Last week during a chapel service, the president of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr., encouraged Liberty students to arm themselves.
Here’s what he said: “If some of those people in that community center had what I have in my back pocket right now… Is it illegal to pull it out? I don’t know. I’ve always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walk in and kill.”
I guess everyone has a right to his or her own opinion, but I’m struggling with Falwell’s statement because I think he advocating for something that is the opposite of what I think Jesus would recommend if he were here.
I can’t imagine Jesus getting up in front of a group of young people and telling them to arm themselves in order to kill anyone. If you read about the life and teachings of Jesus related to violence, you find the opposite.
Here is what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount about violence and taking revenge: You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also (Mt. 5:38-39).
Here is what Jesus taught about our attitudes toward those we consider our enemies: You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Mt. 5:43-44).
Did Jesus practice what he preached? Here’s what happened near the end of Jesus’ life when he was arrested: When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him (Lk 22:49-51).
Jerry Falwell Jr. wasn’t encouraging the students at Liberty University to follow the life and teachings of Jesus. He was using his religious platform to make a political point that recommended the opposite.
Discussion: What do you think of the connection between religion and politics? How do you read the teachings of Jesus about violence?