By Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite
Originally posted 4/1/12 at the Washington Post
When Jesus is about to be arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, one of his followers pulls out a sword and tries to defend Jesus with the weapon. “Put away your sword,” Jesus commands, “for those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)
Today, more Americans need to be confronted with the faith message that ‘a society that lives by the gun, dies by the gun.’ This needs to be our Holy Week message.
Recently, some religious leaders are spoke out about the danger of the rash of new laws called “Stand Your Ground,” versions of which have passed in 23 states. These religious leaders demonstrated at the offices of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a “secretive group of right-wing lobbyists” that pushes the so-called “Stand Your Ground” gun laws, along with the National Rifle Association. These laws are being held up to much greater scrutiny because of the apparent role of such a law in Florida in Trayvon Martin’s shooting death at the hand of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch “volunteer” who was carrying a legal concealed weapon.
Jesus’ refusal to let a follower use a weapon to defend him from threatened violence needs to be the message for Christians today. It is an immediate and concrete teaching:
Put away your guns.
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Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite is a Professor of Theology, and President from 1998-2008, at Chicago Theological Seminary. She is the author or editor of 12 books, including two different translations of the Bible. Her most recent edited book, Interfaith Just Peacemaking: Jewish, Christian and Islamic Perspectives on the New Paradigm of Peace and War, was just published in January 2012 by Palgrave Macmillan.