I’m trying to make sense of the mass shooting that occurred a few nights ago.
A man went into a gay bar and shot several people. From what I understand, 50 or so innocent individuals lost their lives. Another 50 or so are injured. Facebook is plastered with polarizing views, demonizing liberals and conservatives alike.
I’m left here with a broken heart. I know that if I were to make my sentiments known, I’d be misquoted and/or labeled. Regardless, here it goes and hopefully I don’t receive too much static or hate myself.
I am a Christian. I do believe the choice of acting on affections towards the same gender or altering your gender is sinful. However, individuals who choose this lifestyle do not deserve to be hated or murdered on account of their choice. Thinking their lifestyle is wrong does not mean you are a bigot and want these individuals eradicated based on a single decision in their life. I have friends who are gay. I love them dearly. They know I don’t agree with this particular decision in their life, but they also know that I will stand by them in times of trouble or celebration.
The individual who shot these individuals erred tremendously. What he did was wrong! No one deserves to be murdered. Some want to dismiss the fact that he was Islam. His staunch interpretation of his religion influenced his decision to perform this mass killing. By admitting this, I am not demonizing all Muslims. I know Muslims who are kind and compassionate and don’t want violence. Why do we get to say that the man who shot up the abortion clinic did so because his conservative, anti-abortion, Christian views influenced him, but we can’t say the same thing about a radical Muslim without being thought of as narrow-minded or a bigot?
There are radicals in every religion. Individuals misinterpret their religious texts and use it as a basis for narrow-minded views and to rationalize hate. This is not specific to Christians. A devout Islamic man shot and killed several innocent people. Individuals in the Middle East have been known to stone homosexuals. Yes, we, Americans, are also guilty of ostracizing the gay community and hurting this marginalized group. However, we must not forget that this life choice is far less tolerated in other countries than we’d like to assume. Please do not misread what I am saying. I am not saying that all Muslims are hateful towards the gay community. They aren’t. Just as some Christians mistreat the LGBTQ community, some Muslims do.
I am tired of Christians being demonized for conservative leanings. Radical Christians have done some terrible things that have stained the Christian community for centuries. These individuals made a bad name for followers of Jesus. For that, I am sorry if you have a negative view of Christians. Please understand that as extremists in Islam are in no way a reflection of the Muslim majority, so too, the Christians extremists do not represent my faith properly.
I also disagree that this was a result of a man with an oppressive view towards women and a leaning towards “proper masculinity”. Yes, this can play a part, but it is not representative of the man’s entire worldview. Again, his interpretation of his faith plays a significant role in his view of women and the LGBTQ community. Let us stop downplaying this. We don’t hide it for a radical Christian, why do it for a radical Muslim? (Note again: Radicals are a small minority that often give voice to a religion but are not representative of a larger, but sadly more silent, majority in that religion. I am not making any intention of marginalizing my Muslim brothers and sisters and it is time we stop fostering hate towards them. The gospel is intended for EVERYONE to hear, not just American-born Republicans. Also, I say American-born Republican and I would most likely be placed into this category considering my moral worldviews. When I state this, however, I am more discussing the political Christians who have little to no understanding of Scripture or loving others as Jesus did. These political Christians do not desire to live for Jesus faithfully day-in and day out, but merely associate a republican worldview to be synonymous with a “good Christian” and think that anyone with a view other than their own is damned.)
I have convictions as to what I think is right and wrong (based on personal interpretations of my religious text, the Bible), but that does not mean I automatically pigeon-hole individuals and hate them. I’m not always the best at refraining from judgement, I’ll admit that, but I will say that just because I’m a Christian does not mean I want Muslims banned from our country, that I want gays to be kept from being teachers (because they influence children), or I want every American supplied with semi-automatic weapons.
I am not a gun happy, patriotic American. I’ve shot a gun and I don’t get the same thrill from it that some do. In fact, I felt scared and that I had too much power with such a device. I trust my husband with this weapon and am fine if he wants to instruct our children on how to SAFELY wield this device. Guns are an inanimate object. They can be used for good (to supply food for people) or evil (as in the case of mass shootings). We must not neglect the fact that humans make a choice to use this object wisely or foolishly. For me, I would prefer not to have a gun in my home (I know my husband disagrees). I know the power of this weapon can cause severe damage if used inappropriately or carelessly. I’d rather it be left in a place where my toddler can’t find the components and misuse this device. I have other passions and interests I’d like to pursue more rather than being educated on the proper use of a gun. As such, it is best I not have a weapon in my proximity that I’m not well educated on.
This is an important note, education. Literacy and education assist us in communicating with those who are different from us rather than tuning out the “other” and conveying hate. People can and should disagree with each other. We can learn and grow by being different. Humans are beautifully complex. Disagreements do not have to lend to division or hate crimes. Let us rather celebrate our differences and learn from each other. Also, may we set aside time for prayer, grief, and support when a tragedy strikes rather than making this into yet another political argument. People lost their lives!
Does it matter if they were gay? No! Yes, they happened to be homosexual or transgender, but let us not merely define these people by sexual orientation or identity. These individuals had wives, husbands, children, a mother, a father, aunts, uncles, or siblings. They leave behind grieving families and friends. These individuals were civilians working and contributing to our society. Their orientation or identity was most likely the cause of this mass shooting, but it should not be turned into an argument about gay rights. We can sit here arguing about homosexual equality or we can just grieve that lives were lost at the expense of another twisted individual. This man was not a product of a mental illness that we are aware of (and yes, some murders DO happen because of a depressed person, contrary to what some might want to argue). Although, I am tempted to believe that any radical is brainwashed and isn’t in a proper mental state. Now, I do believe that these discussions need to occur, but do they need to happen so abruptly? Let us give the families time to breathe, time to cry, time to scream. Let us simply be there to give hugs and cry with those left behind. After a time, then we can pick up the discussions, arguments, and political rallies. I don’t know how much time is needed to grieve, but I know that a day or even a week wouldn’t be sufficient for me.
To those who lost their lives, thank you for the impact you had on this world while you were here. You will be forever missed.
To those who continue to promote violence and terror in the name of faith, we pray for you. We pray that you would realize your extremism is a vice and contrary to the cause of faith you wish to promote. We know that you do not represent your larger faith community. We refuse to let you invoke fear in us towards others who claim your religion and in doing so, fuel your hope to lead more people to your cause in a desire to “fit in”. (This applies to all radicals and religions, not just Muslims.)
To our society, may we stand united in love, always and forever! May we not occupy the trenches of distrust, hate, division, misquoting, and violence, but may we be promoters of peace. May we seek to talk and understand others rather than lash out in accusation, assumption, conformity to similarity, and physical bashing.
Christ, let your kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.
Oh God, hear our prayer.