Mad Blood Stirring

It didn’t surprise me when Chik-fil-a executive Don Cathy remarked that the company he works for supports a biblical view of marriage. It shouldn’t have surprised anyone. It is common knowledge Chik-fil-a is a privately owned, Christian-ran company. They close on Sunday so their employees can attend church–if they choose.

I think that’s great. I worked in the fast food industry for some time, and would have appreciated the day off. That’s neither here nor there, though.

What did surprise me about what has now become known as the “Chik-fil-a controversy” is the shit storm Cathy’s remarks generated, though I suppose that shouldn’t have surprised me, either.

It didn’t seem to matter to anyone that Cathy did not seek a forum to air his views. He simply responded to a question, without any particular animosity or hatred toward homosexuals or anyone else.

Then the LGBT community and those who support them completely lost their minds and started screaming hatred and intolerance from every rooftop they could get a foothold on.

The man just answered a question.

Let me also say I agree with Mr Cathy and also believe in a traditional and biblical view of marriage. Call me whatever you’d like.

That said, after boycotts were threatened and many harsh words were spoken in the name of tolerance, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee waded into the fray by organizing what he called “Chik-fil-a Appreciation Day.” I was all for that. I thought then (and do now) that Cathy has every right in the world to his own opinions, and every right to express them in answer to a question.

Opinions aren’t against the law.

Opinions are in a sense protected by the law, as are those who voice them.

So a great many people turned out for Chik-fil-a Appreciation day, and drive throughs and dining rooms were all choked with customers, presumably most in agreement with Cathy regarding gay marriage. It was a huge success, and probably several large white feathers in Mike Huckabee’s cap.

I probably would have went myself if there was a Chik-fil-a in Yuma. Instead I took the boys to Carl’s Jr.

But anyway.

I was sitting at in the cafe area at church yesterday trying to pretend there were not donuts only a few short steps away when I started thinking about how Christians really did seem to be thought of negatively these days, and more conservatively held religious and political views often at the least mocked and/or ridiculed, and those who voice them branded as intolerant.

Nothing worse than being intolerant these days. To me, being tolerant of something either means to ignore it or support it. There are things that can be ignored, and other things that can’t.

To someone that professes Christ, we cannot ignore the fact that we live in a fallen world that in many cases holds no love for us. We are called to recognize sin when we see it, while we are also aware of the sin that lives in us at the same time. Christ’s propitiation on our behalves is the only thing that can save us both from it and it’s due penalty.

We are meant to call out the goodness in people by sharing with them the good news of Christ. Part of doing that is pointing out that there is a cost to living a Godly life, and part of that is turning away from sin. The bible is clear on what is sin and what is not.

Often (and probably in this case) people focus too deeply on this sin (homosexuality) they do not struggle with, to the extent they feel justified in overlooking a myriad of other sins.

Make no mistake, the bible is clear homosexuality is sin. It doesn’t matter how commonplace it is, or how much society at large has grown to accept it. We can be as progressive as we want in our faith, and we can call things whatever we want.

We can’t change the truth of scripture.

And while I was trying to avoid donuts yesterday, God pointed out a couple of truths to me; convicted me of them in fact.

No matter what Huckabee and the participants called it, the Day of Appreciation was a protest. The motive, in a sense, did not (and does not) matter.

That day was sort of a middle finger to those who try to silence the viewpoint of the average Christian through slander, and ridicule, even intolerance (because tolerance only extends as far as viewpoints that agree with the status quo).

God is very clear this is something we are not to do.

He tells us what we will face if we follow Him. He warns us about it.

“If the world hates you, it hated me first…(John 15:18-21)

See also Matthew 10: 16-20, Matthew 5:10-12

He consoles us with Romans 8:16-18, and 35-39.

Never, anywhere, does God tell us to flip the bird to sinners, and tell them they can’t put us down. He also tells us what we are to do in response to hatred and persecution:

“but I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you in the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matt 5:39

Or

“do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Lev 19:18.

I don’t really think you can get much more specific than that. And it’s important to note Chik-fil-a did not instigate any protest, and even went so far as to hand out free water to protestors.

But people still protested, on both sides of this particularly ugly coin. No one wants to feel marginalized, or to have their thoughts, beliefs and worldview mocked and ridiculed.

But Jesus told us it was coming. I think it has come.

I think worse is coming.

I know we have clear instructions as to what we should do.

We should pray for those who persecute us.

And as odious as it might be, as unjust as it might be, we must turn the other cheek, and not seek revenge or retribution.

The world is not friendly to righteousness. It never has been. Sometimes I feel the world has gone completely mad, and as Shakespeare pointed out, “The day is hot, the Capulets are abroad, and if we meet we shall not escape a brawl. For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.” (Romeo & Juliet Act III, scene I)

Indeed it is. And we must prepare for it to get worse.

How Do We Stop This?

At first I had no plans to address the topic of guns and gun control. It’s an extremely volatile and polarizing topic, but also because most of the people I know here have a pretty good idea how I feel anyway.

Then the Aurora movie theater shooting happened, and more recently the Clackamas mall shooting and of course the murder of twenty first graders and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut. I knew there would be a public outcry regarding guns and gun ownership, as if the guns themselves did the killing.

I felt compelled to address a few points, and people can make what they want of it.

The debate is nothing new, after all. People have been talking about gun control probably ever since there have been guns. For crying out loud, you used to have to leave your sidearm with the saloonkeeper while you were drinking and playing cards. Of course, they’d give it back to you when you left…

To my knowledge, it has also always been legal for United States citizens to own firearms. The second amendment to the constitution was adopted in 1791, along with the rest of the bill of rights. The second amendment has long been the rallying cry for gun enthusiasts as it grants them the right to “keep and bear arms.”

