Problems in Postmodern Thought


Postmodernism names the philosophy that characterizes the contemporary world—perhaps mainly in places where people have the luxury of thinking about things that may not put food on the table. It comes from modernism, which gave us the idea that religion and values belong in a private space, isolated from the secular arena where people with differing values can safely get along and wars will be avoided.

Postmodernism has concluded that modernism and the secular arena are part of a grand narrative, one among many. These are stories that a group of people tell themselves to explain their existence and to inform their decisions. The secular arena where people keep their values private to avoid conflict is just part of another grand narrative.

Postmodern thought gives a voice to contrasting grand narratives. This can be really good. In theory, it should allow those who believe other explanations to communicate them and be better understood. One of those grand narratives that contrasts with modernism is the biblical worldview of Christianity, but there are others. Some postmoderns say that any grand narrative is oppressive to the individual. In a way, they are saying each person gets to write xxx own grand narrative. (See what I did there?) That way lies a communication impasse.

Postmodernism has a valuable point. It has also been taken too far. Some have said that not only do conflicting narratives coexist without any way to resolve the conflicts, but this means that language itself lacks inherent meaning. If that’s true, then why bother posting anything on Tumblr? But these voices even mock the idea of truth. That’s too far. It leads into the black hole of nihilism.

Problem 1: Reality

A place where postmodernism runs into trouble is where postmodern thinkers meet real life. People know that what you eat can kill you or it can nourish you. Many other choices you make are similarly decisive. Reality cannot be reinvented to match a narrative. It seems to have a mind of its own. That’s why people like Brandon Sanderson (not to mention some of the creators on Tumblr) write great stories that must nevertheless be considered to be fiction. It’s not a person like me imposing or oppressing those who would see things otherwise, it’s the reality we share. Looking the other direction, they are opposing themselves to reality.

Another way to approach the problem is logic. The law of noncontradiction says that under normal circumstances, two things that contradict one another cannot both be true at the same time. Postmodernism hates laws that would claim to cross the dividing line between grand narratives, but reality is persistent. There are many buried and unburied dead who resisted it. Here’s where logic and postmodernism disagree: contradictory narratives can’t both be true at the same time, and truth means a correspondence to reality as the universe actually exists.

Problem 2: Forcing a Paradigm Shift

A second problem postmoderns are having now involves the adjustment of a grand narrative. A paradigm shift occurs when a grand narrative is adjusted to better fit reality. When sufficient real and clear data accumulates to show that a grand narrative no longer adequately explains our existence, then the grand narrative itself gets modified. This can be a messy process, since the grand narrative is treasured part of what forms a community, and the community as a whole will need to be satisfied that the change is justified. Notice that these shifts occur with the accumulation of sufficient data. This is data from reality, the way we find things in the world (water is wet, things fall when dropped, dead person comes back to life and gives explanation, etc.).

The problem some postmoderns are having stems from a paradigm shift that they have adopted for themselves. For some it may be even more revolutionary than a paradigm shift: the wholesale rejection of an older grand narrative and the adoption of a new one in conflict with the first. The more extreme example is the same as leaving one community and joining a different one.

The desire for a paradigm shift can arise from the accumulation of sufficient data against the original grand narrative. But more often (it seems), the desire arises when someone gives credence to narratives of some kind that conflict with the grand narrative of their own community. Everyone experiences certain distresses through life, and a community’s grand narrative explains and helps to cope with it. If a person in a time of distress turns instead to conflicting narratives outside the community, it may seem like the accumulation of evidence requiring a paradigm shift.

These troubled/troubling postmoderns generate a problem by attempting to coerce (oppress?) those in their original community into adopting their new paradigm shift or into joining their new community. An example is in order.

