Tuesday, February 07, 2006
  Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church...
These are the God Hates Fags people (I won't even provide a link to his site, Google it if you must).

Between Morse and an article on Get Religion these people have been on my mind.

Jamey Tucker, a reporter for News 2 in Nashville, TN has a blog and in a recent post he asks his readers if he should go cover Phelps and his "congregation". Apparently they're picketing another funeral. *sigh*

For the record I do think that Tucker should cover this thing. His reasons are as follows:

But, I would love to go and find out what part of the Bible they find that God hates anyone.

I can find support for God hating individual people, groups of people, even entire nations. Most of the time it's because these people have either rejected him out of hand or interfered with his people. I don't find support for God hating all homosexuals, but Paul does point out that the act is detestable as set forth in Leviticus. Given that and the passages following Rom. 1:27 I can say that God doesn't see practicing homosexuals in a good light. But then He doesn't see any sinner that hasn't accepted Christ in a good light. He sees them for who and what they are, sinners.

Some would argue that the idea that homosexuality is a sin is outdated and limited to the OT and its teachings. Paul was after all a Pharisee and his training was in OT law. I don't think that it's outdated and I think that it angers God and I'll tell you why. It goes beyond, "God said so."

God designed man and woman to have relationship; physically, mentally, and spiritually. Even if you take God's design out of the picture (I don't, but just for arguments sake) it's obvious that human men and women are intended to pair off in that fashion. Historically we compliment one another in the above ways. I'm not saying that gay men and women can't compliment one another, but given what I've seen it seems that when they do it is the exception and not the rule.

I know that plenty of heterosexual people are in abusive relationships, get divorced, cheat on one another, etc. I'm not saying that they're perfect. I'm also not saying that just any one man and one woman compliment each other either. You need to find the right person. In God's plan that would be a person of the opposite gender. Anything else can (and I believe will) lead to a disaster. I think that's what Paul is saying in Romans.

So does God hate you if you're gay? I don't think so, but you being gay isn't what He wants for you. Just like He doesn't want anyone to be with a member of the opposite sex out of wedlock (I like that word better than marriage actually). Of course if you love Him, I believe that He will accept you warts and all. Just know that God likes to love you in such a way that your warts get removed.

You say that you don't believe that God sees homosexuality as a wart? That's fine. I can't convince you otherwise (and won't try). We can disagree and love each other and love God. That is the key that the WBC doesn't get.

I'd also like to talk to them about the overall negative opinion of Christians that others might have because of their words, their actions and their lack of compassion.

I'm sure they'll have answers for that and most of it will be to trash talk those Christians that disagree with them. I think that those of us that call ourselves Christians would do well to remember John 13: 34"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." It's not an easy command, but we must.

But what about those pesky non-Christians? Well Matthew 5:44-45 says, "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous".

Will covering these people give them press that they don't need? Well I'm sure that even if this guy doesn't cover them, they'll get press. I'd be interested in hearing how they love their enemy and their brethren. I'm sure their answer won't satisfy me, but hey maybe I'll be surprised.

If you're reading these words and aren't Christian, understand that these people don't represent all of Christianity. My hope is that they don't represent a tenth part of us. If you're reading this and you are a Christian and agree with these folks then by all means enlighten me. Why do you?
Good thoughts. It's nice to see a thinking Christian.

Here are my "issues" (too strong a word, really, but my brain's sort of stuck today) with what you have to say:

I'm a Christian, so I wrestle with the Bible frequently. A lot of what that book has to say is confusing, contradictory, misogynist, slavery-endorsing, gay hating, and yet....

The words of Jesus Christ ring truer to me than those of any other prophet I've so far come across. And I've read up on a lot of religions. I've attended worship of different faiths. I've searched theology for what I most believe in, and what I most believe in are the words of Christ. I think they're beautiful, inspirational, powerful, revolutionary, and transcendent.

So, how does one reconcile a love of the teachings of Christ with the other, arguably crazy shit in the Good Book (such as, if a woman's husband dies, and no other suitable man shall be found, then she will be joined -in the icky, biblical sense - with her male family)?

Well, my own path has been to pretty much question the spiritual total-authority of anything in the Bible not spoken by the Man himself. I don't believe that the Bible was written "with the hand of God" and through vessels such as Paul. I believe the Bible was written by men, and men alone, over a period of many, many years. There's simply no other way to explain the radical inconsistencies, save to make the argument that God changes his mind.

