Pastor Mike Cepela
Updated June 2015
If the name Westboro Baptist Church doesn’t ring a bell, I’ll give you a few clues. Westboro Baptist protest the funerals of American soldiers who have been killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They hold up signs that say things like “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “God, America‘s Terror.”
Just recently, they were in Illinois at the funeral of one of the victims from the Lane Bryant shooting in Tinley Park, Illinois. The signs they held at this particular event were mostly the same old material. Some of the new ones read “Thank God for Dead Shoppers” which I must admit seemed much lower than I thought possible.
In this article, I do not want to look at how offensive it is or isn’t or how it strikes me emotionally. Rather, I want to look at whether what they are doing is from God or not, because I have a deep yearning to see the move of God as well as hear the voice of God in the midst of His people.
The first thing I want to do is understand the claims that they are making. Here are just a few:
1. They say that American soldiers are being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan because the military allows homosexual to join under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy (Note: this was in place as of the writing of this article).
2. They say that the Lane Bryant killings (which was a robbery gone bad) were from the Lord because Lane Bryant sells to cross-dressers.
Before we go on, we need to look at what it is this church is claiming. Westboro Baptist Church is claiming to speak as the mouthpiece of God as well as to hear the voice of God in these modern issues as to why these particular events have happened. They are not claiming that they have a sense about the current events that have transpired nor are they saying that they are discerning. But with a confident boldness, they claim to speak for God in these issues.
Who does the Bible, according to their sin, have the greater gripe against? 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
As the Apostle Paul clearly states, the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God and he goes on to list different sins of unrighteousness. It’s true that homosexuality is one of the listed sins, but it’s also true that Paul equally lists other sins such as fornication, adultery, drunkenness, and idolatry. According to Scripture, all stand as sin against God and all will keep a man from the Kingdom of Heaven. This means that all these sin types will lead a man into Hell for all eternity where the worm dies not with unquenchable fire burning forever (Mark 9:48).
Here is a fair question: If I go along with Westboro’s belief, then shouldn’t the Lord be causing the death of shoppers because Lane Bryant also employs people who are in Idolatry (which could be defined as having any faith other than Christianity), who are in relationship involving fornication, who get drunk on alcohol, who more then that are what the Bible calls the Unrighteous. The Scripture states two things. First, 1 John 5:17 says, all unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death. Second, 1 John 5:19 says, we know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
According to the Scripture, all unrighteousness is sin. As a result, to claim a particular sin being the cause of why God’s wrath has been evoked would seem both unscriptural and quite frankly a serious stretch of the imagination.
1 John 5:19 states the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. So it’s a given that the businesses of the world are already both sinful and unrighteous. So are we to believe that the Lord looks upon an already sinful and unrighteous corporation and demands that they refrain from a particular sin while not demanding that they refrain from other sins? Or else He’ll judge them by causing the death of shoppers, who may not have a clue of the company policies instead of killing the President and the Vice President who actually have a say in the very policies that they say God is punishing them for.
If you look at situations such as in the Book of Daniel, it was King Nebuchadnezzar as well as his grandson who paid a direct price for their sin. You see, the Lord is omniscient and knows exactly who designed these policies as to selling to cross-dressers. So again, it’s totally out of biblical context as to this reasoning of Westboro Baptist. Paul says something very telling in 1 Corinthians 6:11: “such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
Saints of God, the entire Church is made up of people who were once sinners, idolaters, drunkards, homosexuals, and fornicators. Now, they have been cleansed by work of the Cross through the blood of Jesus Christ and are no more the things and kinds of people they once were.
Keep in mind that Wal-Mart, Lane Bryant, Sears, Carson Pirie Scott, Kmart, as well as a list of others, have no policy banning the sale of clothing to cross-dressers. In truth, their policy states that they cannot refuse service to anyone, including transvestites. The sign “Thank God for Dead Shoppers” moves me in my Spirit to ask this question: What about the issue of lawless iniquity? The man who killed the shoppers was committing a robbery, which can be defined as a lawless act. So is it unbiblical to say “Thank God for Dead Shoppers” when unrighteousness is the description used by the Apostle Paul to show the very state that will send a person to Hell for eternity. So in truth, Westboro Baptist is saying is, “Thank God for the manifestation of lawless iniquity and its furtherance.”
The truth is that the love of God is aimed at the sinner and the Lord has a desire to see all come to repentance and none to perish (2 Peter 3:9). So to rejoice or to thank God for a sinful, lawless action goes against the very Word of God. It would seem to contradict the very fabric of the Word of God.
This man who committed this act is now furthered in his sin and has five murders that he has to account to God Almighty for if he doesn’t accept Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior. Will I thank God for that? No, I will not, because it goes completely against all that the Scripture says and ends the possibility of those five to have one more minute so as to hear the Gospel so as to be saved.
In fact, if I was to simply followed the theology of Westboro, I would stand self-condemned because I would be thanking God for the very lawlessness and iniquity that they claim has brought about these deaths as a supposed tool in the hand of God. It doesn’t make sense when viewed through the eyes of Scripture. If the Westboro Church wants to be consistent to their own theology, then the following rules must be adhered to:
1. No active Westboro member can work for an employer who lacks a policy defining a complete prohibition on the hiring of homosexuals, idolaters, drunkards, fornicators (people who have premarital sex), coveters, people who are immoral, and such.
2. No active Westboro member can practice law because our country’s laws and regulation prohibit any kind of discrimination based upon sexual preference, which clearly compromises the very institution of law itself (which would call for all lawyers connected with Westboro to surrender their law licenses immediately).
3. No active member can watch TV Shows that are aired by networks, who have affiliations with the porn industry. Their viewing directly affects that network’s ratings which causes it to make more profit, which would put the viewer in league with the network itself. This includes seemingly innocent shows and channels, such as Cartoon Network, of all kinds.
Remember when we read Old Testament books that deal with the wrath and punishment of God, we are dealing with Israel who for all purposes was a theocracy where God Himself was the Leader. Their civil law was shaped and held accountable to their religious law, and when the Lord did punish secular nations (such as the Hittites, Amorites, and Jebusites) He was usually judging them as to how they dealt with Israel. Now it is true that Sodom and Gomorrah was judged. But even then, the Lord sent angels to get Lot (a righteous man) out of their midst so as to not be included in the punishment.
How does this stack up against the current situation to where one of the employees was a minister of many years working at Lane Bryant who I might mention was shot first as she tried to restore lawfulness by calling 911? Remember, in the Book of Romans, it states clearly that the sword of the Law comes from the Lord.
In closing, I think it’s very clear and evident that Westboro is another case of cherry picking a certain truth while ignoring another. This is indicative of the eclectic behavior we see in the American Church and is part of a spiritual problem and not a solution. It’s nothing more than self-inspiration filled with an emotional flurry sticking the Name of God upon it so as to validate the very theology Westboro Baptist preach.
As you can see, I didn’t get to their views on the military, because their error in this alone is so large and consuming, that I simply ran out of time and space. But if you desire to see another article on this issue, please drop us a line and let us know because we want to hear from you.
Pastor Mike Cepela is the Senior Pastor at New Life Assembly.