Thursday, 20 September 2012

Police, Guns and the Death Penalty

The tragic and horrendous killing of two unarmed police officers on Tuesday has re-ignited the discussion on whether police officers should be armed and if the death penalty should be brought back.

Prayers and messages of sympathy are being sent to the families of Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone after their murder.  I have no idea how their families must feel, but the pain and shock would be crippling I am sure.

In light of what happened there is understandable anger and high emotions about whether or not police officers should be armed.  Along with that discussion is the call for some murderers to be given the death penalty.

Now, as I have said before, I have no idea how I would respond if my wife or daughters were murdered. But I do know how Jesus calls me to live my life and how his call on my and our lives must impact every decision and every political and ethical act that the church makes.

Too often the teachings of Jesus are divorced from the person of Jesus.  The teachings of Jesus simply become a tick box of beliefs and ethical acts rather than being rooted in the very person of Jesus.

Jesus enacted and lived out what he taught.

So when it comes to non-violence it is not simply about Jesus teaching that we should turn the other cheek and pray for those who persecute you, he actually models and lives what that teaching looks like.

It is therefore not a naive ideology, but a concrete reality.

Jesus lived it and calls the church to live it.  He shows us how to live it and says 'follow me.'

It is as a follower of Jesus that I would always oppose the death penalty and for all officers to carry guns.

It is as a follower of Jesus that I believe violence is wrong.

It is not a naive ideology that doesn't work in the 'real 'world', but a call to live another way, to not let the world determine my life and ethics and to not let violence be the way of life that I live, but to live as a follower of the Prince of Peace.

Death is not the final word.  Jesus is the Word of God who speaks life beyond death.  He is able to do that because violence and death unleashed their worst onto him and he took it, absorbed it and defeated it through his own death and resurrection.

My prayers are with these bereaved families.

Peace will not come through violence but through prayer and the active pursuit of peace through peace.

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