Those of you who know me and read my writings know that I’m an atheist. But I thought it might be fun to have a little thought experiment about what Jesus might say to the NRA if he were real and wanted to have a talk with them. Recently as probably everyone knows there has been another mass shooting at a school that left 27 dead including 20 little boys and girls, whose lives were abruptly ended by a mentally ill young man with a semi-automatic Bushmaster .223 army style assault rifle with high-capacity magazines. What shocked the nation even more, was the response of the NRA.
While the nation was mourning the loss of these beautiful children, and the teachers who gave their lives to save many more kids from being murdered, the NRA announced they would be making an important statement. Political pundits began speculating what the NRA could be making a statement about? In light of the shooting, many had come out of the woodwork in favor of gun control, petitions began popping up, and many Americans even gun owners began asking the question: Maybe enough, is enough?
We know that after Columbine, the NRA remained steadfast in their opinion that Americans needed more guns. We know that after the shooting death of six-year old Kayla Rolland by a fellow six-year old student in Flint, Michigan, the NRA sent gun enthusiast and president of the NRA at the time Charlton Heston to respond famously: “From my cold dead hands…”
Since the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999, there have been 25 school shootings in the United States. Each a teacher or student is either seriously wounded or more often fatally wounded, and each time the NRA responds with: More GUNS!
Then on December 14th, 2012, Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook elementary school, in Newtown, Connecticut with his Bushmaster .223 and fatally killed teachers, the school principal, a school psychologist, and 20 first-grade six and seven-year old aged students, then killing himself. Lanza who had suffered from mental illness, tried to purchase the weapons at a gun store previously, but refused the background check. Instead, he went home took the weapons that his mother legally owned, shot and killed her, and proceeded to the elementary school.
Although America has suffered through many modern school shootings, and even the deaths of children, never so many, or so young, and it was this that began the debate on gun violence in America. So when the NRA announced it was going to make an important statement, many speculated that they would finally come out in favor of some kind of gun control. Those hopes were shattered when Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the NRA announced that the NRA would like to arm all schools with guns, increase gun sales, and make sure every American had at least one gun.
It was a little shocking in light of the events of the preceding days.
So I wondered with so many gun owners in this country, and almost all of them being Christian, what would Jesus really think about the NRA and guns in America or anywhere for that matter? It seems to me that the people who consider themselves Christians have no idea what religion they are subscribing to if they believe in the right of gun ownership. I think most Christians have never read their bible or they would know Jesus was not the man they imagine him to be. Although only Christians could see themselves with a bible in one hand and a gun in the other, Jesus would have none of that.
Who was Jesus?
Now remember, I’m an atheist, so this is merely a thought experiment, but it’s a good one because those who believe in this stuff, should pay attention to that holy book they put all their faith in.
According to the bible, Jesus Christ was born into a terribly violent world. King Herod the Great, the self-appointed Roman king of the Jews, according to the book of Matthew, ordered that all young male children be executed in the town of Bethlehem, an attempt by Herod to find and murder the newborn king of the Jews. What is known as the massacre of the innocents in Matthew 2:16–18, (don’t even get me started on the violent massacre of the children in the bible) is celebrated annually by the church today as the Massacre of the Holy Innocents.
So Jesus was born into this violence, he lived in it, he grew up in it, yet he rebelled against it, taught those around him to practice pacifism, and spoke clearly of his intention of violence.
Matthew 26:52 - Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for those who live by the sword, die by the sword.”
Jesus also spoke clearly of what he believed to be the importance of forgiveness, and to not resort to violence against sinners.
Matthew 18:21-22 - Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven..."
Wait a second, forgive your enemy? Do not use violence to solve violence?
Luke 6:27-32 - But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
What the hell? Is this Jesus some kind of weak socialist or something?
Romans 12:17-21 - Do not return evil for evil. Avenge not yourselves, but rather give way to wrath; for it is written, vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord. Therefore if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsts, give him drink: for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
So according to Jesus only God has the privilege of prosecution. Only God has the right to bring violence, that men do not have this right. But not only is he saying violence is wrong, he says we must treat our enemies with respect and decency, feed them if they are hungry, give them drink if they are thirsty. Clearly Jesus abhors violence, and believes in love and respect.
So the words of Jesus could not be more clearly understood, he did not like violence, he believed in non-violence, and even refused to retaliate against those who wanted him dead. That’s right, Jesus went to the cross, he didn’t strike them dead, or ask his father the Lord to do so, instead begging his father to forgive them.
Luke 23:34 - And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Surely, if it were God’s wish he could have struck dead all those who opposed Jesus, those who would wish his death, and those who would crucify him. But God did not do this, he allowed his son to be crucified, because Jesus refused to act violently in response to violence. His belief in non-violence is so strong, he gave his life for it.
