"The Armor of Light" is what began this line of thinking of me. Watch the preview and panel discussion above.
Before you clicked the link for this post, you already had your mind made up about the content. In the most American way possible, you assigned yourself to one of two camps: Pro Second Amendment without restrictions or Second Amendment, but with some limitations. Over the course of the next 5 to 10 minutes, it is not my intention to change your mind. If I have learned anything about this debate, there are no minds to be changed. Rather, this is me thinking out loud. I am also interested in having an adult conversation without name calling, violence, and threats. If you're interested in the same thing, let's continue.
I come from a family of gun owners. My dad owns several shotguns and rifles. My brother is amassing a small arsenal. My mother used to carry a revolver. I have been around guns my entire life. I was taught how to shoot at an early age. My father impressed upon us safety first and the joy of target practice and hunting second. Much to my father's dismay, I decided I didn't like guns. The noise, violence, and the thought of killing something never appealed to me. I walked away from a shared activity with my dad. We would have to find another way to bond. Luckily for me, we share a deep curiosity about the world. Some of our best conversations concern politics, religion, and society. We push each other to think independently and broadly. My father also encouraged me to think for myself. I was never told what to believe. I was encouraged to explore the world around me and draw my own conclusions.
At this point in my life, this line of thinking is leading me to a point of intrigue I cannot shake. I am fascinated by the idea of being both pro-life and pro-gun (which in this sense to me means pro-Second Amendment without restrictions). Now, I should mention here that I am neither of those things. I firmly believe in a woman's right to choose with very few exceptions and I support the Second Amendment, but believe in background checks, limitations on semi/automatic weapon purchases, closing the internet/gun show loophole, and I don't think people on the terrorist watch list should be able to purchase guns. Now that my beliefs are out of the way, what really fascinates me here is how God works himself into the argument.
Those who are pro-life often talk about the sanctity of life. More often than not, this comes from a religious place. Those who believe strongly defend the idea that life begins at conception and should a woman at any point terminate that pregnancy, she would be ending a life. Of course, I am generalizing here. I know for a fact the arguments of the pro-life movement are more nuanced than that. Oversimplification aside, this raised more interesting thoughts in my mind: Is there a point when life is no longer precious? When a child leaves the womb and enters the clutches of what many perceive to be a sinful world, does that life lose value? As a person travels through time and space to claim a piece of this world as their own collecting sins and faults as they go, does he or she become less important than the moment his or her parents decided to conceive? Does anyone deserve to die? Is your life more valuable than someone threatening you?
Of course these are big questions and cannot be easily answered, but since I raised them I will do my best. I don't think a life ever stops being precious. Some believe life is a gift of God. I believe its miraculous nature is written in the cosmos, but whatever the origin life never loses its potential. While I disagree when life truly begins, I believe once it begins it holds that value until it has passed away. Along that journey, some of us make compromising decisions. We choose to kill, steal, and/or bring turmoil to the world. With our actions, some of us devalue the gift we've been given. Here is where gun owners believe they have the right to defend what they think to be the most precious in this world. They hold dear the right to defend their property, family, and freedom. This belief is based on perceived innocence versus guilt. Those who threaten violence deserve to die, if it means that the things you value continue to live. It is a this point the argument for both the sanctity of life and the right to use guns for your protection rubs me the wrong way. It is here that I can't avoid the temptation to pose another question; What would Jesus do?
It is three o'clock in the morning. Jesus is laying in his bed. He is dreaming of being a kid and picking berries with Mary and finishing kitchen tables with Joseph. Just when he gets to the good part of the dream, he is jarred awake by the sound of someone breaking into his house. Does the Lord and Savior reach for the handgun in his nightstand or does he understand the value of all lives, even sinners, and seek another form of resolution? Now, I am sure I've lost someone of you here. Some of you that know me are probably proclaiming, "Nathan, you're agnostic!" "How can you pose such a question?" I pose the question, because I believe this to be fundamentally true: you either follow the word of God or you don't. You either commit yourself to an idea or you admit you only follow the parts befitting your worldview. You aspire to be like Jesus or you place you love elsewhere. Again, What would Jesus do? Since it donned wristbands more than a decade ago, it still begs a fundamental question. For those who claim, belief in Jesus, a pro-life stance, and the views of someone who believes in the Second Amendment for the purposes of protection, it is the ultimate question.
What's more important the Second Amendment or the Sixth Commandment? For me, this is where the struggle ends. I can't help, but wonder if Jesus can be found in a gun store. Does his message of salvation, do no evil, and turning the other cheek ring hollow in there? Are his lessons lost when it comes to protecting you and yours? These are big questions. These are big questions whose turmoil inducing nature do nothing for me. See, I am decided. I have decided man cannot know without a shadow of doubt the existence of God. I have decided life begins somewhere between the second and third trimester. I have also decided not to live a life with guns in it. To those I hold dear and those stumbling across this little corner of the internet, these questions are much more challenging. As each of your progress down your own journey, know that I admire you for wrestling with the big questions of faith and life.
Be good to each other,