Paul, as I'm sure you know, hated Christians before he converted. Upon conversion, he embraced his new religion totally. That change of mind makes me wonder whether Paul can then also be wrong about homosexuality. Like so many people in modern day, perhaps he'd never met a homosexual, and felt comfortable judging them based on the words of the OT (because it's Paul's words that Bible-thumpers use to justify their dismissal of gays, not the words of Jesus). Maybe God's infallible (and again, if you make that argument, then by default, the Bible wasn't "Written" by him, because the Bible IS fallible), but men are fallible, and Paul's life is a perfect example of that fallibility.

As for God designing us to by paired off as man and woman...Well, I suppose you can make that argument. After all, men have penises, and women have vaginas (to quote from "The book of Kindergarten Cop"), and there's a clear purpose for both those things.

But God also designed us to love, did he not? Further, he designed us, and urges us, to love everyone (not in the YMCA sense, necessarily...but still.)

God gave us two arms, two legs, and no wings to speak of. Does that mean he frowns upon our efforts to fly? Are airplanes and hanggliders against God's will? Would he prefer us to stay firmly earthbound? After all, he didn't give us the equipment to fly without the additional effort we've put in.

It's an awkward analogy, but I think it fits, in its way.

We're living at a point in human history where the world population is larger than its ever been. There's no shortage of babies, or heterosexuals. There's no danger of the human race dying out.

So it isn't as if practicing homosexuality is a danger to our way of life, in that sense.

Is it because its "dirty"? Well, eating meat on fridays used to be a hell-worthy sin. Eating "unclean" food in general, actually.

When did we decide that was okay? And was it God who okayed that decision? Or was it common sense?

Most importantly, if God does take an interest in humanity, then its safely argued that he also imbued certain of his creations with a predilection toward homosexuality. Why would God do this, if it was inherently sinful? Because he's a sadist? Because he wants to see people hurt? Why would God choose to condemn people at birth in this way? The original sin doctrine doesn't fly, for me, because according to Jesus (and Christianity in general) newborn's are pretty much without sin. That's why they get to go straight to Heaven when they die.

If there IS original sin, and that's the reason for people gravitating toward gayness, then God is, in some sense, malicious, no?

I believe in the loving God of Jesus Christ, the God who doesn't care about appearances, or social norms (prostitution, tax collecting, and and madness are all accepted by Jesus. Would homosexuality be accepted any differently?). The God who tells us:

"I will love the Lord, my God, with all my heart, my mind and my soul. This is the first, and great, commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. One these two commandments are based all of the law, and the prophets."
Wow, that's.... long. ;-)

We'll ignore this "A lot of what that book has to say is confusing, contradictory, misogynist, slavery-endorsing, gay hating" for the moment, maybe grist for a different mill (maybe some sort of blog crossover post or something).

I do indeed place more weight on what the words written in red say. Not that we can ignore what Paul says. He drops some science on grace vs. law that can't be ignored.

I'm reading an interesting book on Paul and it talks about his conversion to Christianity. It seems that he wanted to leave all the Pharisee stuff behind. Yet there are trappings that still lurk from his past. How much weight should we give what he says about homosexuality when it's only two verses in one of his letters? Should we throw it out?

I'm sure Paul met his share. He was a Roman citizen and traveled extensively through a world where at the time it seemed that homosexuality wasn't a big deal outside his own culture. I think the important part of what he says is that all men (including himself the "chief of all sinners") were sinners, gay or straight.

I don't like the airplane analogy but let me address the idea of original sin. All it means in my way of believing is that we are all going to sin. We are born into an imperfect world to imperfect people and are broken from an early age. From birth? I don't think so any more than you do or (apparently) Jesus is. But we all sin. I would like to know where you came by this "That's why they get to go straight to Heaven when they die." I don't necessarilly disagree, but it isn't explicit in Christianity or the Bible.

Given that we will all sin and thus be seperated from God I can't see how God extending us grace is a bad thing.

Regarding unclean food, well that ban actually gets lifted by God in Acts, so yeah God decided.
Are souls genderless?

Fred Phelps looks like the creepy guy in Poltergeist 2. That's about the level of discourse that guy and his cronies deserve. Aren't they protesting military funerals because they think Iraq is punishment for all the gayness in America?
Ahh a question about the nature of the soul.

I'm gonna say I don't know. But "when we all get to heaven" as the song says, we won't just be a soul. We will have a body and one presumably with a gender.

Fred Phelps is creepy and whatever his "reasoning" for the protests, it just doesn't wash. You don't like gays? Fine, but don't take it out on non-gays (or even gays for that matter).
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