“You know,” he said, as he sat in the old wooden rocker, watching the fire. “People talk about the perseverance of the Saints as if it’s a good thing. I’m not so sure it is.” The old man stared at the flames as they danced around the logs. “I mean, sure. ‘Once saved always saved,’ and all that jazz, but wouldn’t it be better if we could lose our salvation?”
“How are we even certain of our salvation in the first place, Jim? We’re told that good fruit comes from good trees, but then at other times we’re told that all the trees are rotten, and only one thing can rid the rot. Where’s that magical tipping point?” Jim didn’t answer.
“‘Confess with your mouth and believe in your heart,’ Jim! That’s what they used to say. They also told me that I couldn’t do anything. ‘Not by works, old boy.’ ‘God is love, son;’ that’s why He burns the rotten trees that couldn’t grow anew. I mean, you can’t allow the infection to fester. What about when God plants the trees, Jim? What then? What if the infection is sown by the Doctor? The Doctor sure doesn’t like to see His patients suffer. That much is clear. What Doctor would? At what point do the sick become the condemned, though? I just don’t know, Jim.” Jim just sat there.
A fiery avalanche in miniature tumbled into the ashes. Sparks cartwheeled and floated, seemingly of their own volition. The air expanded and exploded, and Jim just sat there.
“I really want to believe in a loving God, you know? I can’t believe that there is no God. Sure, perhaps our idea of God is wrong. I could be a deist, but then there’s all those stories. God is love. Jesus loves the little children. He healed that woman who bled; He deigned to touch the lepers. Love your enemies and, bless those who curse you. The peace that would result from such an attitude, Jim! But I suppose that forgiveness requires wrongs, and wrongs require a Right. Malice needs an object, Jim. How do we get around that?” Jim looked over for a minute, but he didn’t say.
“An all-powerful God is a terrible idea, Jim. A loving, all-powerful God is a thing of beauty. A just, loving, all-powerful God is what they posit, Jim. The justice supersedes our idea of love! God’s justice requires Him to destroy evil, and we are evil! I didn’t want to be evil, though, Jim. I didn’t have a choice in the matter. I want to be saved; who doesn’t? I want to do good; only the truly sick don’t want that. Only those in need of a Doctor, Jim, not a Binary Judge. Why would the Doctor-Judge make His patients his defendants, and then try them before treating them? Jim, I don’t mean to be blasphemous, but the idea of a loving Father does not mesh with the idea of a fickle King who casts his subjects into a fire. The judgement is always the same. ‘You are sick. You shall die.’ How do we know when we’ve won the cosmic lottery, Jim? Do we want to?” Jim stood up and began to pace.
“Come on Jim. Let’s go for a walk.”
Jim wagged his tail.
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To look out into the stores and streets,
The thoughts of a sacrifice are not brought to mind.
The pastel-colored decor and cheap plastic eggs serve the perfect compliments,
Celebration and gaiety are rampant; thought better serves duller days.
Solemnity is not present; why should a bunny evoke such feelings?
The religious are more so, for today is important.
The house is proper and children are preened.
The church is prettied, and the pews are cleaned.
The glamor is prepared, and the preacher is ready,
A big crowd is expected today.
The kitchens are abuzz with talk and bustle,
This is the big day!
The families in their homes are running in circles.
Clean under the table! Move those chairs!
The dust is evacuated, and the windows shine.
The in-laws are coming! No time for discussion!
The food must be ready, the clothes must be ironed.
The eggs have been prepped and colored,
Hidden in the yard for the children to find.
The house is prettied, and the yard is cleaned.
The talks are prepared, and the father is ready.
A big dinner party is happening tonight.
The games are prepared, and the parlor is set.
This is the big day!
Thought better serves duller days,
After all, why make such a bright time dreary?
Joy is found in the Lord!
He wouldn’t want thought to hinder the glee.
Bunnies and eggs, bright clothes and good food.
Think rather on these things.
Chocolate, caramel, sugar, and Peeps,
These are the fruits of the spirit.
Eat and be merry, as the good book says.
From whom should we expect contradiction?
Celebrations are here.
This is the big day!
These are his eggs, and this is his chocolate;
Eat this in remembrance of him.
He was pierced for your pretty clothes:
Crushed for your Easter dinner.
The widows and orphans watch as the show is performed,
After all, weren’t we commanded to represent him?
He suffered to break the cycle, to complete the law;
If you love him, you will buy lawn ornaments.
The wardrobe has the focus of the weekend;
The oven has the place of honor.
The sacrifice was made long ago, why think on such sadness?
This is the big day!
Go and make disciples of all the other church-goers!
Use pretty colors and serve tasty food!
Dress in fancy clothes, and gather in a safe brick house.
Separate yourself from the world with a wall.
Be in the world, but not of it.
Take up its traditions, but ignore its people.
If they are worthy, they will be attracted to the show.
Do not associate with those lower than thou.
He died for our sins; let’s talk about the splendor of spring!
He was raised to cover our iniquities; let’s buy a suit!
Let’s go to church, for today at least.
After all, today is the big day.
Westboro Baptist Church. Talk about misnomers. The last Baptist church I was in the subject was about loving people that were difficult to be around. These people have some serious PR issues. Let’s look at some factors going for WBC here:
- The First Amendment – 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.
- The Romans 1 condemnation of homosexuality. (Romans 1:24-32)
The Levitical Law (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13)
Matthew 19: 4-6
So, those are the main supporting arguments that WBC uses. They believe what they read in those Scripture passages, and then they quite vehemently voice their beliefs to those who do not share them. The government cannot stop them from doing this, because WBC is technically not breaking any laws. Let’s take the idea that they genuinely believe that what they’re doing is right. Is it right to deny them the right to voice their opinions? I mean, if WBC is using Scripture, and they’re not breaking any laws, then what are they doing wrong?
- They’re ignoring the commandments to love – Mark 12:31; Luke 6:31; Luke 6:35-36; Romans 13:9-10; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
- So, we’re to love our neighbors and enemies alike. Even though the Scriptures say to admonish one another (Luke 17:3-4) it doesn’t say that we are to hate them.
- How are we then to admonish them? With love! We cannot reach someone who we don’t agree with if we are constantly shouting in their faces and telling them that God hates them. (Colossians 3:5-17)
So, the Westboro problem is not one of legality, but of morality. Ideally the government would recognize when a group was being immoral and punish it, however, we live in a non-Christian nation. To legislate that WBC was wrong in their actions would be to open up the door to close down abortion protests or other peaceful protests that could be considered ‘intolerant’ or ‘hateful.’
WBC needs to be dealt with through the private channels of the church, individuals, or non-government organizations who are working within the law.
- The first thing that would need to be realized is that to fight this with more loud protests would be counterintuitive. To use WBC’s methods against itself would just be an affirmation of the validity of their methods.
- It is easy to hope that WBC slips up and falls out of the protection of the law, but that is a dangerous thing to wish for. What if to do so people are injured?
- What would be the goal? – To convince WBC that they are wrong? That would be ideal, but highly unlikely. – To turn the public opinion against them and render them ineffective? That has already happened, hardly anybody likes WBC.
- I think that the goal would be to convince the public that what WBC says does not matter.
- Counter-protests in which bikers from the Patriot Guard Riders surround funerals are quite effective, but have the downside of drowning out the funeral processions along with the WBC.
In short, I’m not quite sure what should be done, but I’d like to hear what your ideas are. Post below!