Monday, February 4, 2013

P4E.253 Of God, Guns and Country

I have to admit that I'm puzzled, confused and amazed at the response of part of the Christian community with regard to the gun rights issues that have enveloped the country. I can certainly understand the culture of legitimate hunters, who are some of the most serious conservationists, who eat what they kill, who are responsible with their guns and wish to protect their right to keep and use those arms.

What I struggle with is that element of the Christian community that is politically hyperactive, that wraps itself in the American flag, that homogenizes its Christian beliefs with its American patriotism and enters into "battle" with those it perceives are its political enemies. Here are some questions that I think are relevant for that element of the Christian community to answer for themselves:

- Are you more influenced by your belief in Christianity or your American citizenship?
- When it comes to your personal welfare and the protection of your family, in whom or in what are you placing your trust? Is your answer at odds with your Christian belief?
- What is meant in Matthew 5:39 where Jesus says "But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also."
- In the very next verse, Matthew 5:40, Jesus speaks of lawsuits, "If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also." Courts of law are non-violent places to work out differences. If Jesus advised against non-violent self-defense, how much more do you think Jesus would be against violent self-defense?
- If guns are weapons of violence and Proverbs 3:31 states, "Do not envy a man of violence And do not choose any of his ways." what are we to do with that advice?
- If we are actively involved in the promotion of a culture armed with weapons of violence, what do we think God's attitude will be towards us in the light of Psalms 11:5 - "The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates."
- Advising against lawsuits, Paul says, in I Corinthians 6:7, "Why not rather be wronged?" Should the same reasoning not be used with regard to using guns in self-defense? Why not rather be wronged?
- If the argument is, as I often hear, that guns cannot reliably be used to wound, but must be used as lethal weapons; what is your attitude towards the sixth commandment, "Thou shalt not kill"?
- What are we to make of the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, where one of Jesus' disciples attempts to defend them by striking out with a sword and Jesus says to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword."

I know that our natural inclination is to defend ourselves and our loved ones. But, on the road to enlightenment or salvation are we not to change our ways? To overcome our natural tendencies and replace them with higher ones?

On the issue of gun rights, I think Christians ought best to be on the side of non-violence or remain silent. We simply cannot, in good conscience, side with those who would arm an increasingly sociopathic, dumbed-down, narcissistic, violent culture.

"The key to changing the world and pursuing justice and disarmament is to allow the God of peace to disarm our hearts, make us instruments of peace, and lead us together on the road to peace."
Fr. John Dear

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