“Someone on the internet sold Matthew an unregistered gun. I pray he seeks God’s forgiveness. I forgive him.”
September 18, 2013
Rick Warren, pastor of one of the largest churches in America and one of the most popular evangelical authors in the US with over 36 million copies sold of his “Purpose Driven Life,” gave his first interview since his son’s suicide to Piers Morgan. Why Warren would choose to make his appearance on a talk show with a relatively low audience became clear as he focused his grief on Piers’ pet issue — gun control. Searching for answers in his son’s suicide, Rick Warren and his wife seem to have focused on the gun and the gun seller as the reason.
Typically, Piers Morgan ignored FBI statistics showing violent crime falling as legal barriers to the public owning guns decrease. Instead, Morgan offered some figures distorted out of context and asked Warren, “Now that you’ve been so personally touched, and you’re in such a position of authority, is it affecting what you’re going to be saying going forward?” Rick Warren replied, “Well yeah, it’s going to affect me in all three of those areas- not just in simply gun control. By the way, when I heard about those deaths at the Naval Yard- the first thing I did was get down on my knees and pray for those families of the victims, those who died and those who were wounded. My heart went out to them.”
The fact that the Naval Yard shooting took place in a military facility within Washington, DC, the city with arguably the most stringent gun laws in the country never occurred to either Piers or the Warrens. In fact, the District of Columbia was taken to the Supreme Court by a cop, Heller, who wanted to keep a handgun at home but was denied that Constitutional right by DC’s draconian laws. He won at the Supreme Court in DC v Heller in 2008, but the District of Columbia has chosen to ignore the Supreme Court for 5 years, just as they ignore the Constitution. Those statistics, and the disarming of even law enforcement officers, are the context for the Naval Yard shooting that Piers and Warren hope you don’t see.
Soon after his son’s suicide, with a gun that his son obtained in violation of California’s gun laws, Warren tweeted: “Someone on the internet sold Matthew an unregistered gun. I pray he seeks God’s forgiveness. I forgive him.”
Selling a gun is not assisted suicide. The seller of the gun doesn’t need forgiveness. He did nothing wrong. Would Warren have to forgive a hardware store owner for selling his son a rope if his son later hung himself with it? Would Warren have to forgive the person that sold his son a car if his son committed suicide with it? Would Warren demand that we all have our cars taken away if his son died in a car? Would he stop at just harassing potential car buyers?
The sale that Warren views as a sin against him, while illegal in California, was not unlawful according to the higher law of the Constitution. The Constitution affirms a God-given right of defense and specifically recognizes firearms. It is legislators that should be begging for forgiveness for unlawful laws like those in California and DC that turn the population into unarmed victims.
As the Warrens related the sequence of events leading up to their son’s death, they revealed that they knew he had purchased a gun for the sole purpose of committing suicide. Piers was somewhat taken back by this and asked why they didn’t call the police. At this point Kay Warren said he would have killed himself if she did and Rick Warren defended their actions by saying , “I don’t think it would have made any difference. If you are determined, you’re going to figure out a way to take your life.”
Exactly. Prohibition doesn’t work. Whether it is the failure of Alcohol Prohibition to keep people from getting booze, the failure of the War on Drugs to keep people from getting drugs, or the failure of DC’s and California’s gun laws to keep people from getting guns — they all fail for the same reason. By placing our trust in government to protect people with prohibitions, we fail to effectively address the underlying spiritual problems. A pastor, of all people, should have the wisdom to see that. But too many spiritual leaders look to government to solve problems that government can’t solve, using tools that increase violence on the streets and corruption in the government. Many Christian leaders still have not learned the lessons of Prohibition and are starting yet another misguided crusade like the War on Drugs.
Warren’s wife, Kay, continued, “Matthew’s body was broken. That gun broke his body, and he was buried in brokenness. But he’s going to be raised in glory.” Blaming inanimate objects for the horrors of this fallen world is at best unhelpful, at worst, a form of animism. Guns are a tool. They can be used to save lives or they can be used for murder. The difference is the man. More specifically, the difference is the soul. A pastor should understand this.
My grandfather’s life was saved by a gun. In the early 20th century, he and his brother-in-law worked a route where they collected rent on a weekly basis. They kept a regular routine at a regular time. A thief ambushed his brother-in-law, striking him in the back of the head with a hatchet and stuffing his dead body in the trunk of his car. The police were unable to find the victim or his car — if they were actually looking. My grandfather found him. After the man was caught, another thief thought he would try the same thing. My grandfather saw him lying on the floor behind the driver’s seat, pulled his pistol and told him he would shoot without warning the next time. There was no next time. No shot was fired. The gun reflects the character of the man.
Today my grandfather would probably be in jail for ignoring some obscure gun regulation. He never respected unlawful meddling by the government.
Rick Warren obviously doesn’t understand how the policies that he and Piers advocate endanger people and take the lives of disarmed victims like those killed in the Naval Yard shooting. Rick Warren doesn’t understand history either, nor the political importance of guns as a deterrent to the crime that took more lives than any other in the 20th century — democide. As long as Rick Warren lacks knowledge and wisdom on these things, he should leave it with this comment from last night: “God isn’t to blame for my son’s death. My son took his life. It was his choice.” — and then remain silent.