Dearest Westboro Baptist Church:
Every day when I wake up I ask myself, “how could I do today better?” I very readily and easily admit that I am not without flaws. I stumble all the time. I make mistakes. I try to do the right thing, but very often end up doing the wrong thing, or the almost-right-thing-but-somehow-managed-to-fall-short-and-become-the-wrong-thing-thing. No one is perfect. I understand that. Part of my comprehension as being a Christian has to do specifically with that idea. It’s not “I’m perfect, and better than everyone else because I’m a Christian” – it’s “I’m a Christian because I’m not perfect”. That’s the beauty of it – having a sense of where you are in terms of your humanity. It’s kind of like saying “Oops… well… I kinda suck at life a little bit. Could you help me out?” And from there trying to get your bearings and at least some sort of idea of what to do. So it follows that when I go to sleep at night, I take stock of the day and consider what I probably screwed up. I wake the next morning refreshed and think about how I could do those things better on this day (and I’ll probably screw that up some too). It’s a never-ending cycle of seeing your best intentions go splat because, after all, you’re a human being. And you’re filled with flaws. Yet, you don’t stop. You don’t give up. You continue to try and try and try to be better.
It is with that consideration in mind that I write this letter.
Personal disclaimer: I haven’t been a Christian for very long. At least, not what I would consider officially so. I’ve spent nearly my whole life curious and circling around it, but never really identified as a Christian until sometime in the last decade. And even now, I don’t regularly go to Church. My attendance at Mass and Bible study is somewhat lacking at best. Much of what I learn, I get from observing. Much of what I understand, I get from listening. I read a lot. And, truthfully, much of what I formulate in my mind as proper Christian etiquette I get simply from my day-to-day experience. I wake up, try to do Good, figure out what that means half the time, talk to God to get some guidance and then flop through like a dying fish just trying my best to hold it together. So, it goes entirely without saying that when it comes to my knowledge of Christian-dome, I’m a babe in the woods. I’ve taken merely a couple steps (stubbing my toe on one!) in my walk with Jesus.
But I don’t have to be a well-journeyed, experienced Christian to recognize bullshit when I see it.
Because, you see, I’ve spent a lot of time on the other side of it. As I said, I haven’t been a Christian very long. Much of my life has been spent on the outside looking in.
That’s why I know you. I know you very well.
I’ve seen you before. You’re the ones who did everything in your power to try and push me away. I’ve watched you parade around while you pointed your fingers and judged others. You shook your heads and seethed at me and the rest of the world. You curled your collective lip and snarled while you gnashed your teeth in righteousness.
I’ve heard you before. You’re the ones who tried to chase me away from God. I’ve listened to the poison that drips from your tongues and sizzles on your toes. I’ve felt the sting of your words and the bite of your indignation as you ventured to hold me at arm’s length from the Lord.
But now, I have seen enough. I have heard enough.
I have had enough.
How can you stand so proudly in scorn and condemnation as 49 families weep? How can you stomp upon the pieces of shattered hearts dripping in cold blood? How can you wish eternal ill upon the soul of any human being let alone the souls of those 49 who left us in so brutal a manner, so soon?
How can you be so terrible, so contemptible, so filled with hate, and still claim to be Christians?
How can you insist on being the body of the living Christ?
What could possibly lead you to believe that this is what God would want you to do?
Because while I don’t understand much, I’m pretty certain God is not a dick. He mourns for all His children, no matter who they are; no matter what they’ve done.
Yet you convict those you deem to be a blight against God, never truly grasping how much further away from Him you stand compared to the people you judge. You have no knowledge of who those people are, what they’ve lived through, what they’ve experienced, or what God wants from them.
You have even less knowledge about yourselves.
And – just to be clear – this isn’t an argument about what does or does not constitute sin. That is, quite frankly, irrelevant. We all have sin. As I said before, none of us is perfect.
It may indeed be that Sin exists to separate us from God. But I contend that, more immediately, it exists to separate us from each other. And seeing you at work, I’d say it’s doing a smashing job.
What you don’t seem to understand is that Sin isn’t the problem – it’s how we react to it. That is its true power. It’s in what we do about it – within ourselves, sure, but more importantly when we think we see it in others. Who do we become then? How do we respond? What kind of people do we turn into in response to it?
Do we vilify? Or do we act with open hearts?
Do we burn at the stake? Or do we hold close?
Do we hate? Or do we Love?
Do we move with cruelty? Or do we act with Compassion?
Do we rouse misery? Or do we inspire Joy?
Every day, when I wake up – when I ask myself how I can do today better – I specifically ask myself how I can inspire Joy by Loving through Compassion.
For that is the essence of being a Christian.
It is looking past the sins of others, as you would expect and hope that others would do of you. It is wishing the best for people, no matter what they have done (to you or anyone else); no matter what they have left undone. It is forgiving trespasses, easing pain, and putting your arm around the collective conscience of a wounded world – doing everything you can to offer it one tiny little speck of a smidge of a sliver of Hope.
It is wiping away tears; not causing them.
It is healing hearts; not attacking them.
It is lifting others up; not tearing them down.
Westboro Baptist Church, I know who you are, despite who and what you claim to be.
You are the enemy of Hope.
You are the antithesis of Love.
You are the prosecutor of Compassion.
You are the executioner of Joy.
And I will not put up with it any longer.
Westboro Baptist Church, I promise you this:
Joy will break the executioner’s bonds. And when an arsenal of Love of and Compassion locks you in its sights, the enemy of Hope will buckle. I know this because I will work harder every day to do better every day; to show the world that you do not represent God’s true nature.
Be careful of those whispers you’re hearing in your ears. They’re not God’s.
And your end is nigh.