“Look, all I’m saying is that if someone wants to do harm to my church family, I’ll have the opportunity to defend myself,” stammered my brother-in-law, Jaren. He aggressively chalked his pool stick, turning attention to a menacing 8-ball with a wide-eyed, ‘and-I-really-don’t-care-what-your-thoughts-are-on-the-matter’ look.
My wife’s father nodded agreeably.
Jaren recently acquired his concealed weapons permit, and was aghast at the suggestion he forego carrying – you know, a machine designed to murder other humans – into the house of the Lord.
“Eh, I disagree,” responded another brother-in-law, who is also deeply conservative. “Something about carrying a gun into church just seems … I don’t know, um, wrong.”
I observed from a distance. They knew my position. I could have rattled off the scripture necessary, but it would have mattered little. In fact, it’d of merely fortified their stance. After all, given my liberal delusion, if I’m against something, they must be for it. And vice-versa. My education in religious studies notwithstanding.
To them, carrying a weapon into church is as American as
apple pie Jesus. The second amendment is somehow God-ordained; an inspired text that, though they’d vociferously deny it, enjoys all the prestige in their daily lives as the Bible. Probably more.
“There’s nothing incompatible between guns and church!”
That was six months ago.
That was before the events in Sutherland Springs.
Though we haven’t had a pool table dialogue redux, I can confidently predict the one brother-in-law is as convinced as ever. Sadly, I can’t apply the same confidence to the other. And therein lies the rub of evangelicals in a gun-obsessed country. We’re drawn to instruments and symbols that represent power – a military-industrial complex, a flag, an anthem, a gun.
With precisely zero interest in the way of the Lamb.
And that is what makes my following prediction so painful, so tragic: In the wake of Sutherland, American evangelicals will assume their only recourse is … more guns.
Guns in the pews.
Guns during prayer.
Guns during infant baptism.
Guns just steps away from communion.
Guns because man’s cycle of violence isn’t only facilitated by his nationalism, it’s celebrated! Guns because this cancer has metastasized into religion, where evangelicals have successfully distorted the faith to fit the narrative.
Guns. Jesus. Violence. God. Eye-for-an-eye.
Even, if necessary, before the Holy of Holies.
It isn’t without a sense of irony that evangelicals, as opposed to their brothers and sisters in Christ who don’t identify with the term, are generally Pro Donald Trump, Pro Gun, and obsess with love of country. After all, the term evangelical has its roots in euangelion, which was to exalt the Roman emperor as ruler of the empire.
For the Jesus-following Christian, it’s a reminder that there is but one Kingdom.