A Hair Trigger

It does not take much to set us off. With every news cycle that includes a mass shooting we hear the pundits and the prophets hit the airwaves to stir the pot of dissension that is the national debate on guns.

I had purposed to let this blog go out during a lull in the violence so that it would not appear to be just another knee-jerk reaction, but this week we heard the report of an unhinged man entering the offices of a Maryland newspaper and using a shotgun to indiscriminately murder five people. So there may not be much of a lull between these incidents in the future. Welcome to the America where life is cheap and where the inevitable results of the choices and decisions we have sown are being harvested before our eyes.

Like so many of the social issues dominating the cultural landscape, the gun debate is mostly the playground of those who populate the extremes. They are loud, they are intolerant of even the slightest hint of compromise, and they seem to attract cameras in a way that the more reasoned cannot hope to accomplish. As a man who values life and who also owns guns, I find myself in the middle of the debate, and it feels much like walking the dusty street of an Old West ghost town. There are not many people around here.

The NRA has made itself an easy target with their fierce and well-funded opposition to anything that hints at an intrusion into their 2nd Amendment rights. I understand why they take this posture even if I do not agree with all of their methods and points. Just like with the issues of abortion and gay rights, the opposition to these initiatives fear the slippery slope. There is certainly a give-an-inch, take-a-mile strategy out there and it is often deployed successfully. The gay agenda began with “tolerance”, then it was civil unions, then it was gay marriage, then full social and legal equality, and now they howl if they are not celebrated as courageous heroes overcoming gross injustice. In the abortion debate, those who passionately believe that life begins at the moment of conception have done all they can to chip away at Roe by flooding the courts with stipulations, limitations, time limits and lawsuits that have certainly made obtaining an abortion much more of a challenge.

In the same way, those who love their guns are fearful of any legislation that will simply be mud on their boots on a wet incline. They are not so fearful of the first limitation, but of the fact that gun rights opponents will assuredly not stop there.

But, in a rare show of common sense (if I may say so myself), I have thought to put down here in this arena, a policy that I hope will maybe move the needle ever so slightly towards sanity. Here are a few things that should be enacted:

A NATIONAL DATABASE CHECK. An one-stop shop; a site administered by the federal government that gains the participation and comprehensive contributions of all fifty states, local law enforcement, the FBI, ICE, Interpol and can be accessed quickly by legal firearms dealers without cost, lag or complications. There should be a permanent list of citizens no longer allowed to purchase or possess a firearm, and those who have had this right temporarily suspended due to a set number of reasons.

A 5-DAY WAITING PERIOD. It does not unduly inconvenience me to pick out a firearm, endure a background check, purchase the firearm and return five days later to pick it up. This simple measure would likely save lives. Emotions can blind people, and a reactive and impulsive firearm purchase is never a good idea. A few days mandated to wait and consider will not hurt anyone, and it will likely help someone….and that someone might be someone you love.

STANDARDS OF SAFE STORAGE OF FIREARMS AND PUNISHMENT OF THOSE WHO ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE TO KEEP FIREARMS SAFE FROM KIDS OR FROM THEFT. If you purchase a firearm, you assume a serious legal responsibility and both a civil and legal liability. There is no one debating that firearms should be inaccessible to kids, and that firearms should be securely stored against theft. Many firearms used in lethal criminal activity were stolen from the one who legally purchased the firearm, yet did not store it securely. There is no excuse. Wear it, lock it up, or face criminal charges.

MUST BE AT LEAST 21-YEARS OF AGE TO PURCHASE A FIREARM OF ANY KIND. This just sounds like common sense. The only time a person under 21 needs to hold a firearm is if they are hunting with a parent or legal guardian, but to sell firearms to those under 21 should be illegal, in all fifty states.

MANDATE CERTIFICATION AS AN ADULT WHEN A JUVENILE COMMITS A CRIME WITH A FIREARM. That’s right. If a juvenile is caught with a firearm, or commits a crime using a firearm, they should be treated like an adult and face the punishment that an adult would face. Then, trace the weapon to the registered owner if possible and investigate how a juvenile could have obtained the weapon. Prosecute the rightful owner if it is found that they were negligent in not safely securing the firearm.

