You shall not kill
May 6, 2013
by Pastor Steven Olson, Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Dassel

When the Newtown, CT massacre happened, there was a massive up swell in concern over gun violence and murder in America. What has happened in the months since then? Four states have created stricter guns controls, and 15 states have loosened gun controls. The United States Senate voted down any new action, and the vote on these issues in the Minnesota Legislature was cancelled.

Meanwhile, the violence continues. As of this writing, 3,803 people in the US have died because of gun violence since the Newtown massacre. That is 28 people a day, the equivalent of one Newtown massacre every day, seven days a week.

I wonder what our Lord makes of these numbers. What would the Prince of Peace make of all these deaths? Surely, this is not part of God’s good and perfect will, but people of faith are not in agreement on how to effect change. So what are we to do?

First, we must accept that this is a faith question, centered around God’s command “You shall not kill.” If we can agree on that, then we can enter into the question of “How do we break the culture of violence?”

Part of the answer lies in our homes and churches as we teach God’s commands. Faith, morals, and values do begin at home, but they do not end there. If we believe that we are one nation under God, then faith and morality do have a place in the public arena, as we discuss questions of violence in America. We, as Christians, need to engage in the debate from a perspective of faith.

Yet, as we engage in this debate, my prayer is that we would remember all the “one another commandments” given by our Lord and the apostles. All of these commandments are rooted in love and respect, and that is the attitude we must take into this discussion. Without love and respect, there can be no honest discourse, and no solutions. We will be stuck where we are and the violence will continue.

So, to that end, may God grant us the courage of our convictions to speak our truth in faith, hope, and love. May God also grant us the grace to listen to all voices, not just those with whom we agree. Then, by God’s grace, together may we be open to becoming instruments of God’s peace here and throughout our land.