Sunday, February 3, 2013

Who deserves respect?

Yesterday I talked about my surprise at the return of Brother Jed, a false prophet who spent a week on my university campus last year, proclaiming condemnation and judgment over our students.

On Wednesday, I discovered that Jed, his wife Pat, and a third woman were back in full force, shouting at shockingly massive crowds of college students, holding up signs that said, "YOU DESERVE HELL," and drawing jeers and shouting from Christians and members of both the Atheist/Agnostic and GLBT clubs.

Basically, my university campus has been a madhouse this week.

Atheist Club Invitation
I actually don't see a lot from the atheist/agnostic club at my university, other than the occasional respectful and civil "Ask an Atheist" booth placed in central locations.  But when Brother Jed speaks, they come out in anger, holding up signs, chanting, jeering, and even taking "Donations for Damnation" from the surrounding crowds.  Many Christians don't do much better, as they engage Brother Jed directly in heated debates that often end up in shouting.

Brother Jed sometimes allows questions, but he often does not answer them.  In fact, if a question comes up that he is unable to answer, he goes off on something else entirely, and when a disagreeing student speaks to him, he disrespectfully stares at his shoes or looks off into the distance to show his lack of attention until they are finished- or he interrupts them and moves on.

In fact, Jed's purpose on our campus seems to be to rile students as much as possible, to draw shouts and jeers from them so that he can condemn them all the more, leave, and then say, "I tried to evangelize, but I was persecuted."

Students waving condoms and holding signs.
I spent about four hours total in the Academic Plaza over the last few days while Brother Jed has spoken, and I have been both encouraged and discouraged by what has gone on.  I've been encouraged by the believers who have stood on the sidelines and lovingly shared the true Gospel to those who have been willing to listen.  I've been discouraged by the rowdiness and chaos and judgment coming from so many people on my campus.

For some reason, this year, about 85% of what I heard coming from Brother Jed's mouth was tactless commentary on sex and fornication.  Last year, he spent much of his time talking about hell and sinlessness; this year seemed to have a brand new approach.  The names used by Jed and Pat were "whores" and "fornicators" and a few more that I'm uncomfortable typing.

I disagree with Brother Jed's message and his approach, and I'll go into that more tomorrow.  But I also disagree with the approach of many of my fellow students.

Protesting members from the GLBT Club.
Brother Jed is searching eagerly for responses of anger.  He is deceived.  Don't try to argue with him.  Don't shout and jeer at him.  Don't treat him with disrespect, even though he treats you with disrespect. Our university takes pride in the honorable and respectful behavior of our students.  In football games, we put so much effort into acting classy and respecting the often hateful members of the other team.

Brother Jed and Sister Pat are human beings.  Aggies, I challenge you to treat them with respect, no matter what undeserving things come from their lips.  When our students wave condoms in their faces, call them names, and join in shouting matches, we are not reflecting the values of our university.

Whether or not you are a Christian, I challenge you to treat every single person who enters our campus with honor and respect, no matter what names they call you, no matter what they say.  We are Aggies.

If you are a Christian, then I encourage you even more to act in love and avoid arguing with Jed and calling him names.  2 Timothy 2:23-25 says, "Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.  And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth."  Take these words to heart.  When unbelievers see Christians reacting in anger and unkindness to Brother Jed, they will not see Christ; they will only see division.  React in love, as hard as it can be. 

People like Brother Jed and the members of Westboro Baptist Church will always be around.  Instead of letting them win and fighting them, I encourage you to reach out to those they have hurt.  Love on the people being affected by their words.  Offer grace to the broken.  Share the Gospel.  And be sure to spend time in prayer for men and women like Brother Jed and Sister Pat.

Be sure to also remain in prayer for my university campus as well.

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