Wednesday, December 2, 2015

In Jesus' name: WHY?

In Jesus’ name: WHY?

At least 14 people dead in another mass shooting.

I am tired of providing resources for families to talk about this to kids.

I am tired of posting things on Facebook that like-minded people “like.”

I am tired of saying “never again” and “enough” and “this has to stop NOW.”

I am tired of praying for the victims, the families and the shooters.

I am tired of all these things and many, many more. Because they do absolutely no good. Because I have done all these things before and we all know that in a matter of days or, at best, weeks, the next news alert will pop up with a different place, a different name, a different body count and the same words:

“Shooting.” “Gunman.” “Massacre.”

One of the reminders I write on the top of my notepad at the beginning of ever meeting is this:

“Can you ask a question instead of making a statement?”

That’s because questions begin conversations and statements end them.

And I have one question this night:

In Jesus’ name: WHY?

Can someone please explain to me in Jesus’ name, why we defend gun ownership like it is a sacrament? Can someone give me a Gospel argument why weapons that are specifically designed to maim and kill human beings should be allowed to exist.

I’m not looking for a constitutional argument. I’m not looking for a statistical argument. I’m looking for an argument from the Christian faith. Because even though the percentage is declining, more than 70% of Americans still join me in identifying as followers of Jesus Christ . Identify as people who, in some form or another, “promise to follow and obey him as Lord.”

I read my Bible every day. I pray every day. I ask Jesus to grant me sips from the vast reservoirs of wisdom that continue to elude me, to challenge my prejudices, and even to hit me with the holy 2x4 if needed to shape me more into his image. And in my 47 years, I have never read, heard, sensed or had revealed to me my savior asking me to arm myself or to guard the rights of others to arm themselves. I have never heard him praising the virtue of killing or wounding even in self-defense. I have never heard him ask for anything to be pried out of his cold, dead hands save the love of the world for which he died.

But there are clearly sisters and brothers in the faith who have heard differently. And so I genuinely want to know: How do you reconcile gun ownership, gun usage, the nearly unlimited access to guns including those specifically designed not just to kill individuals but mass groups of people with turning your life over to the Prince of Peace? Why do you so vigorously defend the right to bear arms?

In Jesus’ name: WHY?

There are plenty of areas in my life that I freely admit my hypocrisy. I rail against homelessness but have a spare bedroom in my house that lies empty most nights. I rail against the sad state of public education while using my wealth and privilege to send my kids to John Burroughs and Crossroads. But I will not try to defend these things as virtue or claim that Jesus smiles on them – only that Jesus still loves me in spite of my failings.

But I simply don’t see how followers of Jesus can hold a cross in one hand and a handgun in the other and not see the contradiction. And perhaps I am missing something. Perhaps there is some wisdom of Christ that remains beyond me. And so if you are reading this and you are one of those faithful who believes that discipleship of Jesus Christ is compatible with gun ownership and use, please explain to me…

In Jesus’ name: WHY?

If I am wrong and you can hold the cross in one hand and a handgun in another, I really want to know.

But if I’m right and you can’t.

If I’m right and – like me with homelessness and education – we agree that it is sin but because of our weakness we fall short … can we as the 70% of this nation that follows Jesus join with other like-minded people in the other 30% and at least say we will work together to try to be more faithful? To try to reduce the number of guns and our access to them? To try to stop the killing?

If I’m right and Jesus is weeping right now not only in San Bernadino, but over the bullet-ridden body of a child somewhere whose death was deemed so inconsequential we didn’t hear of it, and also over the man stocking his home arsenal in fear of his fellow human beings …

If I’m right and we are truly breaking the heart of Christ with our idolatrous worship of the second amendment…

If I’m right and we are allowing ourselves to have our steps determined not by the Son of God but by a gun lobby making billions selling power to people of color and poverty and fear to people of wealth and privilege…

If I’m right and there is no answer to the question:

In Jesus’ name, WHY?

Then we either need to get to work disarming our society … or stop saying we come in Jesus' name. 


Anonymous said...

Gives you something to think about.

Anonymous said...

Luke 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

Cary Curtis said...

Thank you for a powerful statement that is exactly, and in one place, the question I want to ask. I will share it.

Anonymous said...

I love my family, and want to protect my daughter and myself from evil. I don't know why people focus on guns so much frankly. A woman crashed her car into a parade, and no one wants to get rid of cars. People are stabbed and slashed, but no one wants to get rid of knives. Home made bombs are becoming the norm for some domestic terrorists- pressure cookers, for instance, and no one wants to get rid of those things. Instead of focusing on the weapon used, why don't we focus on the person who is willing to harm and kill humans. They have become desensitized to people as people. Maybe they watch too much TV, or movies. That's a big problem we have to fix neighborhood by neighborhood.

Phil + said...

If you would like to have an exchange on this subject..."I'm your Huckleberry".

I am a husband and a father. I am a disciple of the Messiah. I am also an ordained priest in The Episcopal Church.

I own a Glock, a few hunting rifles and a couple of shotguns, too. I owned a Bushmaster until a few years ago (sold it to buy my wife an important gift).

If you really want to know "why?", I am happy to share.

But be mindful, I am likely to ask a few questions in the process that will challenge. I might ask you, and the leaders of The Episcopal Church, a few "why?" questions that could get uncomfortable.

So, if you would like to chat, let me know.


Ed Murphy said...

It occurred to me today listening to the awful news about the Bakersfield massacre that it's obvious that 
1) the bad guys have lots of guns and ammo
2) the good, well-meaning, usually liberal, peace-loving citizens don't have their guns with them (if they have guns at all) when they're out and about, and by current laws, can't carry them, unless they know and can pay off the local sheriff to maybe get a CC permit.

So............ our current laws legislate our being sitting ducks anywhere, anytime. Dumb.

Anonymous said...

Matthew 5:39 "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also."

Paul Cangialosi said...

First, what specifically would Jesus advocate? I am not particularly interested in making any decisions based on emotion or rhetoric. Those decisions are usually not good. Please help me understand, with scriptural references, what Jesus would tell us to do?

In my understanding, the situation has already been addressed. "Thou shalt not murder" pretty much covers it. Not only did God command it, but our civil laws say it is against societal norms as well. I will gladly stand with Jesus, God and you if you believe murder is evil. (Interesting that according to our law it is okay to murder a baby at 24 or 30 or 40 weeks old.)

It is very clear the author believes owning a gun is sin. Is it a sin for a police officer to have a gun? Can a Christian be a police officer? Can the military have guns? Is the gun inherently evil or is it a tool like a sewing machine or spoon? Is a single shot rifle okay but one that shoots two shots evil and sinful? Who determines how many shots makes a gun cross the "sin" line? Does scripture give us a magazine capacity limit? Can I own a gun to protect myself from animal attacks? What about 2 legged varmints? Is it my right to protect my family as I see fit? Is it my responsibility? Is it God-ordained? If I choose to abdicate my responsibility, is that sin? Is gun ownership, in fact, an area of Christian liberty? Can we both make different choices in this area and both be obedient?

I didn't see any scripture in the article. Please help.