The Gun God

I don’t claim to be a pacifist. If I would have been at that school the other day, and I had a gun, I would have shot that man in a second to stop him.

What I’m not going to say is that this response would have been the Christian one. I’m not going to say that I know that this is what Christ would have done.

Jesus, the one who taught us to turn our cheek when our enemies strike us. Jesus, the one who taught us to pray for our enemies, love them, give them more than they ask for when they rob us… Jesus, the one who rebuked his disciple when he drew his sword to try to protect Jesus. Jesus, who did not resist being cruficied. Who looked at the people who were torturing him and muttered “Father, forgive them…” The one who causes lions to lay with lambs and beats our swords into plowshares.

Jesus.

Prince of peace.

Now, of course, there is also the Jesus of the turned tables. There is the Jesus who ferociously deals with the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and oppression. Yet, we have no examples of where Jesus ever turns righteous indignation into actual violence against flesh and blood.

Jesus response to violence is never the sword, it is the cross.

Which is why I was so distressed yesterday when Christians responded to me about my comment about guns in the wake of the shootings.

I posted a blog that argued that it was time to examine our system to see what was making it so easy for men like that to get guns.

The response?

Outrage.

I’ve never had backlash like that, and I’ve written some pretty “out there” things…

I couldn’t even keep up with my twitter feed. Some of you were very supportive and in agreement, but others accused me all sorts of things. Arrogance. Closed-mindedness. Divisiveness. They called me names. They told me they weren’t following me anymore. They told me that I should stick to making music. They told me that they hope that I thought my judgmentalism was worth losing fans over. They laughed at me and made fun of me, consistently using examples like, “oh, what should we outlaw cars because they kill people too?”

Now, let me remind you what I said…

I didn’t say that we shouldn’t allow anyone to have a gun. I didn’t say that we should outlaw anything. I said that we should make it more difficult for people like that to get guns.

Apparently I hit a nerve.

After 9/11, one of the first responses that we as a nation had was to try to make it harder for terrorists to get airplanes. This is a reasonable course of action. When people run planes into buildings, it’s only reasonable to want to make it harder for terrorists to take control of airplanes.

Nobody said, “Hey, now’s not the time for politics! Now’s not the time to talk about regulations and debate about the security at airports!”

Because, airplanes… Well, that’s not a sacred cow.

So we all do our part and take our shoes off at the scanners now. We all empty our water bottles and sometimes even let the scanners show our nude form to some stranger in a cubicle at the airport. We don’t love it. It’s inconvenient, but we are willing to sacrifice to make it harder for someone to waltz onto an airplane with a bomb on his chest or a knife in his pocket.

When a man walks into a school full of little children and starts firing assault weapons into their little bodies… When a man waltzes into a movie theatre in military gear and starts shooting brothers and sisters, moms and dads… I mean, how many of these things are we going to have to experience before we say, “ok, maybe we should re-look at how we are distributing weapons to these people?”

Seems like a natural and reasonable response to me. A response in the direction of justice.

I make no claims to know the appropriate way of accomplishing this. I also do not mean to vilify anyone that believes that gun control would be ineffective (even though I disagree with them.) I just think the conversation is important, and it is important to have before these deaths are quickly forgotten like all of the other shootings.

Yet the response to me yesterday… It was like these Christians that on the surface are all sentimental and sweet and weepy about the tragedy suddenly turned green, bared their teeth and screamed “NOT MY PRECIOUS!!”

Their precious guns.

Don’t talk to me about my precious guns!

Red flags anyone?

Now to be clear, I never made the claim that gun control was the ONLY thing we should do. Certainly there are other important conversations that needed to be had in figuring out ways of safeguarding against this kind of violence. Mental health care, public training or security…etc But nobody is freaking out about those things. Nobody is having a seizure and shooting flames out of their eyeballs when someone says, “hey, maybe we should try to figure out a better way of identifying and treating mental illness.” But, mention the god of the gun!! “NO!!!! MY PRECIOUS!!!!

Perhaps this response has something to do with why America has at least 5 times the murder rate of other first world countries. It might have something to do with our gun laws, but I also bet it has a lot to do with that demon that a lot of people manifested yesterday. That demon that worships blood. That worships power and violence.

