The importance of biting our tongue, even when the street preachers come to campus

By Aaron Evans

I woke up on Thursday to find my Facebook and Twitter feeds covered in posts about a man and a woman standing on campus shouting at people that they were going to hell.

Yep. The street preachers were back.

I couldn’t just ignore them. I had to go see what outlandish things Brother Jed and his wife, Sister Cindy, were saying, how many times they would condemn me to hell or accuse me of fornicating with my non-existent girlfriend. They did not disappoint. In fact, it almost seemed like a word-for-word regurgitation from their crude presentation last year and the years before I came here, no doubt. 

I found myself less in shock this time around. I knew they shouted derogatory terms like “whore” and “queer” at students, and I expected them to claim that they were perfect and we were filthy, hell-bent sinners. No surprises there. However, I found myself looking past their harsh words and attempting to understand what they were actually trying to say. 

What I found was that, beneath all of the yelling and condemnation, there was truth in some of the things they were saying. Yes, we must ask for forgiveness and repent of our sins, and it is definitely wrong to be caught up in lust and adultery. I truly hope that anyone who is tangled up in sin of any kind will ask God for forgiveness. In that aspect, none of what the street preachers were saying was false. 

Above all their claims, there was one thing they said that I found to be shockingly true. After two students rebutted Brother Jed, they shouted and danced in front of him instead of being adults and walking away from the situation. Just after the two students left, Brother Jed looked at the group of us and said, “You all claim to be Christians and go to a Christian school, but you mock us and make fun of us.”

I couldn’t argue with him there. As Christians, we are called to reflect the love of Christ in everything we do. Is that easy? Absolutely not. We’re human, and of course we will have a righteous anger when we see people being called names that they don’t deserve. However, that doesn’t mean we have to repay hate with hate. If we really wanted to prove our point to Brother Jed and Sister Cindy and show them that our God is a loving, forgiving God, we would ignore them instead of acting like children. Spitting harmful words to combat their hate will get us nowhere. 

But let me make this clear: neither Brother Jed or his wife have the right to come to our campus and call us every insulting name in the book, all the while claiming to be perfect and without sin. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Brother Jed and Sister Cindy are far from sinless, and there are Scriptures which back that up.

I totally understand why people get angry and argue with Brother Jed and his wife. I even argued with them when they came last year, only to find that I was arguing with a brick wall. There was no changing their purpose. They came to Asbury to tell us that we are damned to hell, and there is no changing that mission. 

I don’t doubt that anyone who debates with Brother Jed or his wife has anything but the best intentions, but we can’t expect to fight fire with fire. Hurling insults and mocking these people will do absolutely no good. It is our job as Christians to reflect the love of Christ in everything we do, even if that means biting our tongues and walking away from the situation all together.

Hate will never be defeated by hate.