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Westboro Baptist No More – A Story of Grace

In November, Megan and Grace Phelps, two daughters of Brent and Shirley Phelps and Granddaughters of Fred Phelps left Westboro Baptist Church. For those who don’t know, Megan took the initiative and brought Westboro Baptist to the social media realm. She was the first in her family to go on Twitter, and was one of the prominent figures of the church. The bold decision she made to leave wasn’t easy as she shares with a reporter:

Mostly, the tears have subsided—“in public, anyway,” she says one afternoon, as we sit in a Tribeca café. “I still cry a lot.” Forget what you know of the church. Just imagine what it is like to walk away from everything you have ever known. Consider how traumatic it would be to know that your family is never supposed to speak to you again. Think of how hard it would be to have a fortress of faith built around you, and to have to dismantle it yourself, brick by brick, examining each one and deciding whether there’s something worth keeping or whether it’s not as solid as you thought it was.

In her struggle to examine whether each brick in the wall built around her is true or not, she shares that Westboro Baptist teaches that one cannot trust his or her feelings:

Human nature “is inherently sinful and inherently completely sinful,” Megan explains. “All that’s trustworthy is the Bible. And if you have a feeling or a thought that’s against the church’s interpretations of the Bible, then it’s a feeling or a thought against God himself.”

In her first blog post since her departure titled, Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise, she shares the raw experience leading up to where she is now:

Until very recently, this is what I lived, breathed, studied, believed, preached – loudly, daily, and for nearly 27 years.

I never thought it would change. I never wanted it to.

Then suddenly: it did.

And I left.

Where do you go from there?

I don’t know, exactly. My sister Grace is with me, though. We’re trying to figure it out together.

There are some things we do know.

We know that we’ve done and said things that hurt people. Inflicting pain on others wasn’t the goal, but it was one of the outcomes. We wish it weren’t so, and regret that hurt.

We know that we dearly love our family. They now consider us betrayers, and we are cut off from their lives, but we know they are well-intentioned. We will never not love them.

We know that we can’t undo our whole lives. We can’t even say we’d want to if we could; we are who we are because of all the experiences that brought us to this point. What we can do is try to find a better way to live from here on. That’s our focus.

Up until now, our names have been synonymous with “God Hates Fags.” Any twelve-year-old with a cell phone could find out what we did. We hope Ms. Kyle was right about the other part, too, though – that everything sticks – and that the changes we make in our lives will speak for themselves.

The beauty of grace is that what we did and who we used to be no longer defines who we are. In Christ we have a new identity and we are given a new life. Before, even if we tried with all our might we would never measure up to God’s standard of perfection, but in Christ we are seen as just and perfect. We no longer have to work for our own righteousness because God has declared us righteous because of Jesus Christ who gave us his.

I know many have several negative predispositions towards the Phelps and more specifically the Westboro Baptist Church. But by the Grace of God those predispositions can change! There is hope for the members of Westboro Baptist Church and there is hope for Megan and Grace. This isn’t a story that ends from a departure from God’s word, but rather a correct view of God’s word. Megan and Grace have come to see their sin for what it is and what it leads to. By God’s grace they will see Jesus for who he is and what he has done.

The great puritan Richard Sibbes asks us in his book The Bruised Reed:

“Are you bruised? Be of good comfort, he calls you. Conceal not your wounds, open all before him and take not Satan’s counsel. Go to Christ, although trembling, as the poor woman who said, `If I may but touch his garment’ (Matt. 9:21). We shall be healed and have a gracious answer.”

Even though you are weak, even though you are trembling, run to Christ. Cling to Christ and find salvation (Acts 4:12).

 

  • http://DesireeMMondesir.com Desiree M. Mondesir

    This is is so encouraging! I am SO proud of these girls! I know their decision could not have been easy, yet I believe that they will truly encounter the grace of God as well as those who will truly show them the love of God and teach them how to properly walk in the balance and love of God! :)

    Thanks for sharing!

  • John T. Jeffery

    Intensive long term Biblical counseling will be needed for both sisters in a local church environment of grace and love. This must involve discipleship and accountability partners.

  • http://www.godhatesfags.com Timothy Phelps

    Here is the accurate view of these two ladies who in fact left for … hold your applause … you’ll be surprised (NOT) … sex: “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water”

    Now they have to hire false “sloppy-agape” prophets to tickle their itching ears. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

    • Berna Deene saylor

      If I may ask Timothy Phelps, what do you do with Love thy neighbor. What do you do with Loving thy enemy? We are called to hate the sin, not the sinner. So how does this equate with what Jesus said?

