Friday, January 22, 2010

The Word for Friday, January 22

What can I say -- between the day job and the home coordinates, I've been approximately as busy as your typical one-armed paperhanger. That's the way it happens sometimes.

Continuing: "Search for the Armed Christian." From Matthew chapter 10, verses 28 - 39, Jesus speaking, sending forth His disciples:
"And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows. Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

"Do not think that I come to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it."
This passage does not speak directly to the armed condition, but it does speak to what I take to be the usual motivation for being armed: personal security. And, as with the other passages I've looked at so far in this inquiry, it does not exactly forbid being armed. But I'd have to say that our Lord is directing us to have an attitude toward the issue of personal security that would make being armed irrelevant at best, and perhaps a source of difficulty as well. We're not to fear those who can physically kill us -- although, to be fair, this is in the context of possible belief-based persecution, and so does not speak directly to what we're supposed to do when our lives are threatened as part of rape, plunder, or other such mundane aggression.

The "sword" after the paragraph break is not, I am sure, meant as a physical weapon; rather, the Lord is saying that He's not there to unite us, but rather to divide sharply -- between those who accept Him for who and what He is, and those who reject Him (or who don't correctly identify Him as God). At the end of the passage, though, I think a fair reading would have to conclude that defense of our lives with our own power is at least being disparaged. In the balance of the evidence: another pebble on the "disarmed" side.

Hmmmmmm ... I might have a firearm or two for sale one of these days. I hope not, but one must follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Meanwhile, for more Words for (actual) Wednesday, click here.


Anonymous said...

Maybe if you use one arm and I use one arm, together we can get that room wallpapered. It's been crazy around here, too.

As interesting as I'm finding your "Search for the Armed Christian," especially since thus far it's confirming what the Lord has put in my own heart, I don't think you should sell your guns just yet.

At the very least, I'm pretty sure you'll still be able to go after Bambi.

Dauvit Balfour said...

I think your aside about rape, plunder, etc. is an important point. I do believe that armed self-defense in the face of impending martyrdom is of questionable advisability. I'm not sure where you fall on the certainty of salvation, but as a good Catholic :), I believe that, while we may be reasonably confident and hopeful, we can never be certain in an absolute sense that we are in a state of grace. As Joan of Arc said, "I do not know, but I pray that, if I am not, God may forgive me and bring there, and if I am, God may grant me the grace of perseverance." Martyrdom, however, is about the surest ticket to Heaven you will find.

There is also the consideration of purgatory, which I understand you don't believe, but to get an understanding of a Catholic approach to this question I'll give an ever so quick explanation: Sin has both eternal and temporal punishment. The eternal is hell and is remitted by Christ's sacrifice on the cross. The temporal is what we suffer in this life for our sins. Think of breaking a window. The shopkeeper may forgive you, but still require you to pay him back. Purgatory is the cleansing of our souls to make them perfect through the completion of the temporal suffering we have incurred by our sins. It may be unnecessary if we have suffered greatly in this life. Martyrdom tends to fall into that category.

So, there seem to be at least these two reasons for me, in addition to your scriptural sources, to recommend martyrdom, and not to resist it especially through armed violence.

But, again, I believe that the capability to defend the innocent from raper and murder is important, and sometimes requires that we have the means to do so. We may perhaps not go about seeking bad men to murder, Boondock Saints stile, but we may at least, when presented with such a situation, make every attempt within our power, including violence, to protect another life.

Finally, another possible take on the closing of the passage (here I assume you are referring to the last sentence, "He who has found his life shall lose it...." This appears to me to be a recommendation of martyrdom and of daily sacrifice, of giving ourselves to God completely, rather than a disparagement of self defense in toto.

Some of my thoughts, such as they are...