I’m going to comment on this post:
Here’s some background on the writer (from his Huffington Post profile):
The Rev. James Martin, S.J. is a Jesuit priest, the culture editor of America magazine and author of numerous books, including The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything. He is also the author of My Life with the Saints (over 100,000 copies sold), which Publishers Weekly named one of the Best Books of 2006. Father Martin is a frequent commentator in the national and international media, and has appeared in such diverse venues as NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Fox TV’s The O’Reilly Factor, PBS’s The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, as well as in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, the History Channel, BBC and Vatican Radio. Before entering the Jesuits in 1988 he graduated from the Wharton School of Business and worked with General Electric for several years.
Now for his statements:
That is why I believe that gun control is a religious issue.
I agree. Everything is ultimately a religious issue.
It is as much of a “life issue” or a “pro-life issue,” as some religious people say, as is abortion, euthanasia or the death penalty (all of which I am against), and programs that provide the poor with the same access to basic human needs as the wealthy (which I am for). There is a "consistent ethic of life" that views all these issues as linked, because they are.
To say the death penalty is analogous to abortion and euthanasia is an argument from analogy minus the argument.
And, historically, the church of Rome supported the death penalty. As far as I know, it was only around the last quarter of the 20C that the church of Rome did an about-face on the death penalty.
All of these issues, at their heart, are about the sanctity of all human life, no matter who that person is, no matter at what stage of life that person is passing through, and no matter whether or not we think that the person is "deserving" of life.
i) That’s another argument from analogy minus the argument. To say killing an assailant in self-defense, or to protect innocents, is comparable to abortion or euthanasia, is morally obtuse. This erases the fundamental distinction between guilt and innocence.
ii) And even Catholicism permits the taking of innocent life in double effect cases. How much more a homicidal assailant?
The Bible doesn’t treat every life as sacrosanct. Every human being does not deserve to live. You can forfeit your prima facie right to life by wrongfully endangering (or taking) the lives of others.
iii) BTW, this blind moral equivalence is probably one source of the priestly abuse scandal. Treating the sexual predator and his victim as equally deserving of our mercy and sympathy.
These shootings would not have happened if the shooter did not have such easy access to firearms and ammunition.
Is that true? The perpetrator is said to be an exceptionally intelligent, scientifically trained postgraduate student. Surely he’s quite resourceful.
So religious people need to be invited to meditate on the connection between the more traditional "life issues" and the overdue need for stricter gun control. The oft-cited argument, "Guns don't kill people, people do," seems unconvincing. Of course people kill people; as people also procure abortions, decide on euthanasia and administer the death penalty.
What overlooks the obvious fact that guns save lives as well as take lives.
The Christian outlook on this of course has less to do with self-defense and more to do with the defense of the other person. Jesus asks us to love our enemies, not to murder them; to pray for them, not to take vengeance; and he commends the peacemakers among us, not those advocating for more and more and more weapons.
i) Protecting the innocent isn’t vengeance.
ii) Jesus also said Christians have a duty to provide for their family. For instance, when the Pharisees gave Jews a loophole to avoid supporting their indigent parents, Jesus said that violated their solemn duty to honor their parents.
Well, if failing to provide financial support for your indigent parents breaks the commandment, then a fortiori, failing to protect them against a rapist, mugger, or murderer qualifies. And that surely applies to other dependents.
iii) Lethal force in self-defense, or to protect the innocent, isn’t “murder.” The priest is subverting fundamental principles of justice and morality.
iv) If I protect an old woman from a mugger, the mugger is her enemy, not mine.
Was Jesus naïve? I wonder about that. I often marvel how some Christians can say that in one breath, and proclaim him as the Son of God in the next. Apparently, some believe that the Second Person of the Trinity didn't know what he was talking about.
That’s just a defamatory and demagogical strawman argument.
But Jesus lived in a violent time himself, under the heel of Roman rule in an occupied land, when human life was seen as cheap. Jesus witnessed violence and was himself the victim of violence--the most famous person to suffer the death penalty. It was not only divine inspiration but also human experience that led him to say: Blessed are the peacemakers.
Unilateral disarmament wouldn’t save lives. To the contrary, that’s an act of mass suicide. An open invitation to the criminal element to wreak untold mayhem and bloodshed on the defenseless.
This is one more reason not to be Catholic. The church of Rome can’t provide basic moral guidance on an issue this basic. Indeed, it is giving the wrong advice.