Guns, Violence, And Death: The Spirit Of Anti-Christ

Guns, Violence, And Death: The Spirit Of Anti-Christ May 10, 2023

No photographer listed: Sculpture Against Gun Violence / pxhere

Jesus is the lord of life. Seeing the way he promotes and affirms the value of all life, including and especially those who are treated as outcasts and less than human by society, Christians should promote the dignity of all human life, making sure everyone can attain and experience abundant life (cf. Jn. 10:10). Likewise, Jesus is the prince of peace, which means Christians should be servants of peace (cf. Isa. 9:6).  Sadly, the way many Christians act, they seem to do the exact opposite of what Christ intended. While they might, in some cases, promote life, in many other cases, they are so quick to embrace the way of death, they glorify it, justifying themselves by finding ways to dehumanize those who are recklessly killed. This is especially true in the United States, for in it, many whom Christ would have lifted up and affirmed, such as migrants, are dehumanized by Christians. Such Christians ignore Scripture, where it is clear that the poor, the needy, the foreigner, indeed, the refugee should be welcomed with mercy because of the way they have received God’s mercy (cf. Ex. 22:21; Deut. 24:14; Heb. 13:2). Christians should be looking for all the ways they can help those who are needy, but what we see is that they find all kind of ideological excuses to not only ignore their plight, but to make things worse for them. Similarly, they should not be looking for reasons to have people killed, let alone rejoice in their untimely death. Instead, they are told that they should: “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter” (Prov. 24:11 RSV).

Without question, I see far too many Christians, Christians who call themselves pro-life, reject the dignity of their fellow human beings, and in doing so, find excuses to justify their exploitation and death. So many of them readily embrace the way of violence to make the world conform to their will. They are among the first to reject refugees seeking to save their lives, and in doing so, end up sending them to their death. Similarly, way too many Christians are interested in arming themselves and using those arms to kill those they deem a threat, even if there is no proportionate reason to do so. They have become so bloodthirsty, they regularly threaten anyone they do not like, thinking that alone justifies executing someone if they do not comply to their unjust demands. They dehumanize the other in order to ignore their human dignity so that they can easily abuse if not kill those they deem unworthy of respect. And they often do this after the fact, as can be seen in the way they try to find excuses to justify someone killing their neighbor, claiming it was self-defense despite the way other means could have and should have been used to deescalate the situation, leading to no one being killed. Indeed, they often justify such death-giving by dehumanizing the victim, saying that because of something they had done long ago, something their killer could not even have known, alone justified their execution. This is exactly the kind of defense being given to the one who killed Jordan Neely; those who do so ignore the fact that he was not an immediate threat to anyone, and that he could easily have been engaged without being put into a deadly choke hold.

Excessive force, extreme violence, is not proportionate force and cannot be justified by those who are truly seeking to defend and promote the value of life. This is why those who defend such evil cannot truly be said to support life, even though many of them claim to do so. They claim to defend life but they are the bringers of death. They do not mourn the death of others. They do not mourn the people they hurt. They do not feel any sorrow for the way they dehumanize others. They claim to represent Christ and yet they promote the exact opposite of what Christ taught. What else can they be following but the spirit of anti-Christ? Their judgment of others is done without mercy. I have seen way too many of them not only justify the needless death of others, they revel in death, never caring that it was a human being who was killed. The hate they have for others is very telling, and it is the kind of hate, if it is not dispelled, which will lead to their own karmic-like judgment in return. “Any one who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 Jn. 3:15 RSV). For as long as they are filled with hate, they will be cutting themselves off from mercy and the blessings of eternal life – and yet, even then, as those they have not shown mercy can still find mercy with God, so they will find that after the particular judgment, God will still have room for them to receive mercy in the eschaton: “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgment” (Jas. 2:13 RSV).

