Friday, January 18, 2013

Unintended Consequences a.k.a. Think Before Your Knee Jerks

A couple of my posts on the gun control debate have invoked quite a bit of commentary.  In the midst of that commentary, a thought came clearly into focus.  It was a bit disparaging.

I am a student first of Jesus and in the past 16 years of Bowen Family Systems Theory (BFST).  This theory focuses on a person/leader managing his or her own anxiety in the midst of emotionally charged situations.  It tries to help a person retain clear thinking in the midst of emotional processes, think differently, stand one's ground when faced with initial resistance, and become more defined in what he or she believes.

Now, BFST is not the be all and end all.  There are some points where I must disagree, particularly in that BFST doesn't like talking in terms of right and wrong.  There are just some things that I think are right and others that I think are wrong.  Neither does BFST like to talk in terms of absolute Truth.  Can't go in that direction.

Yet, there are times when BFST hits the nail on the head, squarely, decisively, and unerringly.  One such place is in the reaction of systems when a person/leader/group tries to force something upon it.

Parents get this.  All of us have dealt with children who we ask, beg, beseech, command, and threaten to do a certain task.  Within moments, we find our child doing the exact opposite for no rhyme or reason. 

In the church, many clergy and leaders have focused in the past several decades at stopping the continued decline of mainline denominations.  Despite their focus and best efforts, the decline has continued.  Despite knowing all the facts, figures, data, and reasons for said decline, no one's been able to stop it so far.  BFST comes true again.

And this is where gun control comes into play.  Since Sandy Hook, there has been a concerted move to offer more gun control measures including seeking a ban on assault weapons and high capacity clips.  Instead of taking time to think through a response to the shooting, these calls were almost instantaneous. 

And what has been the result?

Out of the knee jerk reaction, gun sales on assault style weapons, high capacity clips, ammunition, and most all other sorts of guns has skyrocketed!  Guns are flying off the shelves right and left.  You almost can't find an AR-15 in stock anywhere.  High capacity clips are sold out.  Ammunition is being stock piled.

So, in effect, instead of being patient, allowing things to settle down, and having a debate less driven by emotion and driven by facts and reason--more assault rifles, more high capacity clips, more hand guns, and more ammunition have been added to the public circulation.

Am I happy about this?

No.  Not in the least.  I don't believe guns are the problem or the answer.  I begrudge no one the right or desire to have a weapon, but I'm not in favor of weapon ownership born out of emotion and a desire to have one because "they aren't going to let me have one."  I'm not in favor of weapon ownership born out of fearfulness. 

Just about every year at some point in the Revised Common Lectionary, a text from the second chapter of book of Isaiah is read:

2 In days to come
   the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
   and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
3   Many peoples shall come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
   to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
   and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
   and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 He shall judge between the nations,
   and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
   and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
   neither shall they learn war any more.

While this day certainly has not arrived, I believe such a world should be worked toward.  I'm not buying an AR-15 any time soon.  Neither am I going to purchase any high capacity clips.  I'm not afraid of my government or of someone coming to take my weapons.  I use them as tools: to provide food.  They are of little protection to me as they remain locked in my gun safe and out of the hands of my children.  I pray I never, ever have to use them against another human.  It is never God's intent for us to kill each other.  Period.  Although He forgives us when we do.

I hope He forgives the people of our nation for loading up and arming ourselves to the teeth when it's really not necessary.  I hope He forgives all the knee-jerk responses. 

We've managed add a whole lot of weaponry to our nation instead of actually deal with the root cause: fear, anger, hatred, and the hardness of our own hearts. 

I was asked in one of the comments whether or not I still believed Jesus was the answer and bringing more people to faith in Him.  Now, more than ever, I say, "YES!  And God grant me the strength, courage, and opportunity to profess it!"

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