10 reasons I oppose open carry in Texas & hope you will, too

“Jesus said … ‘Get ready for trouble. Look to what you’ll need; there are difficult times ahead. Pawn your coat and get a sword.’ …

“They said, ‘Look, Master, two swords!’

“But he said, ‘Enough of that; no more sword talk!'” (Luke 22.36-38)

Texas Governor-elect Greg Abbott wants to see the open carry of firearms become the law of the land in Texas.

With all due respect, I believe his sort of thinking is shot full of holes. For sake of brevity, let me just enumerate here ten ways as to why.

1. If you’re really trying to up your safety factor against criminals we all know the best way to do that is to start openly carrying a handgun – so the criminally-minded know exactly who to take out first, right?

2. Recent events in the national news (aka: deaths of innocent individuals) only reinforce the thought that law enforcement would never make a mistake in shooting someone they thought was carrying what appeared to be a firearm and so, open-carry laws could only minimize the number of such tragedies, right?

3. Everyone packing heat is always very level-headed and would never succumb to a raw emotional impulse, something they could avoid if they weren’t packing to start with, right?

4. All sorts of people in all sorts of places carrying lethal weapons in plain view for everyone to see just makes for a more at-ease, anxiety-free, and peace-minded society, right?

5. Affording quicker and easier access to children, those not fully responsible for themselves – anyone within reach, really – will never result in any accidents, right?

6. Our ancestors who lived through far more openly and consistently dangerous times and situations many years ago just didn’t have a clue what they were doing when they outlawed open-carry to start with, right?

7. No well known pro open carry organizations have a track record of harassment, bullying, or threatening people and have the NRA’s full support, right?

8. This push for legislation is based on solid research/studies and what’s truly best for people, with no political machinations at work, right?

9. There’s certainly no chance of any sort of subtle intimidation, wordless manipulation, unjust persuasion, or unconscious alienation going on in any conversation when one party is strapped and the other one isn’t, making for no distraction or disruption whatsoever in everyday dealings with any and all others, right?

10. After all, open carry just makes good sense for servants of the Prince of Peace and, loving your enemies is just so much easier in an increasingly violence-prone society when you’re totin’ a modern day “Peacemaker,” right?

For these ten reasons – and more – I believe an open carry law in today’s Texas makes little sense and could bring far more harm than any potential good it could ever bring. And so, I don’t think there’s much right about seeking an open carry law in Texas’ future.

Just one Christian thinkin’ out loud here.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4.5-7)

torture is wrong

While it’s the hot topic in politics and the news right now, the current, comparative silence on this subject in the Christian quarter of these United States is disturbing and deafening to me.

So, let me say it loud and clear right here: torture is wrong. It’s always wrong; torture is never right.

  • If torture is a tool, it is a tool of Satan, not of God our Father.
  • If torture is a law, it is not the law of our Lord.
  • If torture is an aid, it is not an aid of the Helper who is the Holy Spirit.

Have we so sanitized the message of the offensiveness of Christ and his cross that we have missed or forgotten this message? Everything about the Christ and his cross says torture is wrong.

  • So says the beating of the Christ. Hear the groans of the Suffering Servant as each blow lands.
  • So says the whipping of the Christ. Feel the splash of blood and the strike of pieces of flesh from the Incarnate One splattering across your body.
  • So says the crown of thorns on the Christ. Taste the endless rivulets of blood as they run down Jesus’ face as your own.
  • So says the cross of Christ. See your Sacrifice struggle, agonizing and writhing with every tormented breath.

The Christ himself so says with his measured and costly words while on the cross:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

He would not have prayed for his torturers’ forgiveness if their doings were not sin. And torture that leads to death is doubly sinful.

Since torture is wrong, we who are Christ’s disciples are called by God and expected of God to live out our lives as His Son lived out His own here in the flesh: expressive of the exact opposite of torture.

“… treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you; this is the Law and the Prophets”

Especially if/when you find yourself subjected to torture.

“If people slap you on your right cheek, you must turn the left cheek to them as well.”

Our Lord practices what he preaches and so, he teaches us over and over that torture is wrong, as powerfully with his ways as well as with his words. I ask you: just how many times did our Lord intervene on behalf of another whenever he encountered someone experiencing some – any – form of torture, be it verbal, mental, emotional, or physical?

Pause and let the people and his encounters with them come to mind. The list is rather long, isn’t it?

“If all of them were recorded, I imagine the world itself wouldn’t have enough room for the scrolls that would be written.”

