Guns in Church?

“It is a good thing we don’t allow guns in church.”

I once heard that statement after a particularly angry exchange within a group of church folks (not at the church I serve). The speaker was a priest who was clearly, and it seemed justifiably, concerned about the level of rage present in the group.

I remember that incident every time we experience the ravages of gun violence in a place where it is not expected–a university campus, a federal office building, a congressional constituents gathering at a suburban shopping mall.

It certainly seems the young man being charged with the shootings in Tucson suffers from mental illness. But so far as I know there is yet no professional diagnosis, nor is there any indication of what may have caused that illness.

At the same time, there is argument among some who argue for a living about whether our increasingly angry and vitriolic national debates might have contributed to his motivation for the shooting rampage. I personally believe that some of that language is unhelpful to us all, not just this young man.

My suggestion is this: let us all recognize that there is truth in what is said by most of those with whom we disagree, and even when we find no truth we can still recognize our shared humanity.

I think that is what Jesus meant when he told us to love our enemies. I know my priest friend believes that.