Rob Schenck’s Consistently Prolife Ethic (Guns, Abortion, and All) in THE ARMOR OF LIGHT

Rob Schenck’s Consistently Prolife Ethic (Guns, Abortion, and All) in THE ARMOR OF LIGHT October 19, 2015

If fear is the first theological problem with evangelicals’ love affair with guns, the other theological problem is a sometimes very binary understanding of good and evil, of whose life is valuable and whose is not. According to Schenck, “If you see the world as very narrow and there’s a certain narrow category of good people whose lives should be preserved. And then there’s all these other very bad creatures whose lives don’t matter or can be easily taken, that contradicts God’s view of the world. Because His love is equal, even for the menace, even for the enemy, even for bad actor and for the enemy. God’s love is immense and perfect. So that affects everything about how you believe, how you practice, how you interact with other human beings, how you treat them, and that’s the point. … In the life and teaching of Christ, He keeps going back to how you treat others.” Do we view some people as disposable and others as worthy of life?

In a lunch conversation with fellow prolife activists, one of them accuses Schenck with some pretty harsh words: “You’re living in a delusional fantasy land that you created for yourself in the ivory towers of Washington DC. You don’t live in the real world.”

Schenck thoughtfully and pointedly turns that critique around: “I could easily say, you’re living in a delusional world of men in white hats and black hats, and the white hats know where to fire and how to fire, and they win every time, they take out the bad guy. The way I perceive it, that’s not the way it happens in a violent confrontation when bullets are flying. Drawing a bead and firing the silver bullet and ending the melee and everything comes back to peace and quiet does not comport with reality.”

Indeed. And this rebuttal gets at why the debate over guns in America these days is so intractable: The whole scenario Schenck describes is deeply lodged in our sense of national identity, particularly as white Americans. Our love of guns is fiercely tied to a national myth of the strong Western hero. It says to us, “I’m the good guy.” Who would we even be without our national myth?

Beyond that, it’s deeply painful to even consider that we all have parts of our hearts that are not good. Yes, even Christians. Christians break all the Ten Commandments. Christians break the law. Christians do terrible things. Those who argue that we need guns just to protect ourselves from all the non-Christians are deluding themselves. Christians do evil things too. It’s painful to admit that reality is more nuanced than that. It’s painful to admit we might shoot and make a mistake. It’s painful to admit that God loves even those people who have done terrible deeds. It’s painful to admit that we could end up being one of those people. We want to hear words that soothe our ears: “You’re the good guy. You rescue people. You fight bad guys. You’re different than these other guys.” But I wonder if we have any business owning guns unless we are willing to plumb the depths of our own capacity for evil.

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