This morning my co-worker was talking about the protesters on the street corner a block from our office. She had seen them on her way in.
Apparently they were serious about their “mission,” because they were still there when I drove home this evening. Traffic was heavy, so I inched up slowly over the course of three red lights. That gave me plenty of time to read their signs. Once I made it through the green light, I had to fight tears and nausea all the way home, after overcoming the urge to roll down my window and say something that might be perceived as equally hateful. I just couldn’t think of a loving and gentle way to say what I was thinking, especially because it would have had to be loud (so they could hear me) and fast (as I drove directly past them).
I turned on the radio, and they were the topic on the local talk show. These protesters are famous. They have come from a congregation in another state to spread their hate. I’m not going to be more specific because I don’t want anyone using a search engine to find them through my page. They have, in my opinion, received enough publicity by spreading their hateful, sickening messages.
Their signs listed many of the things God allegedly hates. Some of the lifestyles and particular acts mentioned on the signs are, yes, deplorable — things directly addressed in the Scriptures. But to make signs with these hateful words, to TRAVEL TO OTHER STATES with those signs, to stand on a busy metropolitan street corner and espouse these views … well, that takes a lot of hate. Most of these signs were professionally made, not something scribbled on a piece of poster board with a permanent marker. They spent good money on their signs.
These people are professional haters.
On the other side of the street were the people who hated the first haters, although it was a bit difficult to be sure that all of that side of the street was against the first group. They, too, talked about things God supposedly hates. Things you eat, things you wear (He hates polyester?), things the other people stood for. The people on that side wished, via their signage, that the people from the first group would cease producing offspring, among other things. The kindest thing the people in the second group said in their signs was, “Girl in purple shirt is cute.” This was a sign held by a boy who looked to be about 13. He was displaying his sign to the group across the street — the first group of haters. Yeah, he really understood what was going on. Who knows, he may have just stumbled upon the situation and decided to chime in with his own opinion; his sign was handwritten, as were most of the ones on his side of the street.
But the saddest part, I think, is that the people on the first side of the street had their CHILDREN out there holding those signs. Little children, much younger than 13. One little boy looked to be about 7. His sign not only talked about certain people God allegedly hates, but it depicted a particular act that God hates. Can you imagine making your child stand on a street corner and hold such a sign? To make him hold such a sign, wouldn’t you have had to explain to him what the sign depicted? Fortunately, the people on the sign were stick figures; maybe that helped a little.
Here are a few things I think God hates: self-righteousness, name calling, pretending we speak for Him when we haven’t a clue what we’re talking about (ironically, just writing this makes me vulnerable to the same accusations).
Even some of the words Jesus spoke in this sermon are misinterpreted by those of us who follow Him. We twist things to fit our view of the world, to make us more comfortable, to help us feel righteous. But as Paul said in Romans 3:10, “No one is righteous — not even one.” No human has the right to condemn or judge another. Only God, the Righteous Judge, holds that authority.
Freedom of speech is one of the greatest privileges we have in this country, but unfortunately it carries with it the freedom to spread hate and misinformation. This is abuse of that freedom, pure and simple.
Misrepresenting what He wrote to us has dire consequences. Heaven help us all if we fall into that trap.
The good news, even if we want to hate these haters, is that Jesus died for them just as he died for us. On our own, no one is righteous — not even one. We ALL need a Savior — every last, self-righteous one of us.