Got a text from SK a little while ago. Now a quick caveat before I jump into my actual post. Texting. Let me just be clear that I didn't actually have my own cell-phone until SK's senior year in high school, though there was one with my name attached to it. When we bought our second cell-phone, back in aught-one or something like that, it was supposed to be shared by E and me. You see where this is going? I don't think I had that phone in my possession more than a couple of times before I just let 'er have it, lock stock and phone number (which she had picked out anyway). I might have made her feel guilty about it a time or two because I am a mother, after all, and learned the fine art of making my children feel guilty while still in the playpen. Finally, however, SK's senior year, which coincided with my taking a trip to California with my mother, SK and I each got phones (I'd learned my lesson about that whole sharing thing!).
The next thing I knew, however, these kids were sending me messages that I hadn't the foggiest idea of how to respond to. Right there on my little screen. Crazy, this idea that not only could a person talk from any old place in the world, but if talking wasn't an option, sending a word message might be. We finally get 'unlimited texting' a few years ago, and now it's off to the races for all of us. I have my own tiny keyboard and everything. And you know, I almost can't remember what the world was like when I wasn't connected to this object. Oh wait, I actually can...I'm always forgetting my phone, wandering off without it. Not thinking about it, paying attention to it unless I get started on some kind of conversation. Then I get distracted from the actual real company I'm in at the time. And that somehow seems wrong to me.
So there you have it, my phone caveat. This morning the text from SK was one that sent me to the computer to check out a website. And just the http of the website had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. Shivers running down my back. Because right in that http it said 'God hates fags.' I don't know if you've heard of it, but this is the website of a church. A CHURCH that claims to love and follow the same Jesus Christ I love and follow. Yet to get to their website, you must press a button with this phrase in it.
This church is known for being very conservative (seriously? you think?) and for their ubiquitous protests around the country. This month they'll be at Whitworth University where SK is a student. It was stunning to read what they believe is going on at Whitworth, and therefore, by extension, to imagine what they believe is going on at many other institutions at which they picket across the country. I am not privy to what every prof at Whitworth teaches, but Beve and I are fortunate enough to be close friends with one of them. And I can categorically state here and for all time that a more faithful disciple of Jesus Christ you will not meet. A man of God in the truest sense of the word. And I believe his colleagues are men and women like him who want to honor the values of the institution at which they serve. A Christian university.
What is worrisome, however, beyond this church's protest at one specific (I might say especially a Christian) institution is that they so misrepresent the gospel of Christ to the world. Though I believe God hates, I definitely do not believe He hates any person whom He created. If you can name me someone He did not, perhaps that's the one. Sin He hates. And homosexual sin He definitely hates. But heterosexual sin He hates exactly as much. And the sin I commit in my pride and selfishness. The sin I commit when I put myself and my desires above Him and pleasing Him. The God they are showing through their hate-mongering protests is not the God who laid down His life to save us from these sins.
If I might be so bold, I would say that God hates the protests of these men and women exactly as much as He hates the actions of those they protest against. All of it separates people from Him. This church, Westboro Baptist, is so consumed by the hatred they believe is their calling, they've taken the Lord's name in vain. And that, my friends, is wrong.
God is love. How will the world know that we are His disciples unless we love one another?