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Josh Howerton Apologizes to ‘Few’ Offended By Wedding Night ‘Joke,’ But Fails to Mention It Happened Before

By Rebecca Hopkins
josh howerton lakepointe joke
On Apr. 7, 2024, Pastor Josh Howerton preaches at Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas. (Video screengrab)

Texas megachurch pastor Josh Howerton apologized on Sunday to his church for a “joke” that many on social media said perpetuated  “harmful” tropes about sex and women. But Howerton failed to mention that he told the identical joke three years ago, and was confronted about it by a congregant and a visitor.

This latest brouhaha was sparked by comments Howerton made in February. Speaking to wives about their wedding night, Howerton said they should “stand where (your husband) tells you to stand, wear what he tells you to wear, and do what he tells you to do.”

Then, this past Sunday, Howerton warned his congregation that “you can’t trust the internet,” and thanked those who defended him online, while also conceding that his “joke” landed “wrong” on a “few.”

“I just want to say this—dude, if that joke fell on you the wrong way . . . I’m sorry,” Howerton said. “I’m sorry for something that felt like careless words. No—actually, let me rephrase that. I’m sorry for careless words.”

However, this is not the first time Howerton, senior pastor of Lakepointe Church in the Dallas area, told this “joke”—nor is it the first time his congregants have expressed offense.

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lakepointe church rockwall volunteer
Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas. (Photo: social media)

The Roys Report (TRR) has received documentation from a congregant and a visitor, showing they confronted Howerton about an identical joke in 2021.

Natosha Hawk, a former Lakepointe congregant, gave TRR an email she sent to Howerton in 2021. In the email, Hawk objected to “a joke you told in a recent sermon about a woman doing things her husband wanted (‘whatever he wanted’) on the wedding night.”

“This could really be triggering for women who experience trauma around sex, even in marriage,” Hawk continued. Hawk also said that other women in her “Life Group” had noticed that Howerton “always tells jokes about marriage, or women.”

“My guess, and my hope is that you would not want that to be your reputation among women at LP (Lakepointe),” Hawk wrote. “I also recall a blonde joke you told in the past months. I’m starting to feel pretty uncomfortable even coming there as a female (who is also blonde).”

Hawk ended her email by citing Ephesians 5, which instructs Christians not to have any “coarse joking,” and asking Howerton for “correction, repentance, and apology to the congregation.”

In an interview with TRR, Hawk said she received an automatic reply to her email, which didn’t address her concerns. She said her family left the church a few months later, in part, because of these kinds of insensitive comments.

“My mind goes to my friends who have trauma and aren’t being treated well in their marriage and even have been abused,” Hawk said.  “If you’re in a bad or desperate situation, it’s fuel to the fire.”

howerton lakepointe
On Feb. 24, 2024, Pastor Josh Howerton preaches at Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas. (Video screengrab)

Similarly, Carly Roberson, a friend of Hawk’s, reached out to Howerton on Twitter (now X) in December 2021.

In private messages with Howerton, which were shared with TRR, Roberson confronted Howerton about his joke and noted Hawk’s email.

“These may be jokes to you,” Roberson wrote, “but they are at the expense of half of all image bearers—the physically weaker sex who have been used and abused by men since the beginning of time. . . . I doubt you intended to cause harm, but the impact caused harm nonetheless.”

In response, Howerton wrote that he remembered Hawk’s email and stated: “I just need to speak in a straightforward way that I did not ‘instruct women to do anything their husbands want on their honeymoon’ and would never under any circumstance do so. That was in the context of a joke that said the same thing about BOTH men and women and was extremely clearly stated as a joke, not ‘instruction.’ My gosh, as a pastor I would NEEEEEEEEEEEVER instruct women in that regard, so I hope that’s abundantly clear!”

Howerton added that with 30,000 people watching his messages, he gets 30,000 “levels of sensitivity” to his sermons. Howerton said he runs his sermons and jokes by a team of people that includes women, but admitted he might still get things wrong.

