In a social media exchange this week, I was challenged by a gun legislation proponent with this, “If you want to talk about fact-based solutions to the problem, I’m all ears. But if all you’ve got are excuses for why ‘This isn’t a gun problem’ you can save it. I’ve heard all of it I want to hear for as long as I want to hear it.”
Wow. So, my question is: Is gun legislation the fact-based solution? Or is it an excuse for inaction? Let me first say that I am not a sociologist, psychologist, or any other ‘ist’ who would have more knowledge than I do, or most of us who prognosticate via social media. We are all hurting, and desperately trying to find a fix for a death scourge that is over-taking our nation.
At the risk of offending some of you, I will state that common sense gun legislation is not a bad idea. Nevertheless, at the risk of offending the rest of you, I will also state, that this is not a gun problem. And, if you will allow me a few minutes, I will tell you why I don’t think this is a gun problem.
This is a generation problem. A generation ago, every pick-up truck in every high school parking lot had a gun in the back window, and no one thought about killing anyone. What happened in my generation? We must look back and try to uncover the error that we made, before we can move forward and clean it up.
Is it Gun Control?
If a fifty-year-old patient goes to the doctor with a cholesterol of 350, the dr. is going to write a prescription for a statin. However, the medicine does not cure the heart disease; it only treats the consequence: cholesterol. If the patient does not change their lifestyle (diet and exercise), there is still potential for a heart attack.
Gun legislation might help, it might not, but it doesn’t cure the problem, it just treats the consequences or symptoms of the problem. Is there still a chance of another mass murder of our children? Yes, because the underlying issue is still present.
What is the underlying issue?
Today, I believe what we are seeing is the result of a generational fascination with death. The consequence of our choices is a death-glorifying culture.
We love movies that have high body counts. The number one movie this weekend, “Black Panther” had a bad guy with over 2000 scars on his body, each one marking a death by his hand. How many deaths were depicted in the movie? I don’t know, I didn’t go see it, but I suspect more than just his, (assuming the bad guy, Killmonger, was eventually killed in the end).
We love shoot-em-ups whether they are westerns or futuristic robot worlds. We love a good cry when the good guy dies (even if by crock pot), and we cheer when the bad guy dies. Yet, we sit back in our comfy homes and armchair quarterback legitimate war heroes. Why do we feel the need to choose which version of death we glorify or vilify. Do we have that right?
How did we end up with a culture of death?
This exercise, trying to discern our failure, requires a thorough search of our history, as we ask God to show us our failures. From the beginning we’ve had boundaries, laws that protect us; both civil laws and God given moral laws. Laws are like a fence around our playground, a boundary around our world that keeps us safe.
For example, civil laws remind us that we have speed limits. We may not like them, but for the most part, we adhere to them; if the speed limit is 70, then going 72 isn’t that bad. If everyone else is going 75, well, not wanting to be a stumbling block, or a safety hazard, we drive 75. Some of us push the limit at 77, but we know there’s not a lot of grace over that. The law doesn’t cause us to obey, we cannot legislate morality, it simply shows us how out of plumb we are willing to go.
Laws have never forced us to be moral. The Biblical law was a fence as well, it outlined what holiness looked like, and would always look like. Murder and death were always outside of the law. Why? Because as humans, we are all made in the image of God, so murder has always been wrong. There has never been a time when murder was not a crime.
If murder is, and always has been wrong – existing outside the fence – what happened in our history that allowed it to grow so prevalent?
May I suggest that in desiring control over our lives, we decided that we can kill some people – unborn babies – so we got together and pushed with all our might against that section of the fence until it fell. I don’t believe it fell because of the weakness of the law, or the strength of those pushing against it, I believe it fell because God decided that he would let us do just what we wanted to do. This is what God does, when we turn away from him, he gives us over to our desires.
This is where I just lost most of you who are reading this – I can hear the collective sigh, the eye roll, and the “Of course, she just went there… they always go there… it’s always about abortion.” However, for those who are open-minded enough to consider that maybe, just maybe there might be more, please indulge my heart… it hurts as much as yours does over the killing field in which we are living.
How did legal abortion lead to murder in schools? Did it?
