The love of bearing arms has become a dangerous obsession. Dangerous because it eclipses the ideals of peace and justice.
In 1990, the Presbyterian Church USA at its national meeting stated: “The religious community must also take seriously the risk of idolatry that could result from an unwarranted fascination with guns which overlooks or ignores the social consequences of their misuse”
26 years later, we still haven’t heeded this warning. Instead, society goes on developing a gun culture forming a religious cult. Former NRA Executive Vice President Warren Cassidy points out that “[t]he base of the National Rifle Association believes so strongly it’s more a religion.”
But, it is not just the NRA that follows these cult traditions. Every day people use language that reflects gun ideology. We “bring out the big guns” when faced with a large challenge. We applaud people who “shoot from the hip,” and let them “call the shots.” It seems owning and carrying guns has spawned obsession and dangerous ideology.
The Bible reminds us that “You shall not worship other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them” (2 Kings 17:35).
But, in the name of safety, people are normalizing openly brandish guns. Many states permit openly bearing weapons in workplaces, schools, stores, churches, and bars. We have taken our love of the gun to a new level. We bear our guns as they are sacred. This will backfire.
When our weapons are more important than the people and values they are supposed to protect we have turned them into objects of worship…into false idols. That something scripture is rather clear on. Multiple verses of the Bible chastise people for worshiping something beyond their faith. Today we can add to the list of idols: the Golden Calf, Amon, Baal to include assault rifles, hand guns, semi-automatics, etc.
I have expressed the apocalyptic realities of gun violence in our society before but let me recap: around 30,000 people a year die from shootings a year in the US.
30,000 people is:
- more than the student population of Yale or Harvard.
- around the size of the Royals baseball stadium in Kansas City, MO.
- the approximate population of the Alaskan Capital of Juneau.
- 100 times more friends than the average person has on Facebook.
- around 90 people a day.
Imagine the cemetery this idolatry has created.
We must hear the prophetic call to change our understanding of what motivates the need to irresponsibility hold to our rights while ignoring our responsibilities.
We must uphold our values of justice and peace over our fear and our idolatry.