On the 974th episode of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Megan Phelps-Roper appeared as a guest. Megan is a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church (the church, among other notable things, owns the domain “godhatesfags.com” and has a 1.4 star rating on Google reviews). Her grandfather is Fred Phelps, the founder and pastor.
At one point, relatively early in the podcast, Megan discusses a passage in the Bible that influenced her to leave the church and the Christian faith. In the New International Translation, starting at Romans 9:11, Megan’s text-in-question reads:
Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
As Megan explains, this passage gives an analogy of God as potter and humans as clay, using the example of the twins Jacob and Esau. Before either were born, before either could have done anything to be considered good or anything to be considered evil, God loved Jacob and hated Esau. In the King James Version, it says that God created some people as “vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,” and some as “vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” And so the author proposes this scenario, of God making a person do all the things a person does, and then blessing some and cursing others. The author states that some people may raise objection to this, that some may ask how it could be fair that God would create a person for the express purpose of forcing them to do evil and torturing them for eternity. The author’s answer: you don’t get to ask that question.