I was reading about the Westboro Baptist Church protesting at the Newtown, Conn. funeral that was held for the slaying of the 20 children and 6 adults. The church was “giving praise to God for executing His judgement” in reference to Connecticut’s promotion of gay marriage. At first, I was abhorred by this, considering their actions at a time where I am taught that the focus should be on honoring/remembering these victims. I also truly feel saddened by their deaths. However, this church’s actions did get me thinking about the Christian principles America was founded on and how it appears that we are departing from the principles of some of our forefathers. Gay marriage is becoming legalized in some states and perhaps soon to be nationally when the national gay marriage ban is going to go before the supreme court. Leviticus talks about how sacrificing to Molech, homosexuality, bestiality, and incest, is particularly nauseating to God and because of these things the former inhabitants of Canaan would be driven out. 23 You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. ” Leviticus 20:23 and Leviticus 26 18-29 talks about some severe actions God would do as punishment for disobedience from his own people including the stealing away of chlidren by wild animals and then eating of their own children. “27 “‘If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, 28 then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over. 29 You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters. ” I recall reading Jesus lamenting Jerusalem’s lack of repentance. Are the tragedies that we experience as a nation (such as 9/11, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Newtown) an execution of judgement by God? Does He use murderers or foreign enemies to kill innocent children or innocent victims as a result of our promotion of gay marriage and other sexual sins as he did in the Old Testament? Or is this purely the work of Satan? Was it Satan in the Old Testament? And what should the Christian response be to tragedies such as this? Surely it can not be like Westboro Church.
First of all, my apologies to those of our readers who are not citizens of the US, as this question, and, to some extent, my response, assumes that the readers are American, which many of you are obviously not!
I believe that what the Westboro Church does in such cases is an absolute disgrace. This is not Christianity. Jesus would absolutely repudiate the hateful behaviour of these people. They should be publicly discredited by all Christian groups as diametrically opposed to the ministry of Jesus. It is absolutely inexcusable to use a tragic event such as this as a tool to bring attention to one’s self as these people are doing. This is a cynical abuse of the name of Jesus.
Having said this, you ask a good question. Might the Westboro Baptist group actually be right? We can reject their abhorrent methodology, but might there be some truth in their message–no matter how unlovingly it is presented? Could the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School be God’s punishment for the evils of our society? My answer is that I do not know (and neither do they!). Personally, I doubt it very much. We are not the judge. God is. It is not our place to pronounce that this event or that is because of some particular sin. This is extremely presumptuous of the Westboro “Church” to make such an outrageous claim. None of us is a prophet. We do not have modern-day prophets–inspired teachers. Therefore, it is not our place to make such public pronouncements
However, for what it is worth, I believe that the reason this happened is not as some sort of judgment from God. I believe the reason the children were murdered is because of sin–the sin of this young man. When we give ourselves over to evil, we are capable of unspeakable things. I doubt VERY much that the killings were God’s will! It seems outrageous to make this charge that God would use the tragic death of little children as punishment for the sins of adults. Why did 9/11 happen? Because of the evil hatred of a small group of hypocritical men. Surely it was not God’s will to use Bin Laden! I already said that I am not a prophet. Therefore, I am not in a position to say with surety why these things happened. That is the provenance of God himself. As human beings, we can express our opinion on such a thing, but we should be humble and leave the judging to God.
It is obvious from scripture, such as the one you quoted from Leviticus, that God is not pleased by homosexual behaviour. God hates all sin, including adultery and fornication. I do not believe God hates homosexuality particularly more than other kinds of sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman. I am sure that God would not want us to legalize homosexual marriage.
What should the Christian response be? Actually, it seems you are asking what the Christian response should be to two separate questions:
1. What should be our response to political moves to legalize homosexual marriage?
2. What should be the Christian response to tragedies such as the massacre at Sandy Hook?
Let me respond to the first question. As disciples of Jesus, we principally use spiritual weapons, not worldly ones. “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4). As a Christian in a democratic country, if we have the opportunity, we should vote against sanctioning homosexual marriage. Perhaps this could influence our decisions of who to vote for as well (but we should remember that there is no Christian political party! Democrats are no more or less Christian than Republicans). Many Christians, of course, do not have the luxury of living in a country where they can vote their conscience. In any case, we should not expect the world to necessarily support Christian values. Christianity can thrive in a society, whether the majority supports godly morality or does not. The church did extremely well in Rome in the first three or four centuries, despite being in opposition to the culture. The place in the world where Christianity is growing fastest right now is China, with an officially atheist government. Our concern as Christians is not the laws of the land, but the hearts of people. Our methods as Christians are not politics but love. Personally, I would prefer that this kind of marriage not be legal, but if it is legalized, that does not affect my Christianity. I can live happily in a country as a citizen of the Kingdom of God, whether the country I live in allows homosexual marriage or not. As followers of Jesus, we can express our opinion about the politics of the homosexual agenda, but this should not be our focus. Our focus should be on saving people by the blood of Jesus, not on politics, which will always be in the hands of the world. Jesus loves gays just as much as he loves straights. God hates adultery just as much as he hates homosexuality and adultery is clearly a bigger problem in the world. Perhaps we should spend more time exposing premarital sex as sinful.
As for restoring the Christian values America was founded on, I believe this is a bit overblown. The United States is not now, nor has it ever been a Christian country. Many of our founding fathers were deists, not Christians. I am not in a place to judge the sincerity of the Christian faith of the early fathers of the United States. Probably some of them were sincere believers, but we should not exaggerate how “Christian” the United States was 230 years ago. It is probably true that in some ways the morality in the late eighteenth century was superiour to the standards held out today, but I am sure that if we lived in the 1700’s we would realize immediately that the country was NOT Christian at that time. Sin was rampant then as it is now, and the leaders of our country, as today, were not righteous as a whole. To be specific, neither Thomas Jefferson nor Benjamin Franklin, the writers of the US declaration of independence were particularly moral men. We should never put our faith in politics or governments. Period.
On the second question, our response to such tragedies should be compassion. We have no way to know why God allowed this event to happen. Almost certainly it was not for the reason expressed by the Westboro group. In any case, our role as followers of Jesus is to show love and concern and to point out God’s solution to violence, which is the love of God. Most of us have no direct connection to what happened in Newtown, but the few of us who do should do whatever we can to comfort and support those affected, either directly or indirectly. It just so happens that I grew up just a few minutes from the Sandy Hook school, so this is more personal to me. The children will be attending a school where my mother taught for more than twenty years. The last thing we should be doing is making ridiculous and outrageous claims about the cause of this tragedy. It seems rather obvious that it was sin in the lives of individuals, not the will of God, which led to this tragedy. We, as Christians, have the ONLY solution to the problem of homosexuality, abuse, selfishness, pride, greed and every kind of sin. The solution is the love of God and salvation through the blood of Jesus. Our principle response should be compassion, especially if we know individuals who were affected, and to hold out the ultimate solution to the problem of sin. Jesus Christ.