Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Are Pastors Right To Rejoice Over the Florida Gay Bar Shooting?

Many people are critical of two pastors: “Pastor Roger Jimenez from Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento (who) told his congregation that Christians ‘shouldn’t be mourning the death of 50 sodomites,’”[1] and Pastor “Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe (who) celebrated the shooting rampage by Omar Mateen” in a Youtube video.[2] They have been shown in videos stating that they were happy that the gays were murdered by the Islamic terrorist. There are three issues here to deal with: the inherent evil of either Islam or Muslims, their (pastors') right to free speech and the biblical position for their perspective. Does the Bible support what they said? No, it does not and this is why.
Suffer me to start with the first issue. The San Bernadino shooters were Muslims or did it for Islamic motives, and the Orlando shooter was a Muslim or did it for Islamic reasons. In all 17 armed conflicts around the world, 14 are by Muslims or Islamic followers. Either Muslims are bad people or Islam is a bad religion. Everywhere in the world where there are skirmishes, Muslims or Islam is involved. If terrorism must end, one of them must take responsibility to reign over its followers. Sometimes one must call the raging dog by its name for order to reign, so I agree with this Muslim. [3]
The second issue is that of people calling the speeches of the pastors "Hate Speech" and asking why the government has not "arrested them" or "shut down their churches." Firstly, it is their First Amendment right. Even if you were to apply Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire 315 U.S. 568 (1942) as a limitation of free speech, it will not work here because that is their religious belief. It would mean that every time someone says something you do not like, you can term it Hate Speech and ask the government to arrest or close down their business. That is an intolerant society we are building.
Secondly, as much as what they are saying lacked probity and decorum, it is not against the law. They are covered under the “Fair Comment Privilege” Phoenix Newspapers, Inc. v. Church, 103 Ariz. 582, 595 (Ariz. 1968) because homosexuality is a matter of legitimate concern to the country for people to decide whether they should live that lifestyle or not. In addition, those are “pure opinions” as protected speech, MacConnell v. Mitten, 131 Ariz. 22, 25 (1981). Finally, the court does not require any decency in voicing a valid opinion (Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844, 117 S.Ct. 2329 (1997). Since they are not breaking the law, the government pursuing them will be a violation of their constitutional rights and plain persecution. Our next stage will be to examine their behaviors with the Bible.
The third issue here is what the bible says about homosexuality. They are right that the Bible is against homosexuality and orders death for those caught in it. There is no doubt homosexuality is a despicable act that was assigned death when it says, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”[4] (Lev 20:13); albeit, we are no more under the dispensation of the law. It was a civil law for the Israelites. Nowadays, the civil (criminal) law in the US is in favor of homosexuality. That correlates with Anderson’s opinion that it was not right for anyone to shoot them. As a result, they must leave it in the hands of God. While its status as a civil law is converted into moral law, only God then becomes the righteous Judge. 
Now we can bring in I Cor 6:9-10 which states, “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.[5] If we are to become the righteous Judge, then we will have to judge more than just homosexuality. If the government is to round up the homosexuals for firing squad, it cannot leave out fornicators, adulterers, liars, drunkards, (drug abusers), thieves and many other wrongdoers. The reason why we can only leave it in the hands of the criminal or civil law (which has removed homosexuality from that list) is that we are living in a different society; otherwise, we will be advocates of jungle justice. That is because in a case where God has set a timeline when judgment will start, man has no power to change it, considering that he does not come to equity with clean hands. No man is perfect to execute the judgment of sinners. That is different from those who are in the church, for it is the church’s moral right to discipline such people (I Cor 5:9-13). The Bible makes provisions for non-churchgoers to be brought to justice by relying on the constitution. In the Old Testament, it was possible for God’s lovers to implement the judgment of God against sinners as was the case of Phinehas who took his spear and killed two fornicators (Numbers 25:6-8). Again, it is important to remember that we are no more under the dispensation of the law.
            Morally, they are wrong to have rejoiced rather than sympathized with the people because Paul told the Romans to, Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep (Rom 12:15- KJV).[6] At this time, the people are mourning, so it is proper for everyone to mourn rather than rejoice. Therefore, these pastors were wrong in their application of the Bible. This battle is not a physical battle; it is a spiritual battle where we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Even if someone was your enemy, you should pray for them and not rejoice for their demise. There is a time to rejoice, but there is also a time to mourn. On that day, June 13, 2016, the country was mourning the lost of 50 lives, so the pastors should have been mourning. It is a godly thing to do to weep for those whose life is hard, and we should be grieved for the needy. Every good Christian should remember those who are mistreated as if you were suffering with them. These people who were killed have non gay parents too who are mourning. Should we compound their pain by rejoicing that their gay child was killed by a terrorist? That in itself is ungodly.

Until then, I wish to extend my condolence to the families!

St Arrey of Ntenako.

[1] "Controversial Pastor on Orlando Victims: 'The Tragedy Is That More of Them Didn't Die'" Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 15 June 2016.
[2] "Steven Anderson on Orlando Gay Club Shooting." YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2016.
[3] Nawaz, Maajid. The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, n.d. Web. 15 June 2016.
[4] "Leviticus 20 KJV." Leviticus 20 KJV. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2016.
[5] "1 Corinthians 6 NASB." 1 Corinthians 6 NASB. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2016.
[6] "Romans 12:15 Rejoice with Those Who Rejoice; Mourn with Those Who Mourn." Romans 12:15 Rejoice with Those Who Rejoice; Mourn with Those Who Mourn. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2016.

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk). Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk). "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." (I Cor 15:19). "It is not how well you know a person; it is how well you treat them that they will live longer and happier with you." Hamilton Ayuk. Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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