Pastoral Messages | June 16, 2016

As the American public pores over every possible cause for Omar Mateen’s act of evil atrocity at the gay nightclub in Orlando, one label we should not place upon it is, “surprising.” We can debate an ISIS connection, domestic terrorism, or a hate crime until the cows come home. But we have no right calling it a surprise. This shooting was hardly unique among evil’s long list of heinous ways to take out a human life.

America’s love of free flowing guns is as close to worship as anything I know in the public sphere. Our gun fetish has reached the level of unquestioned idolatry. Why would you question something that guarantees your safety and security? Never mind that a gun can’t sustain that guarantee, or that we can’t stop ourselves from believing in it. We have enshrined the divinity of guns, including assault weapons, inside an impenetrable temple called “my Second Amendment rights.”

That 32,288 people in the United States should die of gunshot wounds in a single year (2012 is the most recent year for complete data) is both tragic and absurd. We quickly drum up lines about “our thoughts and prayers being with victims and their families,” which, while true, is mostly a passive phrase that lacks compelling action to change our gun-loving culture.

It makes no sense to me that we would glorify violence as a form of entertainment, and then suddenly turn against it in horror when it proves not to be fiction in real life. Call me “soft” or “a coward” for refusing to watch violent movies, but I have never acquired the taste for being able to delight in people machine-gunning each other to death. I find it curious that we actually pay money to view gratuitous gun violence. Yet, according to box office revenues, the vast majority of Americans still find it a thrill.

My heart bleeds for the victims and families connected with the Orlando shooting. So does yours. I have a deep commitment to not let a crime like this Orlando one feed more fear in my life. So, may I assume, do you. I have a high desire to prize what we owe God and our neighbor in the way of love ABOVE what we get to do because we have certain personal rights established in our country. So, may I hope, do you.

Together we grapple with how best to do all of these things, eager for fresh purpose in doing so, and inspired by the unfortunate recognition that this latest shooting is no surprise.

Peter Marty, senior pastor

14 Comments on “Orlando”

  • Don Roth

    June 23, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    Finally, my church is speaking
    out. I’ve been waiting a long time. Perhaps our Neimoeller has emerged.
    As for weapons of mass destruction, the second amendment is not absolute.
    It guarantees the right to keep and bear arms, not nessarily the right to buy them in a toy store.
    Now, the commerce clause is absolute. It charges the congress with regulation af interstate commerce. Congress has a right, indeed a duty, to regulate the sale of anything they deem harmful. Certain baby cribs have been recalled for no other reason than they could pinch a baby’s finger. As far as I know, weapons and poison are the only things that, when used as intended,kill.
    Now is the time to begin an ongoing dialogue about the myriads of things that beset our former democracy. “Former,” because for thirty years it has been slipping into oligarchy.
    Who will step up?

  • John Horn

    June 20, 2016 at 1:31 am

    Thanks, Scott, for your statements (see below). Also, I just read Bishop Eaton’s Orlando statement. The Bishop states “The perpetrator of this hate crime… was shaped by our culture of division, which itself has been misshapen by the manipulation of our fears.” She continues that “We need to examine ourselves… and stand with people who have been ‘othered’.” Margaret and I have now, together, been examining ourselves for 55 years. Got that. We have mourned and prayed, similar, I guess, to what the Bishop said our churchwide staff did. Now we have to figure out “othered”, how we fit into the culture of division, and what fears we have that have misshapened this culture. Whew! All along I was thinking it was just a bunch of extreme Islamic terrorists trying to kill all who are not extreme Islamic terrorists. Not sure yet, but I probably got that wrong.

  • Scott Kelling

    June 19, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    I am extremely reluctant to engage in a debate with anyone who is my moral and intellectual superior, especially when that individual is one of God’s ministers. But it is time to speak. I believe you have it all wrong on the Orlando massacre.

    Orland is not about, nor was it caused by, a “fetish” for guns. To so state is a distraction from the fundamental reality that we face in America today. Orlando is rather about the “fetish” of the Executive Branch of the United States Government, and the cover that it receives, from the media, academia, and theologians for its passive opposition, time and again, to the terrorist arm of a religion that relentlessly preaches hatred and wages jihad against Christians, Jews, women, gays, free enterprise, and all of Western civilization.