Gun control enthusiasts, on the other hand, have often pointed to this section with a little more detail:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed

They make the point that there is no longer much call for a “well regulated militia” as our all volunteer armed forces and various law enforcement agencies take care of armed protection. Consequently, people also no longer need firearms to protect themselves at a local level.

I understand their point, and I get that the makers of the constitution were just coming off a war where the “well regulated militia” is what made the difference. These were men with little military experience and often not much training who were willing to put down their plows and pitchforks and take up the musket to ensure their basic human freedoms.

In 2008, the Supreme Court held that the individual had the right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes in federal enclaves, such as one’s home. This decision took the militia argument out of the equation.

It’s easy to understand the concerns of people regarding firearms, given the terrible acts of violence visited upon our country and others. The Norway massacre comes to mind, as well as shootings in Scotland and Israel over the past 10-15 years.

I get it, I really do. I will even admit that some sort of measures need to be taken to ensure massacres like what happened last week do not become commonplace, though I fear that is where we are headed. Yet I do not believe taking away people’s right to protect their homes and families is the way to make that happen.

It would seem, though, some sort of restrictions as to which weapons and how many of them are available to people might be in order. It’s difficult to understand why a citizen looking to protect themselves would need something like an assault weapon with a potential capacity for more than 100 rounds, semi-auto or otherwise.

Actually, it’s hard to understand why anyone would need an assault weapon at all, excepting military service or zombie apocalypse. Yet, I know people who are avid collectors and have several of them. These men and women are not the people we generally need to worry about.

Legislation only works if people allow themselves to be subject to it. Therefore even if some sort of…all encompassing ban of firearms was to take place, it would only be as effective as the people who obeyed it. And the truth is, if someone is willing to swap their lives for a killing, even if they do not have a firearm they can do a great deal of harm (such as the OKC Federal building a while back).

Of course, there’s also the fact you can’t really enforce legislation directed toward gun-wielding criminals, as well as psycho or sociopaths who might use their weapons for an other than lawful purpose. Also, I don’t think anyone could argue the individuals perpetrating these horrible crimes likely have some moderate to serious issues with mental illness.

The other thing to consider is that while it is people and not guns that kill, it is also hard to argue we’ve created a culture where violence is commonplace and life has so little meaning it has become almost almost arbitrary. Lives are legally ended before they even begin, and the entertainment industry sells violence to our children in shiny and appealing packages so that nothing is shocking anymore.

The dialog may begin with gun control, but it certainly does not end there. It is much more complicated than that. Consider this: People have also been saying gun owners who have firearms to protect their homes are more likely to hurt themselves than any intruder. This is patently false. Of course, it is much less sensational and interesting for the media to report when this sort of thing actually happens, so they often do not report it at all. Take the Clackamas shooting, for instance. A young man legally carrying concealed drew his weapon and faced the shooter, ultimately forcing him into a stairwell where he took his own life.

I believe the truth is that the only thing that stops a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun. Also that the bad people will always be armed, and do not live by the same rules as the rest of us.

I am a gun owner, and both weapons I have are small caliber. I got them to shoot at targets, not burglars. But I do have them, and I would rather have them than not. If the choice was between using them and harm to my family or anyone, really, I would use them without regret. I would put a hundred bullets into a person intending harm to a child before I would allow them to carry out their intentions.

My weapons are kept safe, and away from my kids. In any case, I know I haven’t answered any questions with this big pile of letters, but I felt the need to address a certain demographic of folks who understand neither guns, nor gun owners.

I have the legal right to possess a firearm, without being a member of a well regulated militia. Those people do, too. Whether or not they choose to exercise it is their affair. Yet I would submit that trying to enforce any sort of blanket restriction is stupid, and very similar to what the country had fought against when the constitution was drafted in the first place.

I will also acknowledge that certain points within the “gun control debate” do need to be addressed. I don’t know what the answers are, but I believe a healthy discourse between all parties is a start.

Some potential topics?

1. Assault weapons, both automatic and semi-auto.

a. Who can have them?

b. Are they needed in the private sector?

c. What for?

2. Round capacity for magazines.

a. What is needed?

b. What is enough?

c. Is anyone going to shoot a deer more than once or twice?

3. What is the criteria for whether or not a person can purchase a gun of any sort? Should there be criteria?

4. What are the repercussions if a gun is used to defend a home? Are “stand your ground” laws the answer?

So many questions, and not many real attempts to find answers as yet.

It needs to start somewhere, and we need to set aside partisan rhetoric in the interest of getting to the heart of the matter and making real and desperately needed changes in the interest of saving lives and preserving freedoms.

So let’s talk, people.

Mount Ottoman

My little guy is a jumper (a climber, too, thanks to his grandma’s side of the family). We have these 3 padded ottomans in our living room we use for footrests and toy storage. John has taken to climbing on top of them and then jumping as far as he can toward the couch.

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(here he is, right before a leap)

Of course, since he’s only 1, his little legs don’t carry him very far and he usually ends up getting caught mid-air by daddy before he hurts himself.

What struck me the other day was his jump routine: he gets up on the ottoman, and then gets this expression of utter joy on his little face as he launches himself.

He leaps, completely without fear. Into daddy’s arms, knowing that daddy will catch him.

I wish I was like that, especially where God is concerned. I want to take leaps of faith and know that daddy is on the other end of my leap with his arms open. Instead, I often do the opposite.

Instead of leaping, I climb back down off whatever height I’d scaled and I never jump at all.

I need to leap, even if I’m afraid.

I need to trust God to catch me.

I need to put fear where it belongs in matters of faith, or I really don’t have the faith I claim to.

Psalm 56 says: when I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise. What can mere mortals do to me?

I need to leap fearlessly, with the faith of a child.

If I’m able to do that, I can move mountains.