A billboard in Jackson, Mississippi, is taking aim at the state’s new law permitting public and private businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples based on employers’ religious beliefs, invoking a Bible verse to try and make a point about Jesus and loving one’s neighbor.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed contentious House Bill 1523 into law on Tuesday, leading to intense debate over the provisions held within. One of the reactions to the bill comes in the form of a billboard from Planting Peace, a Kansas-based civil rights organization.
The giant image, which has been placed in Jackson, features a seemingly frustrated Jesus along with a line of text that reads, “Guys, I said I hate figs and to love thy neighbor.”
“Our latest billboard sends a message about literal interpretations of the bible and addresses some of the hateful, homophobic language anti-LGBT hate groups often feature on their protest signs,” Planting Peace said in a statement released on Tuesday. “In Matthew 21:18-22, Jesus literally curses a fig tree. But we don’t see a lot of ‘God Hates Figs’ protests or cries for stronger legislation regulating figs.”
The story about Jesus and the fig tree is also recounted in Mark 11:12-14, though there’s context that some theologians believe is at play rather than an intended literal call for Christians to condemn figs. Before we dive in there, let’s explore Matthew 21:18-22, which reads:
Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.
Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Now, let’s explore what’s some theologians and biblical experts believe is really going on in those scriptures. Here’s how GotQuestions.org explained the purported symbolism at play:
Source: The Blaze | Billy Hallowell