Friday, December 14, 2012

Worshipping At the Altar of My Gun

My wife is at school today. In my kindergartner daughter's class. Kindergarten. She turned five just a couple of months ago. I cannot for the life of me think about anything else right now.

26 dead. Most between 5 and 10 years old.

My son is soon to be 8.

Why, why, why?

After Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs killed his girlfriend and then himself, Jason Whitlock questioned just what in this world we worship. To satisfy the thousands depending on fantasy football stats from a single game, the NFL chose to to tell the Carolina Panthers go ahead and play in Kansas City the next day. Do we worship the athlete? The stats? Pro football as a whole? In Whitlock's piece, he included a single line about gun control. During halftime of Sunday Night Football one of the best sports broadcasters alive, Bob Costas, leveraged that single line to pontificate about gun control and was roundly villified in social media for "self righteousness", being a "glory hound", for being "out of touch". One friend on Facebook mocked Costas by suggesting that we regulate keyboards as they are the number one cause of typos.

One day earlier was a "shooting" in Casper, Wyoming. Ironically, the killer did not use a gun but rather a crossbow. Many pointed to this incident to make the classic argument "guns don't kill people, people kill people."

But, just a little more than a week later a gunman opened fire in a Portland mall, killing two before killing himself.

And now 26 are dead in Connecticut.

The truth is that sick people will do sick things. A pastor was killed in Texas a couple of months ago, beaten to death with a guitar. Gun or not, if I store up anger and hatred in my heart, the only logical conclusion is to hurt- even kill- another.

But why do we (some, not all) come to such an emotional defense of our "right to bear arms" when tragedies like this strike? Are guns that important? Do we need them to protect our eternal security? (And seriously, I could go on and on about many I know who call themselves Christians yet their membership to the NRA is just as important, if not more so, as membership to their church. This became evident leading up to the last presidential election.)

I'm not a pacifist. I don't hold a doctrinal position on Just War. I grew up in gun country, where students would bring their guns to school just so they would be ready to leave as soon as the bell rang to go hunting. But to own those guns they were required to take hunter's safety courses. In fact, it was practically part of my curriculum, taking it in 6th grade.

I understand the arguments. I have coworkers who collect guns. I have friends who frequent shooting ranges.

But at some point we need to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask what, exactlly, are we worshipping? Why are guns so important?

"Put your sword back in its place," Jesus told said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword." (Matthew 26:52)

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