24 November 2014

Lamech and the Evangelical Culture of Death

I own a few guns but I haven't fired them in many years and have seriously considered getting rid of them. I'm not sure how. For different moral reasons, I don't want to sell them nor would I want to hand them over to the government.

I've had numerous encounters with bear in the forest and in the past I used to carry a handgun with me. To do so legally it was prudent to obtain a concealed carry permit. Some time ago I let it expire and I'm not sure I care to renew it. I don't think I need a gun to deal with a bear or a rabid raccoon. I don't want to be on some government list as a concealed weapons permit holder. As someone who is a conscientious objector and hopes that his children will follow that same path, it seems like a bit of a contradiction.

I understand why people want to have guns. I understand the argument for self-defense. I realize it can get complicated when someone breaks into your home and threatens your family. It's quite rare and many of the stories floating around out there are bogus. That said, I know it does happen sometimes.

If I was to use a gun in that case, and that's a big 'if', then I would definitely want to emphasize that I would deliberately try and wound the intruder or better yet, scare them away. I would find no delight in killing another person even if they had evil intentions in mind. The very idea is abhorrent to me.

Likewise I find that generally speaking most people who have engaged in warfare and have seen real combat and killed adversaries up close find little to glory in. Usually they are a somber lot, reticent to speak about it and find the idea of glorying in it to be repugnant. Those that do are usually marked by me as sociopaths and reprobates. I use the term sociopath as a description of sinful behaviour, not a mental 'illness'.

For the moment and for the sake of argument I'll allow for the legitimacy of guns and utilizing them for self defense. But even granting that, I cannot understand the gun culture which permeates the American Church. Borrowing from the culture and the pride/vengeance modes of thought at work in the fallen world, the Church has all but sanctified firearms, and in many cases quite literally so.

As I've mentioned elsewhere this is compounded by the fact that not a few American Christians believe the founding documents to be semi- or fully inspired and at the very least grant them a sort of deutero-canonical status. Thus, the 2nd Amendment becomes holy, the bearing of arms a moral imperative divinely sanctioned.

In fact, I would argue the Church has adopted what can only be called the apostate worldview of Lamech. The glorification of gun culture which is ubiquitous in Christian circles is little more than a culture of death* and the pride/vengeance model demonstrated by Lamech in Genesis 4.

Wives of Lamech, listen to my speech!

For I have killed a man for wounding me, even a young man for hurting me.

If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.

Is this not the elephant in the room? Is this message not implicit (and often enough explicit) in all the imagery and posturing within the gun culture? Is this not the posture taken with regard to foreign policy? How many Christians want the enemy hit back a thousand-fold for the slightest insult or offense?

Can you see I am not inherently anti-gun... though I am becoming so... but the gun culture within the Christian Church is little more than the world and often much worse.

Once again, the theological embrace of power the Christianization of political aspirations transforms the way the Church thinks about these issues. Rather than being slaughtered sheep who in their rejection of the world are more than conquerors, suddenly we glorify violence and war and we hear songs about revenge and a 'boot in your ass' quoted from the pulpit. I heard that more than once in the days that followed September 11.

Heard I say, listening to podcasts and streaming audio. If I had been present I would have walked out.

Can no one see that while we don't glorify the violence of terrorists, nor do we ignore criminality in the society, the Evangelical response is worthy of Cain's line?
*I reject the Evangelical claim that they stand for a Culture of Life. When it comes to state and personal violence they reject life in almost every way.