God is Love
This past week there was a great tragedy in Bardstown, Ky. a town 40 miles south of my home, Louisville. 10 people, 4 adults and 6 children, died in a house fire. The community of Bardstown was understandably rocked by this tragedy. As though this loss was not enough, members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas announced their plans to protest at the funeral. Fortunately the protest was averted when a local radio station made a deal with the leaders of the protest, giving them an hour of air time to express their views, if they would call off the protest. This is the same group that has been traveling around the country protesting at the funerals of soldiers who have died in Iraq. Their protest consists of proclaiming that those who have died are dying because God is punishing the United States for permitting homosexuality, that indeed, God hates homosexuals. This post in NOT about homosexuality, nor is it a debate over various views of homosexuality. What it is, is my attempt to understand what the people of the Westboro Baptist Church believe, what God they believe in, because I don’t think we believe in the same one. 1 John states “Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness.” (1 John 2:9) Later the author proclaims, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for GOD IS LOVE.” (1 John 4: 7-8) I cannot comprehend how anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ, who claims to believe in God, can espouse such hatred. How can you preach hate, and then claim to believe in Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who came to show us how to be truly human through love. “You have heard it said, ‘You shall love you neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.” (Matt. 5: 43-45) Love is the key to Christianity, at least it should be. The people of Westboro Baptist, and those like them, paint a picture of Christianity and God that no reasonable person could, or should, accept. Unfortunately, for many, this becomes the face of Christianity, hatred is what belief in God means. We know that there is nothing remotely Christian about the actions of these people. Yet, as much as their perversion of my faith disgusts me, I cannot allow myself to fall into the very trap that these people have fallen into. I will not hate. I will not hate them, despite their views that I find so abhorrent. What I will do is pray, and ask you to do the same. I will pray that the Holy Spirit may enlighten them, and open their eyes to the wonder of God’s love. I will pray and I will love them, for GOD IS LOVE.
Feb. 11, 2007