There are many other issues surrounding gun control, like the fact that almost every school shooter since the two that assaulted Columbine were under the influence of psychotropic drugs. Most of these drugs have listed side effects that should not leave us wondering why these kids would commit such heinous acts. In addition, most teen boys have already killed thousands of pixelated humans before they walk into a school and kill a flesh and blood human. Along with rampant abortion, we have created a culture where life is cheap and expendable, and our kids have grown up awash in such a society.

In the end, the ultimate answer leads us back to the issue of sin and the utter depravity of man outside of the redemptive work of Christ Jesus. Each of us hold within ourselves the potential to commit every horrific act imaginable, so judgement is not a healthy response. Throwing accusations at those who do not hold to your view is also very counterproductive. Listening, acknowledging, and considering new ideas is both productive and respectful.

I believe in the right to bear arms, and I fervently pray that I will never be in a position to point a firearm at another human being with lethal intent. I know that I may save the life of an innocent, but I will cease another life and never escape the emotional pain of my action.

In conclusion, I hold the deepest respect for those scarred physically or emotionally due to gun violence, and will listen to your pain, and consider your words carefully.   CW

 

The Gay Quandary

In this space I am going to try to tackle a pretty complicated issue. I thought about just wading into these posts with a light first offering, but that has never been my way, and I thought…Why start doing that now? So here we go.

In our culture there are several cultural and societal issues that simply cannot be properly addressed in a quick sound bite or a Tweet. The subject of homosexuality in our culture, and the church’s response, is certainly one of these issues. There is, first off, a simple axiom that I go by when it comes to any particular sin, and in no case is it more fitting than with this particular sin, and it is this: I will neither condone nor condemn.

In the case of homosexuality, I feel it inherently wrong for me to drift to either the camp that condones what the Word clearly calls sin, or to the camp that condemns those who are trapped or blinded by this sin. It appears that most church denominations are drifting to one or these two extremes. Few are actively pursing a reasoned and nuanced response. And fewer are welcoming of those who are trapped yet want to find true freedom.

In all honesty, I believe that the issue of homosexuality has been horribly mishandled by the church. Part of the issue is the way the Enemy has painted us into a corner.  According to the Word of God, it is not proper to either condone or to condemn any sinful act. Listen to that folks: It is not proper for us to either condone or condemn ANY form of sin. We are not sinless….None of us, but we are called to abstain from sin as much as possible and to not embrace any form of sin. Yet we still find space to play the judge.

For some, they sin with gluttony. For others, it is ignoring the poor. It may be cheating on taxes or an algebra test. It might be adultery, lust, consuming porn, abusing alcohol, arrogance, coveting, thefts, or a pride-filled heart. It could be anger that takes root in a man’s heart, or he is racist either outwardly or inwardly. None of these are to be condoned or condemned. The Lord is clear that if someone is in sin we should lovingly warn them from that wicked way….not to be judgmental or hypocritical, but act purely OUT OF LOVE. Yet it seems that we have reserved a special allotment of condemnation for those who identify as homosexual, like none of us ever struggle with sin.

Here is the key: I love my homosexual friends and my YR sons who are practicing homosexuality. When we get together, the conversation does not go to who they are sleeping with or what they are doing behind closed doors. I minister to their heart as the Lord gives me the opportunity, but I will never condemn them. Yet neither can I condone their choice to embrace this most costly sin. Foremost, I want them to know that I love them, without condition. There are times when I actually wish that there was an asterisk somewhere in God’s word that made a special provision for those who are truly in love, or those who believe they were born this way, or for those who are otherwise so amazingly good.

But…..It comes down to this, and this is where each reader of these words must make a decision. Do you believe God’s word is true and applicable for today? See, I choose to believe that it is, and in the Bible it says that the homosexual will not inherit the Kingdom of God. So if I truly believe the Word of God and it says that the homosexual will not inherit the Kingdom of God, it is not compassion for me to turn a blind eye and let them fall into eternal torment…It would be hate for me to accept or condone this lifestyle. What kind of a person would cheer on any activity that would eliminate another person’s opportunity to spend eternity with God?