What might Jesus think of Christians today?
If Jesus suddenly appeared, I imagine most Christians would run away in fear, knowing they created a religion around this man, created dogmatic ideologies, and then refused to stick to them. As an atheist I find it all very interesting, because I choose to live morally without a necessity of God as a basis for my moral sense, instead knowing the brain is fully capable of that without invisible deities to teach us the difference between right and wrong.
I imagine the catholic church would have a very difficult time remaining viable after Jesus steps in and fires all of them.
In Matthew 19:14, Jesus tells all: “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
So Jesus basically states that children should not be hindered, they are the property of God. So you think Jesus might have a few things to say to the Catholic church concerning their overwhelming attitude toward pedophilia in their own churches, and their intentional cover-up. It’s clear from their own actions the lives of these priests are more important than the lives of the children of God. So I wonder what the Pope might say to that, if Jesus had a little talk with him?
What I wonder Jesus might say to members of the Westboro Baptist Church who tried to picket the funerals of those fallen children, whose attitudes toward homosexuals, would be in direct opposition to the words of Jesus himself. As I have already shown Jesus believed in non-violence and pacifism, but he also believed in forgiveness, and non-judgment.
John's Gospel (7:53-8:11) tells the story of a women caught in adultery who was brought before Jesus. The religious leaders say to him, "The law commands that she should be stoned to death, what do you say?" Jesus bends down and draws with his finger in the dirt, and then says to them "Let the one who is without sin throw the first stone." One by one they all leave until he is there alone with the woman. Jesus says to her "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she answered. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared.
This is important, because Jesus believes that no one has the right to condemn anyone else, and further more Jesus himself, he who is in fact without sin, cannot. The text further states Jesus asks the woman to go forth and live without sin, something preachers would say tells us Jesus did not approve. However, this does not matter, in fact, it only goes to show that even if Jesus believed her life was sinful, he still could not condemn her, that intolerance was not tolerable, and as Jesus has stated love even your enemies.
How I wonder what Jesus would say to Christians who so strongly hold close their bible to their chest, while they fill their closets and basements with an arsenal of violent weaponry?
Though Christianity is founded on the principles of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, strangely the book of Abraham, the Old Testament is included in the modern Christian bible. Most people would see this book as the law of the Israelites, and the New Testament the book of Christianity, under which Jesus preached non-violence, pacifism, and tolerance of all. But even in the book of Abraham we find this clear quote of non-violence that applies here.
Isaiah 2:4 "And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war."
Strange that such a passage would exist in the bible along more violence, but it does. And stranger still is the callous nature of those who devote themselves to Christian teachings, who do not follow Jesus, but even the words of God in this passage who clearly speaks of peace, and end to violence, and a dismantling of weapons. Wait a second? Dismantling of weapons? Yes, for this passage refers famously to the Swords to plowshares notion of peaceful disarming.
So how could any Christian instead willfully arm himself? Does he not understand the words of Jesus, who speaks of non-violence? Or the Words of God to command disarming? Clearly something is out of whack here.
Words for the NRA
I want to for a second clearly juxtapose the biblical slaughter of innocents against the events of Sandy Hook elementary, for as Joseph and Mary, and many others with them, celebrated the birth of newborn son Jesus, many fathers and mothers cried in terrible grief at the murder of their children at the hands of King Herod. And so do we cry with parents of those children slaughtered in the horrible events of that massacre at the elementary school, people like the NRA, and gun toting whackos, joyfully glee and defend their right to bear arms, to own vices of tremendous violence, in spite of the deaths of those children.
Even before all these children were placed in the ground, the NRA began calling for more guns. So what might Jesus say to this?
Wayne LaPierre said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
Since we know Jesus preached non-violence and love thy enemy, we know he might not be too happy with such a statement. Because violence begets violence, only peace begets peace. One of my favorite quotes is from Martin Luther King, Jr. and he eloquently states:
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
In a time when children see violence everywhere--in their homes, on the streets, on television, violence is everywhere it seems--now more than ever children need a safe haven, a place without violence, a place where kids can just be kids. Yet under a nation ruled by the NRA Mr. LaPierre would have you arm every teacher, and police every school, turning every school into a prison.
Because let’s get this straight people, if the NRA would have its way every one of these:
Would instead look like one of these:
The bible refers to in many passages a sense of false prophecy and false idolization. But if much of the bible is philosophy and metaphor like many contend, and not literal translation, then what can we assume from this. That believing in people who tell others they know what God wants is false, sounds great, but if it merely metaphoric than we can observe from it something entirely different. Misdirection is the notion that someone would have you believe something else instead of what they don’t want you to believe, and if we look at the context of the bible in these passages and the messages of false anything, then we see the metaphor.