And so:

  • Seek to grow a heart that is no longer numb or callous to torture, but appalled and revolted by it.
  • Seek to prioritize your citizenship in the eternal kingdom that is not a part of this world and its ways.
  • Seek right justice and not wrong revenge.
  • Seek to mature in a mindset that simply will not tolerate justifying the means so as to reach a desired end.
  • Seek to live in such a way that you add to the list of those on whose behalf you intervene and defend, not to the list of those who torment and torture others.

a different kind of Memorial Day

 

This is a different kind of Memorial Day for me this year. For today, instead of commemorating the death of American soldiers who died in battle – a very humbling thought in itself and something for which I am deeply respectful! – I want to deliberately remember the civilians of all nations who have died due to war.

The memorial I have in mind is not wrapped beautifully in red, white, and blue – or the colors of any other nation’s flag – but, is draped only in the blackness of grief and death. It is not limited by boundaries established by men and their choices, but is limited only by the extent of humanity. It is not to glory in any one people’s way, but to glory in the Lord’s way alone.

A legion of memorials and monuments are to be found across the globe commemorating the death of soldiers from every nation. But where are the monuments, the days, the parades, etc. in remembrance of the civilians who died? They are not nearly so prevalent or prominent, are they? One can only wonder why. After all, civilian deaths typically far outnumber military deaths in any war.

Read that last sentence again and let the cold hard fact of it all soak deep into your spirit.

Take World War II as an example. Estimates of the total number of deaths in all countries affected by that war alone typically range somewhere between 60-80 million. How many of those were military personnel? 22-25 million. A horrific sum! And how many were the number of civilians who died? 38-55 million. Horror x 2. They were old men and women. They were infants and small children. They were the handicapped and the vulnerable. They were the marginalized and the forgotten.

They were victims of disease, dislocation, and deprivation. They experienced rape, torture, and ethnic cleansing/genocide. They succumbed to abandonment, imprisonment, and starvation. They were stripped of dignity, dehumanized, and altogether undone. Their deaths were accidental and deliberate, intentional and collateral, contrived and common. But all of them had this one thing in common: their deaths need not have been.

Truly, war is hell. But it is hell for all involved. May we never forget such or give such only passing remembrance. And so let us make all the more effort to remember quite clearly and more often that the greatest price paid in war is paid by those who never take up arms.

Pray with me, won’t you?

Father God, we long for the time when all wars will cease. Help our hatred for such be like your hatred of it. May we be so caught up in such that our distinctiveness to the ways of this world are obvious to all. And so, grow in us now such a spirit of peace that we run not to make war, but peace. To the end that the evil might have time to repent and so that all the more innocent might be spared. And so we ask: bring in your kingdom. Bring it in through us and bring it in now. In the name of the Prince of peace we pray. Amen.

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

This post marks the last in the regular series of posts this year of links to reading on matters pertaining to faith in Christ and violence.

V-for-violence

Armed security & churches: Of Swords And Plowshares

“I’m talking about churches using armed guards during worship services. …  What kind of message do we send when we have guards to put up the facade of all things being under control, of everything being safe? Is that what God calls the church to be?”

Assassination: John F. Kennedy: The Day

“This month marks 50 years since his assassination in Dallas, an event that jarred the nation and fueled a multitude of conspiracy theories about whether Kennedy was killed by a single gunman acting alone in the Texas School Book Depository. Here are some images from that fateful day as it unfolded.”

Full contact sports: Quitting the N.F.L.: For John Moffitt, the Money Wasn’t Worth It

“The heightened awareness of football’s physical tolls has prompted hundreds of former players to express regret over what the sport did to their bodies. Yet Moffitt is unique for openly discussing his injuries and the brutal reality of playing in the N.F.L.”

Iran & nuclear weapons: How Bush Let Iran Go Nuclear

“If Mr. Bush had decided to display American leadership and exercise American power by launching a diplomatic campaign against Iran rather than a military one against Iraq 10 years ago, the United States’ international standing would be far greater today.

“The Bush administration’s decision to go after Iraq rather than Iran was a fatal one, and the long-term consequences are only now becoming clear, namely a devastating American failure in the battle to prevent a nuclear Iran, reflected in Washington’s willingness to sign a deeply flawed agreement.”

Nonviolence, pacifism & pacifist: * You’re Not a Pacifist, Are You? [essential reading]; * The Lion, the Witch and the War [essential reading]

* “… I am not a political pacifist. What I am is a Christian. And as a Christian we can talk about how Christ informs humanity on the subject of violence.”

