Thoughts on How to Respond to the Orlando Shooting
Last Sunday I woke up and did something that I (unfortunately) rarely do. I left my house without looking at social media. I went to the church service and heard our friend Claude Atcho preach a great sermon on being a doer of the Word and not just a hearer. Then I went home and opened Facebook to learn about the terrible news of the largest mass shooting in American history. I then observed the subsequent social media barrage of posts on the usefulness of prayer, opinions on gun rights and control, and the upcoming presidential election.
In that moment, I wanted to post some half-angry, fully-snarky response to these Facebook wars, putting people in their place and proving how much smarter I am than everyone. Then the words from James 1 (that I heard preached that morning) plagued my conscience, "be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger."
With all the social media noise going on, it can be hard to discern how one should respond. We realize that reactions from Christians have been mixed. Unfortunately, some Christians have spoken disparagingly of the victims, while others have just remained silent. We don't want to fall into either of those mistakes.
I think that Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, speaks quite well to how the church should respond to this massacre in his Time Magazine article. Let's read his words and respond in this way as church. Let's love our LGBTQ neighbors, pray for our leaders, and do as much as we can to help prevent something like this from ever happening again.
Let’s realize that, in this case, our gay and lesbian neighbors are likely quite scared. Who wouldn’t be? Demonstrate the sacrificial love of Jesus to them. We don’t have to agree on the meaning of marriage and sexuality to love one another and to see the murderous sin of terrorism... Let’s mobilize our congregations and others to give blood for the victims. Let’s call for governing authorities to do their primary duty of keeping its people safe from evildoers.
And let’s bear patiently with those who jump the gun, in arguing about the politics on social media. For many of them, the jump to talk about gun control or Islam or military preparedness or any other issue isn’t so much about pontificating as it is about frustration. They, like all of us, want this horror to end, and they want to do something—even if that’s just expressing themselves on Twitter.
As the Body of Christ, though, we can love and serve and weep and mourn. And we can remind ourselves and our neighbors that this is not the way it is supposed to be. We mourn, but we mourn in the hope of a kingdom where blood is not shed and where bullets never fly.