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.