Violence Begets Violence

I know it is kind of old news but I was perplexed when I heard of the church shootings in the US just before Christmas, perplexed mainly that I heard that the church (or YWAM base) had an armed security guard. Anyway, my mate Gary puts it better on his site than I ever could, here’s the full post –

I was gobsmacked today to hear of the fatal shootings at YWAM (Youth With a Mission) centres in Colorado, USA.
I sigh to admit that it was not the fact of another USA shooting that got my attention so much – after all, we hear about them all too often (what is wrong with Americans? they kill nearly 30,000 of themselves every year with guns) – it was the “church security guard” who “took down” the gunman (SkyNews wording) that really grabbed me.

According to the NY Times, ‘The Rev. Brady Boyd said he had watched the events unfold from his second-floor office. “My heart is broken today for the people who lost their lives,” but he added that the church had a security plan in place and that “many, many” lives were saved because of the security guard’s actions.’

Now, come on. Let’s think about that for a minute. Here is a christian mission organisation that hires armed security guards? And that congratulates itself on saving lives by taking lives? Intentionally participating in gun violence, in the name of reducing gun violence? ok, let’s have every church patrolled by armed guards. Let’s have pastors preach the ‘good news’ with armed security. That would be a great idea. Of course, any reference to Jesus would have to be even further suppressed in order to maintain such a fundamental contradiction.

Let me illustrate, (from the Jerusalem Times, c.29AD) “The Apostle Peter said he had watched the events unfold from his second-floor office in the temple. “My heart is broken today for the people who lost their lives,” but he added that the disciples of Jesus had a security plan in place and that “many, many” lives were saved because of the security guard’s actions. Of course, we had to hire the armed guard without Jesus knowing. You can imagine the fuss He would have made if He’d known. He’s so naive about using violence. We feel we need to protect Him from Himself. There are forces out there who would like to crucify Him!”

We don’t know the full extent of the tragic Colorado story at this stage, but even when we do, the question will remain…what possible claim can followers of Jesus make to having any Good News of an alternative nature to offer, if they choose to use the methods of violence – yes, even in self-defence. Surely there are causes for which followers of Jesus may be willing to die; but can there be causes for which they are willing to kill?

There are many layers of tragedy here, not least of which is the close identification of the dove of the holy spirit with the eagle of the republics of mankind.
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4 thoughts on “Violence Begets Violence

  1. i’m sure they are thanking God for the blessing of armed security just like i say grace before eating food which was cruel to animals, harmful to the environment and supported slavery.
    charlie

  2. say that thing i was trying to say last night… about the american meta narrative of using power because of their fear of the tribulation which their fear itself is causing… that thing that enviro man said.

  3. The security guard was at a church in Colorado Springs that has more than 10,000 members. That church has been through a great deal of upheaval in the last year, and had received some threats. It’s sad that such a thing was necessary, but if they hadn’t had an armed guard, the carnage would have been much worse. The guard was a volunteer, and her actions undoubtedly saved many, many lives. Here in the US, we are grieved by events such as this – it’s sad that there are people in our society who are so disturbed that they think killing others will help. But it would be worse to do nothing and let more children be murdered (the 2 who died were 16 and 18 years old).

  4. goodonya Daniel…and I’m sure Scott is happy to have a long lost relative show up.
    Um, my point, though is not that the well-meaning security guard may have managed to reduce the number of deaths by killing the gunman; because that is self-evident. Ethics, particularly for followers of Jesus, cannot be reduced to limiting the number of deaths by whatever violent means necessary.
    The problem is with the whole approach to violence that says ‘some violence is good’ (the kind that seems to achieve outcomes I favour), and some violence is bad (the kind that threatens me directly or achieves something I don’t agree with.)
    Isn’t the Gospel a complete repudiation of violence as a means to an end, and a complete commitment (even at the cost of one’s own life)to create a society which, in the words of Peter Maurin, “it is easier for people to be good”?
    Had the security guard’s gun been in my hand that day, I too may well have shot the gunman to stop him; but that would not be something for which to be thankful. It would have been a participation in the body and blood of violence.

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