Today, June 12, 2016, we mourn the loss of a least 50 beautiful people who died in the Orlando club shooting. Beautiful because of all creation is beautiful to God, valuable, worth his attention, his effort, and his love.
As of the latest reports, the shooter was a religiously motivated Islamic man who responded to the gay community with one of the worst domestic killing sprees in American history. But how do we HEAL this culture of violence?
I am not completely anti-gun. I am a Christian. I am thankful for the United States military and what has been done to protect my country. I believe to not protect another person is a violation of love too. I would probably fight to defend my children or anyone for that matter who was harming another and ask Jesus to put their ears back on afterwards. I realize we all struggle with degrees of anger coming from the injustice we see in the world.
I have a second degree black belt. I keep it in a drawer in my bedroom instead of around my waist (especially since I am 40 pounds heavier). I was the state champion in MS in 4 different divisions, plus more tournament trophies and medals than I knew what to do with. I owned a martial arts school for several years and I fought full-contact matches in Olympic style Tae-kwon-do.
But when I received Christ's love into my life something changed. My heart would not allow me to get in the ring and desire to harm that other person. In fact, I even quit watching martial arts movies because I would fight in my dreams and then knock over lamps, kick covers, and risk hitting my wife while I was sleeping. I had to face my participation in violence as a Christian.
But the American culture has a deeper violence problem it must face. It is a bad dream from which we must all wake up. We think that the problem is an Islamic one. You would only partially be correct. In reality it is a religious one.
VIOLENCE AND RELIGION
The very first murder we read about in the Bible is when Cain killed Abel. Why? It was Cain's jealousy and anger that God accepted Abel's sacrifice but not Cain's.
1 John 3:15, "Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer..."
Cain did not have a "saved/unsaved" paradigm. There were no Christian labels. They were just brothers. God was still fathering them after the Fall. God was still talking to them, and trying to recover their lost vision of the truth of who he was to them. But Cain's heart was tainted with the lie of separation. He could not see he was his BROTHERS KEEPER NO MATTER WHAT THE DIFFERENCE IN THEIR BELIEFS. Once the wedge was there, it was much easier to take Abel's life, because separation justifies violence, superiority, and hatred.
Then after God disciplines Cain, and promises to protect him, he continues to live with a separation mindset as the Bible says he "left the presence of the Lord." (As if anyone could do that.)
It is easy to blame the Islamic religion for violence, superiority and hatred, but let's be honest here. The Christian religion is not much different if it mimics Islamic rhetoric. I know, I know. You say that it isn't Christians who are going on gun rampages and killing people. But have you seen how Christians treat each other? If we are serious about dealing with the problem of violence in America, we must confront our own demons, and heal our own view of God!
Anders Behring Breivik in Norway thought he was doing God's will when he killed 8 with a bomb and then shot 69 people at a Christian campground and was fascinated with the Crusades. Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh had very similar motivations of armed resistance to multicultural influences that were destroying America with hopes of saving Christendom.
Let's not forget how Dr. George Tiller was killed on May 31, 2009 by anti-abortion Christian activist Scott Roeder. Christian author Frank Schaffer, "asserted that the Christian Right’s extreme anti-abortion rhetoric 'helped create the climate that made this murder likely to happen.' Neocon Ann Coulter, meanwhile, viewed Tiller’s murder as a source of comic relief, telling O’Reilly, “I don't really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester.'” (Alex Henderson)
We could certainly list Hitler who claimed the Nazi movement was a Christian movement. Let's not forget the Inquisition where thousands were executed. There is also the founder of Calvinism. On October 27, 1553 John Calvin, the founder of Calvinism, had Michael Servetus, the Spanish physician, burned at the stake just outside of Geneva, Switzerland for his beliefs!
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
The problem isn't "flesh" or "the devil". THE PROBLEM IS THAT WE BECOME LIKE THE GOD WE SERVE at least in terms of our own struggle with violence. In 1098 Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury used the cross as a justification for the crusades. He taught that since it was the will of God for Jesus to die on the cross to save the world, it was therefore justified to kill others as well. The church became like the god they imagined.
There is an upheaval taking place outside the gates of modern Christianity as thousands upon thousands are questioning the form of doctrine that they were handed which teaches God as a violent bloodthirsty ogre who cannot get over his anger until he kills everyone. It is a message that Jesus came to turn away that anger, essentially saying, "God kill me so you won't have to kill them." The Father and Son become divided. One wants to kill and the other wants to save. (Check out Am I Safe With God or He a Terrorist Too?)
Add to this an eschatology that is only about 200 years old that teaches a soon coming bloodbath where Jesus kills a third or more of the people on the planet. This idea has led to Christian women getting abortions to avoid going through a Tribulation. Not to mention the lives and money lost because of those who set dates for the return of Christ like Harold Camping. (See this!)
Let's not forget "hell", a word not used once in the entirety of scripture in Greek or Hebrew as a place where for eternity God will delight in burning and torturing the souls of those who didn't ask for forgiveness or never heard the gospel. (Look up Gehenna, Hades, Sheol, the Abyss, Lake of Fire, and Tartarus).
Some Christians will denounce the shootings in the gay nightclub as violent, while accepting the contradiction that those gays immediately went into the hands of God who inflicts even more sorrows on them for eternity with delight! Do you see the hypocrisy of the sad vigil followed by the dark vision of God? Please, let's not give them this mixed message during this time!!!???? (See The Top 5 Church Quaking Truths Your Pastor Won't Teach)
None of these ideas are actually taught in the bible, but they are shouted from pulpits as essential doctrines every Sunday almost as if the Father and the god of Isis were the same! And we wonder why there is violence, vitriolic speech and hatred against many Christian communities? While teaching peace on the one hand and creating a culture that values violence, a mixed message has come out of the church to the LGBT community. (See The Justice of God: Punishing You or Restoring You?)
Ignorant of history and context, Western theologians missed one of the most important messages Jesus was came to teach as seen in the cross and in AD 70: "Love one another" and "Those who live by the sword, die by the sword."
The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, was a public, once for all declaration that religion is self-destructive. His once for all "wrath" was figurative language not to describe God killing billions at the end of the world. He killed no one. It simply described God handing the apostate Jews over to Rome who were murdering their Jewish believing brothers. God gave them what they wanted after warning them repeatedly (Rom. 1; Mt. 24).
That is why Jesus said this,
31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of Gehenna [the valley where he was prophesying their bodies would be burned by Rome]? 34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35 that on you may come ALL the righteous BLOOD SHED ON THE EARTH, FROM THE BLOOD OF RIGHTEOUS ABLE to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon THIS GENERATION." (Mt. 23)
Why did the judgment of ALL the blood-shed on the earth come upon that generation? Because it wasn't simply the judgment on Jerusalem, as much as the judgment on religion and all it represented from the beginning of time. The ultimate sign of religion is "us/them". The ultimate fruit of religion is murder... whether words or weapons.
The greatest thing we can do to heal the culture of violence is wake up and not give the families in Orlando a mixed message. We must see all of humanity as brothers while teaching and demonstrating the love of God. When we DO WAKE UP... amazing things will happen. Watch this...
I'm sure that raised some questions! If you would like more information about these topics to verify what I'm saying, please see: