The recent mass murder events help to nudge the conscience, a conscience that has been beaten senseless by the incessant beating of the anti-abortion drum and the idolatrous-like worship of the Second Amendment. The oxymoron of being both anti-abortion and pro-gun surely cannot be missed by people of goodwill everywhere.
Whether one is “pro-life” or “pro-choice” should not be the caustic debate it has become thanks to a marriage between the religious right and conservative politics. While the religious right is striving to go further and further right to the point that there is no legitimate reason for a woman to have an abortion, our country is in the midst of political chaos as it tries to determine whether or not our democratic experiment should continue.
The same vocal group that has determined it should have a right to decide whether or not to wear masks or to take vaccines during a global pandemic seeks to prevent another group from making potentially life and death decisions in the area of motherhood. It always has confounded me that stark contradictions abound within a particular political, religious or social group. For example, a person seems not to be bothered about taking pro-life, pro-capital punishment and pro-gun positions, even to the extreme.
Shouldn’t Christians be thoughtful, reflective and calm when considering positions on abortion, gun rights, capital punishment and so forth? Shouldn’t Christians be able to have civil conversations? After all, the non-Christian world is watching. What the non-Christian world sees happening within Christendom does not make Christianity a viable life or faith choice.
“What the non-Christian world sees happening within Christendom does not make Christianity a viable life or faith choice.”
During a time when a significant minority of professing Christians seem to be pushing “The Big Lie,” Second Amendment absolutism and a total ban on abortions, “mainstream” Christians are banging their heads against the wall trying to figure out how to bring a form of unity that Paul teaches.
The Jesus I worship and is Lord of my life is definitely not the Jesus I see worshiped by a group of people who seem to preach and ascribe to what can only be called a Jesus of hate.
Focus on abortion for one minute. Abortion, as acknowledged by almost all people, is not a desirable outcome of most, if not all, pregnancies. However, a very difficult pregnancy where the mother’s life is at risk, a possibly nonviable pregnancy and a pregnancy as a result of rape or incest are some situations where a safe abortion may become an outcome option. Such a decision should rest within the family unit involved. This family unit may rely on their own counsel or may involve the counsel from the medical, religious and other community groups. The reality is that an abortion only affects the family unit directly involved. There is no threat to anyone outside this family unit.
The United States has no law on the books that requires abortion. It would seem that some misguided Christian groups feel they should force their particular beliefs on those who exist outside their group. Our government is established to try to serve all citizens.
“Some misguided Christian groups feel they should force their particular beliefs on those who exist outside their group.”
When looking at the pro-gun group, I have been appalled at the fact that guns have been prizes given out in Christian churches. Again, it mystifies me to understand how this reflects the life and teachings of Jesus. Guns have become an idol to be worshiped by way too many professing Christians. They even argue that one must own an arsenal of guns to fight evil and that protecting oneself (with guns) is a God-given right. I admit that I missed this important lesson in Southern Baptist Sunday school and worship services.
Those who push the ownership of all types of guns, including those military-style weapons, as a right under the Second Amendment, have missed the point of the Second Amendment. But regardless of one’s understanding of the Second Amendment, I submit that my life in Christ is a life of victory even though I never have owned a gun. Even while serving in the U.S. military, our collective prayer was that we were such a substantial force of defense that no other country would dare attack us. Unfortunately, I have watched firsthand news reports where military members have belittled, abused and talked obscenely to prisoners, often to the delight of fellow Christians. Please, feel free to send me your New Testament references where such behavior is appropriate.
The Bible says there will be many false teachers. It actually lists their characteristics. I pray before each Bible study lesson I teach that I stay true to the word. There is one thing I do know: agape and koinonia are two Greek words used liberally in the New Testament, 259 and 20 times, respectively. If used appropriately, agape and koinonia serve as the glue that keep Christians with different political views and positional opinions in unity.
There is no excuse for a Christian preacher to suggest that those Christians who differ from his or her opinions either be banned from their church or be killed. As for me, a preacher behaving in such a hateful manner would not have me as a part of his or her church. The Bible teaches me to flee from such situations.
According to Romans 12:18, I am continuing in this life to try to live at peace with everyone. For me to accomplish this means my ownership and/or display of guns would not reinforce this principle as I attempt to live at peace with my fellow human beings.
I do understand there are those who desire to have a gun for hunting and a gun for personal and family safety. This is allowed by even a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment. However, owning a gun is not mandated in the U. S. Constitution. Hence, what does the Bible say? For Peter, even using his sword was a step too far for Jesus.
Earl Chappell lives in Virginia Beach, Va., and has been a member of First Baptist Church of Norfolk since 1977.
On abortion and guns: How is that American Christians can come to such different understandings of our faith? | Opinion by Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft
Rights, responsibilities and the two-fold commandment of love: A reflection on gun violence in America | Opinion by Greg Garrett