Guns, Individual Rights, and the Questions We Should Really Be Asking

The shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon brought the 2015 mass shooting total to 294, and at the time that I’m writing this post Shooting Tracker has the total mass shootings at 296. 296 mass shooting this year alone! This includes colleges, schools, theaters, pretty much anywhere. Looking at the raw data, there have been 379 deaths from these shootings, 1094 injuries. An interesting metric of these shootings is that out of 296 total incidents, 192 shootings have resulted in deaths.

These statistics will only grow in the last three months of the year, and more families will be torn with grief and mourning.

Faced with the data, I began to wonder why my position on the Second Amendment is what it is. Why should we have guns? Is there ever a good reason to own a gun? And as I began to ponder these questions (and more) I reassured my stance, that yes Americans should still own guns.

In the rush of emotions that follow these shootings, its easy to blame guns and say they are evil, and no one should use them. But we forget why the Second Amendment is important and why our forefathers added it.

Early Colonials saw the right to bear arms as important for a number of reasons (source found here):

  • enabling the people to organize a militia system.
  • participating in law enforcement;
  • deterring tyrannical government;
  • repelling invasion;
  • suppressing insurrection,
  • facilitating a natural right of self-defense.

This list of six can still be applied today in some form or another, though I think the last entry in the list is the most important today.

There has always been murder in the world; it dates back to the second generation of the human race (Cain & Able). With or without guns, people will kill others; that is a sad sad fact. I think the question we should be asking, instead of debating gun rights, is why are Americans killing each other so much? Why in 2015, are individual people wanting to unleash so much hate on others? Why are people wanting to kill and hate so much? Pondering these questions doesn’t lead me to gun control (we have had guns since the beginning of the country, so that hasn’t really changed), but it does lead me to ponder more on culture; and how we, as Americans and humans, are handling internal and external pressure and feelings. Are the killings a reflection of the hate that is so prevalent in our culture? And is our hate-filled culture a reflection of the individual or some crowd mentality?

I don’t think we as a society want to answer those questions, its just easier to slap some gun control on and feel like we are making a difference. We don’t like thinking about these questions because once we start talking about why we killing each other, we will be forced to look at the ugliness that hides behind the glittery surface of America. We will be forced to face our struggles, our addictions, our sin. We would rather be entertained, and looking out our phones for hours on end.

In a song that I’ve been listening to lately, the rapper says “How could I miss it?” In response to racism in this country. I believe many people are asking these hard questions, but also many others are not.

This country is great, and I love being an American; but this country is also sick. It is in need of a doctor, a healer of both mind, body and soul. We are in desperate need of an awakening. We need Jesus. Only he can give us hope, refresh our minds, give us an anchor to hold on too. Only he can comfort the hurt in our hearts. Only he can restore us. Only he can forgive us and truly shape a future that isn’t plagued by the past.

We don’t need politicians and debates and discussions. We don’t need more gun restrictions, or medications. We don’t need more social media awareness. We don’t need “love” for love’s sake. We don’t need individual truths, we need one universal, powerful truth.

We need Jesus.

We. Need. Jesus

Advertisements

What Makes Us Human

“It absolutely questions what makes us human. And I don’t think we know anymore what does.”

This is a quote from Lee Berger, a professor from the University of the Witwatersrand, that led a team to discover “Homo naledi”, the newly found species in the Homo genus; which apparently makes them our ancient ancestors (Read the CNN report here).

Image of Homo Naledi

The find did not disturb me at all, I believe in what I believe and nothing can shake that. But what was disturbing was the claim that we don’t know why we are human because of this find.

In that, I believe Berger to be false. In the presence of something we don’t fully understand, we can often question what we believe, which could falsely lead us to completely abandon the truth for the sake of “progress”. This scenario can be found in all areas of life. But when you anchor yourself to God, even the many mysteries of life can not shake you. Even when you question, your foundation of faith will not crack, but only harden as you mature. Anchoring yourself to God will allow you to grow, not get tossed around.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

Fact

It is in that verse, we can find our human identity and value. We were created by God in his likeness. There are many interpretations that can be implied here, which could be a completely other post, but every implication is that what makes us human is God.

