On October 30th a new Christian documentary will hit theaters– and I’m excited about it. The Armor of Light is poised to be an excellent conversation starter for a question I’ve long asked: shouldn’t pro-life mean all life? And shouldn’t that mean we talk about our love affair with guns?
I was fortunate enough to be asked to pre-screen the movie before it’s released in theaters, and I thought it was a compelling documentary– not so much because of any conclusions it draws, but because of the questions it asks.
The documentary follows Rob Schenck, a fundamentalist pastor who has been a well known and extremely active figure in the pro-life movement. However, Pastor Schenck seems to be questioning the pro-life hypocrisy of speaking out against abortion but not gun culture. The Armor of Light is a film about his process, questioning, and at times getting push-back– push-back from his own supporters who often act like he’s gone mad by even questioning guns and violence.
Perhaps what I loved most about the documentary is that the main character is a straight-up fundamentalists. Schenck is no Michael Moore, and this is not Bowling for Columbine. This makes his questioning all the more beautiful, as it is coming from the depths of fundamentalism, not from outsiders. It also means that the documentary would be hard to dismiss as liberal propaganda, as Schenck is anything but liberal. Of course, that doesn’t mean they won’t try to do just that.
So far the reviews of the film are quite favorable, with a notable exception: Bristol Palin, fellow Patheos blogger and daughter of the former Vice Presidential candidate, is a bit up in arms after pre-screening the film.
And, I have to be honest– I can’t blame Bristol for being upset. Sarah is in the documentary, and it’s not pretty. Palin is seen at an NRA convention saying that the price of ammo is expensive, so not to waste bullets by firing a warning shot. Essentially, she argues that bullets have more worth and value than human beings. Her comments were nothing we hadn’t seen before, but in light of America’s wave of gun violence, they certainly appeared especially demonic.
In her review of the film, Palin immediately dismisses his questions about gun violence and labels him a liberal, as is the standard play for whenever a fundamentalist starts questioning one of the holy idols of fundamentalism: guns.
“What about the Bible as a primary source? It speaks to the weapon issue, though he conveniently skips the Bible passages that talk about being armed and protecting one’s family. The pastor says he doesn’t want to be labeled as a “liberal,” though he spouts leftist talking points from the first moments of the movie.”
I wholeheartedly agree that the Bible is our primary source for issues such as this, but there’s one major problem. Palin says he “skips the Bible passages that talk about being armed and protecting one’s family” yet, no such Bible verses exist. While the Old Testament does command Jihad against enemies and taking their wives as sex slaves, the New Testament (you know, the part that’s the foundation of Christianity) teaches us to do the precise opposite. Love your enemies, do not resist evil with violence, repay evil with good… nothing in the New Testament about taking up arms, only laying them down.
Palin seems to have committed the same Biblical fallacy that Donald Trump is guilty of: referencing parts of the Bible that don’t exist.
While The Armor of Light questions conservative Christianity’s love of guns in light of the Christian faith which teaches radical enemy love, Bristol Palin has a solution: get your theology of violence and enemy love from her mom, she argues:
“[I] think Christians have a DUTY to carry and protect the innocent. If you want to know what the Bible REALLY says about topics like this, buy my Mom’s new devotional instead of watching this new film.“
So, there you go folks. Have you been wrestling with what Jesus was talking about when he said love your enemies? Trying to look for a loophole in living your life the way Jesus lived? Has reading me, Greg Boyd, or a variety of others wrecked your previous theology on violence?
Well, good news. There’s no need to read pastors and scholars, because if you want to know what the Bible REALLY says about violence, all you have to do is buy Sarah Palin’s new devotional.
I’ve got a better idea: go see the film, and dare to ask the questions they don’t want you to ask– no matter what they label you.