I’ve given up. There is absolutely no point what so ever in having a “discussion” with a gun nut. Hearing protection or not, it’s clear that every one of them I know has damaged ears and hardened hearts.
People have been trying to self-justify horrendous violence and arms races since the dawn of history. Some of the oldest passages in the Bible describe Israel having only bronze weapons while her enemies had iron. Over and over men committed murder and violence on one another and God said NO!
Then we get to Jesus. He’s pretty explicit about that love your enemies thing. It’s not a parable. It’s not open for interpretation. It’s not ambiguous or subtle in any way. Right up to his death he’s telling people to put down swords.
I’ve been praying a dangerous prayer. I’ve been asking for a merciful heart. It’s as foolish as praying for patience. I’ve never once prayed for something and had God just give it to me all easy like microwaving a frozen burrito. No, I get the dried beans and a handful of flour version of a burrito, some cooking required.
The thing is, Jesus is also quite explicit that we are judged by the measure we judge others, that we are forgiven as we forgive. Grace and mercy don’t come cheap and easy. There’s no one to purchase them from and no microwave version in the supermarkets. So I pray for a merciful and forgiving heart.
And everyday I get more things to hurt me, to anger me, to bring up old wounds and resentments. So far no major relationship is untouched by this. And I’ve got to conclude that there is no point in being baited into some discussions with some people. It’s not up for debate with me when it’s OK to shoot someone or if Americans need more weapons “for self-defense” and fewer restrictions on them. Jesus said to put down the sword. Some traditions claim that God’s own finger wrote THOU SHALT NOT KILL. Enough said.
Pray to have a merciful heart and you will learn just how many people don’t
give a shit care at all how you feel. You will get hurt. You will have people you love very much start arguing about ideals you hold dearly. You will have all of your boundaries tested and pushed and broken. You will discover just how merciless and morally ambiguous this world is. Do it anyways. I dare you.
Pray for a merciful heart and you may begin to feel in your soul just how huge THOU SHALT NOT KILL and LOVE YOUR ENEMIES really are. You just might find yourself unable to tolerate gun nuts and the hate and fear that are the bedrocks of gun culture. Be merciful to them, too.
It takes faith to walk unarmed in a violent world. The cowardly and faithless will always need to feel they have weapons to protect them. They will want to “stand their ground” in defense of earthly treasures. They will, vociferously and virulently, deny that they are cowardly and faithless. They might even quote half a Bible verse about needing swords to fulfill a prophecy. Or maybe they will cite the US Constitution as superior to the Bible. (Don’t be confused because these may be the same people who want the Ten Commandments posted in public buildings.)
I’m still working on what it really means to have a merciful heart. Obviously I need lessons in how to duck the verbal bullets of being baited into a debate with a gun nut. Clearly I’ve got a long way to go if I am to learn to extend mercy to those who support weapons and killing. If I didn’t need the lesson I wouldn’t get it.
So I’m done arguing the point. I can do that much. Because maybe my Bible is broken but I can’t find the passage where Jesus explains the loop-holes in THOU SHALT NOT KILL, where he tells us it’s OK to worship guns in place of God, to value violence and the tools to make it.