I had heard of the atrocities carried out by Westboro Baptist Church and its bigoted pastor Fred Phelps before.
I knew that the church had been picketing at fallen soldiers’ funerals, holding signs with “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “God hates the USA,” written on them.
But it wasn’t until 2005, when Phelps and his more than 70 followers came to my hometown to protest a soldier’s death, that I realized the extent of the controversy.
I had never had to face a national scandal like that before.
Phelps and his followers picket military funerals because they believe that it’s wrong for soldiers to defend a country that has “institutionalized sodomy.”
The church’s Web site claims to have carried out more than 41,000 “peaceful demonstrations” in response to “soul-damning, nation-destroying filth.”
I hope that’s enough for us to realize that this issue has gone too far.
Homosexuality has always been a hot topic among Christian circles. As a Christian, I’ve had to outline my views on homosexuality and its subsequent issues, like gay marriage.
Sadly, the public has taken an unrealistic view of Christians’ treatment of homosexuals because of people like Phelps, and I’ve just about had enough.
Yes, Christians have mistreated homosexual people throughout time. And yes, homosexuality is wrong. In fact, it’s contradictory to the fundamental truth of the Bible.
In Matthew 22:36, a keeper of the law – called a Pharisee or Sadducee – asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
Jesus’ response is one that Fred Phelps might not like:
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and foremost commandment.'” The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,'” he says in Matthew 22:37-39.
This passage demonstrates the gravest area of lacking among Christians when they consider homosexuality.
My purpose here is not to bash my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I’m coming from a place of utter compassion and love.
As Christians, our goal should be to demonstrate the grace that we’ve so undeservedly received, which God gave through His son, Jesus, out of love.
Just because we disagree with homosexuality and the lifestyle that follows it, we are not given the authority to judge.
It would be a long, hard, futile search through the Bible before one realized that God did not give us authority to damn a soul.
Instead, in Romans 3, Paul writes that “there is not one righteous, not even one.”
A recent CNN.com article reported that hundreds of gay men have been tortured and killed in Iraq in the last few months.
According to the report, one of the groups responsible for the crimes, Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia, said it killed “with honorable motives,” as outlined by the Saddam Hussein era, which al-Sadr’s group follows because of its Shiite beliefs.
Let me present a scenario: A disagreement arises between a parent and a teenage child. After a heated argument, both the child and the teenager are livid. They can only think about their differences in opinion and neither will back down.
But they don’t kill each other just because they disagree. It might take a few hours of silent treatment, but they forgive.
The teenager wouldn’t picket outside his or her parent’s house with signs saying, “You deserve to die,” either.
Our disdain for someone’s views or lifestyle doesn’t give us the authority to kill or judge, especially as Christians who know that the greatest command is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Let’s stop trying our hand at an authority, which we were never given in the first place, preferably before ignorance becomes more dangerous.
Wyatt Kanyer is a sophomore news-editorial major from Yakima, Wash.