Ok, so that sounds a little melodramatic. But, I believe that this goes to our roots.

America has been built on blood. We worship this god of the gun. We sacrificed to it to own this land. We spilled the blood of the Native Americans to satiate it. The British. The French. The Mexicans. Anybody that stood in the way of what we wanted, we killed. Sometimes the violence may have been justified, other times, it certainly was not by any other standard but “well, we wanted this, and you didn’t give it to us, so we killed you.” We’ve killed each other on this land. People killed their brothers on this land so that they could keep their slaves. (Not surprisingly, it is still the South that is most adamant about its guns and also is the most violent region in the country)

America is a young nation, but it is drenched in blood. And oh how we treasure the power that we have received in response to our blood sacrifices. We hold our big guns and we feel pleasure coarse through our bodies. Power. It’s sexy as hell. We love it. We feel so important and powerful, like gods ourselves.

I’m sure there are some that fight for no gun laws that really do hate violence. But I also bet that a lot of us have been infected with the violence that goes so deep into our roots. We have been infected with the idea that the use of guns are a good thing, synonymous with words like “freedom” and “justice.” And as a result, we violently hold onto violence.

If having total “freedom” from governmental meddling with our firearms actually does result in at least part of the violence that we keep seeing, are we really willing to offer our own children as blood sacrifice to this god for the sake of that convenience? Are we really willing for more mothers to have to lie in bed, tossing, turning and weeping, playing the imagined scene of their baby being shot over and over so that we can keep stroking the barrel of our shotguns and feeling the pleasure of the demon shudder through our spines knowing how easily we were able to acquire it?

It should be shocking and horrifying to us that some of us are even using our “Christianity” as an excuse for this clutching to violence. We say how the problem is “sin”, and it’s only Jesus that can do something about it.

That’s convenient for us, because it frees us from responsibility. It lets us avoid actually having to be the hands and feet of God. So in other words, we use our Christianity to avoid being Christians.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world stares at us with their mouths gaping. They wonder how we can be so blind about the consequences of our obsession with guns.

There was a guy on my twitter feed yesterday that actually used the verse where Jesus said that he came to bring a sword to justify guns.

Selah.

I think gun control is important. If you are curious why that is, just read this article.

But now I’m seeing how, even though it is important, it certainly is not the ultimate cause of the violence that we have seen. That thing that made a lot of you respond to me yesterday like you did… That thing in me that made me want to respond with far more sarcasm and colorful language than I did… Perhaps, that’s the primary cause of all this violence. That American demon inside of us that probably is rearing its head right now in some of you.

“HOW DARE YOU!!!”

That demon that makes you want to protect your guns more than our children. That demon that makes you jump into the defensive at a suggestion like making it harder for evil people to acquire so much killing power. After all, again, I never said anything about prohibition. I didn’t even say that you couldn’t have your precious. But to some of you, my fingers got dangerously close to your precious yesterday, so your demon manifested and you bit my fingers.

We all go through all sorts of red tape and bureaucracy all of the time. To get our driver’s licenses. To pay our taxes. To get a permit to sell flowers, for crying out loud. Yet many of us are unwilling to even talk about having to go through some sort of complicated process to earn the right to own a firearm that could be used to blast away an elementary school. We will spend a third of our income and a bunch of our time filling out tax forms, but don’t you dare try to make me go through a process where someone decides whether I’m mentally or emotionally fit to own a firearm! Don’t you dare try to tell me that there are certain military grade weapons that are not possible for me to purchase!

I smell the demon, folks. This is not common sense at work. This is bloodlust. It’s the desire for power. Its good, old-fashioned idolatry.

If we want to stop some of the violence in our schools, mosques, churches and movie theatres, perhaps the first step is to look down and notice the white knuckles around the barrel of our guns.

I am not under the delusion that the government can fix the human heart. You cannot regulate away violence. But we can do little things to safeguard that limit the carnage when the violence comes out. Again, I don’t claim to have the answers to what those things are exactly. But I do hope that Christians will stop worrying so much about ensuring that they can acquire firearms without any inconvenience to them and start trying to figure out a way to limit the pain that our weapons allow us to inflict on each other.