For quite some time now, since I wrote my two (people often forget the second) posts on Macklemore’s “Same Love” and the underlying issue of same-sex marriage both as a Christian and as a Platonist, the first post has been one of my more popular ones. However, I think, from the broader trends of our society (I was once told by a friend of mine that anyone who had an argument against same-sex marriage was hateful; she changed that position afterward) and out of the rather long comment that I answered in the first post, the author of which called my arguments “hateful” I need to explain a few things further. Of course, arguments, if they are valid, cannot be hateful. In fact, even if they are invalid, it does not follow that necessarily the person putting forth the arguments was doing so out of a desire to hurt the interlocutors and, as so, cannot be deemed hateful without additional information.
I think, however, that a very big part of why it is that most people today think that all who oppose same-sex marriage do so out of hatred for gay people is the Westboro Baptist Church and other similar pseudo-Churches. In this post, I will seek to conclusively disprove, based on the Bible alone (so as to satisfy their Protestant leanings) their position on issues such as salvation, whether God hates the US, etc., do not correspond with Scripture. Because I have heard that in some of their videos they complain about erroneous translations of the Bible, I will not use any translation, but will cite the original Greek (except I will give the quotations in English, because I am bamboozled by the Greek numbering system and suspect that the WBC may be just as lost as me in trying to decipher it).
1) Whether God wants all people to be saved.
This is an easy argument to make. I will give out the argument in syllogism form and provide a short explanation afterward.
P1: God is perfect. (Basic premise of Christian theism)
P2: God wants all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
1 Timothy 2:4–ος παντας ανθρωπους θελει σωθηναι και εις επιγνωσιν αληθειας ελθειν; “… who wants all humans to be saved and to come into the knowledge of the truth.”
P3: The believer must be perfect as God is perfect(Matt. 5:48)/The believer can truthfuly quote Galatians 2:20 about himself/herself.
Matthew 5:48–εσεσθε ουν υμεις τελειοι ωσπερ ο πατηρ υμων ο εν τοις ουρανοις τελειος εστιν; “Be ye perfect as your Father who is in Heaven is perfect.” (note the difference between the usage of τελειος as opposed to ἄριστος)
Galatians 2:20–ζω δε ουκετι εγω ζη δε εν εμοι χριστος; “I, then, do not live at all, but Christ lives in me.” This is to say that the will of the believer and the will of Christ have no distinction. (which is to say the the believer is τελειος–finished, complete, perfect)
C: Therefore, the believer must want that all humans be saved.
This does not mean that God will save all humans (presumably some against their desire) or that it is the job of people to save all humans, but that the believer, like God, should will that all men be saved. That is to say, the believer must do everything they can in order to make it as easy as possible for the people around them to be saved. We see this logic in Acts, in the Council of Jerusalem, where St. James says that the Gentiles need not adhere to Jewish dietary laws et al (except for some things, such as eating meat sacrificed to the idols) so that they may not make is unnecessarily hard for the people of God to be saved. As to how the WBC fails this standard will be discussed after all the points are made.
2) Whether it is necessary that the believer should love his neighbor (i.e. whoever he is engaging in any way).
Luke 10:27, cf. Matthew 22:37-39– … αγαπησεις τον πλησιον σου ως σεαυτον; “love your neighbor (the person close to you) as your own self.” The parable that ensues explains this axiom. However, if some people claim to be confused about what this means, let us look at another point in which Christ explains whom to love.
Matthew 5: 43-47
ηκουσατε οτι ερρεθη αγαπησεις τον πλησιον σου και μισησεις τον εχθρον σου
εγω δε λεγω υμιν αγαπατε τους εχθρους υμων ευλογειτε τους καταρωμενους υμας καλως ποιειτε τους μισουντας υμας και προσευχεσθε υπερ των επηρεαζοντων υμας και διωκοντων υμας
οπως γενησθε υιοι του πατρος υμων του εν ουρανοις οτι τον ηλιον αυτου ανατελλει επι πονηρους και αγαθους και βρεχει επι δικαιους και αδικους
εαν γαρ αγαπησητε τους αγαπωντας υμας τινα μισθον εχετε ουχι και οι τελωναι το αυτο ποιουσιν
και εαν ασπασησθε τους αδελφους υμων μονον τι περισσον ποιειτε ουχι και οι τελωναι ουτως ποιουσιν.
