By Jackie Morfesis
We are led by an earthly shepherd, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros whose understanding of the spiritual needs of his flock misses the mark again and again. As per the posting by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of his remark in response to the tragedy at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas:
“The massacre of so many innocent today in Uvalde, TX, must challenge our Nation to finally address gun violence. This bloody sacrifice of children enabled by the death-culture of guns cannot be justified by appeals to “rights.” What of the right to their lives?”
Of course, these children and every life taken by the hand of wrongdoers deserves to be protected. Yet, the deeper root of “gun violence” from a spiritual and Christian perspective, an Orthodox Christian perspective is not “the death culture of guns” but human evil. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10).”
Not only are we dealing with a “culture” of human evil, but we are also battling spiritual wickedness in the high and heavenly places. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).”
Yet, to speak God’s Holy Word, to anchor our faith in scriptural truth instead of political correctness would not be in alignment with the culture that Archbishop Elpidophoros glorifies. Let me be perfectly clear, I see no earthly reason why anyone should have access to automatic weapons. I see no reason why we should not have thorough background checks. I see no reason why there should not be an age limit on the purchase of weapons.
Yet, this is not what we are addressing. We are addressing framing the problem of human evil, hatred, and wickedness as solely a gun issue. The hand that pulls the trigger is no longer the primary offender. This is no longer an issue of human violence against innocents, it is an issue of gun violence, again and again.
Language matters. Words matter. The voices of our religious and clerical leaders matter. Yet, what really matters in a culture that celebrates the worldly and not the eternal, are sound bites, Twitter feeds, and political pandering.
Our nation deserves better. Our Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church deserves better. Our faithful who seek guidance and spiritual nourishment in a cultural desert deserve better.
No, Archbishop Elpidophoros, we do not live in a “death culture of guns.” We live in a broken, fallen world that deserves the chance to be made whole. The wholeness found on the life-giving cross that we recently celebrated in the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Yes, we all have the “right to our lives.” We are a “child of God.” As such, we deserve to live in a world that supports our lives not just when it is politically correct to do so. But at all times. We deserve to be protected from violence, destruction, assault, arson, and rioting. We deserve to be given the opportunity to go to school without the threat of being harmed and not returning home to our loved ones. Our loved ones deserve the assurance that their children will be safe in their schools, neighborhoods, public spaces, and houses of worship.
Our spiritual leaders must remember that we serve a Savior who defeated “death with death.” So, the next time we think it is appropriate as Orthodox Christians to tweet that what we are really fighting is a “death culture of guns”, let us have the courage and bold faith to dive deeper into the truth of who we are and who we are meant to be in God’s kingdom. We are fighting something much larger, profound, and impactful than a culture of guns. We are fighting a culture that does not value human life.
Let us be truly radical and stand for justice for all. For every innocent harmed. In every moment and in every circumstance. Only then will we be fulfilling the call to be a disciple of Christ, an Ambassador in His Kingdom, and most intensely and intimately, His child.