This post comes from a friend, a pastor, Doug Fondell.
Confessions of a Former Gun Enthusiast.
I grew up loving guns. Guns were always on my top 5 list when it came to Christmas gifts until about the age of 12. It seems Santa had a way of giving them to me whether I was naughty or nice. This was the way it was in the 60’s. First a pop gun (remember the cork on a string). Then a cap gun (the smell of the sulfur made me feel mean). A squirt-gun during the summer. (probably the most fun I’ve ever had with a gun) Then a bb-gun (if the smell of sulfur made me feel mean, imagine the power of a bb). I exercised that power when I kind of/intentionally shot my sister. It didn’t kill her, but she sure wanted to kill me.
I moved on to a 22 caliber rifle. My parents didn’t buy it for me. My grandpa had it to shoot rats, rabbits, and sometimes cats that threatened to overrun the farm. He let me shoot it, but only at cans on a rock. Then, I discovered he had a 12 gauge shot gun. He was shooting at crows that were eating his corn. He let me shoot it once. And to this day, I remember the power it possessed. It cracked against my shoulder, knocked me backwards, and scared me to death. Nevertheless, it really impressed me! Guns have a way of saying “Wow” to young boys. Somehow, they scratch the itch of the masculinity we’re searching for!
I liked the thought of being a hunter. Being a hunter in my day and age was a mark of manhood. And so I did it! I shot my share of birds, though I never thought they deserved to be shot. I shot my share of rabbits, squirrels, skunks, and raccoons, though I never felt they deserved it. I shot them because I could, and for some reason I believed they should be shot. The gun gave me the power to do so. But the truth is I didn’t like it. I gave up hunting at about the age of 25 when I almost shot my dog. It was an accidental shot…but it reminded me that guns can kill easily and quickly. (I will never forget the look in my dogs eyes as the buckshot flew over his head. If there are dogs in heaven, I will need to apologize once again)
Now, my purpose in writing is not to critique people who choose to hunt. But I do hope that you choose to hunt for good reasons. (You decide for yourself what those reasons may be.) My agenda is with the issue of the power that guns possess. I learned the power of a gun as a child- in a real hands on kind of way. Guns captured my imagination, they scared me, they impressed me, they wowed me, and they mythically empowered me…but for a number of reasons they didn’t work for me, they couldn’t define my masculinity in any way shape or form.
Eventhough I fought against it for years, I discovered a greater sense of my man-hood in relationship to Jesus. In my younger years, Jesus seemed too soft, too nice, too kind, never willing to get the bad guy and shoot him down. I was more infatuated with Roy Rogers and Daniel Boone. I wanted a cowboy/pioneer Jesus, not a shepherd who gentily watches over and cares for his flock.
But the more I learned of Jesus, the more radical I discoverd him to be. He stood up to, he took on the powers and principalities of his day, and he did it without a gun. He stood up to anybody that wanted to take aim at him. And he never flinched. If they had guns then, they surely would have shot him down, but they didn’t. Instead, they beat him down and hung him up. In a real sense, Jesus took the bullet for the love of us all!
I’m writing to Christian men about guns, and our apparent love for guns. But as a Christian man who has no problem with the idea of hunting wisely and responsibly, I cannot comprehend why we are so impotent when it comes to the violence created by guns in our society. The life, the teachings, and surely the death of Jesus reveal to us that we should be on the forefront- advocating against anything that brings harm to others…and this includes guns.
The shootings in Newtown, Connecticut were by a gun…a gun that has the power to do what a single person can’t do with human hands, a gun that most of us have never spent time contemplating the moral and ethical ramifications of owning.
There may be some instances where women choose to shamelessly massacre others, but right now I don’t have any shining examples of this. To me the problem of guns seems to be a big time male issue…particularly as it pertains to power the power we feel holding them and shooting them.
Adam Lanza may have learned some really good lessons in life. But he learned the wrong lessons when it came to being a man. In the eyes of God, in the eyes of Jesus, real men don’t take aim at and kill others because they can. Real men don’t live in fear of the enemy, but seek to love their enemy. Real men put down their weapons and find the pathway to peace. Real mean seek to love everything that God loves. And real men don’t stand back and say “well the that’s the way things are in our culture.”
Surely, Lanza was confused…maybe even crazy. The problem, as I see it is this…maybe we’re just as confused. When it comes to the Newtown massacre I’m hearing the same old rationales, the same old excuses. It’s predictable. The end result is that the TV will be inundated with coverage for 3 weeks and then life will go on. Then we’re going to shamefully bless the next murder spree. But life doesn’t go on for the the families of 32 people who are murdered every day in the USA. Picture yourself as a parent of one of the children murdered in Newtown. Life will never go on per usual.
The time has come for Christian men to come to terms with the fact that we really don’t comprehend the power of a gun. And for this reason we need to get rid of as many guns as possible. So I am urging Christian men to take the lead- get rid of guns that serve no other purpose than to kill other people, this includes hand guns, semi-automatic weapons, and surely assault rifles. No real man of God hunts in this kind of way!
If I hear one more time that “guns do not kill people–people do”, or that talk of gun control is a slippery slope threatening a host of American freedoms, or that millions of responsible gun owners must not be judged by a few crazies, I’m going to pull the few lasting hairs out of my head. This is confused…maybe even crazy thinking. Surely people kill…but guns make it super easy to do so. (just ask my dog)
Month after month, I see people gathering in the USA holding vigil. I see wide spread candle lighting, teddy bears and flowers scattered, cards and posters offering their condolences , people devastated. I’m a pastor, and I’m sick of witnessing this scene. My heart breaks for all of the people traumatized- people who have lost their son, their daughter, their mom, their dad, but I feel particularly sick because we point the finger anywhere and everyplace else. Recently, drunk drivers, family system break down, and gay people seem to be the excuses of choice.
I feel particularly sick when Christian men, who love their guns, (more than Christian women statistically) stand more afraid of losing their 2nd amendment rights than they do their Christian integrity. Brothers, something got missed when it comes to learning what it means to really be a man in the eyes of Jesus.
And so I say to every man who considers themself to be a man of God… don’t be impotent. The time is now…man up, show your power in a Christ-like way, make a difference to protect the next potential victims of gun related violence. Take action to change laws, or to create new laws that will serve to protect people. Be willing to cash in any gun that serves no other purpose than to kill another person. Be willing to hunt wisely and responsibly. And if you don’t know how to hunt wisely, take some courses. Stop shopping at stores that profit from the sale of guns. Change your stock portfolio if you’re invested in the gun trade. The hand gun you may own- hand it in to the police, cash it in, or store it at a gun club. Guns are not your sword and shield…Christ is!
Stop being afraid of your neighbors…make the effort to get to know them and then love them! This may have been what Adam Lanza needed most- a neighbor who loved him. Brothers, the time has come to man up, and dis-arm ourselves.
Pastor Immanuel International Church