In another frustrating and agonizing version of Here we F*cking Go Again; another sick-and-twisted déjà vu, we get word of yet another mass shooting within the United States of America. This time in Texas. Following on the heels of another mass shooting in Buffalo, NY. All in the name of “freedom.” But freedom for who? Certainly not our school children, or shoppers at grocery stores, churches, or shopping malls. We have a real problem here in the good ol’ U-S-of-A. Our president put the feelings and frustrations of most Americans far more succinctly than I could.
Yet there is one group of people who simply won’t acknowledge the real problem: the instrument of death itself. Foremost among them is the senator from the state of Texas, Ted Cruz. Only days after the slaughter innocent children, Cruz stood in front of the NRA and announced that the real problem was we didn’t have ENOUGH guns. Meanwhile, the governor of Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, told us that it was all about mental health. When challenged on their positions, they chastise those who disagree with them for “politicizing” such a tragic event. Completely blind to how their politics are always at the forefront in times of tragedy like this.
On Conservative media, we get a litany of bizarre, nonsensical reasons for the bloodbath. The blame is pretty much always applied to the same few themes: Liberals, taking prayer out of school, mental health problems, violent video games, gun-free zones, gay marriage, trans people playing sports, vegetarianism, rap music… and the list of reasons goes on and on, getting more insane as it does.
Yet at no point will they ever address the real problem: the instrument used to create such carnage. Why not? Because… Freedom? Somehow, shooting someone has become entangled around the idea of Evangelical sovereignty. The “tyrants” they fear, they have become.
Evangelicals opine that the reason for our situation is that “God is not allowed in schools.” This is an ironic statement to say the least. “God,” the God that Jesus knew, the God that Jesus talked about, is not allowed in Conservative politics. The God that Jesus understood would love to protect our children, but he’s stymied.
This is the irony of our problem. It’s the ones who call themselves “Christian” who are doing the most to stop God and/or Jesus from protecting our children. And why? Money? Ideology? Freedom? They get a lot of cash from the gun lobby, and they’re doing their best to store up riches on earth—as opposed to Heaven.
You would think they would be aware that they were impeding God’s love, but they’re not.
The truth is, we know what to do about this crisis. Not me of course, but there are some very smart people who have dedicated major portions of their lives studying this issue. They understand the intricacies and the complexities, and they know how to put us on the steps toward healing our predicament. The problem is, they’re not allowed to speak to the people in power because those in power do not want to talk about the real problem.
At this stage of the game I’m no longer sure that guns are the issue. I think Evangelicals are the issue; and their bizarre love-affair with guns. So I’m reviving a diary I wrote not long ago to show that Jesus would not have the warm fuzzies toward guns that they do. He would have hated the NRA, and he would have had nothing but contempt for Senator Cruz for not doing all they could to protect human life.
Jesus called children, “The greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” He told the rest of us that we must become like a child if we planned on entering Heaven since “such is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
~ Matthew 18: 1-5
Then he goes on to say:
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!
~ Matthew 16:6
Even the conservative “Jesus Film” points out:
In the Gospels, we see God's tender heart for children. His willingness to devote time to them, His recognition of their societal status, and His zeal for protecting their innocence demonstrates His high regard.
~ Jesus Film Project
One of Jesus’ most common teachings centered on faith. “If you have the faith of a mustard seed…” “Ye of little faith, why are you so afraid…” “He was amazed at their lack of faith…” His beliefs on faith could probably be distilled to this one statement:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
There are pages and pages we could extrapolate from this statement, tens of thousands of words we could write, but it acts as a staunch rebuttal to the “self-protection”, or "fear-of-losing-my-freedom" meme Evangelicals use to defend owning guns.
One has to wonder, would Jesus be comfortable with their lack of faith in God, and their misplaced faith in a weapon? Doesn't that also break one of the Ten Commandments?
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
How about the “good-man-with-a-gun” argument? “All it takes to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Is this compatible with the Jesus of Luke 6:27-36?
But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
The irony of “people of faith” is that they completely lack faith. They live in fear that someone is coming for them: to pry their guns out of their cold dead hands, to steal their ammunition, or force them into FEMA camps. They live in fear that immigrants are taking their jobs, and that gay people are ruining their marriages. This is not faith, this is fear. If it’s true that “Perfect love casts out all fear,” there is no love in Evangelical Christianity.
And he said unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?
To align yourself to Jesus is to embrace the faith of God, and I’ve yet to hear a defense of guns that comes from this faith. Instead, it comes from that one emotion Jesus criticized the most: doubt (which Jesus equated with fear—the inability to trust God).
Now you’re probably thinking, “I should at least have the option to protect myself, right? —Trust in God but tie up your camels?” Well… yes and no. I suppose it would have a lot to do with how seriously you take his “Love your enemies” injunction.
To say that Jesus was all about peace and love is to over-simplify who he was and what he stood for, but God’s peace and God’s love were a major part of his philosophy. Practicality was also a big player. In some instances, it does sound like Jesus is telling us that we will be “lambs to the slaughter.” Yet in other instances he gives advice on how to stand up to oppression.
But his methods are extreme: trust in God and love your enemy.