So if you choose to believe that the Bible is a worn out method of living, and that it is an ancient book of fairy tales, you can then feel free to decide what is right and what is wrong in your own eyes. You will no longer have any universal authority. But be warned, when each man rejects a single moral authority and can then decide for himself what is right and permissible and what is wrong and taboo, that society is headed towards annihilation. It will unravel as Rome did, as it fell from within from moral decay and corruption.

The Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is unchanging. He did not provide a set of Scriptures for the first century, and those Scriptures not apply today. I believe that the enemy has done a masterful job of painting Believers into a corner. Most gay people demand that we either condone and agree with what they do, or we are hate-mongers, homophobes, and fascists. I believe that there is room for a compassionate response. I do not see a man or a woman who practices this lifestyle as too far gone, or any more sinful than an adulterer, a gossip or a consistent liar. It is when we EMBRACE a particular sin that we walk into dangerous territory with God. He has provided a way out through forgiveness, grace and mercy. There is no second chances though if a person dies in their sin. And that breaks my heart.

So I will never condemn or condone. I will not cast a stone, and I will never agree with ANYTHING that can prevent a man or woman from entering the Kingdom of God. So my response is a stance of love, compassion and truth.

In the end, it all comes down to this….Are we going to believe God’s word to be true, or will each man be allowed to determine what is right and wrong? If you choose the latter, and you decide that homosexuality is ok, who are you to say that a man who chooses racism is wrong? Who gets to make the rules?? Maybe it is ok for a man to marry his sister. Who can say that is wrong? If the Word of God is not relevant, where do we gain our moral authority? Why can’t we have each man to be free to do as he chooses?

This will be the result of a people who decide that the moral authority the Lord provided is cancelled. They will no longer have a clear boundary, and sooner or later, anything will be and must be allowed.

So my word to those trapped in homosexuality is this: Is it not hopeless. You were created by a God of love who also created you to be in a passionate relationship with the opposite gender. And if He holds the astounding power of a Creator of this magnitude, it is well within His ability to heal and transform you. There is beauty and hope in a obedient walk with a loving Father. Call to Him. He is waiting. He is listening.   CW

 

Here we go….

I once saw a t-shirt that said something like, “BLOGGERS. Never before have so many written so many words that so few will read“. It was then and there that I decided to never write a blog.

So here I am, eating those words. I love to write, even though at times it feels much like laboring to deliver a baby must feel like. You can’t wait to see the outcome, but you first have to endure the pain of delivery. In all honesty, I really do not know what I am doing. For 34 years I have written a monthly newsletter, but that just consists of typing from my heart and turning it over to people who really know what they are doing, who somehow make my drivel appear readable. 

While looking over the WordPress site, I quickly became overwhelmed by all of the designs, customization options, language that mere mortals like me cannot understand, and a nomenclature reserved for nerds and geeks. So I have decided to just start, even though the final product may be pretty jacked up.

In everything else I write, there are smart people who proof read and help me with grammar and flow. You will not be getting this with my blog. It will be raw, rarely edited, often controversial and with only my own limited filter. So be warned.

I plan to write on topics that are interesting to me, yet are topics that are unfairly treated by soundbites and those little social media grenades that folks like to throw into the discourse. I will be writing on issues like transparency and vulnerability, but I will also be trying to give a sane and sober response on issues ranging from homosexuality to gun control to immigration to modern politics.

The views that I express should not be assumed to be the views of the organization that I lead, its staff members, board members or the dogs under the porch. These views will be mine, and I hope that not all of you agree with me, as I appreciate constructive discourse. I want to be kind and gracious as I boldly speak what I believe to be the truth. And at all times I will work to speak as one redeemed by an insanely loving and merciful God and as one wholly undeserving of the grace that each day I get to roll around in.

So if you’d like to follow my blog, I would be honored. If you then choose to actually read it, I will be pleasantly surprised. This is my first post, and it has been pretty homogenized. I cannot promise that the next installments will be so pleasant.

Curt, in Houston.