First, if you’re wondering what happened to the sermons, I’m at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and so didn’t have time to get the video and audio processed and uploaded before I left. So, sermon recap, with mine on 2 Peter 1:16-21 from the morning and Walter Wills’ from the evening will be up later this week. Probably Thursday.
Second, I have no words for the sadness coming from Sutherland Springs, Texas. I have pastored churches that size and cannot imagine the destruction that so many deaths will wreak in that small community.
As to the politics of it: First, there should be either an honorable or dishonorable discharge. And if you are booted from the military for abusing your child, then “dishonorable discharge” should be counted as merciful. There’s no way that man should have been able to purchase a firearm. Honestly, there’s no reason that man should be out of prison. He pled guilty to fracturing a baby’s skull deliberately. Wrap your head around that.
Second, here’s the problem going forward: churches, by nature, are open places. We cannot put fortification in the foyer and make it impossible for anybody to get in that isn’t known. Neither can we shoot first and ask questions later. Neither can we be careless with the lives of those who trust us with them. See the conundrum?
Some people come to church angry, even belligerent, in a manner that a high-quality security screen would stop them. But they need to be there, and they actually aren’t a threat. But there are children and innocent people who need to be protected, and it’s foolish to sit idly by and let them be targets.
What do we do? I’m not sure what the answer is for every church. Some are persuaded, fully, that complete passive non-violence is required and that is how they will do. Others will armor up and aggressively address any possible threat. As a pastor and a husband and a parent, I do not know exactly what I will lead our church to do or what I will do for my family. We will consult with those who are more versed in security while also paying attention to being a church and not a bank or military installation.
There’s a difference, and that difference is going to result in churches always being an easier attack than other locations. It’s the reality. I don’t like it. I can’t imagine anyone who does, but even being a gun-loving guy like myself, I know the church cannot become an armed camp.
Now, societally? We’re reapoing the harvest of our neglect of the value of human life. Take away the guns? Let’s think for a minute: do you think any of these mass shooters would have turned in what firearms they possessed? Really? Nonsense. If you think the answer to this is in legislation, then your legislative solution has to deal with the reality that you will have massive non-compliance with gun surrender laws. Ban the sale, but there’s 400 million guns out there. Look at the amounts of ammunition typically owned—ban the sale and you still stop nothing. A legislative solution will require also empowering law enforcement to search every private residence, multiple times, every vehicle, all at any time, just to search and seize firearms. Is that going to work? Not likely.
The real problem is the same fundamental problem that has driven the sexual assault epidemic, the violence epidemic, the resurgence of racism, anti-immigrant sentiment: we are a culture that believes that survival of the fittest matters more than anything else, and we are going to do everything in our power to be the fittest. Other life is irrelevant, and we’ll stomp it out if need be. Look at our entertainment: what sells? Sex and violence. Claim that it only reflects society and doesn’t shape it? Fine, but what does it reflect?
Who does it say we are? As a people, who does it say we are?
Want to fix it? Go love your neighbor. A lot. Take some cookies to the local fire station. Take a pizza to the nursing home for the CNAs. Volunteer at the local school.
Do something for the people you live with day by day, and rebuild who we are.
As a Christian, I will do these kinds of things because they bring glory to God, and doing so will bring honor to Christ while improving the situation right around me. I would challenge you to do the same—even if you do not share the same primary motivation.
As long as our response is about the larger political question and whether this helps or hurts “our side,” we’re going down. Because “our side” is the human race. Let’s get it together.