*Editor’s note: This story has been updated throughout.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick drew outrage Sunday morning for social media posts that said “man reaps what he sows” hours after a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
The posts were pre-scheduled, representatives for the lieutenant governor said; Patrick and other statewide officials usually share Bible verses on social media on Sunday mornings.
But the timing couldn’t have been worse. On Facebook and Twitter, Patrick shared a graphic with a Bible verse that read: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” The posts came amid news that 50 people died in the Orlando shooting, making it the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Both posts had been removed by about 11 a.m. Patrick spokesman Allen Blakemore said in a statement that the posts were “not done in response to … last night’s tragedy.”
“We regret the unfortunate timing of these posts and ask everyone to join us in praying for the people of Orlando in this awful time,” Blakemore said.
The social media posts were widely condemned online as insensitive. The Texas Democratic Party called on Patrick to “apologize immediately.”
Patrick released a full statement on Facebook explaining how the post occurred:
This morning as every Sunday morning for the past several years we post a verse from scripture. Those posts are chosen in advance and scheduled in advance. As noted to the media earlier the post from Galatians,that received many hateful comments, was put on the schedule Thursday. Our scripture was not posted in-the-action to the shooting.
I’m actually on an island. The Internet is slow. I first heard of the news late this morning from a reporter. However, this time, lag has given me an opportunity to reflect on this tragedy, your comments, our war on terrorism, our divided nation and God’s word for all of us.
The verse has nothing to do with God’s judgement on any one person or a specific group of people. If some chose to read into it what they wanted they either have never read Galatians Chapter 6 or have misread it.
Some wanted the post pulled down and others did not. Let me be clear, I didn’t pull down the FB post & tweet because God’s word is wrong. His word is never wrong. Taking down his word would be like tearing a page from the Bible because we didn’t like what God was telling us. I took it down to stop the hateful comments and the misinformation being spread of God’s message to all of us- straight or gay.
God’s message to all of us in the world is that of love and forgiveness – not hate. God says He came to prosper us – not harm of. However, Jesus was clear that the only way to the Father was through him.
We are all sinners, straight or gay, and we all fall short of heaven and eternal life unless we accept Christ as our Savior. He died on the cross for all of us. Let me repeat that. He loves us all and died for all of our sins.
In the public policy arena that are differences of opinion from many viewpoints. To often there is hate surrounding those differences. Whether it’s political parties, Presidential politics, or one of the many policy issues being debated today, our country is becoming more divided every day.
The hateful comments today on my post of a simple scripture verse, totally unrelated to the terrible killings last night, that were directed at me and God’s word, is another example of that hate. I pray these divisions will end.
Just as we saw the nation come together after 911 we need to come together again after the largest mass shooting in our history.
If some insist on hate speech as a response that is their decision, not mine. The enemy is ISIS not each other. We must come together to fight them. ISIS believes in the killing of gays. America does not and Christians do not Let’s focus on the real enemy.
For those who have never read Galatians 6 here is the full chapter. Only those who choose hate speech can suggest God’s word was directed at them. It was directed to the church of Galatia as Paul was talking to early Christians about moving from the law of Moses to the new Christian church.
Today God’s message is directed to ALL of us.
Bear One Another’s Burdens
6 Brothers, 1 if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.
6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune, a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
Top image: Photo illustration by Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune.