Back in the early 90’s when our son Michael was a young boy, we purposely refrained from buying him toy guns. If ever he was gifted with one, we told him he could only pretend to shoot deer. The exception to the rule was a water gun and we were quite adamant about it. We punished him for disobeying this mandate.
Because God’s law from Exodus teaches, “thou shall not kill.” For us, teaching our children to live #6 of the 10 commandments was our duty. We were conscientious objectors even when it came to police and military service. Plus, Christ’s life was a life of non-violence. When Peter swiped an enemy’s ear with a sword, Jesus rebuked him and healed the man. When those who arrested him came armed with clubs and swords, Christ was clear that he could defend himself with his arsenal of angels. But he didn’t do that. Jesus knew he had a higher call: to love even though it would cost him his life. Jesus died because he refused to retaliate.
So that’s how God’s command and Christ’s example helped us narrate guns to our son. It was our mindset as parents. We did everything within our power to instill non-violence in our children. Killing was sin. Plain and simple.
That’s why it’s hard for me to imagine shifting gears and encouraging my children to now believe the 2nd amendment of the Constitution trumps the 6th commandment of God’s Word. Conscientious objections aside, this good-guy-with-a-gun mindset is for policemen and soldiers, not for college kids in English class. Even public servants we authorize to kill make mistakes when they are threatened. So I just can’t imagine equipping my children to have the mind of a skilled sharp shooter who’s wise, ready, willing, and courageous enough to pack a gun and use it when taken by surprise in writing class.
Yet that’s what many people are now calling mothers to do. Who else is going to raise up these good guys with guns? They are asking us moms to arm our children with pistols to take to school. They want us to equip our children with the desire to kill, the presence of mind to kill, and the willingness to defend a room full of friends and strangers. I don’t get how that’s going to work for most mothers. Spiritually speaking, Christian mothers want to instill Christlike love in their children; by nature that is non-violent. Practically speaking, I find it hard to imagine mothers happy to add gun-toting skills to SAT prep and drivers’ ed., not even in the name of more-good-guys-with-guns.
Granted, I didn’t grow up around guns and don’t understand the obsession with weapons to any degree. Not. At. All. I do remember my grandfather – a pig farmer – had a rifle. It was no big deal until he fired it at my dad after two separate holiday arguments occurring years apart. Thankfully, my dad dodged the bullets on both occasions. Amazingly, he forgave my grandfather. My dad never claimed to be a Christian, but his ability to forgive his father for trying to kill him will make him a hero to me always.
My kids as heroes? I personally want my children to be heroic by loving and forgiving like their grandpa did, even in the face of a gun barrel. Yes. I want my children courageous enough – and I want them to trust God enough – to walk into class without a gun. I say this as an employee of a school, married to a school employee. In fact, four of my children and one son-in-law are either students, school employees, or public servants employed by student advocacy groups. I don’t want my family members packing pistols when they go to their schools. Neither do I want them to bear the burden of protecting people in a crisis if they do choose to carry a gun. What of the guilt that comes with failing to do it, with panicking, hiding, complying, or praying instead of confronting a crazed gunman who’s armed liked a soldier? I can’t imagine many moms wanting to equip their kids to cope in this way.
For those moms who want their college kids and teacher-friends to have guns in their pockets, backpacks, and desk drawers, just realize that you are wanting more than just a hero in the room. You are wanting a killer in the room. I guess I should wish you well as you raise children with that kind of heroism, with minds ready, willing, and able to kill another human. I say it respectfully. And I say it knowing how grateful I will be if a sharp-shooting civilian saves the life of someone precious to me.
But deep down, I believe that the massacre-prevention measures we need in our country have nothing to do with guns and everything to do with love. Children and teachers armed with love will know how to defend that kid being bullied. They will know how to befriend that kid who is lonely. They will refrain from teasing and marginalizing that mom and her awkward kid on the verge of a mental breakdown. All moms can train a child to be this kind of hero, especially moms armed with the love of God and his message of salvation and hope.
A real hero has an eye trained to do far more than use a firearm. A real hero has an eye trained to see where sorrow, grief, depression and loneliness are taking root in the hearts of those around him. A real hero stands ready to spray a room with prayer, not bullets. A real hero loves. You know, like Jesus loved. Sacrificially. Unconditionally. Even if it kills him.
Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.”
Dividing up his clothes, they threw dice for them. The people stood there staring at Jesus, and the ringleaders made faces, taunting, “He saved others. Let’s see him save himself! The Messiah of God—ha! The Chosen—ha!”
Luke 23:34-35The Message (MSG)