Megachurch pastor apologizes for 'careless words' after backlash to wedding night joke

Josh Howerton, senior pastor of Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas, delivers a sermon after holding a 'Marriage Night' for his congregation.
Josh Howerton, senior pastor of Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas, delivers a sermon after holding a "Marriage Night" for his congregation. | Screenshot: YouTube/Lakepointe Church

A megachurch pastor apologized for what he characterized as "careless words" when he joked that women should do whatever their husbands want on their wedding night, even though he insisted that his remarks were taken out of context.

During service on Sunday, Josh Howerton, pastor of Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas, addressed comments he made during a Feb. 26 sermon that generated backlash online.

"A couple of weeks ago … the week after Marriage Night, I tossed out a joke," he said. 

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"I tossed out a joke at the beginning of a message about men and women planning their wedding days and wedding nights, and it became a thing."

The remarks he made on Feb. 26 suggested that women have been planning their wedding days for their "entire life" and that by electing to "stand where she tells you to stand, wear what she tells you to wear and do what she tells you to do," the man marrying her has the opportunity to "make her the happiest woman in the world."

At the same time, he told women in the audience that the man they will marry has been planning for the wedding night for his "whole life" and that if they "just stand where he tells you to stand, wear what he tells you to wear and do what he tells you to do," they will "make him the happiest man in the world."

On Sunday, Howerton reiterated that "somebody grabbed that clip of that joke" and took it out of context.

Sheila Gregoire, host of the "Bare Marriage" podcast with over 41,000 followers on X, shared a 22-second clip of what she characterized as his "advice to women" on the social media platform on March 28. The clip has received over 1.7 million views as of Wednesday. Gregoire also devoted an episode of her podcast to discussing the remarks. 

Howerton maintains, however, "they clipped off the part of the joke to men, kept the part of the joke to women and then clipped off the end of the joke before you could tell it was a joke."

He also took issue with the fact that the clip was presented as his "advice to women," adding, "You can't trust the internet." 

After expressing gratitude to the "hundreds and hundreds of you that provided context for people who were posting that," Howerton acknowledged that some members of his congregation told him that the joke "may have just landed on you wrong."

He summarized a passage from the Book of Proverbs stating, "careless words can stab like a sword but that wise words lead to healing."

"What that means is that … sometimes even jokes can be a careless word," he declared. "I like to have fun around here. I want this to be a place where you have a little fun. I like to do that. At the same time … I never wanted to … toss something out there that feels like a careless word."

Howerton elaborated on the meaning of the Bible verse, comparing it to someone who "had a steak knife and they like had the intent to cut their steak and their hand slipped and accidentally stabbed you in the face." He contended that in such a scenario, "I still need to own that."

Saying he has a "very sincere heart," Howerton delivered a message to his congregation: "I'm sorry for careless words. I'm sorry about that." 

He thanked the congregation for the "grace" they have shown him, assuring the audience that "I love you." 

Howerton's initial commentary about the importance of wedding nights to men first gained widespread attention after Gregoire's tweet and podcast. She discussed her concerns about Howerton's remark,  which she interpreted as a signal to men that "at the wedding night, you get to act like a porn director and direct her every move so you get exactly what you want." She wrote, "the number of men commenting 'it was just a joke' is so telling." 

"Marital rape is not funny. Normalizing sexual coercion is not funny. Not caring at all about female pleasure is not funny. If you think this is funny, you might want to ask the women in your life if they find you safe and kind."

Gregoire acknowledged in her X thread that Howerton also spoke about the significance of wedding days to women and remarked that "the broader context [of it being a joke] makes this worse than only looking at the advice to women."

She criticized the implication that men "don't have to take on ANY of the mental load, emotional involvement, or work of the wedding" because "it's all on her." 

Gregoire reacted to Howerton's apology on X Monday.

"I understand Josh Howerton apologized in the services yesterday to anyone who may have been hurt. That's great," she wrote. "But he still complained that his remarks were taken out of context, and it was just a joke. I didn't hear acknowledgment that his words were shameful and wrong."

In a subsequent post on X Tuesday, Gregoire described Howerton's apology as "so bad I don't even know where to begin."

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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