Christians should always lean on mercy, hoping for mercy, not only for themselves, but for everyone, and through such hope, defend life and the value of all human life. They should not be looking for excuses to ignore their duty to protect life. They must not limit what kinds of life deserves to be treated with respect. This does not mean things will be perfect. There might be situations in which they will have to reluctantly act in such a way that they will end up taking another’s life. When they do so, they should recognize the terrible situation for what it is, and even feel sorrow for the life which is lost. It is important to recognize such situations indicate a time in which sin limits freedom, and as such, when violence is engaged, it is not to be seen as a representation of freedom but an indication of the opposite:

If you are tempted to violence, if you have been treated unjustly, if within you anger and resentment arise and conquer you, then you are the one who is captive to your abusers, and your spirit is unfree. But only try to be meek and lowly of heart [Matt. 11:29], and you will become free, bright, and calm, your mind will calmly show you the way, and you will come out the victor of a difficult situation. [1]

Christians, to truly be Christians, must realize that their trust is not to be in arms, but in God. They say Jesus is lord, but they must do much more than that. They must allow what Jesus represents become the foundation for their lives. Every time they try to accumulate weapons of violence, and they seek to justify doing so because they feel they will have to defend themselves in the future, they show their lack of faith:

Indeed, it is not fitting for us, who have been chosen to contend earnestly for piety towards God, to arm ourselves with swords against our enemies. Rather, we should be longsuffering. And though some people may wish to persecute us, when reviled we bless, when suffering we do not grumble, instead we give ourselves over to him who judges justly.[2]

Now, to be sure, this can be extremely difficult. It is something Christians should strive for, realizing that along the way, they can and will falter. It can be and will likely be a life-long struggle to execute. The problem is not with those who understand and accept the principle, but with those Christians who do not think they need to reject the way of violence, the way of death, and so they do not struggle against the path of violence but rather engage it, believing it is compatible with the Christian way of life.  It is one thing to recognize the ideal, and to accept one is far from that ideal; it is another to ignore or reject it outright. Thus, many Christians do not seek to bring peace to the world, but merely to defend themselves, not just from immediate violence, but from ideological threats which they think should also be taken out with force. And yet, as these same Christians proclaim themselves to be pro-life, they show, by the way they quickly dehumanize and reject the value of others, they believe only a few are worthy of being treated as human and so only a few are worthy of having their lives protected, among which, of course, is themselves.

Christians need to understand, even if there is a situation in which self-defense can be justified, even self-defense which leads to someone’s death, this does not mean there will be no psychological, let alone spiritual, consequence for their action. They will be tainted by death, just as much as David was said to be when he was told he was not to build the Temple. This taint is real, and needs to be treated properly. St. Basil understood this, which is why he warned, “Whoever gave the blow that caused death to his neighbor is a murderer, whether he gave the first blow or was retaliating.”[3] This is why, even if someone is justified in killing someone in an act of self-defense, for example, they still should have a sense of sorrow for what became a necessity, and they will need help to deal with the long-term impact of their action on their lives. They should be sad about the situation. They should grieve over the loss of life. They should find a way to heal, but they cannot do that so long as they revel in the death which they have caused.  Non-Christians, when they see Christians acting in this way, will see the hypocrisy of this; as actions speak louder than words, they will believe all the words about peace, justice, and life are meaningless and the real Christian way is the way of violence. Certainly, the gun culture which so many Christians promote justifies non-Christian hesitancy to listen to Christians speaking about human dignity and life. For they see such Christians do not have any concern for needless deaths which the gun culture brings, as can be seen in the way they embrace liberal ownership of guns even when they see what such ownership brings to society, such as mass shooting in schools. The reason for this contradiction can be explained as the end result of radical libertarian individualism, an individualism which offers no sense of solidarity with others:

