By way of RNS — It takes some severe theological gymnastics to twist the Bible to defend weapons.
Ted Cruz was the most important recipient of Nationwide Rifle Affiliation funds within the Senate race of 2016. And it seems to have affected the best way he interprets the Bible.
Right here’s the backdrop for individuals who missed it. It began with a tweet thread from Texas state Rep. Matt Schaefer wherein he declared gun possession to be certainly one of our “God-given rights.” Not Structure-given, however God-given. Enter Alyssa Milano. The actress-turned-activist (and maybe now a budding theologian?) requested a good query: “Can someone cite which passage of the Bible God states it is a god-given right to own a gun?”
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) September 1, 2019
Cruz took the bait and responded with a prolonged thread of his personal. In an try to defend the “God-given right” to personal a gun, Cruz quoted an obscure textual content from the E book of Exodus: “If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed” (Exodus 22:2). Cruz himself even conceded the following verse says if the identical factor occurs throughout daylight, it’s not self-defense and the legislation forbids it. So by Cruz’s personal argument, the appropriate to self-defense by gun ends at daybreak. After that, it’s homicide.
It actually is a stretch to say a verse in Exodus permitting for self-defense in the course of the evening justifies the appropriate to personal navy weapons and take them into Walmart in broad daylight. However that’s the place Cruz’s logic takes us.
It’s noteworthy that the identical chapter of Exodus utilized by Cruz speaks pointedly about caring for foreigners, widows and orphans and ensuring the poor obtain justice and compassion. The identical chapter, Exodus 22, says this: “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were once foreigners in Egypt. Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do, and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.” Whoa. I needed he took that half actually.
Or the half within the subsequent chapter, Exodus 23, that claims, “Do not accept a bribe.”
Whereas Exodus doesn’t defend weapons, it does prohibit taking a bribe … like, say $360,727.
Like a goal on the taking pictures vary, there are various holes in Cruz’s theology. However the largest gap in his theology is that this: There isn’t a Jesus in it. In his argument in assist of weapons, he doesn’t point out Jesus or the gospel a single time.
In relation to decoding the Previous Testomony, Jesus is the lens by which we perceive all the pieces. Once you interpret Jesus in mild of Exodus, reasonably than Exodus in mild of Jesus, you get some whacked-out theology.
Any pro-gun Christian has the nagging drawback of Jesus, and the Sermon on the Mount, and the Beatitudes, and the enemy-love Jesus shows on the cross. On the coronary heart of Christianity is a savior who was a sufferer of violence, not a defender of violence.
So I began pondering what textual content I might use if I have been main a Bible examine with Cruz (or Milano, for that matter). In truth, the 2 have agreed to satisfy in individual subsequent week to debate the subject.
I’m wanting ahead to it! And if all of us can collectively have extra constructive, civil dialogue & debate on the substantive problems with the day, that will go a protracted technique to serving to unite and heal our divided Nation. https://t.co/HCpLepcohv
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) September 5, 2019
Had been I to sit down down with Cruz and a Bible, I might flip to a narrative that seems in Luke 22 — when the disciple Peter makes use of a weapon to defend Jesus — a narrative so vital to the disciples that it seems in all 4 Gospels.
When the Roman troopers try to arrest Jesus, Peter picks up his sword and cuts a person’s ear off. Jesus responds in a surprising and bemusing manner. He scolds Peter and tells him to place his sword away, insisting “those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” Then Jesus heals the wounded man, selecting up the person’s ear and placing it again on.
Peter realized, as any of us who dare comply with Jesus should be taught, we can not carry a cross in a single hand and a weapon within the different. Jesus fashions for us how one can work together with violence with out mirroring the violence.
Early church father Tertullian stated, “When Jesus disarmed Peter, he disarmed every one of us.” There may be not a single Christian within the first 300 years of the religion who justified violence or made a case for self-defense. As a substitute, historical past data the other. Early Christians insisted that for Christ we are able to die on behalf of others, however we can not kill for them.
Cruz presents a model of “Christianity” that has traded the cross for a gun.
However the gun and the cross supply us two very completely different variations of what energy seems like. One is keen to die. The opposite is keen to kill.
I’ll say this: Cruz teaches us one factor price taking note of. Gun violence isn’t just a political drawback, it’s a religious drawback. On the root of our gun drawback is a theological and ethical disaster.
Don’t neglect, the day after this current taking pictures in Texas, the state modified its gun legal guidelines to permit individuals to hold weapons to church. Christians are packing warmth as they worship the Prince of Peace.
Christians personal weapons at the next fee than the final inhabitants, and are utilizing the Bible to defend these weapons (simply because it was as soon as used to defend slavery).
The highest gun-owning demographic in America is white evangelical Christians. It’s clear that gun violence has persevered in America not regardless of Christians, however due to Christians … lots of whom declare to be “pro-life.”
Christians like to speak about being pro-life, however too usually it might be extra correct to say we’re pro-birth or anti-abortion. Christians want a pro-life imaginative and prescient that’s constant and that champions life from the womb to the tomb.
Gun violence is a pro-life difficulty.
Over 100 lives a day — every made within the picture of God — are misplaced to weapons. That issues to God, and it ought to matter to us.