The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Columns

March 15, 2014

Battle between love of guns and love of Christ in Ky.

From The Back Porch column

A formerly popular question among Christians was WWJD — What Would Jesus Do?

Entertainer Ray Stevens pondered a version of that in his song “Would Jesus Wear a Rolex?”

How about this version: WWBCD — What would Bubba Christian Do?

Why he’d gather the flock and raffle guns, of course. It’s Jesus meets Home Shopping Network, and it’s blazingly successful in Kentucky churches, NPR reported earlier this week. Why there’s even a gun evangelist.

Guns and weaponry have long been associated with the Lord. He told the Israelites to kill everything in their quest to claim the Promised Land. During the Crusades, Christians killed anyone who believed differently. That’s still going on today.

Two interesting tidbits about the Old Rehoboth church in Monroe County is it doubled as a fort and parishioners often brought their long irons with them to services in case the Natives attacked.

After recent mass shootings at U.S. churches, members pondered whether being on fire for the Lord should include packing heat.

If persecution of Christian churches in America continues on the path it is now, it may be necessary to have guns when the government bursts through the door to arrest people for their religious beliefs.

Perhaps what seems so blatantly offensive about this latest phenomenon is its openness in acknowledging gunplay as a way to win souls for Christ.

Gun evangelist Chuck McAlister preaches the Second Amendment and the gospel. He told NPR, “If simply offering them an opportunity to win a gun allows them to come into the doors of the church and to hear that the church has a message that’s relevant to their lives, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.”

At this particular raffle at Lone Oak First Baptist in Paducah, an estimated 1,300 people jammed into the fellowship hall for steak dinners while they waited to see whether their numbers were called. And, in a nod to traditionalism, the raffle winners were announced after the altar call ended. In other words, get Jesus first and then win the gun.

The point of this column isn’t a jab at the Second Amendment. Neither is it anti-gun nor anti-gun ownership. It’s a legal right to bear arms in this country, and it should be.

But it is a call to put everything in its place, and right now in America, the church isn’t the place for guns. When guns are preached along with Jesus, one is left to wonder which message people take with them.

Contrast this scene with those in “Son of God,” the film out in theaters about the life of Jesus. According to the Bible, the Christ never went anywhere with guns blazing. To the contrary, He caused the crowd to disperse when it brought the woman caught in adultery to be stoned. He told Peter to put away the sword and healed the Roman guard’s ear after Peter mutilated it.

He famously said that people who live by the sword will die by it. And He remained silent when his accusers blasphemed, beat and killed Him.

Jesus knew it took more courage not to fight than to pick up a weapon and return fire. It’s inconceivable to this human how He was able to be a man of peace after all that happened to Him.

After the Resurrection, He told the disciples that He came to bring peace and that He gave His peace to them.

If the church spent its steak feeding the hungry, its energy loving the unloved and its anger against injustice, it would be following Jesus’ command to bring the Kingdom to earth — something Christians promise to do every time they say the Lord’s Prayer.

— Young is a Register-Herald columnist. E-mail: ynerissa@frontier.com.

© 2014 by Nerissa Young

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