This is the actual response I had during a conversation with a friend last week just the day after the tragic shooting at UCC in Oregon last week. It is somewhat raw, as it was just part of our conversation and by no means is a complete dialogue. If it seems incomplete, that is why. But I thought it still a valid response to stand on its own in this format. So…
I’ll try to respond with as much honesty as I can. First, I don’t believe that abortion and gun rights are the same thing – not comparing apples to apples. For me, your question would be more effective comparing those who are anti abortion and yet still pro death penalty. To me that is apples to apples in regards to “pro life”
With that being said, let me offer my response. First of all, I am completely and totally a person with the conviction that we have freedom – complete freedom. I’m not saying that is the case in our country or any other, but that is my core belief. So with that, I am all for a woman’s right to choose – precisely because I believe in choice and freedom. That doesn’t mean I agree with it. In fact, I do believe that abortion is murder. I have three kids, I have heard their heartbeat in the womb, felt them kick and respond to voice and music. That is a life without question. But I am NOT one of those people shouting at women or crying murderer when they enter a facility. In fact, I have said several times in my writings and in my speaking that Christians specifically have handled it all wrong. I have said numerous times that we would be better served at the back door of the abortion clinic when women need to be shown unconditional love and acceptance in spite of our disagreements than we are at the front door spewing idiocies. I tell a story of a pastor who had a young girl in his church get pregnant and struggle with the idea of keeping the child. They counseled her and offered her other options like adoption, etc, but assured her they were their for her. She finally decided that she couldn’t carry a child and decided to go through with an abortion, and the pastor and his wife went with her – not because they thought it was the best decision, but because she was still valuable and loved.
Furthermore, even though I think abortion is the killing of innocence I am not for the overturning of Roe v Wade and legislating abortion as illegal. Why? Because you cannot legislate morality. Making abortion illegal is not going to change people’s minds about it nor will it stop it. It will simply create a black market where babies are still being taken and now many moms are losing their lives as well because the procedures are taking place in unsanitary conditions. Does the thought of any of this please me? Absolutely not. But I firmly believe that politics and law do NOT change behaviors.
I am a pastor, and I believe in the Bible and St. Paul makes an astounding statement about law. He says that the strength of sin is the law. It is inherent in our nature to want to buck the system. Law only sheds light on something and brings more attention to it. Many years ago not we (as a country) declared war on drugs. We made all sorts of laws about drug usage, possession, trafficking, etc. How has that worked out? Making drugs illegal hasn’t taken drugs off the streets or lessened the tragic deaths associated with drug use. And depending on the data and the study, it can be argued that the statistics are worse since we politicized drugs. Politics and law will not change people’s heart and therefore are not effective agents of change.
This is why I originally said and do firmly believe that this is a heart issue and not a gun (tool) issue. Just like making more drug laws hasn’t helped and why I am not for laws banning abortion – because it will not change the behaviors of people because the only thing that changes behavior is a change in heart. And no, I am not saying that because it is a heart issue is going to change anything, but that is the root of the tree and that is where we need to be putting out attention not at the fruit, which is just a byproduct of the root. If we want to see the climate of violence in this country change, then it is going to require a change in people’s heart. What does that look like? Well there are many opinions and those vary greatly. But I do believe that we are a morally bankrupt society in many ways. And media, entertainment, politics et all contribute to this. The Bible and history itself is rife with examples that laws do NOT change behaviors. Chicago, a city in the state I live, has the strictest gun laws in the country and yet the gun homicide right is at the top. I live downstate and am across the river from St Louis, where I call home. I am 30 minutes from Ferguson. Right now, the St Louis metro area has the most homicides this year to date. I am not living in a bubble. Violence surrounds me. But I am not willing to make what I believe to be knee jerk reactions that will produce no lasting value. If we want to see change in out society and less violence, then let’s change our culture. Let’s quit glorifying nonsensical violence in movies and tv shows and video games. Let’s quit race baiting and making our country more divided and volatile. Let’s set a moral center and work from there. I;m not talking about every body being a Christian or believing in the God I believe, but surely there is some moral common ground that we can reach and begin to work from their.
Taking the legal guns from law abiding citizens will NOT change these types of event from happening because someone will always be able to get their hands on a weapon. Someone who want to do violence and make a statement, will find a way. Making abortion illegal won’t stop abortions from taking place. Having a war on drugs has not taken drugs off the streets. Attacking Monsanto isn’t making less people have cancer. Going after fast food and processed food isn’t making people skinnier and healthier. You just simply cannot legislate change. Change must come from a place within. And until we deal with that, all of life’s troubling and disturbing events are going to continue.
Sorry for the length but wanted to share my thoughts in depth and try my best to honestly answer your question. Hope I did, even if we disagree.