When LaPierre stood before the press and told people that it wasn’t guns that were the problem, it was violent video games, violent movies, and violent media, it seemed somewhat coherent. After all, there are violent video games, movies, and news. But let’s not be fooled, because if he’s right the numbers should bare this out. So let’s take the number of deaths from gun violence compared to violent video games, movies, and news and compare them. So let’s see more than 12,000 people die each year in the US from gun violence, and zero die from video games, movies, and the news.
But wait a second, Mr. LaPierre said it was the games, not the guns that were the source of violence? If this were true I’d expect that the XBOX would be responsible for at least 13,000 deaths a year, but not even 1? No one has ever hit someone over the head with a game disk and killed them? If it’s happened, its never been reported.
Misdirection is the name of the game, and I think if Jesus were to have words with Mr. LaPierre he might say: “Really? Video Games? But not the guns, they don’t kill people?” He might wonder if Mr. LaPierre consulted the bible before he tried to convince others that the false idolatry that is the firearm, is a violation of God’s law. That’s right, it’s a sin bitch. It’s not even one of the stupid ones that men said God hates like eating shellfish, or hating homosexuals, no according to Moses, it came from the words of God himself.
Jesus who we are taught is the son of God, but an avatar of God himself, thus Jesus is God in human form. So obviously when Jesus is born he is surrounded by Angel bodyguards, and where ever Jesus goes he is surrounded by his entourage of secret service-like men willing to take a sword or two for him, right? Wrong! Jesus was certainly born into a violent world, where violence was the solution to violence, but he never preached such a thing, he never walked with an army of loyal soldiers of God, or punished those infidels? How easy would that have been?
None of that happened, and as it turned out with no army of bodyguards, Jesus was taken into custody, and crucified. But still, he did not hold it against men, he did not hate them for their crime, he loved them and asked that no violence be brought against those who condemned him. Seriously, this guy really lived non-violence. So what makes you think that Jesus, and God--if we are to believe that his sacrifice affected his father--would support this notion of violence can only stop violence, when we know Jesus believed directly the opposite?
When the romans come for Jesus, to bring him to his execution, one of his disciples raises a sword and strikes one of the men. Jesus scolds his disciple and heals his persecutor by touching him, saying to his disciple, “Put your sword away, those who would live by the sword would die by it…there is always another way.” Matthew 26:52.
This lesson is supreme because Jesus is clear, and its fundamental to why the NRA, and the gun lobby, is simply wrong. Jesus was clear, violence does not reduce violence, it only increases it. Put the sword away, in the time of Jesus sword violence would not be reduced by the sword. And to Mr. LaPierre, gun violence would not be reduced by the gun. So when Mr. LaPierre says that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, he is clearly wrong, and if you believe in the teachings of Christianity, it is in defiance to God.
Some might say that guns are needed to kill those who would otherwise do the same. There is a term for this: Redemptive violence, though you may have heard, its merely a myth. Because as it would seem, the idea is that violence against those who commit violence is necessary, or divine, after all you may have heard the idiom: “Eye for an Eye, and a Tooth for a Tooth.” Those who would support the stance of the NRA, especially Christians would use this as a means to show that it’s biblically approved violence, thus arming oneself against violence could be nothing short of God’s justice.
But Jesus himself thought this quip senseless, and spoke of it in Matthew 5:38-48 when he says unequivocally, “You’ve heard it said ‘an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth… but I tell you…” He states that if someone were to take something from you, give it to them, and give them more. If they wish to do you harm, let them, if they must, do them no harm in retaliation. He isn’t anymore clear. Jesus believes there is always another way. Killing to show that killing is wrong, is equivalent to trying to prove abortion is a sin, by blowing up a clinic full of pregnant women.
There is never any doubt to what Jesus believed, and though the bible is clear about: “thou shalt not kill,” if this were really a Christian nation, and the center of all Christian values, why does the bible not mention at any point the idea that “the right to bear arms” is a divine right? I mean, if it were truly God given, or even presumptively important at all, it would be mentioned, if obviously not by firearms, but armament at all. Obviously if your right to protect yourself even by sword, were important, one passage could be found to tell it, yet no such passage exists.
And now some important perspective about the second amendment…
People who believe in the second amendment, and refuse to even consider gun control, should consider a few things.
The constitution guarantees each person the right to own and carry weapons. It does not grant the people of this country the right to make them, import them, or otherwise get them. There is no amendment that says, the right of the people to buy assault rifles shall not be infringed. In fact, I feel it necessary to give context to the second amendment, and try to dispel some of the misconceptions that seem to exist around it.
