Guns? Let’s Talk about Logs! (or, Luke 6:42 for President Obama)

I usually avoid making comments about tragic events, mostly because there are many astute authors who produce more profound thoughts than I have (here). I really have nothing new to add. Both sides of the “gun debate” have valid concerns, valid complaints, and valid points. The sad reality is that the few who provide level-headed arguments are unlikely to convince the incorrigible.

My emotions often make it difficult for me to watch news coverage and learn more details about such tragic events such as school shootings. As a father with young kids in school, my eyes well up when I give more than five seconds consideration for the families of those whose children were murdered. Writing this article weighs very heavy on me.

When I heard about the Sandy Hook shooting, I was in a very focused task at work, with little time to reflect. But my first thought—before I knew any details—was, Our country is responsible for the official murder of innocent people, including children, nearly every week. Yet we mourn only our own.

Don’t get me wrong. We ought to mourn. It’s human to do so. What is also human is to fail to consider everyone but “our own” (however that is defined). Americans are often quick to ignore the rest of the world, and are incredibly reluctant to consider others as better than ourselves. Christian nation? I don’t think so.

President Obama claims to follow Jesus because Jesus asks society to take care of “the least of these.” I’d really like him to take Jesus seriously on everything, not just his domestic social agenda.  Not long after the shooting was reported, Obama took aim at gun ownership. No surprise there, and (to be rather honest) I don’t blame him. He’d look like a pretty pathetic President if he didn’t lift a finger to cast blame somewhere and promise to craft a plan to make us safer than we feel. But as Greg Boyd has recently pointed out, finger-pointing is in high supply these days. In light of this, let’s take Jesus seriously.

Luke 6:42 is the famous “log in your own eye” passage. Here’s the original text (ESV):

How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

Let me offer a loose reconstruction of Luke 6:42 for President Obama:

How dare you say to your country, your family, ‘People, let me take away those guns and ammunition that are in your homes and your right to own them,’ when you yourself do not consider the missiles and drones that are in your own arsenal? You hypocrite! You authorize attacks upon innocents—including children—in the name of freedom or protection, yet you seek to disarm those who wish to protect themselves and live freely! First, examine your own actions abroad so that you can even begin to walk worthy of the “change” you ask of others.

It is a tragedy all of its own that we are quick to mourn the victims of random acts of violence on our soil while we ignore or even justify the deliberate and intentional acts of violence carried out by our own government overseas. We ought to mourn both, because it’s not just Americans who are made in God’s image. We all are. Even Pakistani school children feel it in their bones.

Special thanks to Art Carden and Isaac Morehouse for providing me valuable feedback on earlier versions of this article. 

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