Sanctimonious dumbness

A short time ago, Christian blogger, David, published a good post, “When Christians Act Ignorantly” (see here), about a sanctimonious restaurant customer who noticed the L*** rainbow tattoos on his waitress’ arm and not only declined to tip her, but also wrote a piously nasty little note on the check, “Can’t tip someone who doesn’t love Jesus. Bad tatoo (sic).”

Ach. Sometimes we Christians get way too big for our britches. None of us has one single plea of our own. Our righteousness is only the imputed perfect righteousness of the Savior, Jesus Christ! It would have been much wiser if the customer left a generous tip for the waitress along with a Gospel tract. Instead, the incident made the news and shrouded the Gospel in foolhardy sanctimoniousness.

It’s one thing to discuss sinful worldly agendas and false religions with other believers, but when we go out into the world we need to present Jesus Christ and the Gospel in a winsome way. As I read in my New Testament, Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul confronted sin, but reached out to individuals with the Good News! in an inviting way. Remember, by definition the Gospel is Good News!, not harsh, sanctimonious, holier-than-thou judgement.

This incident caused me to think of the Westboro Baptist Church based in Topeka, Kansas. Remember them? WBC was founded by Fred Phelps in 1955. Fred became such a vitriolic preacher that most of the congregants left, except for his own immediate and extended family members. Phelps and WBC began publicly protesting against homosexuality in 1989 because of indecent activity at a nearby public park. The church expanded its activity throughout the city of Topeka. Emboldened by the media coverage they received, the WBCers traveled around the country staging their protests. The WBCers infamously brought their hate signs to the funerals of U.S. servicemen, with messages such as “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “Death to Fags,” and God Hates Fags.”

As readers of this blog know, I’m not a fan of the L*** steamroller, but the WBC’s method was counter-productive. Phelps and followers brought dishonor to the Gospel. Every WBCer was/is a depraved sinner and would be in hell for eternity, just like any L*** crusader, except for the saving work of Jesus Christ. Some might respond offhand that the WBCers couldn’t possibly be genuinely saved. I don’t know about that. I have seen many Christians get drawn into political hate and conspiracy mongering.

Fred Phelps died in 2014 and the activities of WBC have seemed to have declined in recent years. Or maybe the news media is according them less or no coverage. Several younger members have left and taken very public stands against the church.

Fred Phelps and WBC signs

Before we get too sanctimoniously proud about our own “goodness,” “righteousness,” and “morality” we believers need to take a good, long look in God’s mirror, the Bible.

Postscript 1: We attended an IFB church in Rochester from 1983 until 1991. We left the church in part because we could no longer tolerate the pastor’s regular harangues against homosexuals. Thirty-years later, in 2021, the same pastor was arrested and convicted for sexually abusing two children.

Postscript 2: Don’t get the wrong impression. I’ve acted or thought like a sanctimonious jerk many times in my Christian walk.

19 thoughts on “Sanctimonious dumbness

  1. Excellent post, Tom. Regarding the WBC, glad they’re out of the public eye. They did much harm.

    Regarding your point about Bible-believers acting too sanctimonious for their britches, I’m with you and Bruce in pleading guilty!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, David! And thanks for the inspiration. Yup, I’m grateful the WBC is no longer given any coverage. They gave Baptists and Christians in general a black eye. I’m also grateful that God forgives my sanctimonious dumbness.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Christian thing to do would be to leave a tract with the tip, having love in your heart for that person for whom the Lord died. We’ve often done this, not knowing whether the waiter/waitress was a Christian. If they’re a Christian they’ll rejoice that they’ve encountered another Christian and if not they will be spoken to by the Lord. Also many Christians are too quick to jump to conclusions because of outward appearance. Maybe she was just trying to illustrate to kids in her Sunday school class about the story of how the rainbow came to be there! Probably not… but only the Lord knows the heart. People who acted like that couple do a lot of damage. It’s a case of hating the sin but loving the sinner – genuinely caring about the eternal welfare of everyone we meet, regardless of who they are or what they have printed upon their person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the comments, Elizabeth, and “Amen!” to all. We read in the New Testament that Jesus often sought out the outcasts and the public sinners. The pridefully religious were too full of themselves to accept Jesus as Savior and follow Him.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Westboro is something else, the extreme caricature of the unfriendly Christian. I hear some of the grandkids really did come to Christ a few years ago. I hope so. I remember seeing them in Hollywood after I came back from Iraq a few weeks and there was a big LAPD line to protect them since the lg** community was in full force, but also regular tourist from middle america was shocked as I was with the God bless IEDs and stick figures protraying soldiers as h*mos in sexual acts. It was well disgusting and the small familly band would have been ripped up if it wasn’t for a platoon size element of LAPD riot officers surrounding them in the famous Hollywood blvd

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, those WBC protests were disgusting. I read a book from an ex-member maybe seven years ago. I was going to borrow a newer book from the library after drafting this post but didn’t get around to it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Looking forward to your review of that book on Russian Nationalism. I’m currently working on a long book about a scandal that surrounded a leading pastor of the independent fundamental Baptist movement in the late 80s-early 90s, not breezy reading.

        Liked by 1 person

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