I've been invited by a treasured friend from my past to join the "United Against Westboro Baptist" group. My initial reaction was "Oh Yeah!" - a reaction stemming from my emotions more than my brain.
First,from a Constitutional standpoint, I cannot join. Because taking away their right to peacefully assemble (no matter how hateful their rhetoric), it becomes the first domino on a downhill slant. Next could be the Tea Partiers, then Christians engaged in street preaching, then Christians in general, then Jews, and so on. So no, as much as I hate what they say, I cannot support revoking their First Amendment rights. (Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.)
Instead, I will support Rolling Thunder, a great group of bikers, several of whom I'm privileged to know (albeit online). Here's part of what they do: One other task that Rolling Thunder undertakes is protecting family members of fallen soldiers from protesters, namely representatives of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, who claim that soldiers are dying due to God's punishment for America's stand on gay rights." To learn more, check out this article: http://www.rollingthundertn1.com/Newsarticles.htm
Now, from a Christian standpoint. I find Westboro's actions repulsive. Their actions are a blot on the Christian community. Not because they call sin sin but because of their lack of love. I suppose I need to put out a disclaimer: I am a sinner saved by grace. A horribly flawed person whose sins were numerous. The only claim I have to Heaven is through the grace of God through the birth, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. The only right I have to name sin as sin is by the written word of God, the Bible.
But the Bible doesn't only teach us about sin and sinners, it teaches how to know God's own. Those who have come to saving grace through Christ and are living according to his word. Jesus said you will know them by their fruits. (Mat. 7:16) The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22)
Now, back to Westboro. They love to protest at military funerals. They love to hoist their signs that say things like "God hates Gays" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers". I'm trying to figure out which of the fruit those signs exemplify....hmmmm....waiting.....waiting.... I got nothin.
Okay, so how about their signs, God hates Gays? Why don't we see what God himself has to say about that? K, I got one for that..."For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) So now we see that God loved the world. That includes old people, fat people, ugly people, pretty people, (we're all okay with that so far, huh?) gay people, tax evaders (hey, wait!), athiests, witches, satanists, murderers. Don't argue with me. God means what He says. And He said "the world". That's everybody, all of us. Now, let's not get too shook up...there's a requirement there. They've got to believe in Him to not perish...and once you have become a sinner saved by grace, there is still a lot of work to be done. So we can't just very flippantly say, "Oh, I believe in Jesus." and expect to have eternal life. God's Son didn't die on a cross so we could get our "fire insurance" and then live the way we want, but that's a lesson for another day.
Westboro is wrong...God does love gay people. And so should we. You've heard "love the sinner, hate the sin"? That's entirely doable. I love my son very much. But I really hate it when his attitude is snotty, or when he lies to me. In fact, all that does is cement the fact to me that I am to raise him in fear and admonition of the Lord. It creates in me a love greater than that of a mother -- that of a child of God praying for His salvation and assurance of Heaven. I have many gay friends. I love each and every one of them. I cannot and will not condone their lifestyle, as God's word teaches that homosexuality is sin, but I will continue to love them enough to pray for them.
Back to Westboro, I cannot judge their relationship with God. But I can look at fruit (or the lack thereof). And for those who don't know it, I can reference the entire chapter of Matthew 7. If you're not familiar with it, here is a link to it online. My version of choice, the New American Standard Version. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+7&version=NASB
This has been a really long note, I know. I thank you for hanging in to the end. I love you. Each and every one. I'd love to spend eternity with you...praising God throughout the ages.