Mark Driscoll bit off a huge chunk of…well…you just read it…

Mark Driscoll bit off a huge chunk of…well…you just read it…

As someone who really loves Jesus, and who loves the peace teachings He proclaimed with his life and love, and the call to live a different kind of life that the Gospels present, this article made me so mad I had a hard time sleeping.  I’d love to know what you think about his post, and how it resonates with the Jesus you know.

I’m sick and tired of having a peace-preaching Jesus co-opted.  I’m tired of feeling like I have to apologize for my feelings about gun control and violence in society.  I can’t find a single Jesus-justified reason to use violence, permit violence, or excuse it.  The Jesus I know, the Jesus I hold in my heart and worship says very clearly that the Way is paved with love, and that love is deeply rooted in the peace that passes all understanding.  I think whenever we forget this, when we engage in violence of any kind–mean words, mean actions, just plain meanness, in order to get our points across, we lose the full flavor of the Gospel.

Meekness is not weakness.  The refusal to meet hurt with hurt, no matter the situation, is a powerful one.  The willingness to not engage in a violent act, even if it means the loss of my own life, is something that convicts me, daily.  I think about Jesus, and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi, and look at the way their radical approach to peace and non-violence changed the world and the people they loved in powerful ways.  It cost them their very lives, but in paying that cost, chains were broken, people were freed, and perceptions were radically shifted.  What we need in the world isn’t one more gun, one more bomb, one more justification of force or violence.  What we need is hearts that are ready and willing to love and be loved fearlessly, even in the face of death.

I think about a conversation I had with a family member, before my wedding.  This family member was very well-meaning, and was offering to buy my husband a shotgun as a wedding gift.  The gun was meant to serve as “home security”.  As kindly as I could, not wanting to get into the argument about guns, etc., I declined the offer.  This family member asked what I expected my husband to do if someone broke into our house, and tried to hurt me, or otherwise terrorize our house.  My response was that a) I thoroughly resented the implication that the only way one can defend oneself in a situation like that is with lethal force, and that b) if we lived in a neighborhood where situations like that happend, we would move, and that c) my husband understands my feelings about violence and lethal force, and would never kill someone to save me, because he loves me too much to do a thing like that.  I would rather die than have someone kill another person to save me.  That’s the bottom line.  And it has nothing to do with a deathwish or me being a flakey-hippie-dippie-head-in-the-clouds kind of idiot and everything to do with MY understanding of the sanctity of life.  I can’t control how violent people behave or what they might do to me.  But I can control my reaction, and I’d rather die than add to the hurt and turmoil that violence brings.

I think about Jesus, and how He was a victim of violence, how even being taken to His death, He encouraged Peter and the others not to react with violence.  If we live by the sword, or the gun, or the angry word, we will die by those things.  That’s as true now as it ever was.  Pastor Driscoll takes an Old Testament tack, and uses some questionable scholarship to justify the difference between killing and murder, using the Ten Commandments.  I would challenge him to go back further, and read the story of Cain and Able in Genesis.  God tells Cain that the very earth cries out with the blood of Able, that we are our brothers’ keeper.  And Cain is banished, not killed in retaliation.  Cain’s violence is what exempts him from fellowship with his community, with his family.  I think it’s important to remember God’s response to that (in our tradition) first recorded murder.  It’s a false teaching to draw the line between killing as an act of just war and murder as an act of revenge.

Taking a life is taking a life, period.  And we must either believe that God has a plan and a call for each and every life, even the mean people, and give them the grace (even at the ultimate cost to ourselves) to find that plan and live out that call, or we believe that we have the ultimate power and control to force them into our perceived mold or put them in a hole in the ground.  I refuse to accept that.  Jesus comes to give us life, and to give it abundantly.  The Enemy comes to kill, and steal, and destroy.  I aim to be on the Jesus side of this argument, this choice to lay down my life for peace, to refuse to bow my head to the “necessity” of violence to keep peace or maintain security.  Peace kept by a gun is just a fancy way of taking hostages, of intimidating people into keeping their heads down out of fear.  There is no fear in the Kingdom of God, and I have to believe that the Kingdom of God is between us every single time we wage a fearless and love-filled peace.

That’s what I think, anyway.




5 responses to “Mark Driscoll bit off a huge chunk of…well…you just read it…

  1. Catherine Uptain Carr

    Another way to protect “God and guns,” using the Old Testament and Revelations, not Jesus’s words. And I loved my college humanities teacher!

