Thursday, January 17, 2013

Enough is Enough - It's Time for Change

There is a fine line between when to speak and when to be silent but now is a time when everyone needs to be counted in the call for some real change.  I admit that often I stay quiet because as a pastor your flock is made up of diverse opinions and as much as possible I try to respect that.  Also, a big part of our culture has become so angry that its easy to be fearful of saying anything.  But the mindless slaughter of innocent children makes one finally say "enough is enough."  Some of these little children were shot as many as 11 times.

We are used to hearing that people kill - guns don't and that is true.  It is true that you cannot control people but it is time that we get some control over certain types of guns and that we can do if we have the will to.  Ours is no longer a society that values the 2nd Amendment in terms of hunting and sport.  Our culture is intoxicated with violence and mindless killing.  Our guns are no longer single shot or bolt action.  These guns are military style weapons designed not for hunting but only for killing people!  They are made to kill as many people as fast as you possibly can.  Which makes me ask - why would a follower of Christ want something specifically designed to kill another human being?  No matter the clamor or what the lobby groups say no citizen needs semi automatic weapons, body armor, armor piercing bullets and high capacity magazines.  Those who think they need them as a defense against our own government have other and bigger issues than I will address here.  I find that thinking simply bizarre.  It is time for a national searching of our souls.   I guess I have gotten out of touch but its amazing to think that you can get these types of guns at most any Walmart. It's actually easier to buy a gun than to adopt a pet.

My parents never had a gun in our home.  These days I am thankful.  I had a great uncle who took me to a shooting range and taught me how to shoot and respect a gun.  In school we took the NRA hunter safety course and I married into a family of hunters.  I too hunted and owed a few nice guns.  I enjoyed a lot of beautiful days in the woods.  Early on I became a life member of the NRA.  Then well over 20 years ago I resigned my membership when it became clear that the NRA was defending the ownership of what we call assault weapons.  That was the end for me.  I didn't come to my position in the past month - I've been against assault style weapons for years. 

Some years ago I passed my guns on to my son. So I'm not someone without gun experience or an appreciation for the sport.  But the culture of violence in our country has gone too far.  It seems almost impossible to believe my ears when I hear people call for the right to carry guns even in churches.  Then to see that some legislatures actually pass such ideas into law is for me beyond belief.  I've had an experience where this happened and trust me you do not want to be in that position.  There are certainly others issues like violent video games and violent movies as well as mental health issues.  All these issues are equally important and need to be equally addressed but I've shared enough today to make my point.

Each individual interest will say its not them and the answer is another issue.  Others will say that no change could prevent some of the massacres that have occurred.  For me these tragedies simply bring these issues to the fore front of our thinking and national conversation.  Addressing things like assault weapons is a critical need even without a massacre.  We have to be a better national than this and some of our past thinking needs to become socially unacceptable.     

So why speak to this as a pastor?  Because I do believe that there are true spiritual implications to this issue.  I believe that what many have come to stand for is a far cry from the model of Jesus in the Gospels.  Often I preach about the critical importance of listening to the words of Jesus.  It's certainly time that we make the application of the teachings of Jesus the number one priority in our lives.  That's real Christianity.  The politicians will debate and do nothing but we as Christians have the opportunity think critically.  We can make the changes to our own thinking and and our own lives that reflect the message of the Gospels.