"Please do us all a favor... get raped and then killed. You rancid, filthy ___." That's a direct quote from an e-mail I received after appearing on "The O'Reilly Factor." I was on the show objecting to the San Diego Padres celebration of "Gay Pride" on the same day they invited hundreds of children for a floppy hat giveaway.
"You are a shameful disgrace and hate monger," penned another in response to my statement that homosexuality is an unhealthy, life-shortening lifestyle that should not be promoted by the Padres to children.
For such "hate" I was named runner up for the "Worst Person in the World" by MSNBC's Keith Olberman. This kind of vulgarity, exaggeration and the not-so-veiled threats are nothing new to those of us who dare speak the truth to a world turned upside down. Homosexual activists have propagated their deceptive message so effectively that their own community tragically believes they cannot change, they have no choice—and that people who oppose their "choice" hate them.
And because they have managed to so effectively intimidate anyone who would question their claims, thousands of homosexuals have never heard there is a better way... a God who forgives and a life to live that's more abundant and free.
While I will never enjoy death threats and vulgar accusations, I know they can, at times, be the natural response of evil to truth. Committed Christ-followers for centuries gave their lives rather than be silenced. Can we not bear these comparatively little consequences in our own lost generation? Yes, we can.
But the responses that bother me most are ones that out of confusion or, worse, intentionally try to equate a Biblical perspective on homosexuality with godless criminal acts. A recent report from ABC News, "Hate Takes a Life in Houston," tells the story of Kenneth Cummings, Jr., 46, a gay male flight attendant murdered by Terry Magnum, 26, who claimed, "I believe with all my heart that I was doing the right thing. I planned on sending him to hell." Terry said he'd been called by God to "carry out a code of retribution" because "sexual perversion" is the "worst sin."
That story was forwarded to me with the following e-mail: "I just wanted to write and say that I lay the blame for this incident and hundreds of others like it on you... as far as I'm concerned, you have blood on your hands."
Let me be clear: The murder of Kenneth Cummings and the loss to his loving family is tragic, but to think that the circumstances of his death should force others to be silent on the dangers of the homosexual lifestyle would be wrong-headed and irresponsible. I would have far more to answer for if I kept silent while he and other homosexual brothers and sisters remained tormented in this life and facing condemnation in the next.
That kind of silence is embraced by too many Christians who are unwilling to speak truth lovingly for fear of their own reputations... willing to let confused and lost friends and family members who are "gay" flounder in deceit and condemnation rather than risk their own "likeability." That's the blood I would fear having on my hands.
My consternation from the Magnum story and e-mail is that the e-mailer deeply believes what he's saying. Reading further in the text, I can understand why:
"This is outrageous," said Mel White, a gay former evangelical Protestant minister, who ghost wrote books for televangelist Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Billy Graham. You've got to indict everybody from (Pope) Benedict XVI on down. The church and the Christian right have set up an environment that gays are a threat to the community, and they say this over and over. And because some people take this seriously, you have murders like this. This guy is quoting from the rhetoric of the pope and Pat Robertson and the Southern Baptists.
Now that makes me angry. A man claiming to know Christ, with credentials that should demonstrate he does, using those credentials to speak lies to the homosexual community and the world... to willingly distort the message of God to excuse his own perversion and take as many people as possible down that path with him—the quintessential example of misery loving company.
Meanwhile apostates like the "reverend" Fred Phelps represent the other side of this dangerous, deadly deception... purporting to be followers of Christ, while revealing their own side of evil by declaring "God hates fags." I've got news... God loves sinners, including fags and the rest of us so much that He sent His only son to die a brutal death to pay the penalty for their sin and ours.
What does God hate? Religious phonies... liars... deceivers. Jesus drove them from the temple with a whip. He reserved his harshest comments for false teachers... calling them "blind guides... hypocrites... open-throated graves."
Terry Mangum had no power to send Kenneth Cummings to hell. No trustworthy preacher would say so. Homosexuality is a serious sin, but so are adultery, lying and stealing. If Christian doctrine prescribed retribution and murder for sin, we'd all be dead.
God sent His son, that famous "Jesus," to forgive, restore and renew... not to condemn. But redemption can't take place without the proclamation of God's standard on morality, sexual and otherwise. How will people know what sin is if we are no longer able to speak about it, confess it to each other and present the world with a better way... God's way?
If that is hate, then I guess I am a "monger." If love is letting friends and family lead destructive lives while standing by, nodding in approval, then I choose not to "love." But I do choose to be a friend... a faithful friend... the one who speaks truth even at the risk of friendship and maybe, in this case, my reputation.