When a person speaks, an action is done. The action and the speech patterns used to accomplish it are formed within the framework of the grand narrative of the community where the action is done. It’s easy to see that a Christian praying to an inanimate object like a statue would violate the Christian faith. Here are two other examples. First, a Christian referring to Jesus as “she” would be contradicting the biblical grand narrative provided in Luke 2, which says that “Mary gave birth to a son.” That would be a serious conflict, bringing into question the person’s identity as an authentic member of the Christian community. The community would have a responsibility to correct the indivdual or else the community would risk losing its own cohesive identity. Second, a Christian referring to a male as if he were a female, or a female as if she were a male. This is probably a less serious conflict, possibly like a person seriously claiming that “up” is “down” and “down” is “up” while insisting on spending all day suspended in an inversion chair. Maybe the inversion chair is the only way the person can be comfortable and feel “natural.” Maybe the person even thanks God for the inversion chair as a divine blessing. But that doesn’t give this person any standing to insist that an entire community change its language. “Hey, what’s down?” More sensible for one person to adjust.

But it could also be more serious. If a Christian has had chronic pain for years with no apparent end in sight, certain jurisdictions now allow the person to commit physician-assisted suicide. What if that person demands that the faith community give its blessing to this? Oh c’mon, it’s only a little paradigm change. But the Bible says, “You shall not murder,” even when it’s yourself. 

Likewise, if a Christian becomes convinced that he/she was born in a body of the wrong sex, makes physical and behavioral changes, and insists that the Christian community (especially family) change its actions (including speech) to show acceptance, this is a demand for acceptance of a paradigm change. Jesus even quoted Genesis 1:27 as the authoritative divine institution of marriage and family (Mark 10:6-9) as part of Creation, permanently connecting it to the essential created binary nature of human beings. That’s an unalterable part of the Christian paradigm. Other parts can help the person cope with the unfortunate suffering involved, but the person would be oppressively coercive (besides insensitive) to insist that members of the Christian community act in a way that contradicts their treasured beliefs.

We’re considering this as a postmodern problem. Linguistic (language-oriented) misgendering of Jesus is a matter of contradicting sacred Scripture. But if we leave out the religious aspect, it’s the same as contradicting a number of historical documents, like saying Abraham Lincoln was a black man. But linguistically misgendering a person currently occupying space on Earth is not only contrary to what the Bible says. It runs up against that pesky postmodern nemesis called reality. Any community experiencing real life on Earth might have a problem accepting a change of behavioral norms meant to communicate the opposite of the way things actually exist. The only way I can see around this problem would be to convince the community to change the gender referent in language, so that when a person uses a word like “he,” the gender referent is no longer to the person’s male sex, but some subjective self-conception in the person’s mind (”gender identity”?). That would be a change indeed, making public civil communication difficult, probably impractical. It would also shift the paradigm from a correspondence to objective reality toward correspondence to subjectivity. How can what seems real for only one member of the community become accepted reality for the rest? Even that seems coercive: the one attempting to force the many, and without the advantage of observable reality.

Unfortunately, these issues have been brought into political and civil discourse through a campaign of, well, coercion. Maybe that wasn’t the intention of some. But the overall issue here is that a postmodern perspective of things is supposed to avoid coercion and oppression.

Ways Forward

A recognition that communities and narratives interact can be helpful, but there seems to be some tenacious quality in humanity that wants to contradict and assert the individual as his own master and lord. Beware!

Here are some possible solutions for the postmodern who is caught up in problems like the ones I mentioned above. In addition to what’s below, a good policy is to respect foreign communities. In the timeless words of Billy Joel, “And when you’re home Darling all you’ve got to be is you But when in Rome do as the Romans do.”

About Reality

  • Learn the timeless rules of logic and use them, but don’t worship them.
  • Have an open mind toward reality. What constrains you tomorrow may be different from today, but some things are just the way they are, no matter how you may feel about them.
  • Notice how well any narrative corresponds with what you see to be true through your own every-day experience and that of your community.

About Forcing a Paradigm Shift

  • Observe the accumulation of evidence against the usefulness of your paradigm(s). Try to be open about it and talk to your community.
  • Respect your community. Don’t try to coerce it, but consider its wisdom. This is where you belong. These are the people who love you.
  • If you’re suffering, look for solutions within your community, and be openly critical about suggested solutions from other communities. Their narratives may contradict the narrative of your own community, but in some respects they may not.
  • If you have become convinced that your community’s paradigm is wrong, you have three choices: leave the community altogether (Gulp! Really necessary?), provide your sufficient contrary evidence to convince your community of a paradigm shift, or reconsider your conclusion.

