Is love your weapon?

The Rev. Geoffrey Butcher, Priest-in-Charge - Trinity Episcopal Church, Russellville

One can hardly read a newspaper or hear media newscasts without hearing about weapons – weapons in international conflicts, weapons killing and wounding innocent people in movie theaters, weapons advocated by the NRA for sport or personal defense. Even religion engages in weapons of violence. History is our proof: Crusades and other religious wars, axes and guillotines to behead heretics. Even children know weapons. They play with toy guns or pellet guns, and sometimes are shot mistakenly by those fearing them as dangerous assailants.

Those alarmed by guns in particular ask for either gun control or more guns. In Tennessee, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, reacting after the tragic murders in Roseburg, Oregon, posted some advice on his Facebook page: “I would encourage my fellow Christians who are serious about their faith to think about getting a handgun carry permit. I have always believed that it is better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it.”

This warrior archetype is especially attractive to men. As Richard Rohr writes, “All the hunters, defenders, athletes, guards, knights, and samurais are, in fact, telling us there’s something valuable about focus, determination, and courage for the common good.” Much of this warrior energy is sublimated into activities of business and sports. But the warrior energy can be used for violence or find its passion in the promotion of peace. One can be a Hitler or a Gandhi – ride a white stallion or a female donkey.

Jesus was a warrior for peace. He said to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. (Matt. 5:43-45) At his betrayal when one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear, Jesus said, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matt. 26: 51-52) And as St. Paul wrote, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

Violence begets violence. Countries at war teach their children who to hate. The chain of evil continues as armaments proliferate. Jesus taught, however, not to offer resistance to the evildoer. As Edward Hays has written, “The Teacher invites you to become a chain breaker, hoping the

endless dance of evil in the world will cease. By refusing to offer resistance, you break the chain; you refuse to forge another evil link in hot anger.”

Putting more guns in holsters, pockets, or purses is not the answer to evil. The Jesus warrior has a passion for love and peace as an antidote for weapons and war.

The Rev. Geoffrey Butcher, Priest-in-Charge

Trinity Episcopal Church, Russellville

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