"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

20 December 2012

Some things you just can't legislate

Okay, let me say at the outset that I don't have a horse in the gun-control race.  I have friends and loved ones on both sides and my personal, individual status with regard to gun ownership has nothing to do with what I think of public policy in regard to the same.

In other words, its not about gun control.

The fact of the matter is, if a crazy man wants to kill you enough that he's willing to die trying, the government will not be able to save you.

What happened last week in Newtown CT would not be reversed by adding new laws on the books.  No criminal thinks to himself "I'd really like to commit murder, but guns are illegal, so maybe I'll just go out for a beer, provided I'm over 21, and rethink it."  Murder is illegal already.  If criminals cared about obeying the law, they wouldn't be criminals.

You can't legislate people into sanity.
And you can't legislate people into compassion.
And you can't legislate away Genesis 3.

We have the same problem with welfare, health care, airport "security"  and social programs of all sorts.  The government tries to help by legislation, and in doing so removes the compassionate individual just a little farther from being able to be part of the solution.

What happened last Friday is horrific and the people involved will carry it for the rest of their lives.  But no legislation can ever stop it. 

The problem is not one of government action or inaction, but one of the heart.
It is a credibility problem when our president says we are failing to care for and protect our nation's children when he has repeatedly gone on record saying that he supports the organized and systematic murder of children in utero.
Its a heart problem. (Abortion won't be legislated away either, not really.... even if we did cover it under our existing murder laws.)
Its a credibility problem when everyone who has a pet issue emerges from the woodwork to use this tragedy to gain attention for their projects before a week is even over.
Again, a heart problem.
Its a wisdom problem when we try to pass laws on the already law abiding gun owners to try to reduce criminal actions by those who have no regard for the law... instead of asking as a community how we can better engage the needs of our local schools, our suffering neighbors, person to person.
A heart problem.
Its a heart problem when we think that brutality can't happen to us, when we hold it with such a deep conviction that when evil does emerge we are shaken, as if the evil had not been part of every era of history all along, as if this horror is something new and unshared across time and space.

Part of the heart problem lies in American "exceptionalism"... this Protestant idea that God has particularly blessed America and protected her.  We shudder because as a culture we believe our nation is special because of its supposed works righteousness, the percentage of the founding fathers that gave some degree of lip service to God, the Pilgims and the Great Awakenings, and almost two centuries of isolationism.  Now when our works fail, we think the works-happy God has removed his exceptionalism, and all sorts of blasphemy and heresy ensues from otherwise respected protestant teachers (and also the wackos out there... yeah, I'm looking at you Westboro Baptist) and suddenly the heart problem is that many otherwise dear Christian people begin to think we somehow deserved this.

And the same dear Christian people turn just as much to legislation as do the gun-controllers, gun encouragers, mental health advocates, and compulsory educationalists... only the drums they beat are different timbres.  Legislate piety, put God back in the schools, say the Pledge with "god" getting the nod.

Same song, different verse.

I'm reminded of God's word to ancient Israel: Egypt won't save you.  Allies won't save you.  Governments won't save you.  You cannot stop sin with an alliance, a law, a government. 

Its a heart problem.


In a related thought, that's the Gospel, isn't it.  That Jesus comes in the midst of our heart problems, our social problems, our brutishness, our sin, our occupying and oppressing governments, our rebellion, our messiness... and puts down the mighty from their seats and exalts the humble and meek.

He comes and turns the world upside down, bringing light in darkness, life out of death, dying for us "while we were yet sinners"... filling the hungry ones with good things and sending the rich away empty.

This is the world to which Jesus came.  A broken, Genesis 3 world, a darkness so deep the human mind cannot fathom it, pierced by a single light.  To show the strength of his arm, and to scatter the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

That not one stone in our own temples of self righteous idolaty be left on another.  That our world be wholly upended.  In order to put things in right order and solve our heart problems.