feeling sheepish: a few thoughts about concealed weapons in church

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Monday, July 12th, 2010

feeling sheepish: a few thoughts about concealed weapons in church

If you’re like most Americans, there’s probably been a time in your life when you’ve been sitting in church, listening to a particularly ennui-inducing homily or enduring another warbly version of “Holy Holy Holy” and thought, “Man! I could really reach for some steel right now, squeeze off a few rounds, and let these fools know what the score is!” Well, in Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal has recently signed into law a measure that would allow you to at least feel comforted by the presence of your gun in the house of the Lord.

so begins a huffington post piece (sometimes you just gotta grab a great quote and use it…) about the newly-adopted law in louisiana that allows people to pack heat into houses of worship. yes, the good, god-fearing republicanstea party members people of south arkansas louisiana can now praise god while, proverbially, passing the ammunition.

god bless america.

the day after it hit the news, i retweeted a link to my friend john’s blog in which he put forth his thoughts on this new law. within a matter of moments, i had several comments on facebook from people who wanted to let me know why i hate america and am disappointing jesus by retweeting an oppositional opinion. my favorite comment, though, was from someone who referenced the “sheepdog philosophy”. i had never heard of this, so i consulted my friend google. wow, it’s some good stuff. i found a pretty lengthy excerpt from lt. col. dave grossman’s book on combat. i’d rather not give any linkage to the site i found it on, so here’s a pdf where i copied and pasted the excerpt.

if you don’t care to read it (which you should), here’s a quick recap. there’s 3 types of people in the world: those who love neil diamond… sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. wolves are the criminals: rapists, murderers, armed robbers, crazy people with guns and pick axes, etc. sheep are most of us: the mindless, blithering idiots who walk around in flocks, assuming that nothing bad ever happens. and then there are the mighty, noble sheepdogs: the people who pack heat so that none of us spineless sheep get eaten by the wolves. the sheepdogs, of course, are concealed weapon carriers. sheepdogs are the ones keeping watch for us hippie, anti-america, al qaeda-loving sheep. sheepdogs are here for all of us christians who think that jesus actually didn’t want us to kill other people.

whereas there are about 4,000 holes in this analogy (like, for instance, the fact that we have trained, professional “sheepdogs”… we call them police… OR the fact that, according the nra itself, a child dies of an accidental shooting almost every single day [over 8/day die of overall gun-related causes].), the thing that struck me most is the extension of the sheep analogy. hmm, where have i heard the analogy of people being sheep before? well, somewhere between that warbly version of “holy holy holy” and the particularly ennui-inducing homily, you might have heard, you know, JESUS, use that analogy. yes, we humans are referred to as sheep by the messiah and there seems to be something significant about that. i don’t want to stretch the analogy too much, but one of the lessons from the biblical analogy is that we follow the shepherd. we only do what the shepherd does and go where he leads. in many ways, sheep mimic the shepherd.

so it is with people who claim to follow in the way of jesus. you know, the guy who said to turn the other cheek? the one who said to only engage in violence (stoning of the criminal woman) if we could find ourselves without sin. the one who forged an entire new ethic and way of living that placed life above death. the one who called us to lay down our lives for those who would curse us (or kill us, even). the one who said that all the laws hinge on loving god and loving others. the one who let himself be led to a brutal death for the sins of those who were the ones leading him to death.

yeah, that one.

there’s a higher, more radical, upside-down ethic for those who follow in the way of jesus. it’s neither living as a wolf or a sheepdog. rather, it’s living as a peace-making sheep who follows the shepherd. it isn’t a life where violence is an option. instead, it’s a life that engages evil with a radical love that would rather lay down its life than defend it in ways that violate the nature of jesus.

guns shouldn’t be in church. plain and simple. they shouldn’t be anywhere, for that matter, where one intends—if necessary—to use it to kill or injure another human being. i’ll be frank: if i know someone is concealing a weapon and comes to eikon, i would ask them to leave or leave it in their vehicle. it’s simply not welcome in our place of worship and gathering. it’s not welcome around my family or my home. likewise, it’s not welcome around my extended church family.

it’s a sad law. shame on bobby jindal and the louisiana lawmakers for choosing it. fortunately (and surprisingly), arkansas lawmakers have chosen not to pass this type of legislation. good for them.

guns don’t have a place in the church. what does have a place in the church is a community of people who follow—like sheep—the non-violent ethic and way of jesus.