Many Years Ago…

guns were available at hardware and sporting goods stores, no background check and all the ammunition you could afford. Walk in, buy, walk out. You could even order them via catalog if you didn’t want to leave the house. My grandfather, as a young man, even had access to dynamite to help remove stumps from the ground.

Yet, no mass shootings basically anywhere. So what’s the difference between then, in the freewheeling bad old days of virtually no gun control and now? I don’t think its the guns. I do think its us.

The one difference I can see between then and now is that back then there was a larger moral framework rooted in a Judaeo Christian ethic where “Thou shalt not kill (murder)” was still taken seriously, and even the mobsters took care to follow it in their own way by trying to minimize “civilian” casualties.

Leap forward to now and that narrative is largely gone, done in by a culture where even some sense moral and social caution is identified as repression, where human identity is entirely divorced from any concept of the image of God and reduced to a basic consumer equation, and violence as a routine solution to human challenges has filled the moral vacuum with a hundred little deaths and, from time to time, explosions of death that make the headlines.

Politicians, bathed in this culture, see only more and different kinds of laws as the solution because they have forgotten about, or deliberately sought to undermine, the law inside a human heart. A moral human, properly formed, encouraged, and supported by a larger spiritual and ethical imperative, will hesitate to do violence even when its tools are close at hand but a person who has no  proper morals, and lives in a culture where there is no larger context than how a person feels at any given moment, will use any tool at hand and no law can, or will, stop them. Witness the couple in San Bernadino who obtained the weapons used in the horrific crime outside of the existing laws.

No, I’m not advocating a weapons free for all. What I am advocating is something that most politicians, pundits, and sometimes even preachers have forgotten. We need a moral revival, a return to a larger moral narrative that affirms human life, impresses a moral responsibility on its members to strive above all to do no harm, and calls us away from our consumer driven, violence saturated, world. That revival will start when Christians decide to be Christians again and churches do the same.