Because no such thing as a gun existed in first-century Palestine, we can correctly say that “Jesus never spoke about guns.” Of course not. But we can look into Jesus’ worldview: who he thought he was, who he thought God was, who he thought we were, and who he thought our enemies were. As opposed to what guns are, and what purpose do they serve the Kingdom of Heaven.
Who Jesus thought God was:
Obviously, this is going to be complicated. Even asking who “I” think God is can’t be put into words. However, we can see that Jesus looked into the universe and saw something, powerful and wonderful, that ruled over the earth and took a passionate interest in humanity (particularly the poor). Jesus of course viewed all this through the lens of Judaism and through the politics of the Temple, but his take on God was still somewhat unique. He identified this entity as “Father…” a daddy, intimate with and desirous to take great pleasure with his children. Jesus was so intimate with this father, that when he prayed for anything, he simply assumed that Father was going to provide it. Hence his focus on faith. His connection was so deep that the he could say, “I and my father are one.”
Who Jesus thought we were:
Well, that depended a lot on where you were on the socioeconomic scale. The higher up you were politically and financially, the less his Father thought of you, unless you used your resources to help the poor (See the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus). The lower down the social scale you were, the more precious you were to the Father. His Father loved the poor. Jesus even told his disciples that they were like him— “the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these…” Jesus and God were one, we and God were one.
Who Jesus thought our enemies were:
In short, they were our neighbors. The Gospel of Luke tells the story of an expert of the law asking Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
And here’s where Jesus tells the man—and the rest of us—the story of the Good Samaritan. We’ve heard this story so many times that we’ve lost the punchline. Samaritans were to Jews what atheists are to Evangelicals, only more so. Samaritans would be the: LGBTQ/bake-me-a-gay-cake/atheist/gun-haten’/Second-Amendment-tramplin’/liburals of Palestine. They were detested, loathed, despised, abhorred… (I think you get the point). Yet in his story about “my neighbor,” Jesus casts one of the most loathed social groups known to the Jews in the starring, compassionate role.
He tells of a Jewish man on his way to Jericho who was robbed and beaten and left for dead. Then Jesus casts two very important men in the supporting roles: a priest and a Levite (prominent Evangelicals, say Cruz and Abbott). Both passed their fellow Jew but ignored him, even going so far as cross the street in order to avoid contact.
Those listening to this story for the first time had to have felt a twinge of anger and disgust when they heard it.
However, along comes our hero, the Samaritan, who…
“…took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
Jesus ends his story by asking:
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Notice how Jesus doesn’t cast a Jew in the role of “neighbor”? Again, there are volumes that can be written about that, but it was bound to have angered the “righteous” in his audience. It’s as if Jesus was saying that they had to look outside Judaism (outside Christianity) to find a real Jew/Christian.
The last line of the story, “Go and do likewise,” is often taken as a throw-away line, but think about it—according to Jesus, if you want to enter The Kingdom of Heaven, you’ve got to take pity on your neighbor—which was really your enemy. Jesus was telling a Jew to act like a Samaritan—a Conservative to act like a Liberal, an Evangelical to act like an Atheist.
So now that we know our neighbor is actually our enemy, how does Jesus demand we treat our enemies?
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
Finally, let’s look at what Jesus thought about life:
He used the term “Kingdom of Heaven” when talking about God, about peace, about love and about life. In Matthew alone, he used it about thirty-six times. That Kingdom, though, was not static, or out there in the ethereal. It was in and around us, taking up space everywhere we went. “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” In his parables, Jesus compares a Sower to The Kingdom of Heaven, a mustard seed, yeast, treasure, a merchant, and a net— all to The Kingdom of Heaven. This kingdom was vibrant, active, and vital. It was part of us, part of God, and part of nature and everyday living. It was movement, going and coming, ebbing and flowing, giving and receiving, growing and catching—and we had the “keys.” We directed The Kingdom of Heaven.
In the context of how Jesus saw this life, Matthew quotes Isaiah:
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
This was Jesus’ Kingdom of Heaven.
Now, let’s look at the gun. What is the purpose of the gun? (Lifting from an earlier post)
Guns are manufactured for one reason only—to kill: To make killing easier; To able to kill from further away; To kill more people at the same time; To be able to kill at night; To kill silently; To kill through walls; To kill while on the go; To kill through bullet-proof vests.
I think it’s a safe bet that Jesus would not be on board with such an instrument. Guns violate who God thinks we are, they represent the lack of faith of the follower of Jesus. They hurt our neighbor (as well as our enemies). They hurt our children, and they rob life. In short, they are an attack on The Kingdom of Heaven.
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.
Jesus used the term hypocrite when describing people (usually people in power) who misused or misrepresented God and his instruction, and who said things about God that were not true—specifically when they brought harm to others. This was the worst offense Jesus ever used against anyone, and he used it for those he truly detested—the worst of the worst. And he wasn’t being hyperbolic when called someone a hypocrite (though he could be hyperbolic at times).
Jesus was pro LIFE (pro-Kingdom of Heaven)—and he took that stance seriously. The carnage in our country being defended by those who wear his name would piss him off to no end, and I think he'd start looking for a bigger word than hypocrite.
I do not think guns are our problem. Senator Cruz is.