I grew up on Sand Mountain in the northeast corner of Alabama. I attended Sylvania High School, played football and had my ligaments and cartilage torn in a smash-mouthed 14-7 victory over neighboring football rival, the Fyffe Red Devils.
On Thursday, January 16th, 2014, the hurtful blow was not a vicious legal below-the-waist block thrown by a jock on the football team, but an announcement from the Fyffe High School Student Government Association (SGA) during the address which is given each morning to offer words of encouragement.
Seizing an opportunity of an absent SGA teacher/sponsor, who screens each announcement, as well as the missing-in-action SGA president, who is the student normally giving it, a young man took advantage to deliver his own brand of encouragement by making references to gay people, suggesting they not come out of the closet, but rather stay in and clean it up.
Paul Long, the student's father and local pastor, defended his son's comments.
"Our stance is we stand on the scriptures, and they teach us that there is a right and a wrong way. We in no way hate anybody. We always show love and for us, to tell the truth is to show the ultimate love," said Long.
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church said that exact thing on the Russell Brand Show. In fact, it was almost verbatim as the two Westboro members explained to Brand and his audience that they were simply displaying love for "fags" by letting them know God hates them and they will burn in Hell. Seriously, with love like that in the world, who needs hate?
And of course, more recently, many Christians defended Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty when he delivered his now infamous views on homosexuality. In an interview with GQ Magazine, when asked about sin, Robertson began by saying, "Start with homosexual behavior, and just morph out from there." He went on to paraphrase scripture regarding the same issue.
The people who rushed to Robertson's defense claimed he was only quoting the Bible, but that's not true. You can search the New and Old Testament and you will not find the phrase, "Start with homosexual behavior." You will not find anywhere in the Bible that instructs you to start with, concentrate on, or be obsessed with any one sin. So if it's not in the Bible, it has to be personal.
And it begs the question: Why start there? Why not start with murder, stealing, lying or any sins of the 10 Commandments? Those are mighty important. Why not start with the seven sins that God hates, of which lying makes up two? Lying affects 100 percent of the population, not just two percent. Why not start with any of the sins Jesus mentioned in the Sermon on the Mount, like divorce? Over one million people in this country get divorced for non-Biblical reasons and that also affects a lot more people than homosexual behavior.
Or better yet, why not start with your own sins? Christians are quick to say that everyone sins, including themselves, but it is an ambiguous statement at best since they never actually mention their own sins. However, that's exactly why you can't point out others. Or to put into terms you might be familiar with: Don't try to remove the splinter from your brother's eye, when you have a plank in your own.
It's true that Christians should witness to people, but that doesn't mean to point and accuse. It means to testify as to God's love and grace and explain how your faith has been a blessing to you. That's what witnessing is all about. Share the love, grace and real encouragement.
To circle back to football, consider it in these terms. If you wanted to witness to someone about how great Peyton Manning was in the championship game against the Patriots, you wouldn't do it by pointing your finger and complaining about the 49er's defense against the Seahawks.
People seem to have a tough time understanding what it means to judge, or they simply alter the definition to suit their own views, or they try to find scripture to prove Jesus did not actually mean "judge not" when he said "judge not." Apparently the term, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" stumps people, too.
So let me explain it to anyone reading -- Phil Robertson, the student at Fyffe High School and his dad, all the members of the Westboro Baptist Church and to anyone who hides their own personal prejudice behind scripture. Speaking out against homosexual or homosexual behavior is not following the instructions of Christ. You want to understand what it means to judge? Well, this is the very essence of judging, and if you continue, come that day when you stand before the thrones of real judges, you will pay for it.