While the world still mourns the death of 17 students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in my home state of Florida, Easter comes. Easter with its images of a dead man bursting from a sealed tomb, pulsing with life, the embodiment of love.
I believe in commonsense gun control. The commercial interests influencing gun legislation sicken me. When the constitution speaks of a “well-regulated militia” it doesn’t mean mentally ill teens with AR 15s, which, according to a radiologist that examined one of the victims, can leave an exit wound, “the size of an orange.” The NRA began in an effort to improve marksmanship but shifted into political advocacy in the 1970s. Now the NRA along with the whole industrial military complex celebrates weapons and war because they make money. Apparently money > life.
But the examples of societal devaluing of life don’t end there. In 1973 the Roe versus Wade case led to the legalization of abortion in the United States. Since then over 50 million unborn children have been torn from the safety of their mothers’ wombs. Some states allow for assisted suicide—another expression of our collective moral slippage. Apparently convenience > life.
Another institution that led to the mass brutalization of our society preceded the legalization of abortion. That institution is slavery. The spirit of slavery lived on through Jim Crow laws and other forms of systematic racism. Black people are disproportionately incarcerated and given stiffer sentences for the same crimes. As a result of these and other factors one in three black men will go to prison in their lifetime. People of color account for 60 percent of the prison population but 30 percent of the general population. Apparently privilege > life.
What about proliferation of pornography through the Internet? Today over $3000 a second is spent on porn, which doesn’t even account for how much free porn floats around the cloud. Most teens over 12 have been exposed, and those adolescents will have measurably lower levels of self-esteem. But what about the soft porn of Hollywood? The #metoo movement unleashed a flood of sexual abuse allegations exposing multiple Hollywood powerbrokers. Each one of them fully deserved the public shaming they received. But shouldn’t we boycott Hollywood completely? It has always fostered the objectification of women. Here’s a random fact: female nudity is three times as common in films and TV as male nudity. In the show Game of Thrones, bump that up to six times as common. Apparently sex > life.
Violent video games have stolen their share of our young hearts. I once worked with a young man I’ll call Tommy who lived to kill on his X Box. It made his heart beat. Let the debaters argue all they want about whether video games actually lead to violence, but I’ve seen the obvious up close. Even if Tommy never touches a real gun, what did his electronically-mediated, behaviorally-reinforced longing to kill do to his soul? It robbed it of a sense of the value of life. Apparently pleasure > life.
All of these “products” are pushed forward by industries that value money, convenience, privilege, sex and pleasure over life. Yes, let’s wrestle with gun laws; but let’s wrestle with the other issues contributing to our collective brutalization as well. Regulating guns, while necessary, seems like a band-aid when what we really need is a tourniquet. We’re bleeding out culturally due to collective oblivion to the value of life.
But as we bleed out, let’s remember that blood was already shed. In crucifying Jesus, the world took its stand against life—The Life. We hated life. We crucified Life. So I don’t make this plea for cultural reform really believing the world can redeem itself. It can’t. But let’s one by one come to the cross. Let’s come to the tomb. We don’t value life, but Life valued us enough to live and die and live again for us.
Join me April 13-15 at The Healing Power of the Gospel Summit, Chicago, IL.
Joyful Resurrection to you,