One of the joys in blogging and when writing my earlier article “Confronting an Ugly Face of Christianity – Shirley Phelps-Ropers” is the feedback I’ve received from fellow Christians. Christians who felt as outraged and disgusted by the hatred and venom spread by this whacky and scary group purporting themselves to be Christians.
So this response is for Stephanie and Jacquelynn and all the others who took the time to comment and share that in no way does Ms. Phelps-Roper represent Christ and fellow Christians. That she is twisted at best…and evil at worst.
So I’d like to share a few more thoughts. Many people commented that when the heard Shirley talking or saw pictures of the Westborough Baptist Church members holding ugly, hate filled signs at funerals…they wanted to smack this girl. And some of the language they used or wanted to use…was not what you would expect to hear coming from a Christian’s mouth.
And what do I say to that? I fully understand. In fact…if I had been able to lay my hands upon that video or audio clip or a transcript sooner…I would have written a very different article. Instead of something in which I tried to incorporate scripture to combat lies and hatred…I would have used my own words. And they would have been pretty darn ugly words.
But God…in his wisdom and timing worked on my heart. Instead it was a few days afterwards that I transcribed the audio…so that could form an effective response to hatred. During that time…the Holy Spirit was at work on my heart and mind. He reminded me that Jesus used scripture combat the lies of the devil. Remember when Jesus was in the desert and fasting for 40 days and nights? Satan came to him…and twisted scripture and tempted Jesus. How did he respond? With the Word of God.
If Jesus, the very Son of God, didn’t respond to Satan on his own…but instead combated Satan’s lies with scriptures…ought I do anything less? We need to be ever mindful that the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12
So when turning to scripture to fight this battle…it made it easier to not respond in the flesh. Because quite honestly…my fleshly response would not have been so gracious.
After writing that article…other scriptures came to mind that I should have included in an already too long article.
One phrase that kept coming to my mind, “And such were some of you.”
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor 6:9-11
Ms. Phelps-Roper and her group focus on, single out and target homosexuals for condemnation. They are focusing on one sin. Perhaps a sin that is not their own…not something that they are not tempted by. But in doing so…they are conveniently overlooking their own sin. They are forgetting that “There is no one righteous, no not one.” They forget that they too are sinners saved by grace. Not by works, lest anyone boast.
Today on the National Day of Prayer…I was reminded how true it is that as you drawer closer to God…and his righteousness and holiness…that you are ever mindful of your own sin and unworthiness. When I hear Shirley talking…I hear nothing from her lips that indicates she is mindful that she too is a sinner.
One of the things that really bugs they heck out of me about these hate mongers is the fact that their distorted, ugly, hate filled view of God makes other Christians back peddle in response. They don’t want to be perceived as being bigoted and hateful too. So instead they may remain silent about sin and what God says about sin.
Make no mistake…our God is Holy and Righteous. In Him there is no sin. God does hate sin…how much so? So much that he deemed sinners worthy of physical death and eternal separation from God. But God is also love…and he knowing we were sinners, unable to save ourselves, he provided a way out. He did that through the death of his precious Son Jesus Christ. How much does God hate sin? So much so…that the death penalty was extracted and imposed upon Jesus Christ. How much does God love us…He paid the penalty for our sins so that we might be forgiven.
God is indeed a God of forgiveness. Remember Jesus talking with the woman at the well. He took time to talk to this woman, whom others shunned. But he also confronted her sin. He didn’t just let it lie. Instead he confronted her in a gentle and loving manner. How about you? How do you deal with persons involved in sin? Do you shun them and not talk to them? Or do you shy away from the topic of sin in an effort to not offend them? Or do you try to walk that delicate balance like Jesus did?
Jesus takes us as we are…but he doesn’t just leave us that way. He doesn’t leave us in our sins. The Holy Spirit within us starts to work…and cleanses our heart, mind and soul. Jesus tells us to “Go and sin no more.”
But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13
Tell me…when you hear someone shouting and pouring forth nothing but hatred and condemnation…does that in any way bid you to come? No, it repeals you. Not only do those people look bad…but the God that they represent looks bad too.
Shirley Phelps-Roper and her fellow Westborough Baptist Church members are effective instruments in the hands of Satan. Their ugliness, hatred and condemnation will be used to drive a wedge between sinners and God. The sinners whom God loves and wants to save…so much so that he gave his own Son so that they might be saved.
They are also effective instruments in the hands Satan to get Christians to shut up and distance themselves from these people who are ugly, hate filled whackos. I mean really…who wants to be identified with someone who is intentionally hurtful and hateful? So instead…you keep quiet. You are a Christian…you have your faith…but you don’t share your faith with others. You are fearful that someone at work will say “Gee wiz, did you see that group of Christians of Fox News?” And as the water cooler topic heats up…you quietly slip away.
So are Shirley and her fellow church members really Christians and really saved? I don’t know…that is something that only God knows the answer to. I know I don’t see fruits in their lives being demonstrated that bears witness that they are saved.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
A couple of closing thoughts. Jacquelynn, who is a Christian, made a comment that everyday she sees hypocritical Christians. Can I say the same? Absolutely. But I’d like to make the observation that only when you have an objective set standard by which you judge yourself and others…and you fail to live up to that standard are you a hypocrite. If you don’t have that objective standard…you aren’t going to have something to live up to. There is no chance you will fail.
I think God would rather that we try and aim to live godly, righteous lives as he gave us in the Word of God. Try and sometimes fail…than to not try at all. Of course we know that trying…and even succeeding in living rightly will not save us. But instead may it be reflective of a heart towards God.
Someone who lives as their own heart dictates…really won’t be called a hypocrite. After all I’m sure what’s in their heart changes day by day.
I don’t want to live according to my own conscious. I want to live according to an objective set standard. The standard given in the Word of God.
Lastly…of all the comments and e-mails I received I was most saddened by the ones I got from non-Christians. Brandon thought that I was belittling Ms. Phelps-Roper and her church…and that it was well deserved. Both non-Christians who responded knew that what they were seeing in the actions of Shirley and Westborough Baptist Church members was un-Christian.
Vanessa said: “I too saw the news clip, and although I am not a Christian, I have read the Bible and from what I gather you aren’t supposed to hate or discriminate anyone. Aside from religious views, it’s simply evil to protest a funeral. Especially if these people that died, died for the ones saying thank god they are dead.”
Thank you to each one of you who left a comment or e-mailed me. It was a pleasure to hear from you. I encourage you to speak out when you hear outrageous, distorted examples of Christianity. Be a voice of reason…and love to a sinful, hurting world in need.