* “My prayer for all Christians is that we’d be brave enough to take Jesus seriously and to do what He asks us to do – live peacefully by loving our enemies, turning the other cheek and doing good to those who hate us, but that will only be possible if we put our trust in God and know that Jesus’ way of peace isn’t intended to be a success strategy, it’s a love strategy. Or perhaps instead of allowing our culture to define ‘success’ for us, we Christians need to redefine it as following Jesus well by loving all people.”

Rape: The Bible and Rape

“That the Bible sets a high standard for sexual purity should motivate the Bible’s readers to take sexual violence all the more seriously—and to leave the blame only with the responsible party.”

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

V-for-violenceCruel & unusual punishment, injustice & the penal system in the U.S.: Serving Life for This?

“… nonviolent offenders serving life sentences without the possibility of parole …”

Gun violence & movies: Movies Rated PG-13 Feature The Most Gun Violence [required reading]

“Parents who rely on movie ratings to decide what their children can watch may think that PG-13 films have fewer villains flashing guns than R-rated movies. But they’re wrong. The PG-13 movies actually show more gun violence, a study finds. …

“[Researchers] found that the amount of violence in films has more than doubled since 1950 … From 1985 to 2012, the amount of gun-related violence in R-rated movies stayed pretty much the same, and the amount for those rated G or PG actually dropped. It was the PG-13 movies, which are typically the big summer blockbusters, that saw a huge surge in gun violence. The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics.”

Martin of Tours: Feasting Martin of Tours on Veterans Day by Shane Claiborne [essential reading]

“I absolutely love that the Church celebrates Martin of Tours, the ‘patron saint of soldiers,’ on the same day as Veterans Day. Ironically, Martin … refused to fight, left the military, and coined the phrase: ‘I am a soldier for Christ… I cannot fight the wars of man.’ I can’t imagine a better person to remember on Veterans day.”

Martyrdom: Are There Really 100,000 New Christian Martyrs Every Year?

“… when you hear that 100,000 Christians are dying for their faith, you need to keep in mind that the vast majority – 90,000 – are people who were killed in DR Congo. This means we can say right away that the Internet rumors of Muslims being behind the killing of 100,000 Christian martyrs are nonsense. The DRC is a Christian country. In the civil war, Christians were killing Christians.”

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

Christ’s cross & violence: Does Jesus’ Cross Inform a Christian View of Violence? [required reading]

“After reading a bit of Miroslav Volf, and some of his work on the cross of Christ and human violence, I am convicted by some of his conclusions regarding what the Cross says about violence. … Seeing Jesus’ death on the cross as Jesus’ challenge to violence itself, Volf suggests four considerations …”

Christian faith, Martin Luther, rationalization, the Sermon on the Mount & violence: Pacifism: A Place to Begin

“Some of the saddest lines I have ever read by a Christian, let alone one of Luther’s status, are these. … Utter nonsense.”

Cities & crime rate: 2012 Metropolitan Crime Rate Rankings

“Includes murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft.”

Violence: A Brush with Violence [required reading]

“We need to be working alongside God and Jesus to redeem all that is wrong in the world. This means we must be working to end the violence that has overtaken our society. … Where do we begin? … We must do something. Here are a few suggestions.”

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceChildren, toy guns & violence: Children Steamroll Weapons in Iraq

“… hundreds of toy weapons collected by children in Iraq.  With the help of some big people, the kids drove a steam roller over the pile weapons smashing them to oblivion.”

Christian martyrdom & persecution: The War on Christians [essential reading]

“The global persecution of churchgoers is the unreported catastrophe of our time.”

Forgiveness & murder: Forgiving (and Loving!) Your Only Son’s Killer

“Mary Johnson’s only son, 20 year old Laramiun Byrd, was murdered during a fight at a party by 16 year old Oshea Israel. Mary visited Oshea in prison and they experienced a miracle of forgiveness and healing that is evidence of divine grace.”

Pacifism & Revelation: * Greg’s Response to Driscoll’s “Is God a Pacifist” (parts 1, 2 & 3) [required reading]; * If Jesus is a Pansy, I Want to Be One, Too – Reflections on Christlikeness

* “I’m sure many of you have read Mark Driscoll’s recent blog titled “Is God a Pacifist?” in which he argues against Christian pacifism. I’ve decided to address this in a series of three posts, not because I think Driscoll’s arguments are particularly noteworthy, but because it provides me with an opportunity to make a case against what I’ve come to see is probably the most common way that Christians try to get around the pacifist implications of Jesus’ (and the rest of the NT’s) teachings on loving enemies. It centers on the allegedly violent Jesus of the book of Revelation.”

* “… when we think of Jesus, we have a choice to make if we are truly committing our lives to follow him. Either he taught nonviolent resistance or he did not.”