The following is Smoke’s opinion and is not necessarily the opinion of the LGC. It’s just one voice calling out in the wilderness…
So as many LGC forum members know, I’m an Agent of Shield, in training to be ordained to the priesthood. And, like many LGC members, I own enough guns and ammo for CNN to freak out about my “arsenal.” Which means I have many thoughts, about guns, God, gays, and other things. All of which have come to the forefront this month, because of Orlando and because of “Gun Violence Awareness Day” (yes, that’s actually a thing. June 2, for those of you keeping score at home).
First, let’s chat a little bit about conservative Christianity and homophobia. Let’s just get that out of the way before I start preaching about the other thing that’s bothering me.
Two millennia ago, an itinerant Jewish rabbi had this conversation:
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
About 30 years after Jesus’ death, one of his most ardent supporters wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Now I know the conservatives are screaming, “What about Leviticus? What about Romans??” Well, let’s start with Leviticus. And the rest of the Pentateuch while we’re at it. (add in stuff from Iona here)
Now, let’s talk about Romans. Paul probably wasn’t talking smack about Adam and Steve living quietly down the street or Amanda and Eve whose kid plays on your kid’s soccer team. This post on Patheos gets to the heart of the matter better than I ever could. The argument, in a nutshell, is this: Romans 1:18-32 probably represented the arguments first-century Jews – including Jewish followers of Jesus -made to claim they were “better” or more “holy” than the Gentiles; Paul, the “apostle to the Gentiles,” shoots those arguments down in Romans 2:1 when he declares, “Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.” In other words, Paul may have been saying, “Look, you ignoramuses, you’re no better than the people you’re dissing. We’re all sinners. Allow me to whack you upside the head with this here clue-by-four.”
Or, shorter Paul: Go read what that wandering rabbi from Galilee said about loving your neighbor. And go read Paul’s letter to the Galatians. None of this homophobic stuff our Fearless Leader condemned on Tuesday.
Let’s pivot to my fellow liberal Christians, in particular my fellow Episcopalians. We haven’t completely gotten the whole love-your-LGBTQ-neighbor thing down, but we’re working on it. But there’s another neighbor that’s not exactly feeling the love these days. Especially during weeks like this.
There’s a group called Bishops Against Gun Violence. They have a Facebook page called Episcopalians Against Gun Violence. Sometimes I think these should just be Bishops Against Guns and Episcopalians Against Guns. A few weeks ago, the Bishops Against Guns, er I mean Bishops Against Gun Violence, were calling for the wearing of orange on June 2 and/or on Sunday, June 5.
Let’s just say I didn’t wear orange either of those days. I could be a bit flip and say that, despite being a Denver Broncos fan and having been a fan of Tony Stewart ever since he drove the 20, orange just isn’t my color. But my real reason for not wearing orange? Here ya go. The money quote (which Ed wrote, I can’t claim credit):
Sometimes it’s guns, sometimes it’s bombs, sometimes it’s fire. Sometimes it’s knives or baseball bats or poison. Sometimes it’s fists and feet.
When you lump all these things into a single label of “Gun Violence,” you not only minimize the victims, you lose the ability to do ANYTHING constructive about fixing the problems that led to those deaths, because each set of circumstances requires different solutions.
To be fair, Bishops Against Gun Violence gets some things right. From their website:
We believe in a God of life in the face of death who calls our church to speak and act decisively against the unholy trinity of poverty, racism and violence. In the struggle against these evils, our group offers four contributions:
- public liturgy including processions, vigils and prayers services to commemorate the dead and inspire the living
- spiritual support for those living with gun shot wounds, with grief, with fear and with the temptation of hopelessness, and advocacy for broader and easier access to mental health services for those at risk of suicide
- sound teaching for those yearning to bring an ethic of Christian compassion and concern for the common good to bear on debates regarding unjust economic and legal structures, public safety, individual rights and our responsibilities to one another as children of God
So far, so good.
But then…. :needle scratch:
- persistent advocacy for common sense gun safety measures that enjoy the support of gun owners and non-gun owners alike, such as
- handgun purchaser licensing
- background checks on all gun purchasers
- restrictions on gun ownership by domestic abusers
- classification of gun trafficking as a federal crime
- encouragement for the development of “smart gun” technology
- federal funding for research into gun violence prevention strategies
- safe storage of firearm
Purchaser licensing? Universal background checks? I’m scratching my head as to how these would have stopped the Orlando shooting. Or the Isla Vista shooting/bludgeoning/running-over-with-car. Or… well, you get the picture. Restrictions on ownership by domestic abusers? Um… seems like that already exists, at least with regard to misdemeanor domestic battery convictions and people subject to family violence protection orders. On gun trafficking? There’s a host of laws already. Maybe one federal law to rule them all might help… or just enforce what already exists. Smart gun technology? Uh, no. :side-eyes phone: Federal funding for research? Safe storage? Not bad ideas, but let’s make sure constitutional rights aren’t being violated and research is fair and not slanted toward an agenda, one way or the other.