      • mike

        Dear Berna,
        There is no greater service that you can do for a person than to instill in them fear of God.
        God has promised to send most of humanity to Hell because they have raised their fists against him.

    • http://welcometodayspring.com Cybersaint2k

      I post this, for Mr. Phelps partially, but for others who may be reading.

      Mr. Phelps, you should note 1 Corinthians 5:12 destroys both your post and the mission of your church.

      1 Cor. 5:12 “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.”

      To make it plain: if Megan and Grace left your church, then in your view, they are outside the church, apostate, unbelievers. That puts your post at odds with 1 Cor. 5:12.

      The whole message and purpose of your church is counter to the clear intent of 1 Cor. 5:12. In the name of Jesus, and on the authority of his inerrant Word, I respectfully ask you and yours to repent.

      Sincerely,

      A Sinner Saved by Grace

    • pagansister

      T. Phelps: I have no concern as to why those 2 young ladies left your cult like atmosphere. The important thing is —–they did. They realized that the hate you spew is horrific and not at all “Christian like”. Your example of Christianity is more like an example of pure hate. If there is indeed a hell, you and yours will see it in the future.

  • http://www.godhatesfags.com Timothy Phelps

    “Love” in scripture does not equal the fickle affection and lust of humans. It refers to the pure love of God … flows from God … and has to be in accordance with His standard, set forth in His book. Leviticus 19:17-18 describes it … and it includes the duty to warn your fellow man against proud sin. If you do NOT do so, you demonstrate hatred in your heart for that man. Megan stopped loving her fellow man … and replaced it with the Satanic hatred of encouraging them (beginning with her adultery-seeking sister Grace) to sin without restraint. She will be required of God to answer for her sins … and the sins of those she failed to sincerely warn ( if you credit Ezekiel chapters 3 and 33). Megan knows this very well.

    • http://www.chiefoftheleast.com Bryan Daniels

      I agree we should “warn our fellow man against proud sin.” Mr. Phelps, you’ve been warned.

    • mike

      Hi Tim,

      I imputed into Google “Megan WBC”. I just wanted to see what was the latest news on Megan’s defection. In the process, I discovered this site, which included your post.

      Quick comments:

      (1) There is no shame in communicating God’s word, which includes his condemnations.

      (2) In the Bible, God says “I hate workers of iniquity”. Yes, the word “hate is used. One category of worker of iniquity are men who have sex with men and woman who have sex with woman, Therefore, when you say God “Hates fags” you are simply stating what the God of the Bible says.

      (3) If you love your neighbor you will warn them of an approaching danger. Is there any greater danger than the eternal fires of Hell? The answer is, no.

      (4) Megan knows very well that human “nicenes” is not the basis of God’s approval. The basis of his approval is obedience to his commands. The world is filled with nice people who deny God’s existence, who deny that the Bible is the word of God, who see nothing wrong with divorce, abortion, or homosexuality.

      (5) My intuition is the same as yours. It was Megan’s desire for sex which brought her back into the world. She knows very well that the Bible commands us to warn our neighbor when they set themselves against God. She knows very well that the God obedient will be hated by the world. And she knows very well that preaching God’s word includes preaching his condemnations.

      She knows very well that the preaching of the WBC is the preaching that virtually all preachers between 17oo and 1900 preached.

      In the year 1900 Fred Phelps would be just another preacher. His preaching is unusual today, but for most of the American history it was the norm.

      Megan knows this.

    • mike

      Dear Tim,
      Give these people no thought.
      They do not believe the Bible, rather they believe the Bible of their imagination.

    • pagansister

      T. Phelps: You are a piece of work—-and that is NOT a compliment. Would that more of the cult will see the “light” and depart your world of hate.

  • http://www.godhatesfags.com Timothy Phelps

    Impossibly illogical treatment of that passage. Paul is talking there about church discipline. What I’m doing here is laying the standard of God, which binds every soul in human history, before a false prophet.

    If I followed your logic, I would act against Christ’s express mandate to go into all the world and preach this gospel to every creature. Since all the creatures in the world are not members of Westboro, I should refuse to preach the gospel to them? I’m not herein imposing church discipline on those foolish girls. They are not members.

    • Talia

      Mr. Phelps, nobody hear is saying that homosexuality is right or that we should not tell homosexuals they’re sinning. I agree that homosexuality is wrong and we should rebuke those who practice it. What you’re doing is not rebuking homosexuals for their abominable sin out of love for them and a desire to see them repent. What you’re doing is preaching “God hates fags”.

      I second what Berna Deene Saylor said about “Love your enemies” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”. How is your “God hates fags” schtick remotely compatible with Jesus’ words?

