Thursday, March 20, 2014
Most of these celebration post are, of course, from military families and the LGBT community. I would expect his funeral to be picketed from members of both of these groups. I also see a lot of Christians celebrating his passing. There is a side of me that feels it too. Though most of us do not believe he represented our community, it was still embarrassing having the likes of this man with the title pastor and publicly quoting scriptures.
I want to address this post to my Christian family, those of us who are celebrating. I want to challenge you with two things to "grapple" with if I may. They are things I struggle with so of course I don't want to be alone and I'm going to push you in the pool.
The first is the "ideology" that Phelps perpetrated is not that far removed from some of the preaching and belief systems I have witnessed and participated in over the last 20 years in Christendom. I once too believed that "God hated fags", and so did a lot of other ministers behind closed doors, and in the secret places of our hearts. We dressed up the sermons in scripture and politics so it wasn't as brash as a picket sign at a funeral, but the message was the same. In fact, a part of our heart felt or may still feel this way. We don't admit it, maybe not to our congregations, friends, or even spouses verbally, but our actions and underlying tones reveal it. Phelps had the balls to put it on display to the world, yet a lot of us are afraid to come out of the closet with our little "hate" monster. We don't rebuke Pat Robertson when, live on the 700 Club, he suggests gays with AIDS wear rings to cut and infect others. We don't speak up when a North Carolina pastor suggest that gays and lesbians be rounded up and held behind electrified fences until they die off. If Fred Phelps does not represent us, these men do. They absolutely represent Christianity in this country and our silence aligns us with them. So I ask you, do you stay quiet because on some hidden level, you secretly agree with them?
The second thing is does our celebration line up with scripture?
17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
18 lest the Lord see it and be displeased,
and turn away his anger from him. - Prov 24
Ask yourself some questions:
Did you pray for your enemy as Scripture commands? You took the time to publicly celebrate his death but did you take the time to secretly pray for him when he was alive?
Do you believe in a literal hell and believe he went there? How could any Christian believe in such a place and also celebrate when someone goes there, even an enemy? If our enemy goes there it is not a time for celebration, but for mourning. Did we do our part to win our enemy over to God (see question above)?
For those former members of his congregation and family who are being bombarded by the media and world at large right now, how would the Spirit lead us to deal with them? To picket them? To celebrate publicly? To say good riddance? To remind them it is "us" vs "them" so the world doesn't associate them with the True Church? Or would we be wise to treat them with sympathy and love by demonstrating compassion and forgiveness? Apparently something never preached before in their pulpit.
I'm shutting my glass door. Let the rocks fly ;-)