A reader writes about St. John Chrysostom and Luke 22:36-38

A reader writes about St. John Chrysostom and Luke 22:36-38 December 15, 2015

Sez he:

I found something you should find interesting on the abuse that Luke 22:36 has taken lately, a homily by St. John Chrysostom.  I shouldn’t hold my breath that it will correct the error, since apparently people can’t read the next verse or two to see that He’s talking about fulfilling prophesy quite plainly.

Thanks!  Yeah, Jesus just is not giving us a proto-second amendment here.  It’s just not what the passage is about.  You can find things like a natural right to self defense in Scripture (especially in the Old Testament) and the Church will eventually about four centuries later) start noodling that question.  But that is simply not what this passage is about.  Jesus is (as is his custom) speaking non-literally, and the proof of that is precisely that he rebukes Peter (“ENOUGH!”) for taking him literally and, when Peter wields the sword in Gethsemane (for precisely the “defense of my and my loved ones” so beloved by gun rights advocates), Jesus chews him out.  Then he goes on and tells Pilate that if his kingdom were off this world, his servants would be out in the streets fighting for him.  There’s just no way to turn this passage into a proto-second amendment.  There are other passages that do the trick, but not this  one.

The only other understanding I’ve found of that verse is figurative, concerning the spiritual power of the Church and the temporal power of secular authorities who act in her behalf (cf. Unam Sanctam).  But of course, nobody asserting Luke 22:36 is some sort of proto-Second Amendment will ever offer a magisterial source supporting that interpretation.

Yup.  Another allegorical reading. The Fathers loved those.

And while I have your eye –

I do own guns, and frankly I do disagree with your prescriptions on firearms (but strangely I don’t feel the need to berate you for daring to find yourself in disagreement with me …), but something is awfully sick in American gun culture.  Intuitively I agree with you that doing nothing is not acceptable, and more guns surely will not fix a damn thing.  Surely people don’t actually want to live in a society where private citizens need a gun for their own protection, or where these mass murders become a frequent occurrence (if they’re not already that).

I’m not sure what you think you disagree with me about.  You seem to me to be saying much of what I say.  I have a couple of modest ideas about things to attempt (make gun owning as regulated as car ownership and create smart tech so that guns can only be used by the authorized owner as avenues to explore).  But even these steps toward sanity are shouted down by the Gun Cult.  Which points to the real issue: namely that the Gun Cult refuses to acknowledge, that “doing nothing is not acceptable, and more guns surely will not fix a damn thing.”  More than anything, that is the spiritual stronghold that exists in this country and, seeing that, you and I are in far more agreement than disagreement.  The fact is the Gun Cult in this country has made a fundamental spiritual choice: it would rather continue unabated the annual human sacrifice of 33,000 people, plus a mass shooting a day, plus two Sandy Hooks a year than take *any* action whatsoever that might hinder its idolatrous worship of the gun.

That kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.  It is, I am convinced, a demonic stronghold of fear, Mammon (for arms manufacturers), lies, and hypocrisy (especially for anti-abortion-but-not-prolife Christians who constitute the bulwark of the subculture, yet whose only response to Sandy Hook was the selfish and reflexive shout “Don’t touch my guns!” with not a thought for how this scourge could be fought).

In sum, if you are already thinking, “What can we do to bring our slaughter rate down to that of the rest of the civilized world?” you have have already crossed the only spiritual threshhold I’ve been arguing for on this blog.  So welcome, chum!

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