Not touching hate with a bargepole

Continuing on from the thoughts on my last blog, I don’t know if anyone caught the BBC 2 documentary (by Loius Therreaux or however you spell it)on Sunday night about the Phelps family and the Westboro Baptist Church.

I found this documentary incredibly interesting. Let me first talk about all that was beautiful about the family. Firstly, there was a strong sense of family love. These people have caught a good dose of Christian community, even although that has partly been formed by the controversy surround them (more about that later). There was a strong respect for parents, for the structure of a family.

There was also, especially amongst the young women, a very beautiful Christian modesty. By that, I mean that these (quite attractive) young women weren’t hooked on the dating culture, nor were they actively looking for husbands. They weren’t closed to the idea of marriage, but they were more committed to serving the Lord than being distracted by marriage.

Now, I am a married man, I love being married, I love my family. However, I often think that singleness is undersold. Paul speaks about the values of singleness in that it does free a person to serve the Lord without having the responsibility of having to think of the needs of others you are responsible for. Although I wouldn’t want to be unmarried, I think that I’d have considered singleness a lot more if I had had the sense to think of it.

More than that, they dressed modestly. This is quite a non-politically correct statement to make, but I think many young women today (and men perhaps) need to cover up. I don’t say this because I’m old fashioned, or because I’m sexually addicted, but simply because modesty is a beautiful thing. Am I totally weird in thinking that there is great beauty in modesty? I get really tired of being ‘presented’ with the breasts and bottoms and tummys and legs and thighs and shoulders of Christian women.

We seriously have to consider how we instruct our young people on the topic of dating too. I don’t know many (or should that be ‘any’) young people at all who have managed to keep themselves pure. That’s a sad statement. Of course, when we think of Primitive Salvationist practice, I suppose modest was enforced. I’m not suggesting we return to that….but I am suggesting that modesty for both men and women springs from the life of holiness. I’m not advocating an Islamic fashion trend, just a percent extra modesty!

Now for what I see as the major flaws of this church/family which cause the serious controversy. Now, there is a sense in which I share their thoughts in a sense, but they carry that through to a sad and hateful conclusion. They believe that their nation (USA) is under judgement from God. They proclaim that all the catastrophe that comes upon American is part of divine judgement. I can agree to part of that, because its a scriptural notion. I believe God does judge nations. They also practice the very biblical instruction to rejoice in the judgments of the Lord, because they are all good…even negative judgements.

What I have a problem with is the way they express this belief. They have become hateful. They preach hell without offering the way out. This is hellfire preaching…preaching hell without offering the way out.

This church practices the deplorable practice of picketing the funerals of servicemen in Iraq, amongst other things. They also picket churches and anyone else who advocates homosexuality. Their favourite slogan is ‘God hates fags’! They are anti-semitic, anti-catholic, anti-mormon and actively picket all of these.

I think it is totally possible to have a strong evangelical line on all these things. Its possible even to speak out condemning certain things, but there IS a spirit in which these things should be done. You see, I strongly oppose catholic, mormon and JW doctrine, witchraft, the occult etc etc, and I’d actively witness to any of those, I’d witness at a spiritualist or new age fare, I’d protest at Jerry Springer, but not with hate.

What I found sad about the whole thing is that the so many beautiful Christian values that this family/church exemplified we tarred with the brush of hate, making the very scriptural values they promote come across as part of an obscured and dangerously extreme Christian life. This is a concern about evangelicalism and fundamentalism that we always must guard against.

If you missed the documentary, you missed an interesting programme. Certainly thought provoking with regards to the ways in which some of the ‘normal’ aspects of Christianity were presented as weird!

7 thoughts on “Not touching hate with a bargepole

  1. I didn’t see the prog although I did read about it (not the same thing I know!) so I can’t comment on what it contained. I do want to ask a spurious question though – I agree with a lot of what you say re modesty but what is wrong with shoulders? Also, you do know someone who has remained pure and will do so until marriage… although I agree there are few and I totally agree that we should be teaching all this stuff to our yp and that its been missing in some areas, due to perhaps an awkwardness/not knowing how to bring up the subjects without offending/without seeming judgemental, etc… I certainly don’t think that we have to be covered up from head to foot but, sometimes you have to get behind the facade to find that a lot of girls are just following the crowd/frightened of being too different/having a non-existent self-esteem, let alone any God-awareness. I don’t underestimate the challenge of communicating the right messages but until you can get them in its hard to speak those right messages…. and yes, I admit, I love clothes and dressing up, although I hope, on the whole I am fairly modest….. apart from shoulders on display when its hot – particularly at my age when its hot a lot! Love & prayers Ann

  2. Hi Ann:o) I’m talking shoulders of the strappy shirt variety! :o) But then, it can depend on the garment, can’t it? Yep..not talking Islamic covering here at all..totally not.I always try to approach this with young people from an ‘honest’ point of view, and not judgemental. Although, the line is blurry…as I say, when you talk about these things people get touchy. But, from experience, if young people can understand why a degree of modesty is a good idea, they get it!Sure, I know some teenagers who haven’t sold out to sexual intercourse before marriage, but I don’t know any who have kept their relationship pure so as to honour the Lord in the realms of the wider aspects of sexual purity. I wish that I did though! :o(I’m talking about ‘not going all the way, but still going too far.’ Thats what motivates me to move beyond the taboo to talk about these things. Also, I suppose I’m talking about Christian young people here. I wouldn’t even begin a conversation with a non-Christian youth about what they are wearing. I wouldn’t expect them to subscribe to the concept of modesty….as you say, its more important to get them in and talk about behavior after we get the Jesus thing JesusAC

  3. I caught the end of the programme, to see the girl smirking about the thought of Louis going to hell! You know what, he may well be, but it’s nothing to smirk about…Other than that I can’t comment on what looked like a great show.

  4. Yeah, the smirk is due to two things. Firstly, the family are hyper-Calvinist (as in more Calvinist than Calvin) and they believe that on ly the pre-ordained elect will go to heaven. So, mby Loius lifestyle, they presume that he is not elect and there is no hope for him…he showed no ‘response’ to their message.Secondly, this is part of rejoicing in Gods judgements, which are always. This is their theology, not mine (just in case you were wondering!)Andrew

  5. Yeah, the smirk is due to two things. Firstly, the family are hyper-Calvinist (as in more Calvinist than Calvin) and they believe that on ly the pre-ordained elect will go to heaven. So, mby Loius lifestyle, they presume that he is not elect and there is no hope for him…he showed no ‘response’ to their message.Secondly, this is part of rejoicing in Gods judgements, which are always. This is their theology, not mine (just in case you were wondering!)Andrew

  6. (This is a contribution that one of my teenage soldiers left on this comment over at Facebook, where my blog comments also appear):Amy-Jayne Hill wroteat 12:12pmwow thats amazin!!!! i know i try and cover up as i should be like a christain but sometimes i tend to look at todays fashion and want to be part of the rest of the fashion when instead i should be fousing on jesus and how would he want me to dress! this is also the same for the whole boyfriend thing ! from before when i was with —– (mentioning no names) i tried to focus on jesus and ask him to guide me in his work but then after i felt like i add to inclued my boyfriend at that time!” but in the end it didn’t work ! this is what im having trouble at the moment i keep focusing on guys and looking for the right onew but yet my spirital side tells me to focus on jesus thats what i should be doing and telling the truth ~ im suffering with it alot ! i just want to get these feeling away from me and just want focusing on jesus !!!!!!!!!! keep prayinggeetarr x (Amy)

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