An Honest Atheist Reaction to the Gospel

I’ve been hoping to find something like this for a while.

Polly Toynbee writes the following excerpts for the Guardian against the first book in The Chronicles of Narnia.

Of all the elements of Christianity, the most repugnant is the notion of the Christ who took our sins upon himself and sacrificed his body in agony to save our souls. Did we ask him to? Poor child Edmund, to blame for everything, must bear the full weight of a guilt only Christians know how to inflict, with a twisted knife to the heart. Every one of those thorns, the nuns used to tell my mother, is hammered into Jesus’s holy head every day that you don’t eat your greens or say your prayers when you are told. So the resurrected Aslan gives Edmund a long, life-changing talking-to high up on the rocks out of our earshot. When the poor boy comes back down with the sacred lion’s breath upon him he is transformed unrecognisably into a Stepford brother, well and truly purged.

She concludes as follows.

Children are supposed to fall in love with the hypnotic Aslan, though he is not a character: he is pure, raw, awesome power. He is an emblem for everything an atheist objects to in religion. His divine presence is a way to avoid humans taking responsibility for everything here and now on earth, where no one is watching, no one is guiding, no one is judging and there is no other place yet to come. Without an Aslan, there is no one here but ourselves to suffer for our sins, no one to redeem us but ourselves: we are obliged to settle our own disputes and do what we can. We need no holy guide books, only a very human moral compass. Everyone needs ghosts, spirits, marvels and poetic imaginings, but we can do well without an Aslan.

Let us be careful not to overgeneralize, but what Ms. Toynbee writes seems to represent more than her alone. She may not see a distinction between the teachings of present-day Evangelicals and the old Evangelicals of the Sixtheenth Century, but I know that there are differences among the doctrines of atheists. She represents only one point of view. C.S. Lewis probably represented a different atheist point of view before his conversion to Christianity.

Variations in atheist doctrine notwithstanding, I am thankful that Ms. Toynbee has written these words, because they clearly and pointedly express exactly the problem she has with the Christian faith and with Christians. Perhaps she is not far from the Kingdom of God. I pray that she, like Lewis, is drawn into it.

Responsible Pet Ownership

Imagine a billion-dollar company called Responsible Pet Ownership. Their stated purpose? To provide essential services and education that will improve the lives of pets and their owners. Too many pet owners find themselves overwhelmed with the responsibilities of providing nutritious food, adequate exercise, and the attention that pets need for a quality life. Some of these beleaguered pet owners never asked to have such a responsibility, yet once they do, their lives become encumbered with the expectations of society and the needs of their pets. Puppies or kittens on Christmas morning are certainly cute and cuddly, but after only a month of pet ownership, many of these families struggle, and soon realize that their lives will never be the same.

Responsible Pet Ownership is here to help. When prospective pet owners need assistance to find the right pet for themselves, when they need some training or even supplies to get themselves on the right track, they can turn to Responsible Pet Ownership for the vital support they need.

These services are especially important for pet owners from the lower social classes. They are the ones who find pet ownership most burdensome. In far too many cases, the additional responsibilities of a pet have hindered a poor child or family from escaping the clutches of poverty. Since Responsible Pet Ownership provides essential social services for people in these conditions, the company receives a subsidy from governmental entities. The federal government has subsidized the work of RPO with over half a billion dollars over a year for these services. In this way, Responsible Pet Ownership fills the gaps in service provided by traditional veterinarians.

