In the news this weekend was a group so hateful and heartless that they actually stage protests at funerals! Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka Kansas have traveled all over the country with their protests (According to reports, most of the members of this little church are related in some way to the preacher). Believing that God is judging America for its pro-gay stance, this group has recently staged protests at military funerals with signs containing vicious name calling and saying that the deceased is in hell!
Those who read Recliner Commentaries regularly know that I have frequently opposed gay marriage (and will continue to do so) and am not hesitant about expressing my view that it is “sin” for men to have sex with men or for women to have sex with women. But I have to say that this group is so hateful that if I heard they were protesting the funeral of a gay man, I would be inclined to attend the funeral if for no other reason than to help provide a barrier between the grieving family and the heartless Westboro Baptist Church group.
The Hebrew prophets, St. Paul, and even Jesus condemned sinful behavior—but they generally did so with tears, so to speak. St. Paul once wrote that he would be willing to be condemned himself, if that would save his own people, and he insisted that people should “speak the truth in love.” The Prophet Jeremiah is known as the “weeping” prophet because of his love for the people and while he warned of God’s judgment, he did so not with rejoicing, but with tears, calling his people to repentance. Even Jesus, who predicted the destruction of Jerusalem, wept over its fate.
By contrast, the Westboro Baptist Church group actually seems to rejoice in the judgment and damnation others. One of their websites expresses the wish that American deaths in Iraq would rise from 2,288 to over 222,288!
As far as I could tell, their websites don’t discuss issues of repentance, forgiveness, love or grace. They don’t tell anyone how to find forgiveness and peace with God. They don’t even link to websites that try to offer help and hope to those who wish to escape gay lifestyles. All they do is spew hatred and self-righteous condemnation at virtually everyone!
There is nothing recorded in the gospels about Jesus specifically addressing the issue of homosexuality, but according to the Gospels, Jesus generally dealt with prostitutes, adulterers, and other “sinners” out of love and compassion, not with name calling. In fact, Jesus seems to have saved his harshest name-calling for self-righteous religious leaders who looked down their noses at others, calling them hypocrites, blind guides, whitewashed tombs, fools, snakes, vipers, and even sons of hell! Perhaps Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church would do well to re-read their Gospels.