    • Catherine,

      I loved my college humanities professor, too. And I loved my high school civics teacher, who was also my dad, who was a huge peacenik, complete with elbow patches and a pipe.

  2. You and Mark do both make some valid points. I don’t believe I disagree with you. I am not a gun toting or condoning violence person either. I don’t own a gun (maining because I don’t believe I’ll be accused of a gun accident if I am not ever holding a gun). So, one thing that I’ve been thinking about is this: is violence ever ok? You mention you can’t find a Jesus-justified reason for it. Maybe we need to define violence. If I see someone being injuried can I stop the attack? Can I protect myself if I am being attached? Can I kick, punch or hit someone who is attacking me or another person. Is it permissible to kill an animal that is attacking a person/child? Should police officers and the military not own guns and if they don’t have guns how should they “keep the peace”? If “criminals” didn’t have guns either that would atleast be a more level playing field but I doubt guns/weapons will be wiped off the face of the earth anytime soon. I agree I’d rather be killed than have someone kill someone to protect me but I think I am ok with non-lethal force on an attacker. I have thought quite abit about the issue and haven’t come to any real solid conclusions. This has prevented me from being able to make some life choices. Good blog. Good to think through some things.

  3. Mark Twain’s The War Prayer has a very good reason that Christians should have a hard time condoning or justifying war: the chaos and havoc that war causes for our enemies, should we be victorious. Whether you can argue that our enemies brought fire on themselves by their actions or not, the hardships that the widows and orphans of war, not to mention the slaughter of innocents which is inevitable in war is clearly unchristian. The sickeningly clinical name “collateral damage” for this effect of war belies any attempt to justify war as “righteous” or “holy” as Mark Driscoll did in that article. If war is so just and righteous and holy, why does Isaiah dream of the day that swords are beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks that nations train for war no more? Why does Jesus command us to love our enemies? Indeed, his lesson instructing us to turn the other cheek is not about blithely standing by and allowing violence. It is about putting a human face in front of the attacker and challenging him to “hit me like a man” as it were – i.e. it is about shaming the violence. You may argue that violence in our broken world may happen to protect the innocent from the violent, and in fact, I am grateful for our protectors in military and police uniforms. However, it is never righteous or holy to commit an act of violence. Incidentally, a very good friend of mine is a community college humanities professor, and I found that glib remark all the more offensive for it.

  4. I like the questions Michele asked, and I agree with Brian on the often overlooked costs of war. My husband and I are from an area where you start learning gun safety around age 5. I think Rachie’s blog and Mark’s article both make very valid points. Mark’s article is better researched, but Rachie’s blog makes more daily life implications. She touches on many topics of discussion that I hope we have the opportunity to delve into at a later point. Here are a few items (and only a few) I have to add:

    My study says Mark is right that scripture alone most strongly supports just war approaches. Harsh on murder, but allowing and at times endorsing killing. The beauty is we base our views on reason, scripture, tradition, (and I would add faith/conviction). I am supportive of non-violent resistance (not pacifism), but we must first admit that it takes many mice to non-violently resist one cat. Non-violent resistance is a great tactic at a population level.

    I think discussions on preventing violence on an individual level must start with teaching people how to communicate thoughts and emotions in a rationale manner. A behavioral study on violence correlated frustration and an inability to express emotions in a healthy manner as a driving factor for aggressive behavior. I think this could be an area of common ground between pacifists, supporters of non-violent resistance, and just war supporters. Better communication and respect for others could curb the number situations where violence is considered an acceptable ‘solution.’

    In response to the ideas relayed through the wedding present story, I would be very hesitant to say my husband loves me enough to not protect me from physical attack. I would not ask it of him. I certainly will do my best to protect my family (especially ‘innocent’ members who are unable to protect themselves) from harm. It takes a courage to place oneself at risk to protect someone you love and even more to protect a stranger from violence. I am very proud of people who step in to protect others, and even more so of those who are able to de-escalate violent situations. I think the slippery slope is the difference between protection versus revenge or fear based responses.

    The only part that may influence my ability to sleep tonight is in regards to the socioeconomic assumptions which pretty much undermine most pacifist arguments.

    Again, I have a lot more I could add since pretty much every ‘point’ touched could be a full paper, but for some sense of brevity, I will leave it here. Thank you Rachie for the article & blog!!

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