I came home from our midweek service at church last night to find out that Steve Jobs, former CEO and Co-Founder of Apple, had passed away. My first thought – after the shock of his passing – was to marvel at his timing even in death. He was the ultimate showman in terms of his keynote speeches that introduced a new technology. He wasn’t flashy or boisterous. Rather he had a great sense of timing that increased the desire and anticipation of a new product. So his passing after new Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced the new iPhone struck me as just another example of Jobs not wanting to upstage the product. I get the sense that he knew that people were never really that interested in him at those keynote speeches but rather the product was the star of the show.
Fast forward to this morning…I came across a posting from the website Big Government that was detailing how Westboro Baptist Church is going to picket Steve Job’s funeral and the irony of posting their intentions on Twitter via an iPhone app.
I don’t want to spend too much time on the irony but it is worth taking a moment to simply enjoy it…
I also don’t like giving Westboro any publicity. (They tend to get enough already through their inane actions.) But there is a mistake in their theology that is evident within this simple post.
Steve Jobs, as far as I know, was a Buddhist and not a Christian. So to be upset at him for not giving Glory to God is silly. To be upset with him because he “taught sin” is silly.
Let me explain.
A fundamental belief of Christianity is that we are all sinners and are all guilty. 1 John 1:10 states: “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” We are all sinners and this includes all Christians…even those at Westboro. Paul states in Romans 3:10-20 that no one is righteous and no one seeks God. We don’t give God glory on our own. And in a certain sense we all “teach sin.” It is only because of the work of God that followers of God even attempt to give glory to God and to teach anything other than sin. So why would we expect those that do not follow God to give him any glory?
In 1 Corinthians 5 we see Paul condemning the Corinthian church for allowing a member of the congregation to have a sexual relationship with his stepmother. He goes on to say in verses 9-13:
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing you to not associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you.”
Paul is stating that we should not judge those outside the church by the same standard that we judge those inside the church. We should have absolutely no expectation that a non-Christian would live up to the religious standards of Christianity.
Update: I changed the title to be more accurate as to what I was trying to convey. While one might argue that certain actions are idiotic, my post is more about pointing out the ignorance of Westboro's theology in this matter. I also apologize to the people of Westboro Baptist Church for the inflammatory nature of my title. While I strongly disagree with Westboro's actions in many cases, my intention here was merely to correct a misunderstanding of theology.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.