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BY REV. SHELLEY DONALDSON

September 2, 2019


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Texas is now an even more armed state, despite seven new killing-spree deaths.
The New York Times reports on the latest mass shooting in our country - a gunman opened fire in Odessa, Texas, a state well known for its pro-gun advocates and NRA supporters. Using his assault-style rifle, he killed seven individuals and injured over twenty more in his hate-filled killing spree.
"And if your right eye causes you to fall into sin, tear it out and throw it away. It’s better that you lose a part of your body than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to fall into sin, chop it off and throw it away. It’s better that you lose a part of your body than your whole body go into hell." - Matthew 5:29-30
On Sunday morning a set of relaxed gun laws went into effect in Texas, showing that, once again, guns are America's cash crop, especially in Trump-backed areas. All of the bills were supported by the NRA, and an NRA spokesperson even called the passage of the bills “one of the most successful sessions we’ve had.” It’s telling that these new regulations took effect just hours after the lives of seven people were lost to another white man with a gun.
 
Jesus’ words in Matthew’s gospel about tearing out one’s eye or cutting off a hand, should either of them cause a person to sin, are extreme measures. Jesus wasn’t actually telling people to cut off their hands or take out an eye if a person did something wrong, but they were meant to serve as examples of severe corrective actions. The meaning of his words was to point out that if we don’t stop ourselves, then it’s possible that not just one part of the body will continue sinning, but that the rest of the body will soon join it in sinning. So, we must be drastic in order to stop our sinning from happening again.
 
But how do we stop ourselves from allowing the whole country to fall into the sin of worshipping guns, when so many already do? According to this passage from Jesus, we have to take extreme measures to correct our sins - and more relaxed gun laws are not the extreme corrective actions he was talking about. If we want to end the mass shootings that have become the new normal for our news cycles, we have to start taking extreme corrective measures. Now. Because regardless of what NRA supporters believe, Jesus does not love their guns. In fact, were Jesus here in person, I am positive that guns would be the first appendages to be torn out and cut off.
If you’re looking for ways to hit the NRA where it hurts, consider supporting one of the organizations on the NRA’s enemies list. While the webpage has been taken down from the NRA’s website because of negative publicity(!), don’t worry, The Virginia Center for Public Safety has you covered: here are links to Anti-Gun Violence Organizations and Anti-Gun Violence Supporters that the NRA is personally threatened by.
God,
we put our faith and trust in you,
not in governments
or militaries
or organizations that would worship the false idols
of money, guns, and power.
We boldly ask that you empower us
to work against those that would champion evil,
to stand up for the voices of those murdered by guns,
to work against organizations
and individuals
that would pervert your gospel message
in order to serve themselves,
and not you,
that would justify their own hatred
and greed
and false idols.
Empower us to protect the peace of your world,
that you created,
and entrusted to us.
And deliver us from the despots
that would bring tyranny upon the least of these
for their own selfish gains.
Because we know that Jesus does not love guns.*
Amen.

(*prayer adapted from one given at an NRA donor breakfast in Dallas, Texas, in May 2019)
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