But the use of tax money invites public scrutiny and much criticism. Some people claim that since more pets are brought into an RPO office than come out, something dishonest must be taking place there. Is the business taking tax money and enriching its leaders without providing the services it claims to provide? Are the services really necessary? Is it providing those services in an ethically acceptable way? There are faith-based organizations that object in principle to the mass euthanization of animals, claiming that this is the true purpose behind Responsible Pet Ownership. Some go as far as claiming that behind closed doors, RPO is a secret partner with other corporate interests, especially pharmaceutical companies. Instead of euthanizing and disposing of the unwanted pets, the claim is made that RPO is selling them alive on a black market, for the purpose of vivisection and experimental drug testing. (Vivisection was promoted in the earlier days of the Progressive movement, inspiring the practices of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.)

In recent years, the pitch of the controversy surrounding Responsible Pet Ownership has risen. Citizen advocacy groups have engineered “sting” operations in which they pose as pharmaceutical company buyers and meet with RPO executives, recording the meetings with hidden cameras. These videos have been published online for the world to see. These groups claim they are doing the public service that the mainstream media ought to be doing. As a result, the traditional media organizations have portrayed their work as muckraking sensationalism, and reported the information as a controversy rather than an exposé. In the minds of those who suspect RPO of unethical practices, this has damaged the reputation of the traditional media, and confirmed their suspicions.

Yet the furor about the ethics at RPO has emboldened former employees to come forward and reveal what has really been happening in their so-called “puppy mills.” According to these former employees, RPO workers have lied to customers, saying that their pets have a terminal illness, or did not survive routine procedures. The company’s justification for this is that the customer will be better off without the burdensome responsibility of pet ownership. Meanwhile, the healthy pets are taken and sold on the black market for experimentation. Those that are not healthy enough for experimentation are sold into the pet food market.

These embarrassing claims have been mostly ignored by RPO media representatives and executives. Instead, the company focuses on how essential their services are for the community, and the good they do for the lower social classes by freeing them from the long-term responsibilities of pet ownership. It also stresses that any pets taken from their home situations of neglect and malnourishment are better off without a lifetime of suffering. Meanwhile, RPO has engaged in an intensive effort to rebuild its brand using social media. It has encouraged a campaign of re-posting memes that say, “I stand for Responsible Pet Ownership.”

When pressed on-camera, the CEO of Responsible Pet Ownership has followed the company line. Off camera, she has expressed frustration. “Look, we are dealing with pets here, but these people are treating us as though our business were based on seducing downtrodden women into physical peril with life-long sorrow and guilt, or killing defenseless human beings! We have our problems, but we’re not that bad.”

Infographic on the History and Effects of Homeschooling

I’m usually the last to hear about things like this, so if you’ve already seen it, feel free to disregard this post. But it’s just so interesting, and anyone who hasn’t seen it yet really should.

Keep in mind as you read this that not everyone is able to provide a homeschool education for their children, even if they would like to. I bet that similar positive statistics would support Lutheran parochial schools, especially the kind we’re interested in starting at Bethany in The Dalles. It’s certain that on balance, parochial schools do far better for each student, with less money, than public schools do. I say that as a Head Start through 12th-grade product of the public school system, and as a home-schooling dad. The effort required to homeschool or to send your children to a good-quality parochial school is most certainly worthwhile.

Homeschooled: How American Homeschoolers Measure Up

A Christian Living under Authority

My how time flies! We have projects at church, projects at home, and the continuing cycle of obligations like Synod Convention, which meets next week. As I wrap up preparations to fly out later today, I was musing a bit about the nature of law and the country we know as the United States of America.

For quite a while, I’ve been learning about the distinction between common law (or natural law) and the kind of law enacted by the fiat of a legislature or ruler. This distinction has come into sharper focus thanks to Richard Maybury’s books, like Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? and Whatever Happened to Justice?. I was provided with a collection of these books by members at one of my congregations, and have found them fascinatingly informative.

What I realized today is a corollary of the special uniqueness of the United States. It was founded upon the principles of individual liberty and limited government that proceed from common law as discovered over time in English history. (Not only English history, but that’s what affected the American colonies.) Every other nation was under a different kind of law, even if the particular laws were somehow voted into existence. Maybury calls the other kind “Roman” law, which is what practically everyone knows today. Common law is all but forgotten.

