If Jesus Had a Gun

(I can’t resist the urge to keep tweaking the previous blog. Thanks for being forbearing.)

How incredible that during this Christmas season we’ve been arguing about guns. This season when we send cards and sing songs about the Prince of Peace. “What would Jesus do?” some people ask when trying to make a moral decision. Apparently many think Jesus would arm himself to the hilt.

I’ve been trying to imagine that kind of Jesus.

Joseph was so determined to protect the vulnerable infant that he kept a gun right there beside the manger. As the shepherds, the Wise Men, the angels approached, he said, “Don’t come any closer,” successfully keeping them at bay. As Jesus got a little older Joseph taught him to fire a weapon at a target in the shape of a Roman soldier.

Later, when he recruited disciples, the Jesus I’m imagining made sure they were armed. After all, we know from the Good Samaritan story that robbers preyed on travelers. And there were all those dangerous Romans soldier occupying the land, denying the Jews of all liberties. Surely Jesus and the twelve spent hours by Lake Galilee practicing their shooting skills.

One day Judas said, “I hear the Romans have new guns, more powerful than an ordinary rifle. Their guns can shoot bullets in rapid succession.”

“Then we must have them too,” Jesus replied. When Judas returned with thirteen AK-47s, Jesus and the twelve had confidence that these weapons would provide the protection they needed. Besides, firing these guns made them feel like real men.

When crowds began to gather around him, a gun-toting Jesus told this parable: “One time there was a wealthy merchant. A robber came to his place of business, but the merchant had a gun and was able to kill the robber. Behold, we live in dangerous times when we must protect our families and ourselves. Only with powerful weapons are we safe.” And the crowds believed him.

What about the night Jesus was arrested? While some of the disciples napped, others played cards. Jesus, though, was engrossed in prayer. So he was taken completely by surprise when Roman soldiers burst on the scene. Still, he was able to reach for his AK-47 fast enough. The disciples too. They mowed those soldiers down—like the good guys do in movies.

No, that’s not the Jesus I know either.

A Gun for Jesus

Nativity

Nativity (Photo credit: gurdonark)

 

 

When Joseph looked down at the tiny infant nursing at Mary’s breast, he saw how vulnerable Jesus was and vowed to protect the baby from all evil forces. Joseph traded his chisel for a sharp dagger but soon learned that King Herod, who had ordered all baby boys killed, had armed his forces with rifles. Being a devoted father and desiring to protect his family, Joseph went forth and bought a rifle too. Every night he slept with it beside him, confident that his wife and child were safe.

He feared intruders who would steal his family’s valuables. Understandably, he also hated the Roman government, which occupied the land and oppressed the people. Joseph was prepared for the day when there would be an armed uprising.

The couple had more children. To ensure their safety Joseph bought guns for them all, rifles for the boys, handguns for the girls, and set up a target resembling a Roman soldier just outside of the city gates. Being in every way an exceptional child, Jesus, of course, had a sharp eye and an aim that never failed to send a bullet right to the heart of the target.

When Jesus grew to manhood he gathered around him a group of twelve men. “It is essential,” he said to them, “that we are able to protect ourselves. There are always thieves along the roads we travel, and of course Roman soldiers set on our destruction patrol the area.” He and the twelve spent hours by Lake Galilee practicing their shooting skills.

One day Judas said to Jesus, “I hear the Romans have new guns, more powerful than an ordinary rifle. Their guns can shoot bullets in rapid succession.”

“Then we must have them too,” Jesus replied. “Here are enough coins to pay for them.”

When Judas returned with thirteen AK-47s, Jesus and the twelve had confidence that these guns would provide the protection they needed. Besides, holding such a weapon and firing it made them feel like real men.

It was at about this time that crowds of people began to gather around Jesus. He spoke to them in parables. “One time,” he said, “there was a wealthy merchant. A robber came to his place of business, but the merchant had a gun and was able to kill the robber. Behold, we live in dangerous times when we must protect our families and ourselves. Only with powerful weapons are we safe.” And the crowds believed him.

One evening, while some disciples slept and some played cards, Roman soldiers burst upon the scene. Jesus reached for his AK-47, but a soldier kicked it out of his hands. He was taken away. And killed.

Teaching imprisoned women how to avoid domestic violence

Gaze in any direction from inside the grounds of the Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women (SCCW), and your eyes come to rest on peaceful mountain ridges. As inviting as the mountains are, though, you can’t forget that you’re behind a fence topped with spirals of barbed wire.

My husband, Jim, and I didn’t know what to expect the first time we were buzzed through the single gate. The Chaplain’s Office had invited us to teach an eight-week class on building healthy relationships and preventing domestic violence. But would our skills be tested? Would we be able to identify with personal stories that would surely arise from discussions about abuse? Would the women be reluctant students? Our fears were unfounded. The women were, in fact, more eager to learn than many of the college and seminary students we’ve taught.

Today we finished our second round of eight-week sessions. During that time I have felt privileged to hear . . .

Women’s voices. Honest voices. They told about violence inflicted on them: neglectful parents, drunken husbands who hit them, verbal put-downs, sexual abuse. Rape. Yet class participants did not use abuse as an excuse for their own behavior.

Women’s voices. Wounded voices. A box of tissues handy, we touched on topics that reminded participants of the life they left behind: a controlling partner, ongoing fears for their and their children’s safety. They were reminded of how they tried to ease the pain through alcohol or drugs.

Women’s voices. Angry voices. Many in the class expressed surprise to learn that it’s usually healthier to act out in anger than to become the good girl who represses it. So while anger got some of these women in trouble, and while they work on skills to control it, they have come to understand it as a reflection of their strength and resistance to abuse.

Women’s voices. Hopeful voices. Participants expressed their hopes for healthy relationships. They want to heed the red flags of abuse and not repeat past mistakes. They hope to be a positive presence in their children’s lives.

What an honor it’s been to share with women at SCCW. While my intention was to be of service, I have been blessed by the experience.