Fred Phelps Didn’t Speak for Me

by | Mar 26, 2014 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones

Fred Phelps, the fire-and-brimstone-breathing pastor of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., will be remembered for shamelessly encouraging members of his tiny congregation to carry “God Hates Fags” protest signs. Phelps died last week at age 84, but thousands of gay people will continue to assume all Christians share his hateful views.

Actually, no. Phelps did not speak for me. Nor did he speak for any other Baptist or for any true Christian from any other denomination. He was a spiritual Lone Ranger, an isolated extremist and a pitiful example of a minister of Jesus.

His tiny, independent “church” was a cult of hate. He was a deeply disturbed man who was full of bitterness. He had been estranged from his parents for decades (he reportedly never answered their letters), he didn’t speak to some of his own children (they accused him of abuse), and he was so judgmental that he once said Billy Graham was the greatest false prophet since Balaam.

A hyper-Calvinist, Phelps taught that all of the natural disasters affecting the United States in recent years and all deaths of military servicemen were acts of God’s judgment because of the rise of homosexuality in our country. His church members showed up at military funerals and rock concerts with their cringe-inducing placards. And when other churches begged Phelps to stop acting so obnoxious, he announced that Christians were headed straight to hell if they refused to condemn gay people like he did.

Phelps’ death is the appropriate time to issue a reminder that God has called us to use kindness when we interact with the gay community. If Phelps were still alive, he’d condemn me to hell for saying this. But I hope all of us can agree on these points:

1. There’s no excuse for anti-gay name-calling. If you ever use the words queer, faggot, fairy, dyke, butch, lesbo or other demeaning terms for a gay person, you have just short-circuited any chance for Christ’s love to flow through you. Would Jesus use those words? Of course not, because He offers every sinner a chance to discover forgiveness.

2. We shouldn’t label homosexuality a “worse” sin. Many gay people see hypocrisy in the church because we blast homosexuality on one hand and then look the other way when heterosexual people commit adultery or when singles sleep around. The Bible lumps all sexual sin into the category of immorality, and we misrepresent God when we pretend that “straight” sin is more acceptable than “gay” sin. Sin is sin. We should lovingly warn people to avoid every form of immoral behavior.

3. We should never tolerate bullying of gay people. Many teens who struggle with their sexual identity have been traumatized by peers who call them names, threaten them, beat them up or ostracize them. It’s no wonder so many people in the LGBT community feel marginalized. The church should offer counseling and healing for people who have been bullied, and we should also confront bullying in our culture.

4. We should offer Christ’s compassion to any gay person. Many Christians are afraid that if we show love and kindness to a gay person—or to two people in a gay relationship—we are compromising our faith. That’s silly. If I show love to a Muslim, that doesn’t mean I have embraced his religion. Jesus showed acceptance to tax collectors, prostitutes, thieves, adulterers, two-faced religious hypocrites and clueless pagans—yet He never celebrated or excused their sin. He told a woman caught in adultery, “Go. From now on sin no more” (John 8:11, NASB), but He said this after He protected her from being stoned by a religious mob. God’s kindness leads people to repentance! (See Romans 2:4.)

5. We must agree to disagree with hostile gay people. Some gay people will refuse to embrace the idea that they must renounce their lifestyle in order to follow Jesus. Some will become angry when we maintain that true discipleship requires sinners in every category to deny themselves and embrace a life of holiness. (The gay community, in fact, has some spokespeople who are as hateful as Fred Phelps—I know because they have told me in graphic terms where I should put my religious views!) But it is not my job or yours to argue. Their argument is with God and with His Word. We must simply shine the light of His love and be ready to lead any sincere seeker to the truth.

I’m aware there are people in this country who think I’m guilty of hate speech or gay-bashing just because I believe homosexuality is a sin. They can go ahead and say that. They can call me names. They can be as hateful as Fred Phelps if they want to. They can even crucify me for believing in the gospel. I will choose to love them anyway, because that’s what Jesus would do.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at @leegrady. He is the author of 10 Lies Men Believe and other books.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Is He a God of Wrath or a God of Love?

Is He a God of Wrath or a God of Love?

Do you think the God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath, and the God of the New Testament is a God of love? The truth is that God is the same throughout the entire Bible. His wrath and His love are revealed in both the Old and the New Testaments. So why, then, did...

How You Can Have a Perfect Heart

How You Can Have a Perfect Heart

Your heart is the most important part of you. It’s not only a physical organ that keeps your blood pumping, but when the Bible refers to the heart, it’s talking about who you really are. Each person has an inner and an outer life. There’s the person we show to...

How the FBI Raid on Mar-a-Lago Is Spiritual Warfare

How the FBI Raid on Mar-a-Lago Is Spiritual Warfare

It's been a few days since the FBI raided President Donald Trump's home in Mar-a-Lago, and the Biden Administration has yet to explain to the American people why they did what's never been done in American history—the government raiding the home of a former president....

How the Holy Spirit Can Restore Your True Sanity

How the Holy Spirit Can Restore Your True Sanity

Most of my life I tried to avoid one thing—being crazy or insane. When I was growing up my mother had emotional issues and saw a psychiatrist regularly. She was on medication which only seemed to make her mood swings worse. She had high highs, and low lows. When I...

Israel Prophecy: The Enemy is Stirring an Unimaginable Conflict

Israel Prophecy: The Enemy is Stirring an Unimaginable Conflict

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJFFqAgykmU A cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants took effect late Sunday in a bid to end nearly three days of violence that killed dozens of Palestinians and disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israelis,...

Why Partial Obedience to God is Disobedience

Why Partial Obedience to God is Disobedience

My husband had a saying for our children growing up. “Partial obedience is disobedience.” He wanted them to understand that doing half the plan would not get them the full reward. Another reminder we used to tell our kids was, “Don’t think about it, don’t hesitate,...

RECENT ARTICLES

Kingdom Economics: Why is America Declining Spiritually So Quickly?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a surprisingly strong July Employment Report.  Total nonfarm employment was 528K (398K previously, 250K expected).  Private nonfarm employment was 471K (404K...
Can You Discern Spiritual Wind?

Can You Discern Spiritual Wind?

The wind is a funny thing. We do not know where it comes from nor where it goes. We cannot see it, but we can see and feel its effects. Wind can be gentle and refreshing, cold or hot, strong, and dangerous, and everything in between. When the wind blows, we must...

Messianic Rabbi: He That Has an Eye, Let Him Hear

Messianic Rabbi: He That Has an Eye, Let Him Hear

It is interesting that, as a Messianic rabbi the question I am asked most often by Christians is if I believe that they as Christians have to celebrate, or observe, the biblical Holy Days. They are usually asking about those days listed in Leviticus 23: Shabbat, Yom...

How the Holy Spirit Is Preparing America

How the Holy Spirit Is Preparing America

As the crackdown against Christianity in America grows, it is a cycle believers have seen before. While no one celebrates their religious freedom coming under attack, God has used this persecution to great effect throughout history. Over the centuries, there have been...

Dealing Effectively with the Dynamics of Change

Dealing Effectively with the Dynamics of Change

Change can be challenging. Some people look forward to change and embrace it. Some people dread change and try to avoid it. Since change is inevitable, so here are some of the dynamics surrounding change and the specific strategies to deal with change more...

God’s Holy Interruption Is Coming Soon

God’s Holy Interruption Is Coming Soon

This past weekend I preached at The Roads Church, a charismatic congregation located in the tiny town of Norris City, Illinois. Located amid cornfields, the population is only 1,325, but almost that many people visit the church on weekends. They come from all over...

Pin It on Pinterest

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]