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Will the Real Christians PLEASE Stand Up?

By Richard Zowie

NOTE: This column originally appeared in Saworship.com.

For almost 25 years I’ve been a Christian, and if there’s one thing I often have wondered, it’s how much time in Christianity is lost when we have to stop and try to clean up the festering mess made by those who claim to be Christians. We’ve been hearing, seeing and reading about a Baptist church in the Midwest that’s been sending some of its members to various military funerals. Some were recently in Flushing, Michigan, to protest at the funeral of 26 year-old Army sergeant Joshua V. Youmans. I’d rather not give the church’s name, its website (which contains a derogatory term for homosexuals) or even the state it’s located in since it’s received far too much publicity already.

The protestors aren’t at the funerals to pay their condolences, but rather to take a sadistic stance of pleasure over the soldiers’ deaths. From what I’ve seen, it’s as though they’re thrilled the soldiers are dead – much like the way many Iraqis were ecstatic when confirmation came of the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein.

Some of the protestors’ signs read, “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “God Hates You.” The church members must not know their Bibles well since the second sign directly contradicts one of the most famous passages in scripture, John 3:16, which starts with these six words: “For God so loved the world-” [Emphasis mine].

These crass, thoughtless protestors are against the war in Iraq, but not for the standard reasons you might be thinking. Their logic: America tolerates homosexuality and God hates homosexuality; therefore, God is punishing America by letting its soldiers die.

Sounds like logic one might find in a crackerjack box.

Last time I checked, American soldiers also died in World War I and II, and in those times homosexuality in America was generally a taboo topic only whispered about. If gay tolerance is why American soldiers are dying now, why did they die back then? (The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, the compromise which replaced the ban on homosexuals serving in the military, didn’t even come into place until the 1990s under the Clinton Administration).

For those of us Christians who know of the Bible and its message of love, repentance and living a Christ-like life, it’s very easy – almost automatic – to dismiss these protestors as carnival kooks that nobody could possibly take seriously, much less pay attention to. These protestors, unfortunately, receive lots of media attention; it grieves me to wonder how many look at these protestors and assume that their positions reflect that of mainstream Christianity.

Just as Jesus told His disciples (and reiterated the Apostle Paul in his letters) that the preaching of the Gospel would be an unpopular one that would lead to ostracism, I imagine that the pastor of this church probably sees his anti-soldier, anti-homosexual message as being ordained by God.
But is this church’s “God hates homosexuals” message really Biblical? No, of course not. Granted, the Bible has some very critical things to say about the practice of homosexuality but the theological fact is, sin is sin. Many Christians love to speak out against homosexuality, but we sometimes forget that adultery, stealing and lying are also sins before God. So are envy, pride, cursing and allowing anything to replace God in your priorities in life. Romans 3:23 tells us that we have all sinned and have come short of heaven. The Bible is also very clear that God loves all mankind and would love nothing more than for all mankind to repent of its sins and return to Him.

Jesus also gave us the Great Commission at the end of the Gospel of Matthew. In the commission, He commanded his disciples and us to go into all of the world, preaching the Gospel and disciplining all those who come to Christ. Does anyone really think this is accomplishable if Christians spread a hateful message targeting one specific group, or if Christians who know the truth of God’s love sit back and let the world think these crazed protestors speak for Christianity?

What can accomplish the Great Commission is for Christians to publicly distance themselves from these false teachers and do a better job of telling the world that though God hates all sin, He loves us and has provided a way for us to have a relationship with Him.

Flint Journal columnist Andrew Heller once wrote this a column: “-Christians, in my view, have allowed the good name of their faith to be hijacked by the lunatic fringe in this country, just as surely as decent, peace-loving Muslims have lost control of their faith’s image worldwide-Christians have an image problem. Some of it, maybe, is my industry’s fault. We gravitate toward the extreme. Some of the blame, however, lies with the silent majority of Christians.”

Heller makes some great points, and the core of his message is clear: Christians have to speak up. English philosopher Edmund Burke once said that all that was necessary for evil to prevail was for good men to do nothing, and now it’s our time to do something.

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