Is there a more potent weapon today then a gun in the hands of a person with mal-intent? Are schools no longer safe places for children? These questions are not mere speculation, but serious deadly considerations in the wake of another school shooting tragedy.
It’s clear that platitudes, like thoughts and prayers, are not enough of a response any more, as if they ever were. Not that we shouldn’t be thoughtful or prayerful, but “faith without works is dead”, as the brother of Jesus said.
“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” (James 2:15-16)
Likewise, if all we do is offer condolences and our thoughts and prayers, what good is that?! Our faith, if we have any, demands action. Where is the fruit?
I get all of the arguments for the Second Amendment. I am a lawyer. Our nation was founded on the principles of an independent, free and empowered citizenry, and the right to bear arms was intended to ensure that freedom. Guns have been championed as a symbol of freedom. With freedom, though, comes responsibility (echoing the words of Eleanor Roosevelt).
I’m a Christian, but I don’t get the popular Christian response to gun laws. Where in the Bible does it tell us to defend our rights to own firearms? Jesus told Peter to put down his sword, but he’s telling us to protect our guns?
Thoughts and prayers don’t cut it when children are lying dead on the playground. Thoughts and prayers need to be followed up with love and action. We need to do something before there is another tragedy, and another one after that.
But I am not just directing my focus on Christians. I see a much more potent weapon than guns in our society today.
We went through almost 200 years as a nation without mass shootings. School shootings are a late 20th Century/21st Century phenomenon. Before that, guns were the weapons of psychopathic and sociopathic miscreants and criminals. They were the tools of the trade for Jesse James, Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, but not of schoolyard children. What has changed?!
A new and more insidious, more dangerous weapon is present in our society today. We have stripped responsibility away from freedom. We have stripped accountability from personhood. We have placed raw freedom and indefeasible rights into the hands of children without any structure to contain them.
We have stripped God out of our public discourse and relegated him to fringe discussions. God is not welcome in our schools, and we’re not even sure he is allowed in our public squares.
We have stripped God out of our public lives and the lives of our children, limiting the closed doors of churches and homes, while undermining His significance to the shadows. We have swept sin under the rug, making personal accountability for morality a taboo subject. We have minimized any ultimate accountability for our lives and left people with only the ghost of meaning that can be attached to the brief vapor of time our lives are spent on this rock hurtling through the vast emptiness of space.
We have created a vacuum in the lives of our young people that they try to fill with fleeting pleasures, meaningless activities and more information than they can process in a lifetime. Where is the purpose or meaning or accountability to help them guide their way through it all?
In a world such as this, what is the difference between living a humdrum life of 80 or 90 years or going out in a blaze of glory, killing as many classmates as one can possibly accomplish in a thrilling moment in a momentary, temporal, meaningless life?
The more potent weapon we have put in the hands in minds of our youth is not a gun, but meaninglessness, purposelessness and lack of accountability. The sky isn’t the limit. There is no limit, because there are no boundaries.
But there is a more potent weapon still, and we need to seize hold of it.
There is the weapon of love – the love that comes from a Creator who gives us intrinsic value because He made us in His image. This love values all people simply because all people bear the image of God.
This God is Love itself, and He demonstrated that love for us by stripping Himself of all of the power and glory and privilege of being our Creator to become one of us. Not only that, but He subjected himself to the worst of humanity. He willingly allowed himself to be put to death for our benefit, demonstrating His unfathomable love for us.
He did this without requiring anything of us – “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) He offers this love to us freely without requiring anything to obtain it but simply to receive it. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God….” (Ephesians 2:8)
But we dare not dismiss it. This is where the responsibility and accountability comes in. If we reject this love, there is no hope for us in this life or the next life to come. There is accountability at the end of the day. Our young people need to know that there is meaning, purpose and ultimate accountability for rejecting such a great love, but there is great hope, both in this life and in the next to come, by embracing it.
This is the most potent weapon of all. This is the Gospel. This is a love that cannot be ignored without consequence, and if it is ignored we pay the ultimate price for failing or refusing to embrace it.
We are paying that price right now in the lives of our youth. We have unleashed the demons of hell to play in the minds and lives of our youth by turning from the great love of a Creator to self-love that has no boundaries and takes no prisoners. We have stripped life of all ultimate meaning, of its intrinsic value that comes from the Source of all life. We have created a barren wasteland in which killing and being killed seems to be more fulfilling than a meaningless, purposeless, loveless existence. We are reaping what we have sown.
It’s not too late. It’s never too late as long as we have breath and a will to act. But we need to act.
The 2nd Amendment is surely no more sacred than the 6th Commandment – thou shalt not murder. The 2nd Amendment is not greater than the greatest commandment – love the lord you God with all your heart, soul and mind. And the 2nd Amendment is not greater than the 2nd greatest commandment – love your neighbor as yourself.
We need to love our neighbors by ensuring that guns are not available to people with bad intent. We can’t know what is going on in the mind or heart of other people, but we can be smart about how and to whom we make guns available. We need to start by enforcing the laws we already and enforcing them vigilantly and uncompromisingly. The future of our children may depend on it, literally!
If there are areas in which our laws are too lax, we need to tighten them up. I’m weary of the defense of the right to bear arms. How many more children and innocent people are we going to allow to be mowed down by people with the intent to do harm?
We will never be able to ensure safety 100% of the time in this imperfect world in which people are free to choose right from wrong, but we can sure increase the odds against other tragedies like the mass shootings we have suffered. That freedom, which is God given, must also be recognized and treated for what it is – the ultimate, eternal responsibility, given by God, for which we are ultimately accountable to the God who gave it to us.
That responsibility and accountability to a God who offers us His unconditional love is not without consequence if we spurn that love and reject it. We will continue to reap the natural consequences of that rejection unless we change. The ultimate weapon we have created is not guns, but unbridled and unaccountable freedom that is stripped of ultimate meaning and purpose. The greatest weapon to combat what we have done is to turn back to the God who loves us and to love others as He loves us.