God Does Not Like Guns
by Bob Schwartz
God does not like guns. God is also not crazy about nuclear weapons, and about all the easy to use and widely available tools of destruction in between.
This isn’t obvious. As scholars of religion and violence point out, the Old Testament is a compendium of both divine and divine-inspired and endorsed human mayhem. In the continuing battle against moral evil, which often has a religious component or context, the imperative to take up arms goes unquestioned among some, but not all. Finally, an entire eschatological theology is based on a battle that ends and transcends history as we know it, leading once and for all to the heaven on earth we have all been awaiting.
Let us pull back to the now and here, particularly last night in Newtown, Connecticut, where clergy of all faiths talked about God, if not for God.
The events in Newtown opened up a door to a new world. It was not Armageddon in an epic sense, but it was the end of the world for some, and everyone felt that. The door is a passage to the place where we leave the theology of the Second Amendment behind, where we stop listening to the priests of the National Rifle Association and their interpretations of what the founding gods meant.
This is the time to extend last night in Newtown to every congregation in America. There, leaders will explain to congregants whether God loves guns, and particularly whether God loves guns in such massive quantities and destructiveness.
The leaders can then cite Isaiah 11, and explain how “a child will lead them” is not merely some hermeneutic puzzle pointing to a messiah. Instead, it is reflected in the instruction by Jesus: “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”
The leaders will close by acknowledging that the faithful congregants will hear and themselves espouse practical arguments that stand in the way. Leaders will then patiently explain that all faith is ultimately impractical and heedless of impossibility. God does not like guns, but as his instruments, we are bound to do the worldly work of reducing their number and universal availability. If we claim to be faithful, that is more than just a good deed. It is a divine mission. God, it appears, will be more disappointed than ever if we fail.