for his sermon illustration about a curious encounter with a woman at a restaurant 18 years earlier when he was newly married.
Gregoire explained: “He narrated how, early in his marriage, he ventured to a restaurant with a friend for chips and queso when a woman with a ‘perfect body, where ‘everything was in the right place,’ propositioned him by asking if she could buy him a drink. Pokluda … explained he was married. She replied ‘Is she here? Because I don’t care.’ He then dramatically recounted how his saving grace, the only way he managed to resist the temptation of a few minutes of ‘ecstasy’ with a complete stranger, was that he remembered Proverbs 5.”
Gregoire and others questioned the authenticity of the story as well as its propriety. She wrote: “Women deserve better than to go to church and hear all that stops our pastors from having sex with total strangers is a Bible memory passage.”
A month after using that sermon illustration, the pastor told his congregation he had been “careless and wrong” to tell that story as he did. A less-than-2-minute video clip shows him speaking in hushed tones with a haunting organ sound vibrating in the background the entire time he speaks.
“I was describing an interaction with a woman that I had 18 years ago,” he said. “I did so in a way that was careless and wrong. … I was an addict in recovery and absolutely thought those things but I don’t think it was fruitful to say it in that way without that clarity. I’m concerned that it hurt women in making them feel objectified and could give men permission to do so. I said it from this stage. It was wrong, and I’m sorry, truly sorry — not because it cost me but because it hurt some of you. I do not like hurting people. I ask your forgiveness. Will you please forgive me for being careless with my words in that message and specifically that illustration?”
The video clip was not circulated online by the church but was excerpted and posted by others.
Pokluda came to the Central Texas church in 2019 from a preaching and teaching role at Watermark Community Church in Dallas, a nondenominational megachurch known for its conservative theology. Harris Creek is a Southern Baptist church that is one of the oldest Baptist churches in the region. After several decades of ups and downs, the church experienced a dramatic growth spurt in more recent years as Waco expanded into McGregor and SpaceX built a rocket development facility there.
Pokluda is a speaker, podcaster, social media influencer and author. His most recent book will be released this week: Why Do I Do What I Don’t Want to Do?: Replace Deadly Vices with Life-Giving Virtues.
Can pastors please stop salivating over women’s bodies in sermons? A response to Jonathan Pokluda’s objectification of the ‘perfect’ woman | Opinion by Sheila Wray Gregoire
Misogyny is in your church too | Opinion by Julia Goldie Day