“You have heard that it has been said, ‘love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ but I say to you: love your enemies, speak well of those who curse you, do good to your enemies, and pray for those who threaten and persecute you (this is a longer version, the standard version is: αγαπατε τους εχθρους υμων και προσευχεσθε υπερ των διωκοντων υμας; “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”), so that you may be sons of your Father who is in Heaven who makes His sun rise upon the base and upon the good and [causes it to] rain upon the righteous and the unrighteous. For, if you love those who love you, you do not have any reward[.] Even the tax-collectors do this. Also, if you welcome your brothers only you do nothing that is remarkable[.] Even the tax-collectors do this to them [i.e. their brothers].”
In this passage, therefore, Christ clearly erases the “and hate your enemy,” part and instructs His believers that they should always love whomever they interact with (i.e. the person close to them), regardless of whether they are good or bad, righteous or unrighteous, just as God, it seems, treats the good and the base, the righteous and the unrighteous the same. Christ clearly states that if they love only the people who love them and behave in a welcoming way only to those whom they perceive as their brothers, they do no more than the tax-collectors and should, therefore, not expect any reward for it.
As if this point needed any more fleshing out, I will also add another verse.
1 John 4:8–ο μη αγαπων ουκ εγνω τον θεον οτι ο θεος αγαπη εστιν; “The one who has not loved (from the word agape) does not know God, because God is love (agape).”
This, taken in connection with the other two passages above connotes that unless a believer love all people (i.e. everyone with whom he/she has ever come to contact with), they do not know God. Please consider the fact that one can only love by God’s love, agape, if one loves all people, as instructed in Matthew 5, in a perfect manner. To subtract anyone from this kind of love would be to depart from the manner which God loves and, therefore, to not love according to agape.
3) Whether God is merciful toward His creation.
I feel sad that I should bring this into contention. The evidence that Christ came to this world so that the sins of all those who believe in Him are forgiven (as long as they are repentant of said sins) should itself seal the deal (because Christ did not need to come to our world to die, except that, because He loves all humans and desires that all humans should be saved, He gave His life so that we may have new life, or as St. Athanasios said, God became man so that man may share into the Divine Life). However, some people miss this point, so let us try to show, by means of events in the Bible, that this principle is true.
(I will paraphrase here because this story is quite long) When Jonah came to Nineveh to deliver to them the message that, if they did not change their ways, God would destroy them, they did not repent. Jonah, therefore, left the city and sat on a hill to witness the city’s destruction. As he was sitting on the hill, God made a tree grow, so as to provide Jonah with shade (and, allegedly, welcomed-for back support). However, God did not destroy the city, so Jonah became angry onto death, because God did not destroy the “keep his word.” God, then, caused the tree that was providing Jonah with shade to wither. Seeing this, Jonah was angry onto death with God, because He destroyed the tree that was providing him with shade. God, then, pointed out to Jonah that that tree, which God had made appear in one single night and with which Jonah had been for one single day, was dear to the prophet, even though he had not created it, nor labored in order to shape it. Nonetheless, he expected God to destroy the city, each of whose people God had created and labored in shaping.
Of course, Jonah forgot here that God was merciful with him when he disobeyed God and that He did not kill him for disobedience when he was thrown into the sea, but saved him.
God, is, therefore, merciful to his people, because they are His creatures, the works of His hands. Also, we ourselves must not forget that we have been forgiven of our sins, so we should never be hypocritical about demanding God to punish other sinners even though He has shown mercy and forgiven us (regardless of the fact that most of us go on to sin again).
The combination of these three points clearly shows that the WBC falls short of the standard of Christianity.
