I typically refrain from saying anything on facebook besides snarky/cutesy/pleasant comments. My wit, peppered with pics of my beautiful family likely makes a fairly benign addition to your newsfeed. A few years ago, it was made apparent to me that that was all most of my fb friends could take from me. I am not a natural arguer. I think out loud and consequently, when put in a conversation that is tense, I say things that I don’t mean, or haven’t thought through and so then I look like an idiot. Not only that, I look like an idiot who doesn’t know what she thinks. So yeah, I tend to only speak to the fb masses about what I know for sure, and what no one can argue with me about: My family is awesome, slow drivers make me crazy, and it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. Everyone wins.
Even when tragedies happen, I am reluctant to say anything—ANYTHING--people. You might see my silence as callous (oh, God, I hope not) or just ‘well-she’s-got-other-things-to-focus-on’ or just my positive slant keeping me from saying anything negative. My silence is also motivated by the knowledge that no one changes his or her mind based on a well worded facebook post. Even less likely is one to have a change of heart in the heated comment sections that generally follow posts about things people feel strongly about. So, it seems like it’s a no win situation.
But then that causes me to wonder what winning would be. I’m not sure I know in this sort of scenario. It’s kinda like justice. How do you know you’re getting it?
Yesterday I wrestled in my head over the shooting in Charleston. If you know me—as in really know me—I’m sure you know how I feel about gun ownership…we’ll get to that. But what kept coming to my heart is about justice. There is no justice in circumstances like these. Regardless of what penalty the shooter will pay, it isn’t justice. If justice is a thing that replaces something that was taken, then we all know that the taking of a life is an act that can never be covered in justice. Ever. For the families of the beautiful victims, nothing can be done now. Except for the amazing stories I am hearing of forgiveness, that is. But still, that isn’t justice. That is Jesus’ way. Grace in the face of injustice is what Christians have received and are called to give. Forgiveness is hard to give in the aftermath of the smallest infraction; in the face of a monumental wrong, even harder. But Christians know forgiveness like this is not without precedent. And we also know that it is not for the wrong doer that we forgive. It is so we can remain without hate. So we can release this injustice from our power into the hands of the One who has promised a day when hate will no longer threaten.
So to the Church in America, I have this to ask: We see things in the news that cause our conservative-leaning Bible morals all sorts of trouble. Then we say things like, “Well, we live in a broken (or fallen) world. Of course these bad things are what we have to be prepared to face.” Please consider my next sentence honestly. If, in the face of brokenness, your response is to arm yourself to protect what’s ‘yours’ from it, then I think you need to reconsider your position on Christ’s call in your life. Yes, in America we have the right to bear arms. Whatever the hell that means. But Church, our citizenship is not of this world, let alone these silly borders we find ourselves living in. Arms=weapons. While not a gun enthusiast or expert even I know that some guns are for shooting once (or twice) and some guns are specifically made to kill lots of people, you know, like in a combat zone. I ask you, American Christians, why in the name of the Prince of Peace do you need to have so many weapons that kill the fellow image-bearers you encounter? Why are you so afraid of the people God has made and loved and died for? This is not about hunting for food. If your family relies on meat you must hunt, yeah, you’ll need a gun for that. But not an automatic one, am I right? Not one that in the hands of a 17 year old can take out his Chemistry class. I may be wrong here but none of the mass shootings I know about have been with a weapon that was illegally obtained. They were bought legally and then used illegally. How many people have to be murdered in this way before gun gurus say, “You know, maybe my ‘right’ to my gun collection isn’t worth the lives of the 20 young children from Sandy Hook.”
But that won’t happen, Church, until we declare that the taking of a life is immoral. Sometimes we agonize about our collective voice as God's people. "Is our silence seen as approval?" "Shouldn't we say something about this or that?" "Shouldn't we at least support a particular candidate?" I don't know about that but I do believe this. Here is a place we should be able to speak with one voice loud and clear: Yes, the taking of ANY life is immoral! And if we are a people who prize each life as a gift, then I maintain, we won’t have anything to do with weapons that can snuff that gift out in an instant.
You are welcome to comment if you like. Please be kind.