Culture

Not an Occasion to Score Political Points

Friends and family members outside police headquarters in Orlando, Fla. (Steve Nesius/Reuters)
Mourn with those who mourn, and weep with those who weep.

It began so quickly. Last night I posted a quick note of horror on Facebook and Twitter about the mass murders in a gay bar in Orlando and offered prayers. It felt inadequate. Naturally.

By the morning we had resumed not just on my Facebook page the usual disputes: Am I responsible for the murders because I don’t believe in gay marriage? Or in gun control? Jihad-denying!

Hate provokes hate and self-defense. It was a press release from an old friend of mine in the gay-marriage wars that called me back to sanity and decency.

John Stemberger is heroically responsible for the defense-of-marriage campaign that produced a 62 percent approval of the Florida marriage amendment less than eight years ago. It seems a lot longer now. Here is what he said in a press release about the killing:

The people shot by the Islamic jihadist were sons and daughters, mothers and fathers. They were citizens and workers. They were precious souls. Most importantly they were people who were made in the image and likeness of God himself. They were image bearers of the Creator and worthy of dignity, value, and respect.

This is an unspeakable tragedy and we should take extended time to mourn, to pray for the families of those murdered and injured, and to consider the depth of evil in the hearts of men that this senseless act represents. Finally, we should also pray for and support law enforcement as they investigate and bring to justice all persons involved.

It was beautiful and true and it made me realize I needed to lay down my self-defensive clubs. Today I am not going to attack any of my fellow Americans except the one who killed in cold blood.

There will be time to resume our fights with each other over gay marriage and gun control and to note the hypocrisy of the Left in downplaying Islamic terrorism. We do all these things every day. Today, the morning after the bloodbath, can we do something else? I’m not going to use mass murder as a pretext to fight today, even in self-defense, for or against the millions of my fellow Americans who did not commit and are not responsible for this horrifying act.

#share#

Russell Moore continued for me the tutorial:

What I wonder is whether the country still has the capacity to grieve, together, in moments of national crisis.

When we’re accustomed to seeing news in real time on our television screens and on our phones, it is sometimes easy to forget that the news we are viewing is real. At least fifty people — created in the image of God — were slaughtered in cold blood. Families who were waiting to see their loved ones are finding out today that they will never see them again in this life. That ought to drive us to mourn. . . . 

It seems now, though, that there’s rarely a time of grieving together. The time of lament morphs almost immediately into arguments over what the President should have said or whether this validates or annihilates someone’s views on guns or immigration or whatever. Some of that, of course, is just the speed of social media. People are able to discuss, rather publicly, issues much quicker than they could before. But there seems to be more than that.

Our national divisions increasingly make it difficult for us not just to work together, but even to pause and weep together. We become more concerned about protecting ourselves from one another’s political pronouncements than we do with mourning with those who mourn. . . . How then do we weep with those who weep?

I have postponed a column on Christian anti-racism, on why I refuse to join Trump’s Team White, which has been called into being in part by the Left’s increasingly anti-white racism. But let me cannibalize from that thought piece one point I want to make: Our divisions grow more radically deep and ugly not because or not just because of the substance of the dispute — racism, gun control, abortion, homophobia, conscience protections, or discrimination — but because the symbolic capital that held us together has been weakened and not replenished.

#related#We need to remind ourselves consciously that there is such a thing as Team America — and Team Human, for that matter — and that we are all on it. Precious souls, lost in a cosmos in which clearly there is something wrong with the world. Catholics call it original sin. You call it what you want, but the reality of evil and of the inadequacy of our response to it are both vividly on display today, after Orlando.

Peace to the victims, and the families.

May we come together to mourn the value of every precious human life lost. May we gnash our teeth at the evil that claims the right to kill. May we learn to love one another, with all our flaws.

God bless America. Please?

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