By Karen Swank
Heath Ledger died this week. Though he played a number of roles, hearing his name always makes me think
first of “Ten Things I Hate About You.” It’s one of my daughter Julia’s favorite movies, and we’ve enjoyed it together many times. He had amazing hair and played a bad boy with a good heart, so of course I found him perfectly wonderful (it’s just the way I am, folks).
He was 28 years old, and sleeping pills were his end. On purpose or by accident… who knows. More questions without answers. The world does seem to be filled with those, doesn’t it?
It didn’t take long for evil to raise its head, in the form of Westboro Baptist Church. These are the people who picket funerals, tormenting the families and loved ones of the deceased with signs like “God Hates Fags,” announcing to the world that someone else has now gone to hell because their lives touched on the homosexuality issue somehow (and sometimes that touch is a far, far reach). Ledger’s role in the movie “Brokeback Mountain” was the particular and special sin singled out as his ticket to eternal damnation.
Did I just name evil and church in the same sentence? Baptist church, even? Don’t I belong to a Baptist church? What’s going on here? Yes I did, and yes I do, and yes, I meant it. There are points on which the enormous,
complicated body that is the Christ-believing Church can disagree on in peace. We are many denominations, with many traditions, and many different takes on the living Word that is Scripture. We can hold our preferences and, as true believers, still be at peace with other true believers whose preferences differ.
I believe with all my heart that the behavior that Westboro Baptist Church exhibits does not fall under the category of “areas about which we can peacefully disagree.” I believe that we who know Christ as Lord and Savior
have a solemn responsibility to stand against the evil that they do, and not hang back in silence.
Consider Christ, kneeling quietly and drawing in the dirt, but holding off the angry mob that would stone an adulteress. Look at how He turns them back to look at their own hearts, their own choices, their own sin. How can anyone believe He would support picketing a funeral? As for me, I believe He’d knock the signs out of their hands with as much anger as when He ran the moneychangers out of the temple.
Few things make me angrier than so-called Christians or even real Christians picking out a few sins as somehow having Much Greater Significance than others, and haranguing anyone they find guilty of such. Some people that I care for deeply are gay. When they come to my house, they don’t preach at me about my gluttony issue, which announces itself in the size of my blue jeans. They don’t lecture me about how my messy house and dirty car are
evidence of my poor stewardship issue. When I drop or break something in a moment of clumsiness and the cuss word I still haven’t managed to drive out of my vocabulary comes tripping off my lips, they don’t glare or tell me what I already know about how my speech reflects the condition of my heart.
And I don’t thump them over the head with my Bible or tell them any Lie from the Pit of Hell that implies
they can behave their way to heaven or misbehave their way to hell.
The Truth (and it is indeed a “capital T” truth) is that there is only One Ticket to heaven, and His name is Jesus Christ. And there is only one way to hell, and that way is refusing the One Ticket. If you don’t take your Ticket, no
amount of “goodness” will keep you out of hell…and if you have your Ticket, no amount of sin will keep you from heaven.
This, my friends, is why I deem the behavior of Westboro Baptist Church as evil: that they deny this Truth by implication with their signs. In addition, they bring intentional pain to people who are already suffering, and not for
anyone’s good as far as I can tell. I don’t believe that Westboro is a bona fide part of the church that is Those Who Hold the One Ticket.
Pray for Westboro. They need it! They must be delivered from darkness, and they need their Ticket…may
it be soon, before they spread the lies and pain further. And in the meantime, seek Truth, speak
Truth, and live Truth. May He complete this work in you and in me.
Photo courtesy of Foxnews.com
Karen is from Aledo, IL. She went to Monmouth College and studied Latin and English. She is a biological mom of two children and surrogate mom/friend/advocate for a whole host of children. She would like to meet every wounded soul that I’ve she’s ever known… as a child, before the “damage was done” so she could tell them how much they are loved.