Church upset with another church’s billboard

Warren Ruda / The Citizens' Voice Louis Smyth, left, and Vince O'Boyle, pastors of Church on the Square in Wilkes-Barre.
Warren Ruda / The Citizens’ Voice Louis Smyth, left, and Vince O’Boyle, pastors of Church on the Square in Wilkes-Barre.

Pastor Vincent O’ Boyle of Church on the Square in Wilkes-Barre recently authored a letter to the editor voicing disagreement with Pastor Dan Nichols of Restored Church in Wilkes-Barre who sponsored a billboard reading “I love sex. – God.”

Debate about theological interpretation often seems to be an exercise in futility because multiple interpretations of Biblical passages — as is the case with multiple interpretations of any domain of literature — can be successfully argued for. Who is right? Who is wrong? How can we tell? Can theologians even agree? With so many religious perspectives existing, religious believers often insist their interpretations are correct while others are wrong…and this is what O’Boyle says of Nichols’ interpretations.

O’Boyle, contrary to Nichols, says the Song of Solomon — the book Nichols talks about that informed his billboard — is not a book God dedicated to sexuality, but rather is a book God dedicated to love. O’Boyle also says that God “is not a commodity to be marketed like a new line of clothing” and that “[w]e don’t need shock and awe to market a loving God.”

If God is the creator of sex [and everything], why would O’Boyle take issue with someone saying God doesn’t love something he created? Is not everything coming from an omni-benevolent being a good thing and thus something the being would love? This may place a theist, though, in a position of loving natural disasters [a la ‘Thank God for earthquakes’ – taking a line from the Westboro Baptist Church], but that’s a story for another day.

Restored Church billboard Image: WNEP
Restored Church billboard
Image: WNEP

O’Boyle’s presumed offense seems quite staggering and hypocritical considering that the Bible commands people to preach the word to others, defend their faith when asked, etc. All churches, too, I suppose, are in the business of marketing; they advertise and want people to attend services. Crosses, tattoos, logos, hats, and t-shirts — just to mention some items — are worn by religious believers who — whether they think about this or not — market God. Christian rappers, too, marketing God, exist.

…and speaking of marketing, O’Boyle and his church were featured in a newspaper article — advertising upcoming services and talking about why people should attend services (to be saved from a sinful condition) — and also encourage people to attend their services on Facebook. Additionally, O’Boyle considers his church to be an evangelical church whose mission is to preach the word of the Bible┬áto others.

Shock and awe, too, is often used to market what O’Boyle believes to be a loving God (although the loving nature is questionable considering some of the shock and awe is coupled with fear – assurances that people who don’t live a particular way will be justly tortured for eternity).

Perhaps O’Boyle has been outmarketed by Pastor Dan Nichols. Certain types of marketing, it appears, are okay while other types of marketing are not. At the end of the day, more are exposed to a religious message and will likely attend religious services as a result of this billboard. While the ends don’t always justify the means, the billboard doesn’t seem to be a sacrilegious transgression that even Pastor O’Boyle — for the reason of more people attending religious services — can be somewhat on board with.

As always, feel free to comment below. I am more than happy to hear from Pastor O’Boyle should he want to comment or have a conversation with me. After all, I am very close to his church on Public Square!