Monday, June 2, 2014

I Love The Westboro Baptist Church

For many, stating, "I Love the Westboro Baptist Church" is almost akin to saying, "I Love Hitler." They've become synonymous with hate, bigotry, and intolerance. The church has certainly made a name for itself. A name revered by few and hated by most. Of course, this won't come as a shock to the Westboro Baptist Church. I'm sure they're quite proud of such accusations. For them, it's a positive sign; it just goes to show that standing up for what's "right" will cause persecution just as was foretold and even uplifted by Jesus, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." The position of the Westboro Baptist Church is that they're standing up for morals and that people hate them for it. Seems simple enough.

What everyone else sees, however, is not the uplifting of morals. They don't stop and think, "Oh, they believe homosexuality is wrong." Rather people think, "Wow, they're full of all kinds of hate." So the name they've made is not one of morals, but rather just the opposite--they're known for hate. Jesus was never known for hate. In fact, he was accused of being too lenient and even "associating" with sinful people. He was most harsh on the religious leaders who were willing to throw stones. You see, Jesus was promoting love toward others even if the others were sinful. This doesn't mean he uplifted the sin, however, but rather that he could take a stance against it while still promoting love for the individuals. As is often quipped, "Hate the sin, love the sinner."

For the Westboro Baptist Church, however, they're very focused on the obedience to Jesus. He did indeed say, "Not all those who say Lord, Lord shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those that do the will of my father who is in Heaven." It's clear that Jesus took obedience to be a necessary artifact. He said it's better for a man to have a millstone tied around his neck and cast into a lake than to cause someone to sin. He was very adamantly opposed to sin. And yet, still, he was loving to the sinners as was demonstrated with the woman caught in adultery. He didn't stone her. He didn't accuse her. Instead, he merely said, "Go and sin no more." He recognized that all people have failings and have done wrong. Thus he stopped the Pharisees and Sadducees from judging her and implored her to sin no more.

This is often tough for people to grasp. The Westboro Baptist Church, like myself, sees a whole lot of Christians saying, "Lord, Lord" and caring naught for moral behavior. They still live life for themselves and their own selfish ambitions and many are quite foul and crude. They think their belief alone will transcend them into an eternity of heaven with God while obedience means nothing. I agree with the Westboro Baptist Church in that morals and actions are an important facet of a person's faith. Of course, that's about where the agreements end.

I understand the position though. I've been there myself. I've fought the same fight and I was very much "falsely" accused. For me, it was never that I hated the people, but I wanted them to start being obedient. So I put my effort into teaching the true message of Jesus: "Love and Behave." What I later realized, however, was that such efforts ultimately tie one up such that they're too busy trying to get others to love and behave that one stops loving and behaving themselves.

The Westboro Baptist Church, for their own sake, needs to take the advice of Paul and stop judging those outside the church and to let God do that. They need to follow the example of Jesus and let people work out their own morals while loving them despite not agreeing with them. Jesus' entire modus operandi was that of demonstrating one's own moral standard of living in full tolerance and acceptance of others in hopes that such a light would shine the way. Followers of Jesus are to be a beacon of hope and love in order to draw people in. They're not supposed to be a beacon of fire that forces people to obey or burn.

The rest of us can learn from their example, however. It's best to follow our own way and uplift it rather than condemning others who don't do likewise lest we label ourselves with the opposite of our intentions as well. If we force our own beliefs, it has been scientifically proven to have a negative effect. Even arguing with sound evidence has been shown to make people stronger in their own fallacious beliefs. It's best to state an opinion and live by it rather than forcing and coercing others. We should answer questions when asked in ernest rather than shoving our opinions. The Westboro Baptist Church is great evidence that forcing your belief is useless and is thus a great negative example to learn from. Thanks Westboro Baptist!

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