It was this basis in common law that produced the peculiar character of the Declaration of Independence, which was further enfleshed in the Constitution with its Bill of Rights. If someone were to ask, “What’s a Lutheran?” the best answer would be based upon the basic principles of Lutheranism, found in the 1580 Book of Concord. If someone were to ask, “What’s American?” the best answer would be based upon the basic principles of the United States of America, found in the Declaration and the Constitution. That’s common law.

Now, the corollary I mentioned comes from the peculiar identification of the American people as that which is sovereign in the United States. In other political systems, the monarch may be sovereign, or the legislature, or the judiciary, or some combination of them. In the United States, by definition, it is the people which are sovereign, so that the government (i.e. the executive, legslative, judiciary, or even the new bureaucratic arm) is not to be identified with the nation, and those who are in positions of government must always answer to the people.

The question often arises in the minds of Christians, “What if my government tries to force me to contradict my faith?” The answer is obvious when the contradiction is clear. But sometimes it is not. The corollary recognizes that the answer is different in a country constituted upon common law, in which the people are sovereign, than it would be in a country constituted upon fiat, “Roman” law.

If we consider the Constitution to be binding still, and that it still presents the principles of the Declaration, then an American Christian’s earthly obedience is not ultimately due to any part of the Federal or State government, nor even the government as a whole. Our Christian obedience is due to the people, according to the common law principles of the Constitution. Yes, we must still honor the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, but only insofar as they carry out the will of the true sovereignty in the United States, which is in the people.

But here’s the rub. The duty of an American to the people of the United States is actually weightier than the duty of the subject of a monarch. Yes, we are free people, but as the saying goes, “freedom is not free.” It’s encumbent upon every American, and owed to the sovereign power of the country (the people) to maintain the liberty in which the country was founded. Inasmuch as we have allowed encroachment to take place upon our liberty under the Constitution, we have been derelict in our duty as Americans, and have failed to perform the sacred duty that God has given to Christians toward our sovereign ruler.

Chew on that for a while. I intend to.

Where do your taxes go?

Here’s an article from Dave Ramsey’s organization, explaining several sides of the question. I think there’s enough information here to figure out whether the federal goverment’s financial problems come from not-enough-taxes or too-much-spending. It also adds another possibility: too-much-waste.

New look, Bugs, and Deporting German Homeschoolers

[Caution: Geek content follows. Others may skip down two paragraphs.]

If you have read this blog before, and you actually visit the web site, you probably notice that it looks different. Well, it is different. A hard drive failed in the old machine that was hosting this web server. It was backed up and all, but I realized that this machine is 13 years old now, and some of its parts might be even older. The whole thing has been on borrowed time for years already, and I had an idea. In fact, it works. Everything that machine was doing is now accomplished within my regular desktop machine, by a virtual machine living inside it. In the process, I also ported The Plucked Chicken over to WordPress. Why WordPress? In the end, because it’s very well tested and supported. And of course, free, like Linux. (Try getting that much use out of a Windows machine originally built in 2000!)

So when there is time, I’ll spruce things up around here with some images and other media. There are a few little bugs or snafus from the blog conversion, but they can wait. In the meantime, just enjoy the simplicity.

In case you haven’t seen it, Gene Veith blogged about this case of deporting illegal immigrants. It seems the US Attorney General is very tough on them, and wants them deported, at least when they’re from Germany, and when they have obtained political asylum in the United States from religious persecution in their home country. And when they’re homeschoolers.

It’s worth reading about. I find the AG’s obtuse understanding of the religious freedom protected by our First Amendment to be sadly lacking. It may be a safe bet that he wasn’t home-schooled. Of course, it may not really be him behind it, but his minions acting under his name. Well, those minions need schooling too. So please read it, and click through the link Veith provides to read more about it. Note especially this, “Holder claims that the family’s fundamental rights have not been violated by Germany’s law forbidding families from homeschooling.”

This is really the same obtuse lack of understanding we find in the way our executive branch has dealt with the ACA (“Obamacare” for those who don’t recognize that acronym.) and its universal requirement for people like the owners of Hobby Lobby religiously to violate their consciences. In both cases, it seems our government has compartmentalized religious freedom into an area thoroughly insulated from public life. They have no clue that religion should affect every aspect of a person’s life. How far the United States has fallen from her founding!

