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Zeeland pastor’s sermon about gays draws protesters

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ZEELAND, Mich. – Protesters outside the Zeeland Baptist Church gathered Sunday in response to remarks made by Pastor Clint Echols in his March 1 sermon.

Daniel VanderLey, a former attendee of Zeeland Baptist, claims the church is voting next week to officially ban gays from being part of their congregation.

“We are here to tell Zeeland First Baptist Church, ‘Love, because hate hurts,'” said VanderLey.

Protesters carried graphic signs of brutally beaten and murdered men and women who have suffered at the hands of hateful activity.

This is the second weekend of protests in response to Pastor Echols’ comparison of homosexuals to ax murderers.

“They say, ‘Oh wait a second, I’m gay, I’m bisexual, I want to change my gender,’” Echols said during his sermon. “And that’s being true to themselves and being true to their internal compass.”

“For instance, on a completely other playing field, if tomorrow I woke up because I’ve got this internal compass that’s telling me what truth is, tomorrow if I wake up say, ‘Well, I think I’m an ax murderer and now I’m an ax murderer,’ would you be happy with that?  Would you agree? Would you want me to follow that internal compass?”

Protesters we spoke with said this message goes against their faith of love and acceptance.

“Love your neighbor as yourself, there is no commandment greater than these,” said one protester. “These are words from Jesus!”

FOX 17 tried reaching out to the pastor last week.  While he didn’t want to speak on camera, he stated he stood by the message in his sermons.

Community members are now worried that the ideals of Zeeland Baptist could influence other churches throughout the area.

VanderLey has created a website to encourage people to join his cause.  You can find more information on their Facebook page.

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  • tnts

    This is kind of like comparing apples and yarn. Not even in the same spectrum. A true Christian knows that WE are not to judge–it’s not our job, it is God’s and I sure wouldn’t presume to know what He is thinking on this subject but I’m pretty sure he files ax murderers in a different category than homosexuals. The question is, what makes this pastor think he can judge?? He should know better.

    • CommonSense

      The pastor wasn’t judging anyone. And if you want to know what God thinks about this subject why don’t you open the Bible and read it for yourself. He will also tell you what he thinks about lots of other stuff as well.

      • fatesfury

        Your god hasn’t made clear laws. HUMANS said “Oh, yeah, god says this” and someone hundreds of years later wrote it down . It was then translated, changed, and translated again, and THEN what was in it was put to a vote. So let’s not refer to the bible as anything even approaching what your god says, hm?

        • kcwritewinger

          Isaiah 40:8 – “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”
          Our God never changes and either does His Holy Word. There are many translations, some easier too read and understand than others, but it’s still the Word of God, and it’s message is still the same.

        • CommonSense

          Fatesfury, if you don’t believe in God and believe that being a queer is normal, that is your choice. If you don’t believe anything in the bible that too is your choice.

    • kcwritewinger

      Christians are told in the Bible (John 7:24) to “judge by righteous judgment”. This means we may make moral judgments based upon the righteousness of God, based on His Holy Moral Standard of behavior found in the Ten Commandments.

    • Franklin Bacon

      They think their god gives them the right to judge. They are likely a fundamentalist sect. They feel they have a gift of discernment in regards to scripture, that heir interpretation is the only correct one. They would likely deny interpreting scripture, saying that they simply read it for what it says, without interpretation.

  • Brian

    People need to hear whole sermon before themselves judge the Pastor. There is a difference to not liking the sin of a person its not hating the person. People that say love your nieghbor should read Romans.

  • Franklin Bacon

    I’ve a query: How does protesting outside someone else’s church change anything inside the confines of a private congregation? It must just be a bunch of outsiders, judging the goings-on in a group that is not their own.

  • brynn

    “Protesters we spoke with said this message goes against their faith of love and acceptance.”
    Perhaps they would feel better accepted in their own space preaching their message to their adherents?

  • tracyd112

    He has the right to say what he feels just as the rest of us who do not believe that being gay is right.Why do there beliefs get recolonized and for us that believe this is wrong are the Bad guys?.If they want to be Gay then stay out of the Churches Gather in your own hell. The bible is against homosexuality and if they cannot respect the feelings and beliefs of others WHO HAVE RIGHTS ALSO then why should we get a Hoot what the feel !

  • Zegota

    Just as you may disagree with me, because of your chosen life style, or views, that is your right. At the same time, it is my right to believe and to practice my faith as the way the Heavenly Father instructs me. For I believe that the Holy Scriptures are black and white, and they cannot be updated, nor changed because of ever changing liberal social values. As I feel the Holy Spirit instructs me, Homosexual marriages are an abomination in the sight of the Lord and I will not and cannot honor same sex marriage. At the same time I will not show hate either, against you if that is your choice. For even if the Lord tells us, that it is a sin, He does give us free choice, so be it, it is your choice, so please allow me to practice my faith as I see and feel the Heavenly Father instructs us.
    A. Leviticus 18:22
    Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind, it is an abomination
    B. Leviticus 20:13
    And if a man lie with mankind as with womankind, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
    If I say nothing I will be breaking a commandment of the Lord, so you see, I must speak up against same sex marriages, or Homosexual marriages. At the same time, I do not hate, nor will I show anger against those who practice this life style, but I will not and cannot approve of it, for it is obviously a sin. As a Christian I cannot support it, as a Christian and a believer of the Holy Scriptures, it does not support, nor does it approve of same sex marriage. It does not matter, rather were in the nineteenth century, or the twenty-first century, the Holy Scriptures cannot be updated, nor changed in any format that changes the original wording, for it is against the commandment of God to do so. I am a sinner and no better then any other person today who is alive, I am only saved by Jesus Christ and I must repent everyday for my sins. I am telling you this, so that you who may practice this lifestyle, know that I do not feel I am better then you.
    C. Deuteronomy 23:18
    There shall be no harlot of the daughters of Israel, neither shall there be a Sodomite of the sons of Israel.
    D. Genesis 19:5
    And they called unto Lot and said unto him: “Where are the men that come in to thee this night” Bring them out unto us, that we may know them!”
    May you find Peace and Comfort in Jesus Christ, God Bless.

