Are we any better than them?
A response to street preachers
A man stood on the sidewalk behind the cafeteria at the university I attend, holding a sign of warning to 'fornicators, lesbians, hypocrites, pot-heads, baby murderers, feminists, gossips, liars' and more. He shouted his message of judgment upon those who practice such sins. 'Be sure your sin will find you out,' the sign read, followed by Numbers 32:23.
This verse states, "But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out." The context of this verse is Moses commanding the Israelites to take up their swords and claim their promised land, making the sign's reference grossly out of context.
This man is part of a group of evangelistic protestors known as the 'street preachers' that visited campus on Thursday. This group, known for their loud and aggressive style of sharing their truth, visits annually. By early afternoon, a crowd of about 30 students had gathered.
I have listened to the street preachers for three years now. While I disagree with both their theology and their presentation, what bothered me most during the time I listened this year was how students treated them.
When I listened, one man was speaking while a second man, Bro. Jed, stood behind him. "When is your boyfriend going to talk?" a student yelled. "How is this evangelizing?" another student shouted. Someone asked, "Why don't you go to UK where there are non-Christians?" The preacher, in a voice more calm than the students shouting at him, replied that they do, but that even though Asbury is a Christian school, sinners have "crept in."
I understand that very few people like being yelled out, especially when the message is one of judgment and condemnation. However, the saying "you cannot argue with a fool" ran through my mind as I watched the crowd of students shout at and make fun of the preachers.
A student behind me asked why campus security didn't make the preachers leave, and I explained to her that they are not actually allowed on campus and were standing on a public sidewalk. The girl then proceeded to shout at them saying, "Watch your foot! You're almost stepping onto campus." I turned and walked away in frustration.
I am in no way defending or supporting the street preachers. Yet my experience begs the question: if our reaction to their message is to yell and angrily shout back our own beliefs, how are we any better than them?
If we hope to represent anything better about Christianity, should we not reply in love and peace?
Photo by Luke Phillips