Thanks, Civil Rights, and Safety

Thanks to everyone who prayed for me recently upon hearing about my unplanned trip to the hospital. I have to admit that I was also a bit alarmed when the EMTs said they thought I was having a heart attack. Thankfully, the heart specialist did not agree. I’ll be following up with our family doc to see if we can identify any other possible causes for my loss of consciousness. I’ve been taking a gently-enforced week off this week at the suggestion of several people at church. I’m thankful and a bit awed that there are so many people who found out about this so quickly, and at the level of support for me and my family. So, thanks be to God first for the excellent medical care He provides for us, and especially for the certainty of eternal life that we have in Jesus Christ. I was absolutely ready to see Him, and utterly confident of His mercy toward a sinner like me (even though I wasn’t so sure about the heart attack thing). Thanks also to the EMTs, doctors, nurses, and other professionals that took such good care of me when minutes might have made a big difference, as far as we knew. Whether they realized it or not, they (like everyone who fulfills their godly vocation on Earth) were acting as the hands of God in service to their neighbor.

Speaking of minutes making a difference, you might have watched the YouTube video I embedded in a recent post about violent attacks. The best 911 response times, when the responders don’t happen to be next-door already, are usually measured in minutes. If you’re confident that you could hold off a violent attacker for as long as it takes without the use of deadly force, then you probably don’t have a dog in the gun control fight that our esteemed President has brought to Washington, D.C, again. But if you think you might want the ability to apply a level of force that could possibly kill, when someone is threatening or using such force upon you and your loved-ones, then you should be deeply interested in the outcome of this latest attempt to undermine the Second Amendment and the civil right of American citizens to keep and bear arms.

My last post here distinguished between reason, emotion, and faith as motivating factors in an argument such as this. The term “assault weapon” is meant to evoke an emotional response. Assault is an attack upon another person. Any weapon used for such a thing might be called an assault weapon. For example, recent statistics have been repeated in several places that hammers and other blunt objects are continually the most frequently-used murder weapons. Or if you prefer, “assault weapons.” The word “assault” produces an emotional response, because it’s something everyone wants to avoid in the context of civil society. The only acceptable context for “assault” is war, so the inventors and purveyors of the term “assault weapon” are trying to argue that whatever weapons they think are so described have no legitimate function in civil society. They are wrong in their use of language, and also wrong in their argument. If you want to be deceived by demagoguery, then by all means, ignore the truth. If you want to avoid being deceived and used as a political tool, then you should learn the truth about this recently-coined term. You can find it here:

It seems that President Obama continues in his attempt to manipulate emotion by gathering with children in front of television cameras. He hopes that we will identify those children with others in our own lives, and visualize the horror of their deaths, and therefore (in his mind) the necessity of outlawing all those nasty guns. Especially “assault weapons.” The President and others who have used children that way (not unlike human shields) hope that this strong emotion will prevent your reason from seeing the great weakness of their rational arguments, and that you will gladly give up some of your civil rights in exchange for his (empty) promise of greater safety for your children.

Let me suggest an alternative emotional response. Those children with President Obama are indeed children who need protection from violence when it happens, and so are the children in your life. Disarming the people who are seconds away from protecting those children actually places them in greater danger. It doesn’t make them any safer. Don’t be disturbed that I seem to be giving the lie to the President’s agenda. It’s not personal, nor based upon his race. If anything, it’s because he’s a politician with a well-meaning but absolutely wrong agenda. He has full faith in the ability of government to solve problems like this, when nobody on Earth can eliminate violence and evil. We already have the best answer for that in the Second Amendment (for when seconds count), in the 911 system (for when minutes will do), and in the justice system (for the aftermath). So if you want to identify with the children used by politicians on this point, a better emotional response is this: decide to protect them from violence by preparing to shoot the perpetrator before he or she tries to harm a child, while you are waiting for the 911 responders to show up.