“Because of that, I’ll genuinely take this into consideration for the future and beg your grace in advance for when we might see things a bit differently and I say something that’s a miss in your eyes,” he said.

howerton joke
On Dec. 20, 2021, Lakepointe Church Senior Pastor Josh Howerton and Carly Roberson engage in a direct-messaging conversation via Twitter, now X. (Screenshots)
howerton lakepointe texas joke
On Dec. 20, 2021, Lakepointe Church Senior Pastor Josh Howerton replies to Carly Roberson in a direct-messaging conversation via Twitter, now X. (Screenshots)

Howerton did not respond to TRR’s multiple requests for comment, including a specific request to address the concerns raised by Hawk and Roberson three years ago.

“I’m offended on behalf of women . . .”

In his apology Sunday, Howerton implied that some of the offense caused by his “joke” was due to it being presented out of context.

“I tossed out a joke—emphasis word ‘joke’—at the beginning of a message about men and women planning their weddings days and wedding nights and it became a thing,” he said. “Somebody grabbed that clip of that joke. They clipped off the beginning of the joke. They clipped off the part of the joke to men, kept the part of the joke to men.  And they clipped off the end of the joke before you could tell it was a joke and then presented it—Dallas Morning News hashtag—as Pastor Josh’s ‘advice to women.’”

Also, in his sermon Sunday, Howerton seemed to excuse his “joke,” noting that Jesus used “strong language” like when Jesus called Gentiles “dogs.” Howerton also quoted Jesus as saying, “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me,” a verse from Matthew 11:6.

“In our culture right now, we have millions and millions of people who wake up every day and stand right on the edge of a fence just waiting for somebody to say something that gives them the ability to be offended,” said Howerton. “If you find that dynamic going on in your heart, you need to pay attention to that because something really, really unhealthy is happening inside. You need to bring that to Jesus.”

Marriage and dating author Sheila Wray Gregoire, who publicly confronted Howerton for his “joke” in March, admitted on X  on Tuesday that she was among those offended. (Gregoire initially posted a shortened clip of Howerton’s “joke” on X in March. But she played the entire joke in context on her podcast.)

sheila wray gregoire
Sheila Wray Gregoire (Courtesy Photo)

“Yes, Josh, I am offended on behalf of the women in your congregation, even if they laughed, because I know what effect hearing these sorts of things for YEARS has on women,” she wrote. “We’ve studied it. We’ve seen higher rates of sexual pain; lower orgasm rates; higher rates of abuse. To be offended on behalf of those who are being oppressed, even if you are not being oppressed yourself, if actually part of fulfilling Jesus’ calling to set the captives free.

Gregoire also challenged Howerton’s interpretation of Jesus commending people who are not offended by him.

“Josh Howerton preached this week that because Jesus offended people, it should be normal for pastors to say offensive stuff,” she wrote. “He fails to note that Jesus offended because He was fighting injustice, and not because he was perpetuating it.”

Hawk said she doesn’t want to impugn Howerton’s character. At the same time, she noted in her email to Howerton that “from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Why do you need to say these things and what is in your heart that is driving that humor?”

To TRR, Hawk added, “It feels like these kinds of people won’t ever change. They’re on these big platforms and obviously someone around them is saying they’re doing a good job. . . . But until people start leaving the church and not giving money, they won’t listen.”

Rebecca Hopkins is a journalist based in Colorado.

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14 Responses

  1. If this person’s sermon prep includes “he runs his sermons and jokes by a team of people that includes women, but admitted he might still get things wrong” rather than running them by God in his prayer closet, that should be a red flag to anyone attending that church.

    1. Where did it say he didn’t pray about his sermons? I run my sermons past men and women just like he does and it has been so helpful.

  2. If any man abuses his wife, he deserves judgement. It’s the act of villans and not of godly men. Crude conversations don’t belong in the pulpit either. Furthermore (and with these facts established) the determination that this is a major issue is nonsense. There are far greater offenses afoot these days, to jump when the perpetually offended declare something “toxic.” If it’s sin, it needs to be forsaken utterly. If an offense to wokeness is the offense, then let the woke judge it, and not the church.

  3. Pastor-Bro Syndrome.

    It is literally a bully pulpit they stand behind.

    And to twist Jesus’s words or example to justify their sin is pretty much Satan 101.

    Flee, flock, flee!

    1. Spot on. “…until people start leaving the church and not giving money, they won’t listen.” And what comes next is realizing there are far better and more healthy ways to spend a Sunday.

