Walking our Faith: Gun control is still a pro-life issue
Walking our Faith
For me, one of the most remarkable moments in the life of Jesus Christ is when we are told Jesus went out alone and prayed. There is something so human in that demonstration of his reliance upon God, our father. And perhaps that is the whole point, that we are to remember that prayer changes everything
The most touching reminder was when Jesus prayed on the night before his death. He referred to God as “Abba,” meaning father or daddy, and with this glimpse of the loving relationship between father and son, we hear him say, “Take this cup of suffering from me, but if not, your will be done” (Matthew 26:42). And we are reminded that God became fully human so that he could experience everything we ever might, especially our fear, and then teach us to love and trust God even in the midst of evil.
Since the two recent mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, politicians and religious leaders have called on us to pray for those who were killed. Following the example of Christ who prayed often throughout his ministry, this is very good advice.
However this is advice that ignores the other half of the ministry of Jesus Christ. He was very much a person of action. When he saw suffering, he did not pray for them from afar; he went and laid hands on them and healed them. When he was confronted with 5,000 who had come to hear him preach but who were also hungry, he did not turn them away, instead he turned it into a miracle, fed them not with crumbs but with fish and bread in such abundance that there were bushels remaining even after they had eaten their fill.
Yet some religious leaders tell us that we should do nothing more than pray for those who die at the hands of a mad gunman, then turn around and ask for money to help victims of a natural disaster. And I wonder if they feel that there is less pain when you lose your family to a gunman than when you lose your family to a hurricane.
Seven years ago after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Father James Martin wrote an article titled “Gun control is a pro-life issue” for AmiercaMagazine.org. He wrote: “Gun control is about the defense of life. Those who consider themselves religious or pro-life must be invited to see that the desire to prevent gun-related deaths is part of the religious defense of the dignity of all life. To put the matter bluntly, if one is in favor of protecting the unborn — and advocate for them, march in protest on their behalf, donate money to pro-life groups and encourage voting for legislators who protect the unborn — one should be equally in favor of protecting those lives six and seven years out of the womb, the ages of several of the children murdered last week in Connecticut.”
I read that article Monday and realized nothing has changed in the past seven years. Not a law, not the end of mass shootings. No school or supermarket is safer now than then. And I wonder why the same religious and political leaders who claim they are bound by God to be pro-life are not pro-life for victims of gun violence? Why don’t they use the same political clout to protect innocent children who are killed by random gun violence as they sit in their school rooms or walk with their parents?
Mike Huckabee said this last weekend: “I would posit that the lack of thought and prayers is probably the single biggest factor in what is behind (shootings).”
Or Franklin Graham who wrote in a Facebook post: “This hate doesn’t come from the barrel of a gun or the blade of a knife, it comes from the human heart.”
These men seem more interested in politics than the teachings of Jesus Christ. I pray they will return to the gospel and read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:6-10):
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Or consider how Jesus treated a woman accused of adultery: first he saved her life, then he told her to go and sin no more.
Will Huckabee or Graham, or pro-life politicians, or my beloved Catholic Church, use their political or monetary clout to demand practical gun reform? No one wants to take away Second Amendment rights, but why is the right to own a high-capacity, rapid-fire gun a greater right than for a child to attend school without fear of being killed? Why are we required to own a license to drive a car, or an ID to vote but not to register a weapon that will rip open a child’s body?
Father James Martin wrote his article seven years ago. Seven years from now, will anything be different? If you’d like things to change, please pray, and then call your senator: 202-224-3121.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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