What to Do about Bad Guys

There’s been a lot of talk about gun control here in the States since the Sandy Hook massacre.  I know people on both sides of the debate and have seen some interesting points on both sides, but I have found one line of logic to be particularly troubling.  It’s best encapsulated in this little meme here:

Yes, I get it, thank you.  And I disagree.  But no, I’m not stupid.

The argument underlying this one is that the best solution to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.  The problem at Sandy Hook, see, was that nobody there was armed except the bad guy: Adam Lamza.  If the principal or a teacher had had a gun, too, then the bad guy would have been stopped sooner.  So we should give the good guys the guns so that evil is vanquished.  Peace, through superior firepower.

Incidentally, you can see this kind of logic in all kinds of other places, too.  For example, with American foreign policy in Syria.  What do we do when the bad guy (the Syrian dictator) is killing innocent civilians?  The answer: give the good guys guns so that they can vanquish the bad guy.

Do you get it?  Or are you stupid or something?  Any idiot can understand this logic.

(Then again, maybe that’s the problem.)

The nice thing about this line of reasoning is that it makes the world so simple.  See, since the dawn of time, mankind has been caught in an epic battle between good and evil.  Every man and woman must take a side.  Will they be good guys or bad guys?  Bad guys will always try to perpetrate evil on innocent people.  So the good guys must always work to imprison or kill the bad guys.  That’s the way it has been since the beginning.

See, here’s what you do to achieve peace.  It’s real simple:

  1. Figure out who the bad guys are.
  2. Find them, and either
  3. Kill them (always preferable) or (if you must) put them in jail.

Seriously, how many movies have you seen where this is the exact plot?

The question that this is answering is one that’s provoked every time we see the innocent dead: How do we respond to evil?

What’s frustrating about Sandy Hook for people using the Kill the Bad Guy approach is that the answer doesn’t make itself apparent.  The Bad Guy already killed himself, so we can’t kill him.  But, by God, we will make sure that we can kill the next one—and we will put a gun in the hands of every teacher in order to do so.

Can I suggest one tiny thing?  Kill the Bad Guy is certainly one response to evil.  But it is not a Christian response: that is, it is not one that makes sense inside a Christian worldview.

Certainly, we can agree that this is not the way Jesus responded to evil?  A brief quote from the man himself:

‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also [ . . . ]

‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

If the world’s response to evil is “Kill the Bad Guy”, Jesus’ response seems to be, “Love the Bad Guy”.

This response, of course, seems like foolishness to the Greeks.  Is evil to just be allowed to run wild?  Surely if the good guys do nothing, then evil prevails.

There’s lots to say, more than a blog can contain.  But let me suggest that within a pagan worldview (yeah, I said it: pagan), the answer to violence is always more violence.  Escalation is inevitable, because the Enemy must be taught a lesson.  But it seems that Jesus says that the answer to the death-dealing power of violence is the life-giving power of love.

It seems that the primary battle Jesus saw in situations such as this one was not “Good Versus Evil” but “Hatred Versus Love”.  And when we look at things through that same lens, everything changes.  Meeting hatred with hatred seems ludicrous.  Meeting death with death looks insane.  For you can not defeat violence with violence any more than you can drive out darkness with darkness.

Bringing it home, then: what is the Christian response to Sandy Hook?

There’s lots to say, but I’ll start here:

  1. Think of someone in your life who is mentally ill: autistic, schizophrenic, manic depressive, take your pick.
  2. Go find that person.
  3. Love them like you do your best friend.

About mikezosel

I got a BA from the SOT at SPU. Now I sling espresso, serve donuts, and, uh, blog. Word. View all posts by mikezosel

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