At another level, the roots of the contradiction between the solemn affirmation of human rights and their tragic denial in practice lies in a notion of freedom which exalts the isolated individual in an absolute way, and gives no place to solidarity, to openness to others and service of them. While it is true that the taking of life not yet born or in its final stages is sometimes marked by a mistaken sense of altruism and human compassion, it cannot be denied that such a culture of death, taken as a whole, betrays a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ends up by becoming the freedom of “the strong” against the weak who have no choice but to submit. [4]

While many Christians, many Catholics, like to talk about the culture of death, using the words of St. John Paul II, they ignore what John Paul II said about its foundation. Indeed, what John Paul II said points to their own ideology as the source of the culture of death, as they promote radical individualism and the pursuit of power which leads to violence and death. The culture of death, therefore, was not just a discussion of abortion, indeed, abortion is but a symptom of the greater problem. To divert discussions of life to discussions about abortion is to ignore the value of life itself, and indeed, is just a way for many to deflect from their own greater adherence to the culture of death. They are not interested in abortion. It is not a real concern for them, as it is not something which personally affects them. They just want to create a scapegoat which they can use to project their own will to power and the hate upon others. Thus, to make the concerns of life all about abortion is a way to ignore the problem, indeed, it is a way to ignore the real value of life and the need we have to deal with and protect it when it is being undermined by active policies of our government. What we have, often in the name of Christ, is a Satanic libertarian individualism, one which people seek to promote strength and power for themselves so they can feel free to do whatever they want.[5] Sadly, Christian who should know better stand in the way of promoting the value of life, as can be seen in the way they stand in the way of helping refugees or in the way they defend unjust use of excessive force. Christians who do not see the problem with this say Lord, Lord, but it is clear, they have closed themselves off to Christ and his ways, and so they don’t really know him (and so, he in turn, doesn’t know them). The more they promote such selfish individualism, and the will to power, the further they will find themselves from the kingdom of God:

If, instead of waiting on God, I try myself to attain to power, I shall have to use the means that are usual in the world, beginning with deceit and cunning and ending with violence and murder. Men cannot be led to the kingdom of God by such methods, and it is more than possible that I shall be put further away from it. [6]

Jesus preached peace. He preached restorative justice as the means for peace. He preached mercy and grace as the way to receive the blessings of life. Christians who follow him should do likewise. Those who do the opposite follow the spirit of anti-Christ, promoting an ideology which runs contrary to Christ’s teachings as if they were his. The more they do so, the more they will tarnish the name of Christ in the eyes of the world. No matter how many other Christians speak up and repudiate them, it will not matter; what the world will see is the militant hatred coming from Christians, leading so many to want nothing to do with Christianity. And who, if that is all they see, could blame them?

[1] Sergius Bulgakov. Spiritual Biography. Trans. Mark Roosien and Roberto J. De La Noval (Brooklyn, NY: Angelico Press, 2022), 85 [17/30.X.1924].

[2] St. Cyril of Alexandria, Glaphyra on the Pentateuch, Volume 1: Genesis. Trans. Nicholas P. Lunn (Washington, DC: CUA Press, 2018), 269.

[3] St. Basil, “Letter 199” in Saint Basil: Letter. Volume 2 (186-368). Trans. Agnes Clare Way, CDP (New York: Fathers of the Church, 1955), 59.

[4] St. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae. Vatican translation. ¶10.

[5] F.L. Cocozzelli rightfully sees this ideology being promoted by so-called conservatives in the United States, leading them to return to barbaric ways of the past: “Brutality and cruelty have increasingly become hallmarks of movement conservativism. This, too, is no accident. As economic libertarianism devours what few traces are left of mid-twentieth century conservativism, it rediscovers the callousness of an earlier day. A similar, ruthless ‘ends justifies the means’ streak exists in communism,” F. L. Cocozzelli, Commissar Conservatives (New York: Progressive Works Publishing, 2022), 89

[6] Vladimir Solovyey, God, Man & The Church. The Spiritual Foundations Of Life. Trans. Donald Attwater (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 2016), 27-8.


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