      Homosexuality is wrong and sinful. Guess what? Your actions are too. Please, just show me how in the world Jesus’ words line up with your beliefs. Don’t say anything about homosexuality being wrong or the need to warn homosexuals that what they’re doing is wrong. I already agree with those things. Just tell me how “Love your neighbor”, “Love your enemies”, and “God hates fags” are compatible. Thank you.

      • mike

        Talia,
        If you truly believed that most of humanity is heading for Hell (as Jesus said) and Hell was a place of unimaginable suffering, suffering that last for all eternity, you would want all your fellow humans to be warned daily that their sins are taking them to Hell.

        You would want every non-repentant sinner, such as non-repentant homosexuals, to be warned of Hell as often as possible

        You yourself would fear Hell.

        But you really don’t believe in Hell. It’s just to horrifying to be true. To unfair to your fellow humans.

        Guess what, God is not a human being.
        Wrap you thought around that fact.

        Your sense of fairness may not pertain to his understandings. That’s why the Bible says, “Fear God and keep commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

        You will no doubt respond that the Bible says that we should love God with all our heart. Well, the Bible defines love of God as obedience to his will.

        You love God to the extent that you obey him and you hate him to the extent that you disobey him.

        Regrettably, your pastors never told you that.

        Non-repentant homosexuals, like non-repentant murderers, thieves, fornicators, adulterers,
        are under the wrath of God.

        You do the latter persons no favor by failing to warn them of God’s wrath.

  • Taylor Caudle

    Hey Timothy?

    I don’t believe in your God.
    So nothing you say really has any substance-

    You’re most likely very wrong, and the bible you read is corrupted. You are trusting an UNTRUSTWORTHY translation of the bible.

    So, you know- go repress those gay thoughts of yours.

  • Patrick Parnell

    I also don’t think it was in the bible to harass families at funerals either. I lived in Kansas on an Army base there. You and your so called church held up hateful signs and yelled at soldiers on their way home. Those are the same people out risking their lives today to protect freedoms, like religion, that you seem to abuse. You perverse the teachings of the Bible to promote your radical extremist point of views on others. Your basically just a bunch of Bullies.

  • David Skerritt

    My response is not about whether anyone here is in the right or in the wrong. There are plenty of “experts” here who can bloat until the cows come home. I am only on about method, and I can only look at Jesus. Well, I don’t remember any examples of Jesus adopting a nasty, high-handed, self-righteous manner. Clearly, Jesus was the perfect example of humility and empathy. What a shame so many Christians don’t adopt the manner of Jesus.

    • mike

      Silly man,
      Jesus said that all persons who deny him are under the wrath of God. In other words, they are destined for Hell.

      Jesus would have specified that non-repentant murderers, rapists, and thieves are Hell bound.
      Guess what, there are a number of consensual behavours that are also condemned by God, such as fornication, adultery, and homosexuality.

      The fact that a human behavior is consensual does not make it acceptable in the eyes of your God.

      In the eyes of your God, a non-repentant homosexual or fornicator is as abominable as a non-repentant murderer.

  • james

    God loves people thats why he sent his Son to die for us. If God loves us we should love others. Love is warning people about sin. But it is also sharing the hope of redemption which is Jesus Christ….

    • mike

      Dear James,
      There is no redemption without repentance.
      There is no better way to get a person to repent than to instill in them fear of God.
      God has promised to send non-repentant sinners to Hell where they will be tormented for all eternity.
      As for God loving everyone are you that blind?
      In the Bible he says that he hates workers of iniquity. Yes, the word “hate” is used.
      Jesus said that the wrath (not love) of God abides on all who deny him.
      This popular idea that God loves everyone is the work of the Devil.

  • Rick M.

    I think back to the passage in the bible where they were going to stone a prostitute, and Jesus was there with his sign “God Hates Harlots.” Oh wait a second. He didn’t do that. He, showed sinners love and showed them the error of their ways in a loving way. I wonder if I should follow His example? I hope the Holy Spirit moves mightily in Megan and Grace’s lives.

    • mike

      Dear Rick,

      If someone were to ask Jesus, “What is the fate of a non-repentant harlot?”, his answer would be that such a woman is destined to suffer the eternal fires of Hell.

      If you were to ask him, “Does not God love non-repentant harlots?”, his answer would be that all non-repentant sinners, including harlots, are under the wrath of God.

      He would clearly say that “God hates workers of iniquity”.

      Salvation is predicated on repentance. Repentance is predicated on fear of God. Fear of God is predicated on fear of Hell.

      God is not ashamed of his word.

      His condemnations are clear. And his promise of Hell for those who raise their fists against him is equally clear.

      With regard to his word, their is no ambiguity.

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