Prior to the tragic shooting in Orlando, I noticed something at the ball diamond that bothered me. Several of my daughters opposing teams coaches (that’s a mouthful) love to use gun verbiage to instruct the players on their hitting. While our coaches can come up with some pretty hilarious metaphors for hitting, I’ve been thankful they have not used any of the following I hear on a far too regular basis:
“Listen, you’ve got to get that gun loaded and cocked before you can fire.”
“Make sure that’s gun loaded and then fire away.”
“Load it, cock it, and hit that target.”
I find myself thinking, “For the love of God, can’t you be more creative? You’re talking about hitting a damn ball.”
This week, we’ve had three games. First, let me brag…my daughters team won all three games!
At all three games, the coaches used the gun metaphor over and over and over. I kept thinking, “Okay, I get what you are trying to say. But, let’s try and be aware of what’s just happened in our world. Let’s try and show little cultural sensitivity.”
In light of the events that took place in Orlando, giving the gun lingo a break seems more than appropriate.
It reminded me of the need for clergy to be aware of what’s going on in the lives of our church members, in our community, nation, and world. There are times when we stick a foot in our mouths simply because we aren’t paying attention. Now, to show a little grace, maybe there are times we get caught up in the moment and things simply slip our minds.
It’s like the pastor who says on Sunday morning, “If you ever see me out running, you better call an ambulance because I’ll probably drop dead”, the morning after one of his church members tragically passed away while finishing up a run on Saturday.
Now, in regards to the tragic events in Orlando, I’ve not said much. My friend, Andrew Draper, wrote something that really describes how I’ve felt, “Silence sometimes means that we don’t know what to say.”
As the week has progressed, I’ve found myself thinking about how the Church needs to rise up and speak on behalf of the victims of discrimination and hatred. The Church should be saying, “You are loved. You are welcome here. You are needed. You are valued. You are worthy.” We should not be saying, “We love you, but…” There should be no qualifying language surrounding our love for one another. Discrimination and hatred are not Biblical values. Unconditional love is a biblical value.
The Church needs to call for stricter gun control…even when (maybe that should be “especially when”) we serve churches where church and community members love their guns. It’s more than appropriate to call for stricter regulations when your church members are card-carrying, flag-waving members of the NRA. Clergy should be challenging the accepted norms and causing our people to think deeply.
Now, this might come as a surprise to you, but…Jesus didn’t die on a cross in order for people to own guns!
Listen, if someone needs a semi-automatic weapon to hunt or defend himself/herself, he/she must be a lousy shot. No one is trying to take your guns. No one is trying to take away your rights (by the way, stop saying that gun ownership is a “God-given right”). I’m pretty sure our founding fathers were not thinking about stock-piling mass quantities of high-powered, semi-automatic and automatic weapons and ammunition when they composed the 2nd Amendment.
In light of the disturbing number of mass shootings taking place in this nation, we have to admit that we have a gun problem. Yes, there are mental health issues that need to be addressed. Yes, there are national security issues that need to be addressed. But it is foolish to continue with the idea that there are not gun issues and ease of access issues that need to be addressed. It is all-too clear that we have ease of access and gun issues that desperately need to be addressed.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Maybe the reason the Church in the United States has struggled is because we have “become silent about things that matter” for far too long?