This post has been at least in my head in process since I was driving from Alabama to California, the week after the shootings in Aurora, CO. During that time I saw many different people say many different things about gun control, how awful it was to be politicizing the tragedy so soon, how we can't help but politicize it because it is a political issue and our faith lives require us to engage our society's politics.
Most of the posts were from the same people over and over again, seeming to get louder and louder as they posted. However, watching my Facebook feed, I noticed some other trends around the Christian faith as it was indirectly related to gun violence in the US. While there were certainly those being explicit (usually arguing for more gun control as a life issue), there were those who drew no correlation between their desire to have their guns and their faith, but the trends of whose posts certainly link the two.
My observation of many of these posting was that the people who might claim to have a deeper faith because they regularly post prayers requesting miracles were also the ones who posted most from a place of fear concerning who can carry weapons. I felt a dissonance between expecting logic and reason to be defied as someone prayed for cancer to be poofed away, despite what medical professionals may be saying, in one posted and insisting they needed to be able to arm themselves to protect themselves from others.
This understood need to protect themselves from others seemed to stem largely from a fear of death. My understanding of much of the Bible is that Christians are instructed to not live in fear. A poster I used to see, and I have no idea if this is factual, said " 'Fear not' is in the Bible 365 times - one for every day of the year.' " If we can rely on God for miraculous cures for cancer, why do we feel as though we need rely on ourselves to protect us from death?
The perceived need to protect ourselves from death throws me some, too. While this isn't something I'll claim many people are happy to say that we're a "Christian Nation." Those are, at least among my Facebook friends, the same ones who are so insistent that we have guns to defend ourselves - from the bad guys (who, I'll point out, are still created in God's image, whether we like it or not). This fear of death does not resonate with one of the core tenets of Christianity: that dying Christ destroyed our death and rising Christ restored our life; Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life.
For a Christian Nation, we seem to be awfully scared of something that we believe doesn't have any power over us. We seem quite content to rest on these ideas, promises, thoughts, and beliefs when people have died, but how do we realize Easter while we're alive? I think that we're probably more likely to live fuller lives now (cf. John 10.10) if we aren't worried so much about holding on to it. Liturgical Christians at least annually acknowledge that they will die ("Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return") but we don't sit in that.
Neither do I think that we should live only thinking about the afterlife. Rather than being a motivator for what we do now, I think the promises that those in the tombs have been given life should release us of fighting to stay alive by not taking risks and fearing that we're always about to die. Acknowledging that it's a possibility is probably a good thing, but fearing it isn't, I don't think.
How do we engage and realize Easter in our day-to-day living? Do we believe that in baptism we have been buried with Christ into his death so that just as he was raised we may be raised to new life (Rom. 6.4)? If we do, and we have faith that we will be raised, and have faith the cancer can be cured miraculously (which not all of us do), why do we fear for our lives? Why are we willing to rely on God for healing but not protection, particularly protection from something that Christ has already defeated and has lost its sting?
Does "Christian America" and its need for hand guns actually believe in the Resurrection?