1-2) The Christian must want all humans to be saved and act out according to that act of the will (that is, by definition, what an act of the will is). In other words, the Christian must make it as easy as possible for other people to be saved, not put stumbling blocks in front of them. It is quite clear that, through their pickets, the WBC does nothing more than polarize people and make it harder for those who struggle with same-sex attraction to listen to the Christians who want to show them the truth of Christ and, at any rate, be a shoulder for them to cry on when they are in need. Of course, some may say that I, in my posts where I argue against same-sex marriage, am doing the same as these people, but I would call, in my defense, the fact that I am offering arguments, not publicly blaspheming God (which is what saying “God hates f*gs” is, because hatred is the correct response to sin, not people). I for one, believe that gay people are not defined by their sexual preference and, though I hope that they will come to the truth and choose to be brave and resist their attraction (which does not mean that they need to marry someone of the opposite sex or behave as if they are not attracted to the same sex. They simply need to not give into the temptation to have sex with someone of their same gender), but whether they ever reach that point or not, I am perfectly willing to love them and be a shoulder for them to cry on whenever they need it, though I disagree with a part of their decisions. I do this not because I am a particularly good person, but because it is my duty to do it. I have no say-so in the matter. Christ said, “if you love me, obey my commandments” and He was very clear that the Christian should love his neighbor always, be he a Samaritan or a gay person.
3) God is ever-merciful. God does not hate people or countries. As the Psalmist says, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities…” Though in the Old Testament, in preparing the people of God for the coming of the Messiah, God is often seen ordering violence and death both from the Israelites to other peoples and from other peoples to the Israelites (just like a father may spank his young child), upon the coming of Christ, who, in the words of St. Paul, is the unveiling of the veil, the full icon of the Father, the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, and the perfection of the covenant between God and His people (the New Israel, those who are children of Abraham through faith) clearly shows that God, in His totality, is merciful and does not want any of His creatures to perish. In fact, those humans who go to Hell do not go the the place prepared for them; Christ, time and time again, says that Hell is the place prepared for the devil and his angles, not for men. Indeed, God shows His mercy even through the fact that people can go to Hell, for, as C. S. Lewis put it, He allows in those who bow to Him and say, “Your will be done,” or He bows to those who do not and says, “your will be done,” which is to be away from God, so they go to the only place where God is not.
The question as to whether Hell is a permanent place is a question to which there is no answer. Some notable Fathers, St. Gregory Nazarenes for example, have believed that all souls, eventually, understand their mistakes and come to Heaven. Of course, that is a matter of speculation and, if I may say so, one that we should not spend much time speculating, lest it take precedent over our job in this world, which is to be perfect. Perfection entails that we have proper reactions to all things, which means that we should hate what is supposed to be hated, which is sin (that is to say, un-being, but one should never hate being, which is the creation of God).
Therefore, for my part, I beg forgiveness of my gay brothers and sisters if my posts come off as offensive to them. I do not mean to offend them, but I do hope that they will consider what I am saying and, at least, ponder on whether (assuming that their sexual attraction and sex life is the second most important thing in their life) anything finite is a very small sacrifice for the most important thing in life, which is the love of and relationship with God (which is infinite).
That said, it is objectively true (I do not say this, God says this), that WBC commits a greater and graver sin by being, first, hateful toward people, and, second, by making it harder for people who are gay to find the courage and warm embrace of the Church and the knowledge that God and His mystical body on earth, the Church, will always be there to support them and love them regardless of how many times they fall short. God and those who love God, the Church, will be there to extend to them a hand with nothing other than love whenever they fall, never giving up on them. Because the WBC performs actions completely antithetical to this, their sin is greater than the one they seem to be so concerned with. Of course, Christ predicted this, because not for naught did He caution us to ever remove the plank out of our own eye before seeking to remove the speck in our brother’s eye.
I for one, however, love even the people of the WBC, though I hate the philosophy and theology of the WBC and hope that they will go back to the Word of God and discover for themselves the richness and beauty of truth and the healing of the true faith in Christ and let go of their false teachings. Of course, while I say this, I realize that I am a greater sinner even than them, because they, though with false teaching and spreading false messages, do much more (though what they do is wrong) than I do, who, by no other accident than being born into the “right” family, have come to know the truth faith and the fulness of the teaching of Christ, so, for my part, I beg the forgiveness of all humans, even the people of the WBC, for not doing more to spread the truth of Christ.