I’ve felt the need to follow up a Facebook kerfuffle that was the result of a status update I wrote. … Ugh. That sentence is an embarrassing one to write, but it is sincere. Last week, on the evening of the terrible tragedy at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, OR (3 hours from where we live) I posted:
It's sad to know that some people's response to today's shooting is, "This wouldn't have happened if more people were carrying guns." That logic has failed.
Albeit, it's more complex than just government control (not something I get pumped about). We are being given a reflection of our culture's fear, hopelessness, and self-centeredness on an alarmingly increasing basis. We need to lay our fear, anger, and guns down. Especially Christians. Please.
I really, truly, honestly did not think that was a very offensive or abrasive reflection following 10 deaths and 9 injuries at a community college located in a small, quiet town. Surprisingly though, some seemed to have taken offense by it, thinking I was making a “leftist” statement or being political. I was not being political, but spiritual. The reason I’m posting about this on here is because it very much ties into Contemplative Christian Spirituality.
In particular, there was one person who responded who is a pastor I know and am personally fond of. He seemed to be the most agitated by my status update. We’ll call him “Pastor Y.” Pastor Y wrote an initial response stating that my “leftist” remarks were the result of the media, who are incorrect and bent on calling guns “evil.” Pastor Y also encouraged me to look at the numbers.
My response was:
I don’t own a TV, am not “leftist,” nor am I making a political statement. You're confusing me with someone else, Pastor Y. Stats can be swayed in either direction depending on who’s using them, and they always are. I’m simply responding to the number of shootings from my own personal perspective. But the point of my post is that this is the result of our fear, hopeless, and self-centeredness. I don’t want the fear of my neighbor or government to cause me to pick up a gun, not because I don’t have anything to fear, but because Jesus never picked up a sword, or a stone.
That response resulted in three replies within 15min of each other.
Here is a screenshot of Pastor Y's response(s):
Firstly, I’m sure Pastor Y meant cloaks and not “clocks.” [Luke 22.36]
Secondly, I really don’t think I really need to distinguish the difference between a seatbelt and a gun, a deadbolt and a gun, or health insurance and a gun. Right? I hope not. … (Just in case, a seatbelt isn't designed to kill the other driver, a deadbolt isn't designed to kill the person at your door, and health insurance isn't designed to kill another person so you live).
Thirdly, the presence of another tragedy should not disqualify us from addressing one (i.e. alcohol effects and mass shootings). That type of discussion is convoluted and an attempt to distract. No one here is arguing for more drinking in the world.
So, my response to these posts from Pastor Y was:
How did Jesus say to use the sword? He didn’t. And when Peter actually used the sword, what did Jesus do? [Told him to put it away, then reversed the results of Peter’s “self-protection”].
You’re using one statement of Jesus' (full of deeper meaning) to cover up many, many statements that are clearly anti-violence. But again, my original post was that this is a reflection of our fear, hopelessness, and self-centeredness. It’s disappointing how upsetting this is to you.
To his credit, Pastor Y later deleted all his comments, and subsequently my replies. I realize that it probably wasn't because he had a change of heart, but I’d like to hope that something about my words felt less like some sort of conspirator's political agenda and more like the result of being affected by the teaching and life and presence of Jesus.
I am not arguing for government control of guns. My faith is not in our government. I am pleading for Christians to help lead the charge in making guns irrelevant.
Yes, King David “carried a sword and a club and was a man after God’s own heart,” but I’m not a Davidian. I am a Christian. King David is not my Lord/Teacher. Jesus is. And Jesus said:
You have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago, Don’t commit murder, and all who commit murder will be in danger of judgment. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with their brother or sister will be in danger of judgment. … You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 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. ... You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even non-believers do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
– Jesus, Matthew 5:21/22, 38/39, & 44-48
We will always be able to find Biblical justifications for fearful responses to life, if that’s what we are looking for and want. But the fact remains, Jesus consistently spoke about non-violence (not just “non-vengefulness”) and it was what He modeled every single day of His life; even when He was publicly tortured and crucified by His own people and government.
If you’re a Christian, you cannot rationalize this out of your attempt to follow Jesus. He never reacted in self-defense, and ultimately died on the cross praying, “Father, forgive them.” For better or for worse, this is my Lord. Not David. Not Peter. Not anyone else who would make me feel better about the fear that I harness in my soul.
I want to be freed of fear; not because it’s “leftist” or whatever else someone might want to label it, but because Christ was fearless. And not just for the sake of being free from fear, but for the sake of being free to live fully in the reckless courageousness of Love.
We need to lay our fear, anger, and guns down. Especially Christians. Please.