By Bishop Paul
As many know by now, another school shooting took place at Santa Fe High School in Texas last week, during which 10 people were killed. The student who committed this act had a shotgun and a handgun that he had hidden under his trench coat. I issued a statement several months ago on the Florida high school shooting. While I still stand by that statement, I realize it is an imperfect solution to a very complex issue.
In the next few months, I would like to take the time to share some thoughts on the Church’s teaching on the Sanctity of Life. As a reference, please read the Holy Synod’s Encyclical on the Marriage, Family, and Sanctity of Life.
There are a number of themes I would like to address in the coming weeks/months, including
- the question of whether some lives are more sacred than others.
- the Church’s teaching that all life is sacred, from conception to the grave.
- the idea that “it’s my body, so it’s my choice.”
- the question of whether, as Orthodox Christians, we can exercise a voice in the political process without it becoming ideological.
- the question if there are times in which we need to realize that certain issues cannot be resolved by legislation.
I will be calling upon others who are better suited than I to speak on some of these issues to share their thoughts.
A blessed Pentecost Feast to all of you.
It is indeed a complex issue. I speak from the perspective of a parent with teens, raising them in a faith based, two parent home. We try to parent with love and support, but also a balance of healthy limits and moderation. I am grieved when I read others’ perspectives that these tragedies could be avoided with just proper parenting, strong church involvement, and mental health resources. I believe that you can be a model parent, and tap every resource available, and the possibility of such a tragedy still exists. I believe a newer landscape of external factors are contributing to this, and parents and researchers are not yet equipped to understand and navigate it. Mental illness has always existed…so has poor parenting. This alone is not creating the new trend we are seeing. Can we really say it is a lack of Christ centered focus, when these mass shootings do not occur at these rates in non-Christian countries?
In my humble opinion, it is a combination of multiple newer factors coming on the scene in recent years.
I know current video gaming research does not reliably correlate violent gaming with real life violence. But what about those who struggle with underlying emotional issues (depression, bullying, anger, etc)? I believe first-person shooter games are dangerous to the minds of those struggling with emotional issues, and who may be more susceptible to blurred lines of virtual violence and real life consequences. I believe the more graphic games are not necessarily problematic for all teens. But I believe some might be more susceptible, and there is not enough research done yet to fully understand the landscape.
The notoriety of these mass shootings seems to be a factor also. However, other countries have these factors, and don’t have the incidence we have with this phenomenon in America. I believe another factor, is a culture in America where guns are glorified and revered for their power, and mass produced for easy access. We fear someone with a gun. As a Christian, I think it goes against the very nature of the faith, that we look to guns to protect us from our brothers and sisters instead of looking to Christ. A previous commenter, Ron, was correct in his statement “So, the valuable lesson here is to avoid thinking we are self-sufficient and to fully rely on God at every moment.” These are my thoughts, and I hope to offend anyone who may have a differing opinion.
Thanks Stacy for your thoughtful comment. A blessed Pentecost to you. +Paul