“Pastor wins round with Supreme Court”
That’s how the article began in the newspaper this morning. So, as I do whenever I see something regarding pastors or Christianity in the paper, I read on- and was very disturbed.
The article (originally from a St. Louis newspaper) was about Fred Phelps. If you haven’t heard of him, he is the pastor of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas that leads his congregation into protests against the nation at the funerals of soldiers. You don’t have to be a mature believer to realize this is wrong.
The Enemy According to Phelps
In short: everyone. Reading further into the article, one stumbles accross this paragraph:
Since then (refering to his 1998 picketing of a homosexual man’s funeral), Phelps has extended his message of “God’s hatred” to Jews, blacks, Catholics, Lutherans, Canadians, Swedes and numerous other groups including the U.S. government.
Why? Why does a man who claims Christ as his savior act with such hatred? This is evidence of a man who has not been changed by Christ. Based off of his actions, one is to (according to Scripture) assume that he is not actually a follower of Christ. True, he can read the Bible, translate it to his people, and believe in God. But as James says, so can the demons and they shudder. I wonder if the thought of god stirs up fear in this man.
The true response
So how should one respond to things such as the death of a homosexual? Perhaps the same as one should feel in light of someone like Michael Jackson? I know that this has been covered numerous times before, but I feel it needs to be stated again and again. As God is not rejoicing like some psychotic killer over the fact that a homosexual man has died, we should react similarly. So I can safely say that God is not pleased with Phelps and his congregation picketing funerals. We are supposed to mourn with those who mourn. Phelps is not doing so.
One could argue (although it would be a poor, groundless argument) that we are supposed to act in this way in regards to other people based off of passages in Scripture that command us to remove people from our fellowship if they are in sin or teach different doctrines. But that is Paul talking about Churches dealing with supposed Christians, not those who never made claims to believe in Christ. No matter what, we are to love everyone. What else was the point of Luke 10? Love your neighbor as yourself. Or as Pastor Mark Gedicks of Windham Baptist would put it- make sure that you put as much joy, pleasure, persistence, and impatience in serving others as you do yourself.
That is the best response. We love. We disagree with people, the Bible teaches against their sin, but that does not remove the need to lovingly share the gospel through living and preaching the true message of repentance.