President Obama proposes to accept all responsibility for the safety of your children (on behalf of law enforcement personnel throughout the country) in exchange for some of your freedom. That’s not the answer, for two reasons. First, the primary responsibility remains yours and mine. Second, it’s an empty promise that neither he nor any other government official, nor the entire force of government in the United States can fulfill, even if we were to become a totalitarian, despotic nation with no civil rights or freedoms reserved for the citizens.

An AR-15 or handgun with plenty of bullets in the magazine, in the hands of a trained and responsible American citizen who happens to be in the right place at the right time, has the potential to save many lives of both children and adults from the acts of one or more violent criminals. As the President and Vice President have said, if something has the potential to save only one life, it’s worth considering. What if it has already saved a great many lives? Then it’s worth keeping.

Now, maybe you don’t trust your fellow citizens to do the right thing. If not, then why would you trust politicians, bureaucrats, and law enforcement personnel to do the right thing? Are they not your fellow citizens too?

If it’s a matter of training, did you know that citizens like you can get trained to the same levels of skill by schools like Front Sight and people like Massad Ayoob? If you’re not comfortable with fellow citizens having such training, then again, why would you be comfortable with any fellow citizen having such training? Law enforcement officers are fellow citizens, too, as are soldiers and sailors.

Maybe your disposition is not compatible with the possibility of dealing with a violent encounter, and you prefer that someone else provide the protection you need. That’s fine. But don’t be fooled into thinking that disarming your law-abiding neighbors will make you any safer. It would make you less safe, because the people who want to harm you will not be disarmed. In fact, the disturbing truth is that those who would harm you don’t even need any particular weapon to do it. If you want to be safer, then encourage your fellow law-abiding citizens to do what is necessary to defend you when the need arises. The same goes for the safety of your children. Statistics bear this out. A pertinent case study in recent decades is Kennesaw, Georgia. Compare the rate of violent crime in those parts of the country where the civil right of bearing arms is curtailed to those parts where it is not. You are safer where more of your neighbors have more guns.

Christians might be disturbed by the possibility of causing the death of another person. The Fifth Commandment says “You shall not murder.” I’ve discussed this at length on this blog, and would refer you to those posts. But in brief, consider what this commandment means (emphasis added). “We should fear and love God, so that we do no bodily harm to our neighbor, but help and befriend him in every need.” Failing to defend your neighbor, including children, is as much a violation of this commandment as the intentional and malicious killing of another human being. Leaving this responsibility entirely to President Obama and law enforcement officers is a de facto abdication of that responsibility, because even with the best of intentions, they cannot defend our lives in every case, and their efforts will almost always be less effective. The bottom line is that the Fifth Commandment requires each of us to assume a personal role in the defense of our own children and every neighbor.

Speaking of guilt, some lawmakers seem to feel guilty when a horrific murder occurs. They assume that a law could have prevented the murder(s), so they try to adjust the laws after the fact. As a pastor, let me assure our lawmakers that you are not responsible for the acts of such monsters. However, if you disarm the victims or those who might have defended them, then you are partly to blame for those deaths. There is no other way to see it. So the people who make schools, shopping malls, or theaters into “gun-free zones” are partly to blame when the victims are defenseless against those who pay no mind to the little “gun-free zone” sign on the door. Man up and bear it, because there’s no other way to see it. But let me also assure you that Jesus Christ died upon His cross to remove the guilt of that sin. In Him, God has forgiven you, just as He forgives lawmakers, and even politicians. Jesus opens the way for you to eternal life, and that fact should now motivate you to do the right thing, while you still can. That’s the motivation of faith.

What to do? If you want to be safer, send a message to your elected representatives at every level that the civil right protected by the Second Amendment is essential to the safety of our citizens and our families. Gun violence is only a small part of the general problem of violence in our country. But when you are confronted with violence of any kind, then your safety and the peace of our society dictates that you also need access to violence in order to protect the lives of innocents. The best way to give you that access is to preserve the Second Amendment in its full force. That’s how to make our society safer for both children and adults.