If you’ve never heard of Westboro Baptist Church, count yourself as one of the lucky ones.
Several years ago, during the early days of the War on Terror, a man from my town died in battle. His body was being brought home for a funeral and for burial in a small town 20 minutes away.
Then, Westboro Baptist Church sent our town’s newspaper a press release. They said that they were coming to our town to protest outside of the funeral of our fallen soldier.
Because of homosexuals.
Let me clarify.
Neither this soldier, nor anyone in his family (to the best of my knowledge), had ever claimed to be a homosexual.
So, then, what on earth were they talking about?
They said America is a “fag-enabling nation,” and therefore, God is punishing us.
“You turned the nation over to the fags, they’re coming home in body bags.”
DOES GOD HATE?
Westboro Baptist Church is famous for one phrase in particular: God Hates Fags.
Now, of course, Westboro is not even close to the typical church. They have about 90 to 100 members, most of whom are related and live in the same neighborhood. They have created a terrible false doctrine that you cannot convince them is wrong, because someone arguing against them is proof to them that they are right.
And what is worse, they are very outspoken.
One thing is clear, they are not believers in Jesus Christ, at least, not the Jesus Christ that any major Christian religion follows.
Does God hate homosexuals?
Does God hate mothers who’ve had abortions?
Does God hate sex offenders?
Does God hate murderers?
Does God hate drunks, drug addicts, porn stars, or prostitutes?
Does God hate?
GOD DOES HATE
The Book of Proverbs is clear in dozens of verses that God does indeed hate. But things that He hates, even things that are an “abomination to Him,” are all actions, attitudes, and addictions. God does not hate a soul. He hates the evil infesting the soul.
God doesn’t hate homosexuals. He hates the act of homosexuality.
God doesn’t hate a mother who has an abortion. He hates abortions.
God doesn’t hate you, a child He created. He hates what you can become. He hates your sin.
And why does He hate your sin so much?
Because that sin separates you from Him.
And He can’t bear it.
Here’s the problem: Christians, as a group, are stupid.
Okay, well, that’s unfair.
They aren’t always stupid.
In fact, every day, groups of Christians do wonderful things for hurting people in this world.
But every now and then, a group of Christians get together and decide that it is their duty to bring a call to repentance from an unrepentant world.
There is a certain church in my own town which has a bad habit of creating a float for every single parade the town throws.
And their float is always the same: A flatbed truck, giant speakers, and a man with a microphone.
He hollers as loud as he can about how sinners are going to Hell and that God hates your sin. He talks about how sin is bad for a while and then prays a prayer of salvation, expecting to win converts to the faith.
His message isn’t necessarily wrong, but the delivery is.
I’m not trying to water down the Gospel here. Sin is bad. I know that.
But I also know that I still sin on a daily basis. We all do. We are, none of us, perfect.
God’s message is a message of salvation, not condemnation.
What we are doing wrong, as a church, is we a preaching the Gospel as if we are sinless.
We got saved and then *BOOM!* Nothing but holiness and righteousness from here on out.
We expect people to change and then come to Christ. Or, we expect them to come to Christ and never sin again.
We make them repeat the Prayer of Salvation after us and then think that our job is done.
God never asked for you to come to Him clean.
I mean, goodness, people. If you were able to expunge all of your sin yourself, what on Earth do you need God for?
God wants you to come as you are, warts and all, with all your baggage and issues, and then God wants to transform you in a way that only he can.
But we are too busy protesting sin to represent the Savior.
We are all God’s children. The only difference between us and non-Christians is that we believe it.
We need to stop being Christian imposters and start being exactly who we are: Broken people… with hope beyond understanding.
We need to realize that God loves a homosexual (or anybody else) just as much as he loves a Christian.
My hometown is an oddity in my state, one of the very few predominately Christian towns.
You still can’t buy alcohol on Sundays here.
So, when we heard that Westboro Baptist Church was coming to picket our fallen soldier’s funeral, we got up in arms about it.
What did we do?
We made our own signs. Not just a few of us either. We rallied the entire town.
On the day of the funeral, from the doors of the church, down the block, throughout the neighborhood, and then all the way down the road out of town, thousands of people had lined up.
People were waving American flags, celebrating the life, service, and sacrifice of this young man.
His name was Jerry.
I held a sign that read “God Loves Jerry.” Every sign was like that. A message of love. No messages of hate for Westboro. Just buckets and buckets of love.
Westboro didn’t even show up. But in the face of real evil, Christian and non-Christian alike stood for what was right and lined the streets for good.
This is something we fail to realize. Non-Christians are not bad people. And we are not any less sinful than they are.
Sin is not the message.
What God hates is not the message.
The message was, is, and always will be –
Matthew Coker is a Media Director at a church in his hometown, where he also is a leader at a Celebrate Recovery program. He’s a huge comic book nerd, Whovian, and Greendale Human Being. Matthew and his wife live in New Mexico.