I don’t have any special insights into the mass shooting at Club Q (an LGBTQ+ nightclub) in Colorado Spring last Saturday (November 19, 2022), but here are a few things from my theological perspective.
I’ll start with Guns. America’s idol worship of guns is what made it possible for one assailant to kill five people and injure another eighteen. Some ancient gods demanded human sacrifice. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, does not. The way the Second Amendment is currently being misinterpreted by many people in the United States (including a majority on the Supreme Court) makes guns into idols. And they are idols that regularly result in human sacrifice. The death of human beings made in the image of God: our siblings. I’m not opposed to hunting; I’m not opposed to shooting sports; I am opposed to the way we have allowed the weapons of war to make our communities into war zones.
Another obvious factor is the rise of hateful anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric out of the mouths of people who should know better. I had a woman (not a member of College Avenue UMC) come into my office raging about the possibility of the UMC becoming LGBTQ+ affirming in our doctrine and discipline. She then asserted that school teachers are “grooming” children to make them trans. I don’t believe this woman had any actual contact with Manhattan schools, but someone in the news had convinced her that teachers—teachers like my mother and my parishioners—were grooming kids.
That utterance is in the running for the most inane thing I have ever heard. It would be hilarious if it were not for the potentially deadly consequences. There are mentally ill people who hear these things, who don’t realize that the folks on the TV are simply lying for ratings or votes. (I do think that some of the folks who are lying for ratings or votes have lied so long or become so full of hate that they have come to believe their own lies.) Whatever the motive of the liars, some people fall for them. And then the lies become deadly.
The man who went into Club Q must account for his sin. But those who egged him on, those who lied for ratings, and those who lied for votes have also sinned. They all need to accept responsibility, accept the consequences, repent, and “come to Jesus.”* And those of us who have said little or nothing must take courage and speak up.
*Please note I’m not condemning people who hold traditional beliefs about human sexuality in general. I’m talking about those who hold such beliefs and spew hate and lies. Unfortunately, there are LGBTQ+ affirming people who are also full of hate and willing to embellish the truth to achieve their ends—they also need to repent and “come to Jesus.” Regardless of our theological beliefs, we who claim to follow Jesus are called to always speak and act out of love (as best we can) and truth (as best we understand it).