    • Franklin Bacon

      If you don’t like gay marriage, then don’t get gay married. Your right to swing your fist only goes as far as my nose. If I wanted to get gay married, I would, no matter what you believe.

    • Mike

      Hi Zegota! I am a pastor in GR. I wanted to toss some thoughts out for you, not to be a jerk, but hopefully to help a little.

      All of the verses that you referenced are from the Law of Moses. It is referred to in the New Testament as the “Law of sin.” The reason Israel was given this Law was because they rejected God by believing they didn’t need Him anymore. They believed they could be just like Him without Him. God then gave the Law, not to make people righteous, but to show them they weren’t (to reveal sin). The ultimate reason was to lead them to Jesus. The Law was given to teach that everyone needs God.

      As Christians, we are not under this Law of Sin. The Bible says, “Jesus has set you free from the Law of sin” (Romans 8:2)… and “You are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). Because of Jesus, God does not count our sins against us. This is the New Covenant… “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). And… “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them” (Romans 4:7-8).

      People quote the Law and say that homosexuals are disqualified by it. But, everyone is disqualified by it! That’s why it was given, to cause us to stop trusting in ourselves and come back to God. But because of Jesus, God does not count any sin against us. The reason the new covenant teaches to avoid sin is not because it makes us right with God. We are already right with God because of Jesus. It teaches to avoid sin because it hurts our lives.

      Homosexuals are just as justified as heterosexuals. They are just as accepted by God. We are justified by grace as a gift. Grace means “unmerited favor.” It is favor that can’t be earned. We should not exclude anyone for any sin because not even God Himself is willing to do that.

      You sound like you have a really great heart and have no desire to judge people. That sounds exactly like God’s heart. Jesus said He would never accuse anyone of guilt in John 5. He said the one who accuses is the Law of Sin. But Jesus died to free us from this Law. This is why Jesus was able to say of those who believed in Him… they have “passed out of judgment into life.” He judges no one, so neither should we. Jesus didn’t just come to forgive sin… He came to change the way we relate to God. No longer are we accepted by what we do, we are accepted by what He has done for us.

      • jack

        Acts 2:38(NIV) 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
        Matthew 4:17 (NIV) 17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
        Pastor Mike: I began to live as a gay man when i was younger. When he calls us into His Kingdom He does call us to turn away from sin. He also gives us the power through the Holy Spirit. We need to call people to Holiness… Be ye holy for I am Holy.

        • Mike

          Jack. I agree with you that He leads us to overcome sin. But, the repentance needed for salvation is not repentance from every individual sin, it is sin as a whole. If it was talking about every individual sin we would all be in big trouble. When Peter said this he was talking to Jews. The Jews were already repenting of every individual sin, yet they weren’t saved. They needed to repent of sin as a whole. Repent literally means to “change your mind” or “change the way you think.” The Jews were in their sins because they were trusting in themselves to obey the Law. No one was able to so they remained in their sins.

          To repent and believe the gospel means to turn away from trusting in your works toward faith in Him. This is the only way to repent of sin as a whole. To turn to Jesus. Then the Bible says we are no longer in our sins. In Christ our sins are not counted against us. Paul writes that we have died to the Law and died to sin. We are now saved by grace apart from works.

          Grace does lead us to turn from individual acts of sin. This has nothing to do with our salvation or right standing with God though. God leads us to overcome sin simply because it hurts us and causes bondage. It doesn’t have anything to do with our salvation and acceptance though. If it did, the Bible says, grace would no longer be grace then. It can’t be works and grace. It is grace alone.

    • Mike

      I can totally understand how you feel Chris. You should come check out our church. We started recently and have seen God do lots of miracles already. Among a couple we’ve seen…one woman was healed of diabetes. Another man was healed of a 20 year old back injury.

      God is alive and real for sure. He’s also definitely way cooler than He’s typically portrayed by us Christians. He is a God of love, acceptance, and goodness. Jesus actually stood against what Christians are often (unfortunately) known for today… judgment, condemnation, and hypocrisy.

  • Mike

    Why should Christians exclude people that Jesus has died for simply because they sin different? We are all saved by our faith in Jesus, not our maturity level in overcoming any individual sin.

  • Bill

    Pastor Mike : I am also a pastor in Grand Rapids. Just wanted you to know well written well said. For others please remember the the Constitution of the United States gives this Zeeland pastor the right to say what he said. Right or wrong he has the right to say what he feels is right. However as Christians, protesting what he said is also judging what he said to be wrong and you do not have that right as a Christian or you are acting just like him, however, the protesters have the right by the Constitution to protest.

    An easier answer to the whole situation is to not attend that church. In the end times their will be many false teachers and many lead away by misinterpretations of God’s word, but their folly will be made known. This church has a right to accept this pastors actions or not. Every church has different views that’s why their are so many. Personally. …I do not believe in his statements but he has the right to them. His actions are a sin.

  • jack

    2 Timothy 21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strife .24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.(Chapt. 3) This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
    3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
    4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, (the pastor is right, I was under the belief that I was gay when I was young. God showed me He does not create people to live against nature) It is the end time and sin is swallowing up peoples hearts Christians need to love enough to speak the truth.