There is a preface to this post. I wrote this Sunday afternoon and wanted to sit on it, think about it, and look it over again this morning before I posted it. This morning at 5:30 I was laying awake in bed and thought that I should pull the whole thing and not publish it because I was honestly concerned about my family's welfare. I began to pray that God would work in the hearts of his church in America because I feel that we come up short when it comes to addressing these issues. I think that American Christians' hearts are so wrapped in the defense of their politics that we have become a hollow voice in comforting the hurting in this country, and world. And then I logged on to FB this morning and witnessed the worse venom yet coming out of Christians. If that is what represents the body of Christ-I want out. We all have our faults, but the difference is that we've accepted, coddled, and maybe even have celebrated some of the most un-God-like characteristics in our congregations.
So, I'm just one voice, a minority for sure, hoping to spark some soul-searching among friends.
I think I need to maybe apologize for a couple of things before I go any further. This post may seem rambling, long, and may even seem to arrive at some conclusions that I don't necessarily intend to make. And I apologize if I seem preachy or take shots at gun advocates. And I certainly apologize if you saw the headline and thought.........all right already, enough is enough on the subject.
And I want to let you know that I've given a tremendous amount of thought on whether or not to post anything about Newtown, not because of the topic, or from the amount of attention it has received. I struggle with....well.....no other way to say this than "my future". And those of you who know me probably understand exactly what I mean by that.
But isn't it time we quit kidding ourselves when it comes to this topic? Isn't it time to be honest with ourselves, let go of the emotion that divides this country in half and seriously consider what can be done to significantly reduce violence of the magnitude we witnessed on Friday?
Let's be honest, we all know why this happened, though we often hear that question.
If you are a Christian, or believe in God in any way, you understand that there are two realms to this world: the natural and spiritual realms.
In the natural realm, the short answer to "why" is that weapons with the killing power we witnessed on Friday are legally, or at least easily, available to people who should not have them. Now I've managed to alienate half my audience, but I would ask that you stick with me on this.
In the spiritual realm, the short answer to "why" is that we live in a fallen, broken world. A friend posted an article related to just this....that even the story of Christmas is one in which evil sought to kill good, and was not satisfied until maybe hundreds of children were slaughtered: "massacre of the innocents." Unfortunately too many Christians, when viewing tragedies in this realm, simply state that faith and hope are all that can be applied, as if we lack critical thinking.
But yet Christians are those who seek to legislate the protection of unborn children, define marriage, permit what can be taught in schools, etc., etc. Why not just simply state that these issues reflect a broken world, much like the tragedy in Newtown? Why aren't Christians lining up to find a way to legislate away this problem?
I point back to the natural realm. We know two things: 1) the weapon used was made for assault purposes and 2) the young man who used it had mental deficiencies (why else would he undertake this?). So, let's start with either of these two items. The problem is that to deal with either runs counter to Republican/NRA held values which demand less control and screening. I've also heard from several people that this is more of a mental illness problem. Yup, that's right. Are we going to profile people who are mentally ill, attempt to rehabilitate them, but all the while go ahead and let them own mass-murder weaponry?
"I'm so sorry about your daughter, Mrs. Jones, we were really trying to work with Freddie, and he was showing great progress. We just didn't think we should prohibit him from having guns."
You offer NO solutions by addressing mental illness if you do not address access to weapons by the mentally ill. Common sense.
So, we Christians wring our hands, neglecting common sense, and say that we can only offer the hope of Christ to those hurting, and then post our pro-gun comments on Facebook. God forbid one of the families who will be burying their 6 year old hear you say "place your faith in God" and in the same breath say "guns don't kill people, people kill people". That saying has gotten us no where, but more violence.
You see, this is the problem when in the hierarchy of our values, the GOP, NRA, Rush, Beck, the Tea Party, etc. are used to filter our faith, and maybe even just our common sense.
I am not anti-gun. I am, in fact, a gun owner. But I have yet to hear a solid, sane reason why 1) any private citizen needs an assault weapon or 2) why permits and thorough background checks should not be undertaken before any gun changes hands. Seriously.....is this not common sense? I would think that the NRA would be the first in line to make sure guns don't get into the wrong hands! We desperately NEED the NRA to begin policing themselves.
People that come to the defense of high capacity assault-style weaponry, when pressed, will usually arrive at it being a need to protect themselves from the government. Well, then we probably should legalize surface to air missiles, because if you think your assault rifle will hold the US army at bay you are fooling yourself. And furthermore, that reasoning in itself is off-kilter. There is a certain Mad Max/end of the world mentality that drives the strong feelings that some people have to arm themselves with such weaponry. The shooter's mother was reported to be one of these. Too often I think that people in this spectrum feel that the gun is an extension of their identity, that they maybe privately hope to be needed, like a hero. I know people like this.
Interjection: had the man been of another nationality, dare I say, religion, would we be planning a bombing raid right now? Would we be demanding our pound of flesh? Would we be tightening security even at the cost of civil liberties?
Two comments on FB struck me most severely on Saturday. One was from a girl just out of high school who stated that the Newtown tragedy would not have happened if teachers had concealed weapons. If that makes sense to you, you are probably too far gone to think logically about the issue in total. The other comment was intended to downplay the tragedy, and I think deflect any focus away from gun violence, by stating that the toll of abortion is higher than any school shooting. Fine, let's outlaw abortion AND have stricter gun control-would that satisfy? Of course not, but we do like to trot out the unborn as the trump card in elections and when it makes a convenient deflection from gun violence. I thought both comments were warped, to be frankly honest. Particularly when I see so little effort on Christians' part to make a dent in abortions except at the ballot box.
So either we continue down this path or something needs to change. And I know that there are those who don't believe anything should change. I also know that probably the majority of Americans do not understand how easy it is to get guns.
The only true, natural realm, solution I see since we are entrenched in gun rights is to have trained, armed officers at every school. What else is available to us if we refuse to approach this from a gun control or access issue? A Republican legislator from Texas commented that since schools don't permit guns, they are easy targets. I can't begin to tell you how stupid I think that comment is.....as if a gunman who plans to go down in a blaze of perverse glory is going to think twice about his killing spree because he might be stopped by a kindergarten teacher with a handgun. And these are the guys leading our country?
If gun laws are not an option, then we have to look at armed officers at our schools. To post hired police officers at River City Schools, there would need to be an increase in nearly a half million dollars to our local budget. Where would our short-changed schools get that kind of cash? This seems insane to me, but I think it is where we are at if we wish to avoid any new gun laws. In many ways a push for new laws gives me grave concern for the wackos who already have their guns, legally, who may find cause for retaliation, and no doubt we will hear even more secession discussion (enter the Timothy McVeys). My only concern is if the answer is more guns, we need to understand the principle if you live by the sword, you will die by the sword (Rev. 13:10).
So, we continue to die.
Is this culture of death the true cost of "freedom" in America? We are a violent society that seems to be growing in intensity. We're not going to pray it away........because, let's be real honest, we're part of the problem. The violence is fed by the carnage on video games and the buffet of extreme ways people are murdered on prime time shows every evening. At one time, in the Old Grand Old Party, we took up the issue of violence and sought ways to end it. Marilyn Quayle specifically worked to address this. That was the Republican party of yesterday-no one is talking about this today.
As I think of the faces in my own Sunday School class that I teach, and the opportunities I have to be in area elementary schools, my heart is torn for you Newtown. I have nothing to offer you other than prayers and assurance of hope in Christ. What I would like to tell you is that Christians will stop coming to the defense of their politics and start defending their faith.