Turn the other clip, this one is empty

imagesThis post is part of the March Synchroblog “Guns and God” which asks us to explore the controversial subject of gun control from our faith perspective.

First, I should let you know that I am all for stricter gun laws and I believe I could use scripture and my Christian faith to argue my point because my impression of Jesus is he was not only non-violent, but perhaps even a pacifist  However, it seems that those who disagree with me are also comfortable using scripture and their Christian faith to prop up their arguments.

For example, some Christians who oppose stricter gun laws have used Luke 22 to support the idea that Jesus would approve of individuals owning guns to protect themselves and their families because he said, “if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one”. And Wayne LaPierre, the NRA Executive Vice President, said that “No government gave [the right to bear arms] to us and no government can take them away” which in turn caused many Christians (some right from the pulpit) to begin to proclaim that owning guns is a “God-given” right.  It seems that some Christians are hearing a message that sounds more like “turn the other clip, this one is empty” when they read scripture than the one of non-violence that I hear.

Of course I could probably put up a good argument against that kind of logic.

I might bring up that later in Luke 22 Jesus actually rebukes one of his disciples for using a sword for protection and in Matthew 26 (another telling of Jesus’ arrest) he not only rebukes the disciple but adds that “all who draw the sword, will die by the sword”.  Or, I might caution Christians who talk about owning guns as a “God-given” right about confusing constitutional issues with kingdom issues as I don’t think the freedom Jesus talked about had anything to do with the second amendment.

But, I would also be careful about getting caught up in that kind of back and forth as I am not so interested in winning an argument as I am at solving our problem and I believe our problem is bigger than whether we should have stricter gun laws or not.

Don’t get me wrong.  I want stricter gun laws. I think we should ban automatic and semi-automatic weapons and high capacity clips.  I am in favor of stricter registration laws, better background checks and better mental health services.  And although I don’t think those things will solve all of our problems I do believe they would help reduce gun violence and even contribute to changing our culture (I realize it would be a process and wouldn’t happen overnight).

But, what weighs heavy on my mind and keeps me up at night is the question as to why other countries, where lots of individuals own guns, have a significantly lower murder rate than the U.S.

After a lot of thought I’ve come to the conclusion that it might be linked to the individualism that has grown out of pursuing and living the “American Dream”.  The pull yourself up by your own boot straps, every man for himself, I don’t want to pay the way for freeloaders, this is mine, not my problem attitude creates a society where people are alienated and separate from each other.  In that kind of society we see others as a threat to our freedom and well being rather than someone we are together with on the path of life. Most other countries around the world seem to have realized that there is a national benefit to taking care of the sick, elderly and poor but here in the U.S. most people think that everyone should take care of themself. I’m not saying it is perfect anywhere but I do think it is time that we stopped ignoring the fact that something is awry in the U.S. when it comes to gun violence.

Which brings me back to looking at this thing from a Christian perspective and causes this thought to keep going through my mind:

It’s harder to kill someone if there is a sense of connection.


I hope you’ll check out some of these other great posts for this month’s synchroblog:

10 thoughts on “Turn the other clip, this one is empty

  1. Carol Kuniholm

    There is much that is wonderful about the US and our shared heritage, but we do seem to have believed the myth of “rugged individualism” in a way that has harmed our communities, our churches, our families, our environment, our health. We’ve lost sight of the common good, the idea that my health and well-being depends on yours, and on the health and well-being of the poorest, weakest, most troubled among us.
    That sense of connection you mention is lost when we forget the second great command: love your neighbor as yourself. Gun violence is one sad symptom of our dis-ease, but certainly not the only one.

  2. Chris Jefferies

    Hi Liz,

    I recognise the attitude you describe – everyone for themselves, not caring about others. Here in the UK much of society has that sort of feel about it. We have strict gun law, we have our National Health Service, we have benefits for the poor and out of work and the aged and so forth (though not really adequate these days).

    And although our firearm death rates are forty times lower than yours, I have the same feeling that you express, the sense that society is ill at ease with itself. There is compassion out there, sometimes in unexpected places, by no means just in church circles, sometimes not even there!

    Something fundamental needs to change, doesn’t it? There needs to be that sense of connection you mention. It’s a post-modern age and most people think there is no truth except what seems true to each one. We need to stop building on sand and build instead on the Rock, the One who is the only firm Foundation. We need to see with Jesus’ eyes, not our own. See Proverbs 28:11.

    1. Liz Post author

      Chris – That’s a great way to put it “society is ill at ease with itself” and something “fundamental needs to change”.

      I do think that the way of Jesus is the answer.

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