When Westboro Comes to Town {What Should We Hate?}

Westboro “Baptist” “Church” held a demonstration outside my church yesterday.

In the mountains for the long weekend, I missed it.

Our church wasn’t the only one. The Phelps family and their “church” waved their signs at a Conservative Baptist Church, a Religious Science Church, and mine, a non-denominational church. It was an interesting choice of targets.

They’ve demonstrated at more than 400 funerals of warriors killed in action, paining grieving families, converting no one. They believe deaths in combat are signs of God’s wrath against this country for accepting homosexual behavior.

They’ve waved their signs at the gravesides of fallen law enforcement, shown up at school graduations, and sports events. They have no shame, no restraints.

A local weekly publicized their schedule and called it the “Colorado Hate Fest.”

Why do they do it?

There is no love lost for the homosexual community and they have zeroed in on this activity. And they target churches and governments that “condone the activity.”

Their website says this,

“Even though the Arminian lies that ‘God loves everyone’ and ‘Jesus died for everyone’ are being taught from nearly every pulpit in this generation, this hasn’t always been the case. If you are in a church that supposedly believes the Bible, and you are hearing these lies, then your church doesn’t teach what the Bible teaches. If you care about your never-dying soul, you will carefully read every word of this website, along with the entire Bibl

They’ve taken Calvinism to the extreme.

For the unchurched, Westboro displays the worst in bigotry. And it’s assumed they represent Christianity at large.

For Christians, Westboro presents a twisted gospel. They aren’t driven to encourage repentance through any sort of a loving God, a Savior converting the hard heart. Instead, they preach the wrath of the Almighty, contorted to scare the masses.

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Focused Hate

“Hate the sin, love the sinner” is a simplistic, and yet wholly Scriptural concept. Paul talks freely about the struggles he had in his own life, hating the pull, the desire, the temptation of sin.

I’m the same way. I hate the fleshly ways that I’m torn, badly wanting to do right and yet falling to the wrong. I look back at those moments in my life when I chose something I shouldn’t have, and I literally hate those moments, the failures in my walk. And so, does God.

Hating the activities that others engage in is not the same as hating a person.

It’s a fine line, isn’t it? When someone lies to you, parsing out the activity from the person isn’t easy.

I had a man who cheated me out of $300 for a car that I sold him. It’s a difficult split in my life to wag my finger at the theft and still love the man who did the deed.

That’s why this concept of Christianity is such a big pill to swallow for so many.

When Christ dined with sinners, he wasn’t embracing the prostitution, the tax manipulation, the drinking that they did. He was loving the person, engaging them in grace with the hope that they would repent.

It’s true that some never call to repent, putting up with bad behavior and sin without skipping a beat. And that’s not biblical. Justifying sin only perpetuates it. I know in my life the cycle this creates.

It’s hypocrisy that the Phelps family and Westboro thinks they are calling out. I’m not sure they are effective however with signs like “Thank God for Aids,” “Fags burn in hell,” “God Blew up the Troops,” “God Hates America.”

Their website address mirrors their most famous sign. “GodHatesFags.com”

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Don’t blame Christians for Hate.

We all know the Westboro signs because they are symbolically waved at all of us every single day as Christians try to engage the culture.

People think this “church,” which is really a large extended family, represents Christianity. But since we are a broad-brush people, we paint every person in a movement with the same belief. Since Westboro uses “Baptist” and “Church” in their name, then “surely they must represent Christians.”

They don’t.

You see, it’s the world – and people like this — that has love and hate all messed up, not the church.  When the woman was ready to be stoned, Jesus by his persuasive logic of love caused the accusers to melt away.

Out of compassion, out of love, he saved her life. But then he said, “Go and sin no more.”  He didn’t hate her, but he still told her change her ways. His love changed the conversation, and so can ours

This method works. When faced with such overwhelming love, acceptance, and forgiveness, I cannot continue in my sin. Like a father who never gives up on a son, God loves until my will is broken.

When the Bible tells me to love, it’s a matter of the heart and the soul.  It doesn’t mean that I need to make excuses for behavior or overlook a fallen nature. I love their person, their being regardless of how they act. We love because by doing so it might help them into a right relationship with God.

Phelps family put down your signs and open your Bibles.

 

About David Rupert
David Rupert is a Colorado-based author. You can read more about the author here.
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