  4. The message has a scintilla truth. Albeit, he should have seasoned it with loads of grace and some finesse. Married people should want to do what pleases the other but NOT out of coercion. If the intent of the message is to ‘subjugate’ women to certain types or roles, THEN, I vehemently dissent to his message.

    It is unfortunate that wounds from trauma cause people to become all to sensitive. It is rather impossible to say something these days whereby 100% people agree, and 0 % offended. That’s humanity. Is it not?.

    To the credit of the message: It is for this reason that Rabbi Paul, the apostle wrote these:

    “men love wives as your own bodies….”Ephesians 5:28.

    “…..the wife has no authority over body but yields to husband AND vice versa”. 1 Cor 7:4.

    “…..but those woman married care for things of this world, how they may please their husband”. 1 Cor 7:34

    “husbands, dwell with your wife according to knowledge, giving honour (respect) to the wife as weaker vessel, being co-heir to the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered. 1 Pet 3:7.

    Let me reinforce: it goes both ways. The husband should also want to please the wife ‘however’ she deems so. And husbands should be mindful of possible sexual traumatic past of the wife AND be gentle, sensitive and considerate. IF any sexual act/request etc. offends, THEN, cease asking. Period. Communication works wonders, I hear.

    Better yet, if one is not mentally ready to cooperate regarding men & sex in marriage, stay out of it. And just please GOD in body and spirit like Paul admonished. Either way, you pleasing someone.

    Alright, let the rock throwing commence……………

  5. At what point will “mega-church” be seen as an oxymoron? Imagine if they split and planted new churches rather than just adding seats!

    1. We do!! We plant churches all the time!! We have 6 just around Dallas with plans for 2 more in the Dallas area in the next 2 years. We started a campus in Mexico and we have planted close to 50 churches around the US, it may be 50 by now. That is our goal as a church to reach people for Christ!

  6. It was a joke people, I attend Lake Pointe. Quit being so sensitive and judging people you know nothing about. Josh is a great pastor. These bloggers are just trying to get attention.

    1. So, are you saying that Josh Howerton had no reason to apologize? Because, apparently he felt he needed to do so, even going so far as to say “I’m sorry” while also citing Proverbs: “Careless words can stab like a sword, but that wise words lead to healing.”

      It would appear that Josh is in disagreement with you.

  7. I think it was right for Sheila to say something to the pastor, and I respect her desire to leave the church when the pastor kept on with the coarse joking.

    But was it for her to go to the Roy’s Report, and was it right for the Roys Report to publish the private conversation?

    Did Joseph go to the local paper after he found out that Mary was pregnant? I’m thinking that certain confidential conversations should remain confidential.

  8. 1. if you are a “pastor” (?) who has to “run your sermons by others” before you preach them, you are in the WRONG JOB!! (I hear that “Wal-Mart” is hiring….)…. 2. this sexual joke-ster in the pulpit crapola runs deeper than you think…. in 2006 Michael Paul Turner wrote a book called “What You Never Learned From Your Parents About Sex” ; it was/is absolutely crass, filthy, offensive, way beyond even the “do-what-youre-told” joke,,,AND, it was published by NAV-PRESS!! it is no secret that, for many decades now, the “Christian Publishers” have been systemically POISONING the people of God….

  9. As a child, teenager, young adult, restless in a church pew, I still have zero recollection of what any minister droned on about every week. Every Sunday morning, every Sunday evening. Tithe, tithe.

    Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Wednesday night Bible Study. Tithe. Tithe. Tithe.
    Since the minister worked on those weekly sermons, I applied myself to listen carefully, and even take notes. Boring, tithe.

    I found that other books fit nicely inside a hymnal, or Bible to escape during sermons, until my deliberate ruse was thwarted.
    Tithe, church needs new carpet, windows, maintenance.

    We were poor, but I did gain a little insight (patience, self-control), weathered the gravity of a congregation’s gossip, hypocrisy, exclusion, and isolation. My indigent widowed mother gave the church my father’s life insurance money for new hymnals, and a building edition fund.

    My fondest memory was watching the church wall clock, waiting for that final organ strain fueled hymn & street freedom.

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