Why Love Must Win Out

I hate these guys.  I really do.  The reaction I have to the Westboro Baptist Church is among the most visceral reactions I have to anything.  I feel my heart rate climb, my blood pressure rise. It becomes harder to type without digging into the keyboard as my fingers attempt to punch their way through into some semblance of truth.

God, how I hate the way they portray my faith.  How I rage against their narrow-mindedness, their intolerance, their limited vision.  How they embarrass me and blaspheme the church.  How I see them pervert and misquote Scripture.  How they demean and blaspheme God, reducing God to a petty, hateful bigot—remaking God in their own image instead of the other way around.  Would that I had the ability of Elijah to rain down fire and brimstone from heaven on that abominable fellowship, preventing them once and for all from twisting any more hearts with hate and bile.

Well, I am human, after all.  I will feel what I feel.  Little can be done about that, I suppose.  Emotions cannot be chosen. That is an all too often experienced fact of our existence. We cannot choose what we feel.  We can, however, choose how we will act.

Often overlooked in our religious conversation is the fact that love is not an emotion.  Love is a behavior.  It is a way of living.  That’s a good thing—meaning that it is not outside the realm of our choosing.  We can, in spite of how we might feel, choose to love.  Somewhere deep down in my animal nature, I am not happy about that.  But my higher nature calls me to something else.  That much tarnished image of God with which I was made still has enough luster now and then to remind me of what I am called to do.

And so, I’ll love.  It won’t be easy, but the Gospel rarely is.  When the WBC shows up on campus (technically, on the sidewalk just off campus), I want to respond with love. Not by shouting slogans.  Not by throwing things or hurling insults.  But, maybe by bringing them some hot chocolate.  Maybe offer them some donuts.  Sing them some old hymns.  Pray for them.  Really, really pray for them.

Hate begets hate and anger begets anger.  And from my observation that system has not served the world well.  Let hate beget love; let charity be born in us, if it will not be given to us by those who hate.  Let love win the day.  It was martyred archbishop Oscar Romero who said it best:

Let us not tire of preaching love,
it is the force that will overcome the world.
Let us not tire of preaching love.
Though we see that waves of violence
succeed in drowning the fire of Christian love,
love must win out; it is the only thing that can.


Rev. Mark Schaefer
United Methodist Chaplain
American University

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and are not necessarily the opinions of the AU United Methodist Community or The United Methodist Church.

24 thoughts on “Why Love Must Win Out

  1. Well said Mark and very restrained!
    Its idiots like this that give all Christians, regardless of views, a bad name.
    Shalom

  2. Well said Mark and very restrained!
    Its idiots like this that give all Christians, regardless of views, a bad name.
    Shalom

  3. I couldn’t agree more Rev. Schaefer! I hope we do serve them hot chocolate— I doubt that they’re used to anyone being anything other than hostile toward them. If anything, this will show their young children present that hate shouldn’t be answered with hate.

    Amen!

  4. I couldn’t agree more Rev. Schaefer! I hope we do serve them hot chocolate— I doubt that they’re used to anyone being anything other than hostile toward them. If anything, this will show their young children present that hate shouldn’t be answered with hate.

    Amen!

  5. What a wonderful thought. No wonder my daughter loved your class!
    I am looking forward to the positive spin that the students, staff, and faculty at AU give the WBC when they attempt to “protest” on the sidewalks. I have every expectation that you will all rise above their tactics, and show them the love you talk about Rev. Schaefer.
    “What you do for the least of these, you do for ME”

  6. What a wonderful thought. No wonder my daughter loved your class!
    I am looking forward to the positive spin that the students, staff, and faculty at AU give the WBC when they attempt to “protest” on the sidewalks. I have every expectation that you will all rise above their tactics, and show them the love you talk about Rev. Schaefer.
    “What you do for the least of these, you do for ME”

  7. I really can’t put my thoughts and feelings into words just now, but your clarity and honesty are refreshing and amazing.

  8. I really can’t put my thoughts and feelings into words just now, but your clarity and honesty are refreshing and amazing.

  9. It’s easy to make fun of those who have beliefs we find beyond the pale – it’s easy to hate their hatred but finding it within ourselves to love them, and pray for them, is so much harder – and so much more important.

    I’m proud of the way AU is handeling this. It gives me faith that Love will overcome Hate – if we work hard enough at it.

  10. It’s easy to make fun of those who have beliefs we find beyond the pale – it’s easy to hate their hatred but finding it within ourselves to love them, and pray for them, is so much harder – and so much more important.

    I’m proud of the way AU is handeling this. It gives me faith that Love will overcome Hate – if we work hard enough at it.

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