Fred Phelps is back in the news. The picketing pastor and host of www.godhatesfags.com is proposing a public monument for Matthew Shepherd, the gay college student, murdered in 1998. The granite marker in Shepherd’s hometown will read, and I quote:
MATTHEW SHEPHERD, Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God’s Warning: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.” Leviticus 18:22.”
Phelps, pastor of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, also hosts www.godhatesamerica.com. Most of all he hates the idea that God loves, and again I quote, “filthy dyke dogs,” “SODOMITES,” “dog kennels/pig sties masquerading as churches,” and pastors who are “demon-possessed Pied Pipers from Hell.”
Not even the lovable “Mr. Rogers” escapes the pastor’s wrath. According to Phelps, Fred Rogers “went straight to hell” because of his ordination in the Presbyterian Church and association with PBS.
Phelps also picketed in New York City three times since September 11, 2001, with signs that read “Thank God For Sept. 11” and calling the FDNY a “fag fire department.” Recently he was in Hawaii, the site of the WWII attack on Pearl Harbor, with signs that read “Thank God for December 7”.
He especially seems to hate anyone who disagrees with him. His website proclaims:
[Anyone] believing and preaching that God loves every individual of mankind — we say, You are going to Hell! Period! End of discussion! God’s decree sending you to Hell is irreversible! Hypocrites! How can ye escape the damnation of Hell?!
Well, at the risk of “the damnation of Hell,” I’ve gotta ask, what does God Himself think about all this? I’ll let His Book speak for Him:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). [The word translated “world” is actually cosmos which includes every created thing and every single person.]
Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? (Ezekiel 18:23).
The Lord . . . is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
And, concerning Phelp’s obsession with “hate”:
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7).
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-38)
Let your conversation be always full of grace (Colossians 4:6).
Yes, the Bible includes three or four passages that warn against homosexual behavior (eg. Leviticus 18:22, 1 Corinthians 6:9). And, yes, it contains many verses concerning a final judgment day.
But it also includes hundreds of sections that teach:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
God loves gays and straights, America and Iraq, Fred Rogers and Fred Phelps. He’s not always happy with their behavior, but He loves them unconditionally.
So should we.
© Copyright 2003 James N. Watkins. All rights reserved.
Photo: Michael Macof (One vulgar image blackened out)