Fred Phelps brought his rag-tag band of religious misfits to Lafayette this past Monday to picket the funeral of one our local GIs. I assume you’ve heard of this group from the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church? They certainly have made enough noise at so many of our soldiers’ funerals recently. Well, apparently, it was Lafayette’s turn to play host to these misguided sectarians. They “brought”:http://www.jconline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060131/OPINION01/601310305&SearchID=73234331082954 their particular brand of religious hatred to our community and “offended and angered”:http://www.jconline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060201/NEWS/602010316&SearchID=73234330986603 a great many of our citizens.
It seems that Phelps and his flock are of the mind that the terrorist attacks on America and the loss of life in the war in Iraq are God’s judgment on this nation for harboring homosexuals. Strange that God skipped passing judgment on homosexuals themselves and went straight to the ‘harboring’ nation. I wonder if Mr. Phelps has ever actually read his Bible because his doctrine doesn’t seem to fit anything I’ve ever read in mine.
The only place I know of where God specifically passed judgment on a people for their sexual indulgences was on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. In that case the entire city was given over to such proclivities, save for four individuals — Lot, his wife, and his two daughters. They were the only ones spared the judgment, and that only at the request of Abraham. Once they were drawn from the city, both Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed utterly.
I wonder how Mr. Phelps can rationalize and justify his belief that God is passing judgment on our nation when there is no comparison to the degree of ‘punishment’. In fact, according to statistics I heard last night, the average loss of life for our soldiers in any war hovers around 7 percent. In this conflict the death rate has been closer to 4 percent. I’m not sure how that reflects God’s wrath. Additionally, in history God’s judgment toward sin has been very clear — He has always made it abundantly known who and what He was punishing and why so that there could be no question as to its source.
I don’t care what your political views are, and you certainly have the right to express them. These fallen soldiers are testaments to that freedom. But their funerals are not appropriate places to express them. These are people who are grieving over the loss of a loved one, and the last thing they need or want is someone yelling in their faces, rejoicing over another death as a testament to a supposed judgment from God. Go ahead, Mr. Phelps, drive that stake of grief and pain and anguish a little deeper into the hearts of these stricken families and friends. I wonder, though, how much you would appreciate it if it was _your_ son or daughter lying there in state to be given back to the earth. If this is your idea of spreading the good news of the Gospel, of evangelizing, of sharing God’s love, then I know for sure that you don’t serve the same God that I do. My God is patient and compassionate and long-suffering, slow to anger. Yes, He is also a just God, having declared that vengeance is his, and He does meet out judgment when necessary to draw people to Him. But I do not believe that anything we have seen so far is anything other than the results of living in a fallen world as nothing meets the scale of judgment that couldn’t be anything other than God’s wrath, and I believe that God’s wrath will be sated in the hereafter, when all chips are called in.
So, Mr. Phelps, take your people back home, actually open and _read_ your Bibles, learn what a Christian is really supposed to look like, and learn what the fruits of the Spirit look like. When you have learned some compassion and are ready to focus on growing the Kingdom, instead of spreading your hate and anger to all the places where it doesn’t belong (since it shouldn’t even exist in the first place), then come talk to us again. Remember where your hope is, or at least where it _should_ be, in the person of Jesus Christ the Messiah. Right now, you are serving no one but yourselves, and doing it badly, at that.