Saturday, March 22, 2014

Love Conquers Hate

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." 20 No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17-21

Fred Phelps is dead and some people --lots of people-- would say good riddance. I have to admit that the world is now a better place without him, or at least that is my first reaction. You may not know his name but you will have heard of his church, the Westboro Church of Hate. The congregation calls it the Westboro Baptist Church but it seems almost demonically committed to promoting hatred. The congregation is largely a family affair, several generations of Phelps progeny, all raised to hate gays. There has been a ripple effect through the years as this fire has required more or more fuel. They began by picketing the funerals of homosexuals with incredibly offensive signs, and then it spread to those killed while serving their country, as well as the family members of politicians. In their warped minds all of these deaths were God's judgment on America for becoming more inclusive and compassionate.

Phelps was once a lawyer and took on civil rights cases in the sixties. He was dogged in his fights and won more often than not. Then he was disbarred, became a pastor and turned to the gospel of hatred. He was kicked out of the church last year, and the rumour is that he began to soften his stance and was excommunicated by his own flesh and blood. Teach your children well...

A number of the clan have escaped the clutches of this cult through the years and one son is now an advocate of LGBTQ rights. Speaking of which, a number of LGBTQers have written saying that they do not derive satisfaction from Phelps' death, nor do they want people to boycott his funeral. They believe in love and acceptance, not hatred, so why stoop to the Westboro congregation's tactics.

They are undeniably correct in this outlook, and Christians need only look to cheek-turning Jesus or the apostle Paul to realize that what they are saying is true. Would God consign Phelps to the hell he wanted for those he hated? Last time I checked, God didn't give any of us that role, including Phelps.

What are your thoughts about Fred Phelps? Do you hope he is roasting evenly over an open fire? Would God forgive this community of haters? Does it surprise you to hear that some of the folk he hated most want to follow a different path?

1 comment:

Judy Mcknight said...

I don't think God condemns any of us to an eternity of "roasting over an open fire", as you put it - The door to forgiveness is always open, and we are always welcomed in with open arms... all of us... and, I agree with David, that we are not assigned to task of selecting who goes where in eternity. I applaud the gay community who refuse to do the "eye for an eye" thing. They are setting the Christ-like example.