Letter to the editor: Armed pastor
To the editor:
In Texas a 21-year-old man drove through town brandishing a shotgun through the sunroof of his car. Police were searching the woods for him when he walked into a Methodist Church.
The 62-year-old pastor, in the presence of several parishioners, “drew” a gun on the fugitive and “ordered him to stop.” News reports are the man grabbed the pastor’s gun, and in the ensuing struggle the pastor was killed, and another person wounded.
Beyond the tragedy, as metaphor, I am troubled that a pastor would have brought a gun into a church and, even against an intruder, would have threatened to use it.
The message of Jesus was love, friendly persuasion to do good for its own sake. But persuasion can’t happen with a gun. The gun can only deter, intimidate or drive away. Guns coerce but can never persuade. Whatever I do at gunpoint is compelled by the gun, making it the gun, not me, that chooses. That’s not what Jesus asked of us. He asked that we choose good, of our free will, not as a choice between obedience and death.
Another metaphor: 25,000 World War II U.S. military medics were conscientious objectors who chose military service without carrying a rifle. They went into combat unarmed, indeed, prohibited by the Geneva Convention from offensive use of weapons. They chose to accept danger without offering violence, an act of faith.
For me it is difficult to find Christian faith in a pastor with a gun, but not in a medic without one.