Responses to the Rev. Fred Phelps and the hate and anger that he and his family spew forth can take several forms.
You can throw the same kind of fury back at them and try to inflict as much pain on them as they dump onto the world.
You can ignore them.
You can pray for them.
I wish I could say that I was strong enough to pray for them. I just can’t bring myself to do that, at least not right now. However, I do want to argue for another response, and that is to counter their invocation of hatred with an invocation of love.
If my sin is homosexuality, then all I can say is that I am so proud that I have the courage to sin in such a way. Loving is a hard thing to do. It involves taking the risk to open your heart to another person. It involves leaving yourself vulnerable to someone else. To truly love means that you can’t hide behind a wall of anger or judgment.
I have been blessed in my life to have deeply loved two women and been loved in return. One died of breast cancer, and the other is still very much alive and in my life. How wonderful it has been to have known them.
I cannot see that even one instant of our lives has harmed anyone else. All I know is that they have given me strength and courage to help others and brought joy into my life.
I doubt very much if God has been offended or wronged by the fact that we have found each other and loved fiercely. I attend church every Sunday. The God I have found in my church doesn’t hate any single soul, let alone people who have the courage to live authentic lives and to love each other.
I do want to comment on one of Isaiah Phelps-Roper’s points. He attacked my support of laws limiting protests at funerals. Such a law would effect the demonstrations the Phelps family have been mounting at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq.
What you mean to say is that you want to stop our funeral protests because you disagree with our beliefs. That's in violation of the First Amendment. That is really what it all boils down to.Obviously, I do disagree with the Phelps’ beliefs, but that’s not why I’m arguing to limit picketing at funerals. I believe that no one should be allowed to picket anyone’s funeral, whether that is the funeral of gays, soldiers or even someday, the funeral of Fred Phelps. Does not basic human decency require that we set aside certain times when such speech is simply not appropriate?
I doubt if there is any legal support for my stand. However, any morality based on love and compassion would have to declare that there are times when we should all be quiet and leave people alone to grieve in peace.
The other way to deal with the Phelps clan, of course, is to appreciate the sweet irony they bring to any situation. Their web site is doing a great job of driving people to my blog. Many thanks!