We are human because of God, and thus we are special because we are made uniquely in his likeness. No other species can boast of that, thus no other species is like us and holds our value. Note: does that mean we should be jerks to animals, no; but animals should not be valued equal to human life.

Nothing can destroy what makes us human, unless we forget the God who created us. That is why we must always get our identity from God, and not from the opinion of man or the forces of this world.

We were made in the image of God, by God and for God.

That is our identity.

How Would Jesus Respond to Caityln Jenner

In the wake of the reveal of Caityln Jenner, I found myself asking how would Jesus react? And as a Christian should I have some type of reaction (or no reaction at all) to this?

It always gets dangerous when we Christians make declarations about what Jesus would do or what he would say. In reality Jesus did a lot of things and said a lot of things that would surprise us and even make us think that he is a jerk. Take Matthew 12 when a person is just telling Jesus “Yo, your mom and bros are here, and they want to speak to you” (I am paraphrasing here). To this Jesus responds “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”

Come on Jesus, the man was just saying your mother and brothers were here.

Jesus loved God, obeyed his will and spoke his truth even when it cost him his life. I know Jesus would speak truth and love in this scenario, but what is the truth in this scenario?

Let me offer this: We want to know our identity. We want to know who we really are. Some people find identity in sports, in the arts, in their jobs. We can find our identity in our spouse or our kids. Others tragically find their identity in more harmful vices like drugs, porn, and gambling. Some of these things might be innocent enough but none of them give us the full breadth of our true identity.

Our true identity is this: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 ESV). If we believe in Jesus Christ we are a new creation and a child of God. Our identity is wrapped up in God, not ourselves. No matter who or what we think we are, God’s opinion is what matters. This was, and continues to be, thee source of strength in battling depression and low self-esteem, definitely through my college years.

So what do I think about how Jesus would respond to Caityln Jenner? First thing is I see Jesus only speaking about people that were with him, not far off (excluding some healings). Second he would do what he always does: 1) forgive sin/confront sin 2) remove guilt and shame 3) restore.

What would he say? I don’t know but I know he would be led by the Holy Spirit and turn her to God. Jesus’ ministry was redemptive, even though it did involve speaking against sin and wickedness.

So how should Christians respond? Let’s not mock her and trash talk her online (and offline). Pray for her, yes do that (out of care), but don’t drag her name through the mud. Don’t villainous her. This can be an opportunity interject Jesus into a cultural discussion.

The point is to bring people closer to Jesus, not closer to “doing the right thing.”

Happiest Day

Today I read a blog about the blogger’s happiest day, or more like happiest moments. And I would have to agree with her but with a few exceptions. The happiest (full) days were definitely when I proposed and then wed my amazing and beautiful wife. The whole day for each of them were fun and joyful and just amazing. Besides those two days, there is no one day that screams this is my happiest, but rather there are moments that scream remember me. There are moments that are burned into my brain that remind me of friendship, love and the care of a great God. And in no order here are some moments that have made my life joyous:

  • Being filled with the Holy Spirit as friends prayed for me
  • Acting out Les Miserables songs with my dear friend Charlie and annoying our neighbors
  • Playing COD Zombies with my then roommate and great friend Daniel
  • Hanging out and mentoring teens
  • Landing the internship at CareSource
  • Jamming out at a small group praising God

The list could go on and on, but I’ll leave it at six.

I could write about the difference between momentary happiness and the joy the Jesus brings in the midst of life’s struggles, or that memories are best when shared and done with a community of friends. Or I could write about why we don’t remember full days and only moments. But I’ll just leave it at this; God has blessed me for no other reason then that he cares. I’m glad of his forgiveness and provision and that he holds true to his promises.

I feel truly blessed.

Also shout out to all my family and friends who have made living life awesome; thank you!!