Westboro ignores God’s message of love

Every year or so, as spring begins to feel like summer, an event unlike any other rallies the students of Tech together for an oddly unified purpose. This event has nothing to do with football, homecoming or dead week, but includes shouts, cheers, anger, laughter and, sometimes, bagpipes. Some people attend out of concern. Some show up to make a mockery of the event. Others just want a show. On the outskirts, bystanders watch silently, offering free cookies, hugs and conversations to those passing by.
I am speaking of the Westboro Baptist Church and other similar groups that come to campus to shout out a message of condemnation and their idea of the truth.
The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. considers itself as a “primitive” Baptist Church. Its views and actions lie far outside the realm of most conservative churches in the U.S. They are known for their relentless picketing and anti-gay rhetoric. The organization has less than 100 members, a majority of whom are part of founder and pastor Fred Phelps’ family. WBC’s notoriety has grown immensely during the war in Iraq when the group began picketing soldiers’ funerals in 2005. On March 2, 2011 the Supreme Court finalized a four-year long case, ruling in favor of WBC based on the First Amendment.
From a legal standpoint, the Supreme Court decision was the only decision. Does this mean that Westboro is doing the right thing? No. Is picketing funerals and shouting at people, condemning them to Hell an effective way of sharing the hope, love and acceptance of Jesus Christ? Absolutely not.
Their outcries are centered on the issue of homosexuality. “God hates fags” is their most common slogan. They also stretch this belief to claim that “God hates America”. Those statements are wrong. Also, I don’t understand how they justify elevating one sin above everything else.
Albeit warped, there is some truth behind their words. Christianity regards homosexuality as a sin. However, in God’s eyes it is no different than when a heterosexual person merely looks at someone else with lust in their heart. It is held no higher than a deceitful mind or a prideful heart. Any of these sins condemn us. However, there are two halves of the Bible, and these picketers are leaving out the best part.
Their fault lies in what the statements are directed at. God does not hate homosexuals; He is against homosexuality, just as He is against adultery, deceit and pride. There are a multitude of verses in the Bible describing God’s love for people. Romans 5:8 says, “but God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God does not hate the sinners, just the sin.
Condemnation is often viewed in the wrong direction: God does not damn us to Hell for our sins. We have done that ourselves. God, being perfect, which by definition is the complete absence of sin, cannot be among that which is sinful. This is the reason that he sent his son to the world: So that we would be able to be forgiven by putting all of our sins on Christ.
The Christian perspective is that following Christ leads to a better life here. Heaven and Hell often seem like the only focus of Christianity, but we have a purpose here as well. What Jesus taught and we attempt to follow is to care more for others than ourselves. As an evangelical, Church-attending, Bible-reading follower of Jesus, my (and most Christians) focus is not on telling you what you are doing wrong. In fact, we are probably some of the most self-centered people you will meet.
In this way we fail in caring more for others. I apologize, not for Westboro, as I can’t speak for them. I can apologize for myself and fellow believers.
I struggle to control myself whenever this organization or its affiliates comes to our campus. I want to tell them their message of hate does nothing to show the love of Christ. That’s when I realize I am about to fall victim to the same hate that has ensnared them.
The arrival of these groups unifies our student body, but only for reasons mutual bitterness and hate. I pray that when they return, we can turn the other cheek.
How amazing would it be if, next time they came to campus, not one person heckled them, if they had no fuel to burn their fires and no encouragement for the message they are proclaiming? Treat them with genuine love and compassion, and they will be dumbfounded. God knows that they need love as much as any of us do. Let’s set aside our pride and judgment to make Tech a place where it is OK to be hurting, different, loving and hope-filled.


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