Thursday, February 08, 2007

Getting Rid of the Middle Man

Joan and Sandmonkey (an Egyptian Muslim) had a bit of a conversation on comparative religion. It gave rise to this comment by a reader:
Most of the severe ills of organized religion would fade away if only we could convince people to seek out God's counsel directly instead of going through some sleazy middle-man who's trying to appropriate God's power for himself...
It seems to me that there a lot of truth to that statement. At the risk of a false dichotomy, there are basically two kinds of people who ask spiritual questions. The first has studied their question and thought about it a lot, but can't come to a conclusion. The second just wants someone to tell them what to think. Unfortunately while the latter is intellectually lazy, it is also quite common.

If you can't tell, I like guns. One of the frequent topics on gun boards is whether to carry firearms in church. The usual answer found on these boards is along the lines of "Sure why not?" Duh, right? You ask a bunch of gun nuts (many of whom are agnostics or atheists) whether it is moral/right/proper to carry somewhere and they say yes. But I don't think "yes" or "no" is a good answer to that question and it is not the answer I give.

I don't think there is anything wrong with carrying firearms for most people. Even in church. Why? Well the Temple has always had guards and guardrooms. Spears and shields were also included in the articles first created for it by Solomon. I don't think that is a coincidence. I am also completely comfortable with the concept that shepherding your congregation require you to kill wolves that would try to injure it. But. There is always a "but" isn't there? Guns can become an idol to gun owners, especially for gun nuts. They can be used to empower self over God. They are effectively an extension of "the arm of flesh." There is a danger there for some people. Be aware of it.

Is it necessarily wrong to carry in church? No. Is it necessarily right for you to carry in church? I can't tell you that because I don't know you well enough. Therefore pray and ask the Lord yourself which of these is the case.

Honestly I don't think we do that enough. We turn to leaders for spiritual short cuts, but we must always realize that even their advice is just advice. It must still be tested. Ultimately, you are responsible for your actions so you must prayerfully consider these things for yourself.

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