When the fence that protected us from ourselves fell, what entered? What flew through the breach? What changed? How on earth could abortion lead to school shootings?
I read an article this week that blamed the school shootings on the military. Seriously? Why didn’t we have school shootings after the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Viet Nam War? What changed in my generation? Death entered through the breach in the fence.
Death came in and we welcomed it, we embraced it. Certainly some of us stayed in the middle of the yard and tried to repair the breach, we are still trying to repair it. Yet, we are laughed at, abortion is not death, we are told, it is freedom.
This is why so many cannot understand how we failed ourselves when we let death in through the breach, nevertheless, death is here, and it is celebrated. However, death did not come just to set up housekeeping in abortion clinics, no, it came to infiltrate all of life.
Death invaded our minds, twisting our ideas of entertainment so that we pay to watch vile scenes of mutilation and murder in horror movies. We watch and cheer on the numerous means of carnage in action movies. We even purchase video games for our children that encourage them to kill and kill or be killed.
Death invaded us through pornography and our sense of decency. It perverted our thinking so that we no longer hold each other with the proper esteem; we no longer view one another as individuals made in the image of God and valued by him, but as goods we can consume or discard. Our understanding of what is morally right and wrong died.
Death has invaded our emotions, we are afraid to feel, so we medicate ourselves to kill the highs and the lows. Death invaded us through drug addictions, evidenced recently in the escalating opioid epidemic. Our children are dying a little very day, but we just don’t know what to do.
However, we ignored the breach – until death visited our schools. It was acceptable to turn a blind eye to death when it came upon the children we didn’t want, but when it came for the children we do want, then death went too far.
How do we fix the breach?
That’s where we are now. How do we contain death? Many of us are attempting to contain death by suggesting gun control legislation; we want to build newer or different walls. Yet, we don’t want to completely mend the breach because we don’t want to tell people what they can or cannot do with their own bodies.
Can we have it both ways? I don’t think so. Either we let death have its reign, or we don’t. Trying to hold back death with gun legislation is little more than throwing a brick into a huge hole and declaring it fixed. It just isn’t enough.
What do we do?
Pray? I’ve been told that prayers aren’t working. Seriously? When I hear that kind of thinking, my first thought is, to whom are you praying, and what are you asking? There is no problem on earth that is bigger than God, there is no problem on earth that is beyond God’s ability to fix, and, chances are, God will reveal his plan for fixing the problem to people who are praying.
If your prayers are not working, perhaps it is because you’ve forgotten just how big God is. Perhaps we’ve all forgotten his promise. If I’m on the right path, and if our land has been saturated by death because we breached the wall of protection God placed around us, and if he has left us to our own devices, and this is where we are, do we really believe that we can fix this apart from him?
If we place all our faith and hope in legislation and government, yet fail to acknowledge the breach through which death pours – the breach of our own doing – do we really believe we can successfully turn this around?
We know what we need to do…
God tells us exactly what we need to do in order to heal our nation of this culture of death: If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
To humble ourselves, we must first recognize that we are powerless to fix this apart from God. To humble ourselves is to confess that we don’t have all the answers, and to ask for wisdom to know what to do, and the strength to do it. To humble ourselves is to seek input from people we may disagree with.
To pray is to acknowledge that our government is too small, our plans are too small, our ideas are too small, our laws are too small, and that only the one true God, whom the heavens cannot contain, is big enough to take care of this. Only his ideas are sufficient. Only in his strength and wisdom can we move with success.
And to turn, is to look at our history – where did we turn away, what did we do, what decisions did we make that we must now turn away from, and turn to God in repentance. I believe it was when we invited death in through abortion legislation.
Perhaps as more Christians humble themselves and pray, and seek God’s insights, perhaps we will have to go back further in history, or perhaps not as far as I’ve gone. Nevertheless, this death scourge seems to have manifested itself in my generation, so I’m thinking it is a decision made in my generation of which we must confess and repent.
I think it is possible that God might use our government – and its legislations – as his tool to heal this land when we repent of asking, and expecting the government to do God’s job; and as the government repents of using God as their tool to do whatever it is they want to do.
The next shooter is already planning his massacre. Where will we turn for help?
God help us, only he can.
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