    The aftermath of Orlando is about the “fetish” that says you are a racist if you don’t fit the Administration’s narrative and if you take an uncompromising stand for the safety and security of your family, your community, your place of worship, your law enforcement agencies, your gay brother or sister, your constitutional rights, your liberty, your right to dissent.

    Americans are becoming cognizant of this dictatorial and venomous “fetish” and are clearly stating that they will tolerate little more of it.

    Islamic terrorists have struck London, Paris, Brussels, New York, Oklahoma City, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, and Orlando. Christians are taught to take the high road and preach love and forgiveness and that is what we do. But we are also realists and we know that all of human history recites that no amount of love will assuage the pain and fear, or deter, an aroused free people from rising up when their spouse, their children, their co-worker, their business, their house of worship, and their constitutional guarantees come under siege by evil people and a political leadership that has its own alien transformative agenda.

    To an America preoccupied with the internet and social media I am certain that it was no “surprise” to hear the preposterous statement by the apologists for Islamic terrorism that the Orlando killer was radicalized by the internet and not by the tenants of his religion or the brutal government that he served.

    Blame it on a “gun fetish” if you will.

    God help us all.


  • John Horn

    June 18, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    The Orlando massacre is not surprising. We were told by the perpetrators of this destruction that it would occur and that there will be more to follow. Observe the atrocities world-wide as evidence of their intentions. I have no “assault weapons” but will use what is legal in defense of my family, home, and community. There is law that should be changed. This would be Sharia Law.

  • Deb Lamp

    June 17, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    I agree with you and you said it well.

  • Bob and Cathy Crampton

    June 17, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    Bob and I do not understand why people enjoy watching the violence
    that is not only in the theaters, but also on TV. You can call us cowards too,
    as we do not like to watch these type of shows either. Thank you for your comments, as to what happened in Orlando. God Bless us all!!!!!!

  • Marcia Jensen

    June 17, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    I am wondering where anyone gets information about “what doesn’the work” since Congress will not support research into gun violence as a health issue?

  • Dick Moore

    June 17, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Well Pastor, you’ve certainly unleashed a roaring tiger with your editorial. Reading some of the comments submitted should help us all understand why it is near impossible to pass reasonable and common sense legislation in a country that has a firearm for every man, woman, and child living here. Talk about a false sense of security. May God have mercy on us all…

  • Jeanne Olsen

    June 16, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    Standing right with you, Peter. Thanks for saying it better than I could.

  • John

    June 16, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Dear Pastor Marty,
    I disagree with your position on gun violence completely. Evil people will find ways of killing if it is in their heart to do so. Gun safe zones do not work. Taking away someone’s ability to protect themselves with a gun in public doesn’t make them any safer, because you must match the force being used against you. Time after time, if a concealed carrier gun owner would have been present during any of the last few murderous rampages things may have been vastly different. That fact is indisputable and echoed by the police community.
    More importantly is the fact that ISIS wants to kill us Christians, if their worldwide jihad progresses, what will be your plan then? I for one will fight for my life, my family, and my church if needed. The fervent defense of our Christian beliefs and self defense is what you should be promoting.

  • Don Garrison

    June 16, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Last Sunday’s sermon on the Law vs Love and this Orlando article on Gun Ownership vs Love perhaps sets up a false premise that the law and our personal gun ownership rights in this country must be in direct conflict with love for God and our neighbors. Personally, I enjoy both hunting and shooting . I own no ” assault ” weapons but the guns that I do own are treated with the respect they deserve . They have never reached the level of ” unquestioned idolatry.” The laws of this land are written also to be respected and followed . Our country is great because our founding fathers wisely crafted God into our Constitution. The Constitution does not change with conventional wisdom. Perhaps it is time that we, as Christians, remember that there is evil in the world and the Devil is still free to sponsor evil acts. Our defense, as always, must be to love God and our neighbors.

  • Mark

    June 16, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Tragically it is all about the money because the profiteers consider human life easily replaceable. Those who claim so self righteously to defend the lives of the unborn take the lives of the living of all ages without shedding a tear or any remorse. LOVE & FORGIVENESS is The WAY The TRUTH & The LIFE

  • Sue Drobushevich

    June 16, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    Your article is well said……what has happened to plain old common sense…..

  • John Gosma

    June 16, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    Thank you for the thoughtful comments, Peter. We live in strange times, although every generation would likely say this when lives are greatly affected by forces over which they seemingly have no ability to alter.

Leave a Comment