After another mass shooting last week, I watched countless conversations about mass killings unfold on social media and in the news cycle. As many Christians defended complete and total legislative inaction in the wake of wonton violence, I was literally speechless at the kinds of things fellow believers (especially some pastors) were saying.
Here are a few things I’ve heard or seen from pastors:
“It’s not about gun laws. Satan is roaming the earth killing whomever he can. He is using any willing person that will follow his lead. He has the world focused on guns instead of him.”
Because obviously, our inability to pass common sense gun laws is the fault of Lucifer himself. If a person who could have been background checked or screened for mental health goes on a killing spree, we don’t have to blame a broken political system and our own moral numbness to such wretched tragedies – blame Satan!
Of course, the problem with “the devil made them do it,” is that personal and social responsibility are minimized to the point that we are off the hook. There is no way to prevent every tragedy, but why the push-back against laws that might minimize tragedy?
Can you imagine if that was the Church’s response to other tragic and violent situations?
…like Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery – “The devil made that man kidnap those girls, so there’s no reason to pass laws that might prevent human trafficking, and certainly no need to talk about it.”
Such an approach is not only irresponsible from a biblical perspective, but from a social and moral one.
Another pastor wrote in a forum:
“We cannot stop this stuff from going down. The world is going to hell in two handbaskets.”
Actually, part of what makes these tragedies so infuriating (and painfully sad) is that in other developed countries, mass killings do not happen with anywhere close to the same regularity we have in the States.
Can you imagine if the response of Christians to every moral dilemma was like the one above?
…like Racial Segregation – “We cannot stop segregation because the world is going to hell. The Bible says it will get worse before it gets better!”
Preposterous. Such a view is escapist, and denies Christ’s call to help usher in the Kingdom of Heaven in our present reality. Unfortunately the escapist view is rampant among American Christians, and common sense gun legislation isn’t the only issue held captive to such faulty thinking.
I even heard a pastor say:
“As Christians we shouldn’t expect politicians, judges and other leaders to make moral choices that usher in God’s Kingdom.”
Then as Christians, why do we elect them? I’m all for separation of church and state, but just because the state should not favor a particular religion or denomination doesn’t mean we should expect the worst from our government, or not care when violence (that can arguably be minimized) runs rampant.
What if the above view was taken in other situations?
…like Payday and Predatory Lending – “Why should Christians expect society to limit predatory financial practices that prey on the poor and vulnerable? If the Church was just salt and light then maybe these companies would go away.”
Don’t count on it. On many issues the church works to affect change for the better in our culture including human rights, economic initiatives, racial reconciliation, and environmental stewardship. If the church is salt and light in the world, wouldn’t legislative change materialize as fruit of our collective witness?
The non-answers, the posturing, the moral avoidance and theological escapism have got to stop – especially among Christian leaders. It’s time for a reality check.
In my opinion, the reason this debate is seemingly intractable is nothing short of idolatry masquerading as weak rhetoric, tired arguments, and a refusal to face the truth – We have an idolatry problem in America.
- Idolatry of the individual self
- Idolatry of guns
- Idolatry of “personal security and protection”
- Idolatry of money (like the billions at play in lobbying and propaganda) And yes even,
- Idolatry of the Constitution (above the Bible as the highest authority for our lives)
There, I said it. Perhaps the reason these mass killings continue to happen month after month, (with more frequency than any other developed nation), perhaps the reason for the avoidance of real dialogue among people of faith, is idolatry, in one of its many forms.
I’m not opposed to gun ownership – I have a few myself, and have used firearms my entire life. Surely we can pass some common sense laws that honor 2nd Amendment rights while attempting to minimize killing sprees. Is that too much to ask? Unfortunately for many, it is.