An argument I continue to hear from the right and especially Tea Party nutcakes is that armed citizens are necessary to prevent governmental tyranny. The problem with that is its nonsense. For one, if the government wanted to shake up this country and impose drastically less libertarian laws upon us, no gun would stop this. Our government has in its possession an arsenal unlike anything you could imagine, along with an army of elite soldiers trained in effectively removing threats if necessary. Not to mention any uprising would be seriously curtailed by a carpet bomb dropped from an F-22 flying overhead.
Get your heads out of your asses, your gun, even that assault rifle would be ineffective in stopping a government like ours from not only taking away your liberties, but shooting you and taking away your guns if they wanted to.
It should also be noted there is only one reason the second amendment even exists at all, and it has nothing to do with tyranny. It has everything to do with protecting the government from civil unrest, what???
After the liberation of the United States from England we were as of yet really unformed, and quite a weak nation without any kind of structure. On several occasions after the war, Washington speaking to some of the founders clearly talked about his anger and fear of civil unrest that while they had won their liberty from England, that it could be undone at home if not careful consideration be taken to protect it. Adams and Jefferson met on several occasions to discuss this, for they knew that it would be the people now that would demand new power, for until this point none had existed.
The first clause of the second amendment was directly written for this reason: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.
Consider for a moment that there were no police, that only the army could protect the government, so a ‘well regulated’ militia would make sense, because like the police of today (or national guard), they are a perfect example of what such a militia would be. But then there is the second clause: …the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The problem is one that only those infatuated with guns can’t see, this clause isn’t separate from the first. It should be read as one. Remember again that men like Jefferson, and Adams and all the other founders were wealthy land owners. The necessity of a well regulated militia was more important and sensible than the notion of arming every citizen. It is then we can presume more important to have a militia (police) that can protect those who need protecting, than to simply give every citizen a gun, and say, “Let shit happen as it must!”
We also know as a fact that while Jefferson believed in arming individuals, he did not approve of violence as a means to solve anything, nor did he believe that arming everyone was necessary. He wrote as much several times over the years. His indifference to war was well established, and the notion that arming everyone equally would somehow guarantee peace is pure ignorance, and even those who clearly show an ignorance themselves would never agree that Thomas Jefferson would be one of them.
The founders have been long since dead, and their real intentions are gone from us now, and all that is left is speculation and assumption, and wanting. We as a society must be better than our predecessors.
Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it - George Santayana
We can continue to take two steps backward, or we can be contrary and take one step forward. I began this article by trying to show Christians that the symbol for their religion would not support this idea of armament, that violence was ugly to Christianity, and I believe I have done that. Having said that, as I have mentioned I am an atheist, and believe that none of this should be necessary to know that guns are bad, that violence begets violence, and that peace cannot be made at the end of a sword. I am a man without religion but it should be profoundly notable that unlike most Christians, my morality is not structured around the existence of a God.
I thought that it’s an incredible statistic that more than 12,000 people die every single year in the US from gun violence (violence committed against a human, by another human using a firearm). For every 100 people in this country there are 90 firearms. This is important because with only 5% of the entire population of the Earth being in the US, we have more than 50% of all guns in this country.
There are currently more places in America to purchase a gun, than there are to purchase food: There are 51,438 gun retailers and 36,536 grocery stores in this country. For a little perspective, there are only 14,098 McDonalds restaurants in the US. In 2010, 5.5 million guns were manufactured in the US and 95% of them were sold in the US, but another 3.3 million were also imported. High-capacity magazines with no actual advantage, other than increasing the amount of humans killed are sold legally. Assault rifles with no actual use other than murder, are also legal.
We can choose to be a nation of violence, or choose to be a nation of peace. Violence does not beget non-violence, only peace can do that. The answer to gun violence can never be, and should never be more guns.
I’m not a believer in faith, for a better term, I have no faith in it. What I do have faith in, is human stupidity, because thus far it’s the only thing that hasn’t failed to entertain me or let me down.
I’m in no way a Christian, but I have lived my life more Christian-like than many Christians I know, and who like to tell themselves they are Christian. Just believing in Christ doesn’t make you a Christian. By that rationale, anyone who believes in Christ even a serial killer, or if you believe in Satan, would be a Christian. It’s not merely the belief, it’s the following, the strict dogmatic teachings that make you Christian, though as I have pointed out, I believe in most everything he believed in, and yet I’m no follower of Christ. But if you do than it should be overtly apparent that Christ would abhor this nation.
He consistently taught that we can disarm violence without mirroring it, and that we can rid the world of evil without becoming the evil we abhor. Jesus truly believed that only love cures hate, and in the words of the late John Lennon, “All you need is love…”