A Christ-Centered Response to the “Big Five” Publishers’ Lawsuit against Iowa

By Janet Boynes Published on April 24, 2024

On April 15, five more publishers joined a lawsuit first filed last November by Penguin Random House and others against Iowa over a law effectively banning inappropriate sexual material from schools.  

Senate File 496, signed into law by Governor Kim Reynolds last May, attempts to empower parents and guardians to direct their children’s education in matters of gender identity and sexual orientation. This latest action means that all of the Big Five publishing houses (Penguin Random House; Hatchett Book Group; Harper Collins; Simon and Schuster; and Macmillan) have now united in an effort to overturn the law.

The publishers are alleging that “portions of Senate File 496 require the removal of fiction and nonfiction books alike” that contain descriptions or images of sex acts, that Iowa school districts are interpreting this requirement to include removing books that relate to gender identity or sexual orientation, and that this violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments (Complaint for Declaratory Injunctive Relief, Case No. 4:23cv0478; Introduction (4–8)).

While the lawyers and the judges hash out the constitutionality of Iowa’s bold attempt to create laws that represent the moral convictions of its people, how are followers of Jesus Christ who aren’t directly involved in this conflict supposed to respond?

Made Only for a Moral and Religious People

Our second president, John Adams, wrote that “Avarice, Ambition, Revenge or Galantry, would break the strongest Cords of our Constitution as a Whale goes through a Net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other” (“Letter from John Adams to Massachusetts Militia,” 11 October 1798). Our nation’s continued success and prosperity hinges on our morality.

But anyone who has an intimate, rich, and genuine relationship with our Creator through His Son Jesus Christ knows that this kind of relationship can’t be legislated. We can’t introduce people to our Father God by ordering them to know Him through laws or imprisoning them if they choose not to.

But as Adams so eloquently pointed out, the Constitution won’t successfully govern a people who don’t know God. This means it is absolutely imperative that followers of Jesus Christ demonstrate the Kingdom in their own lives and share their faith with others.

Where Do You Start?

Effective change begins with you. Today, right now, submit to the kingship of Jesus Christ in your life. Turn over control of every aspect of your being — spirit, soul, and body — to Him.

But what if you still struggle with things?

If anyone knows what it’s like to give your life to Jesus and still struggle with invasive ungodly thoughts and attitudes, it’s me. Our gracious God found me in a homosexual lifestyle and called me out into His freedom and healing. But that healing wasn’t completed overnight. It required transparency and vulnerability with myself, with God, and with godly, safe counselors.

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Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride cometh, then cometh shame” (KJV).

Shame is one of the worst taskmasters. It seems insurmountable, heavy, and relentless. It haunts people who deal with sexual sin — and let me tell you, that includes people in heterosexual, Christian marriages. Men and women alike are plagued with unwanted, perverted thoughts and images, some of which they were exposed to as kids in their elementary school libraries.

These types of experiences are what the Iowa Board of Education and state legislators are seeking to prevent. Unfortunately, for many of us, the damage has already been done.

But I have almost-too-good-to-be-true news! The power of shame is all smoke and mirrors. It literally has no ability to imprison you on its own. In fact, it can’t even get into your mind unless it is given access through pride. The easiest way to disarm it and render it utterly useless is to shine the light of Christ on it. Look at it. Confess that it is there. Call it out. Renounce pride and embrace humility. Only from a position of humility can you truly love others and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Who’s Next?

Once you’ve taken care of the “beam” in your own eye (Matthew 7:5), from a place of love and healing, declare to those you know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that the Word of God is true. In discussions with friends, family, or even strangers, uncompromisingly affirm that God loves us and that there is an established right and wrong that are governed by God’s standards alone. Tell them their sins have been forgiven in Jesus Christ and that they can know God for themselves (John 3:16; 17:3).

Is this message offensive? Yes. And yet it contains the only chance of survival for our nation.

So what is the Christ-centered response to the “Big Five” lawsuit against Iowa?

  • A greater personal experience of God’s grace;
  • a renewed zeal for holiness and morality; and
  • a fresh boldness to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ freely, not only to save every soul that we can, but also to save this incredibly great nation that God has entrusted to our care.

Rise up! We can do this together.


Janet Boynes founded Janet Boynes Ministries in Maple Grove, Minnesota, in 2006. She authored the books Called Out: A Former Lesbian’s Discovery of Freedom, God & Sexualityand her latest: God & The LGBT Community. Janet is an ordained minister under the Assemblies of God and travels the U.S. and overseas sharing a message of redemption and hope through the power of Jesus Christ.

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