Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Our Love of Violence

"Americans of faith today need to be challenged by a very direct question: do you trust God or guns more?" This was the response of Susan Thistlethwaite to the massacre in Aurora, Colorado. The people's answer to her query seems to be clear.

Mass shootings are not incomprehensible, despite what we tell ourselves. They are a natural by-product of our belief that war, abortion, capital punishment, and other forms of violence can successfully resolve our societal and individual problems. As long as such attitudes are the norm, some people will turn to violence as an outlet for their own frustrations. They will spew it like vomit, and no one will be left untouched.

This chaotic violence is not a modern phenomenon. Technology may have increased the destructiveness of the acts and our awareness of them, but this sort of violence has been with us since we first chose to use death to "fix things." Which, according to the Bible, was right from the beginning. And in spite of all that humanity has learned in the centuries since then, we cling stubbornly and insanely to that attitude. As much as I abhor the "culture of death" label, perhaps John Paul was on to something.

So how do we begin to trust God more than guns? We could start by actually listening to Jesus when he tells us to love our enemies. He is not being naive and impractical. He is telling us that violence is a weed that flourishes easily and chokes even those who think they can use it righteously. Only love can truly fix anything.

"Our brother calls us to love, love God, love your neighbor, love. How hard is that? What are you afraid of? If he was willing to die to love you, what’s your excuse for not loving those you fail to understand, those you despise, those you hate?"

We cannot embrace both God and violence. So which will you choose to trust?