The headline will proclaim that another wacko took a life in the name of God; their belief being that God came to them in a dream and told them to murder. Would it surprise you to hear that there is a Baptist church that believes the US government should be the executioner for God?
I have been on a letter-writing campaign, periodically submitting comments to the web site of the Westboro Baptist Church, the home of Pastor Fred Phelps, a person well-known as a preacher of hate. What follows is a comment I submitted about this topic of prescribing the death penalty in the name of God.
Dear Mr. Phelps,
In your sermon of August 24th, which I recently listened to on the WBC wet site, you mentioned that God prescribed the death penalty to sodomites. Yes, indeed He did. And you mentioned something about the need for this country to carry out that death penalty, from Washington on down. You said…
“…this nation won’t even approach getting right with God, until they reinstitute the death penalty for sodomy, from Washington on down.”
There are two things about this statement that concern me. First of all, it seems to ignore the fact that for those who believe and repent, Jesus already took the death penalty upon Himself. Even if someone continues to sin (as we all do – there are none without sin), and yet also continues to repent, there is no death penalty awaiting them.
[As a side note, it occurs to me that we may continue to sin out of human nature and habit (not always out of a desire to sin), but we continue to repent out of love, for God and His Son. Another example of why love is the answer, not hate. But this is just my opinion, so take it or leave it.]
The second thing that concerns me about your death penalty statement is this: is it really the nation’s responsibility to enact the death penalty for those who do not believe and who unrepentantly sin against God’s laws? It would be wrong for humans to take on responsibilities that belong exclusively to God. In searching for an answer, I found the following:
“But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:7-8) The Holy Spirit of God is to judge, not us.
As God told Isaiah, “I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.” (Isaiah 13:11)
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.'” (Romans 12:17-20)
This last passage of scripture contains so many messages from God, where I hope and pray that you and all those at Westboro Baptist Church will have the eyes to see. Do not repay evil, for evil. Live peaceably with all men. Leave vengeance and the responsibility for punishment with God. And you will do more for God by feeding your enemy, than hating them.
Dear Mr. Phelps, please open your heart. No matter what your personal feelings are about those who sin, please be an example of the ultimate act of humility; please let go of your feelings and your desires, and embrace what God wants for you. Not your will, but His will be done in your life.