By now we have heard the news of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. It is commonly reported that 17 people died, adults and students, but it is also necessary to remember that those who died were image-bearers of the eternal God, each having a soul. It was not just 17 people who died, but 17 souls went to see their Maker. As Solomon wrote, “For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time,w hen it suddenly falls upon them,” (Ecclesiastes 9:12, ESV). Ready or not, these souls left this life and entered into the next. No matter their age, race, language, sex, religion, etc. they departed this world and arrived at a new one. For some, this may have been an exponential upgrade as they met God as Father. For others, life literally became hell.
But these are souls. Seventeen souls. Within minutes, seventeen souls were here and then gone. One student with one AR-15 made sure of that. I mention the weapon simply because it was originally made for and marketed to the military. It is, for all intents and purposes, a military grade semi-automatic rifle. It is the civilian and law-enforcement (police, FBI, Secret Service, etc.) version of the military’s M-16. It was created to kill people–that is, souls.
I am a fan of the Second Amendment. I own a number of guns. Often I’m carrying one on me. I know that we are “guaranteed the right to bear arms,” and I utilize that right. But as a Christian I wonder, “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything,” (1 Corinthians 6:12, ESV). Even more to the point, “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor,” (1 Corinthians 10:23, ESV). Having an AR-15 may be a legal right, but is it helpful? Having the Second Amendment grant us the right is wonderful, but are we being dominated by this right?
As a Christian, I can easily say that just because abortion is legal, it doesn’t make it right. Any conservative Christian that I know wants Planned Parenthood to go under, along with any other abortion facility. They kill our children. Yet, those same Christians (some, not all) are so married to the Second Amendment, that they make the same arguments (with little word variation) that the extreme pro-abortionist makes. “It’s my body. It’s my choice. It’s my right.” “It’s my gun. It my choice. It’s my right.” Just because it is a right doesn’t make it right.
Many pro-gun advocates are much like the pro-abortion advocates: Guns on demand and no limiting my rights. (For those who still espouse the constitutional right, I again say: just because it is a right, doesn’t make it right…even if it is in the Constitution.). Every right that we possess also comes with responsibility, but it also is uninhibited. Free speech is limited. We all know the old example that one cannot yell “fire” in a crowded building. Why? Because souls are at stake. Panic and trampling, death and carnage. Freedom of the press is limited. A journalist cannot write libel. TV reporters can commit slander. Remember, the reason that reporters and journalists use the word “alleged” now is because libel/slander could be cited in civil/criminal courts if the person was found not guilty (along with the idea of an unprejudiced jury). Why? Souls. The reputation of a man, woman, or child is at stake. Their very being (soul) is at stake. Freedom of religion is limited (more and more it seems like these days). Utah was not allowed to be part of the Union until it outlawed polygamy, accepted by the Mormon Church. Zoning laws (commercial versus residential) will keep church buildings at bay or welcome them in.
I know there are gun laws. I’m not disputing that. Yes, the government needs to do a better job at enforcing what we already have on the books. But I go back to the very thought that while it is lawful, it is not helpful, nor does it build up. If the believer should be about loving his neighbor, and Jesus taught that the neighbor is anyone and everyone, then ought we not put neighbor ahead of guns? Ought we not give up our right to love our neighbor? That seems to be the case that Paul was making in 1 Corinthians.
Seventeen souls yesterday, hundreds more in recent years. I know the problem is overwhelming, and that when people get overwhelmed they often shut down. Yet this is not the time to shut down and pretend that nothing is happening. I don’t have the solution. I am only seeking to point out to many who refuse to see there’s a problem that there is indeed a problem. It is not as simple as saying that the laws on the books need to be enforced (which they do). It is not as simple as saying that “crazy people” shouldn’t have guns. It is not as easy as saying it’s a sin problem or a heart problem (which it is). But it is not just “their” sin and heart problem. It is ours as well. I see more love for guns than I do for souls. Maybe I’m wrong, but I am calling it like I see it.
I wonder if Jesus would not say (if he were in America today), “Love your neighbors as you love your guns.”
These people are not just people. They are souls, image-bearers of God.