Posted Sunday morning, February 18, 2018.
“Delilah Betrays Samson and Turns Him Over to the Philistines.” Caravaggio, attributed. Circa 1600. Via Wikipedia.
In what sounded like a biblically informed version of “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” a well-meaning person on Twitter tweeted:
Cain killed Abel with a rock, not a gun. Evil is a human issue, not a gun control issue.
To which our old comrade in blogging, psychologist Dr X sensibly replied:
There was no Cain or Abel, and an evil 64-year-old man could not savagely murder 57 human beings & seriously wound and maim hundreds more in 10 minutes by throwing rocks from a Vegas hotel window. And thoughts and prayers will not end this madness.
And of course I couldn’t resist putting my two-cents worth and showing off why I won a prize for Scripture Knowledge in grade school:
Ah, but Samson wiped out an entire army with the jawbone of an ass! Wait...are you saying Samson didn't exist either?
Now, I meant to be kidding around with Dr X. But it was at the expense of the original tweeter, whom I didn’t expect would see my tweet although I didn’t care if they did. Apparently they didn’t---as yet. But the thing was, I broke one of my own Twitter rules. I didn’t check the profile of the person tweet-targeted.
The “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” line is one gun nuts think is clever and persuasive. They don’t follow their own logic, though. If they did it would lead to one of two conclusions: either we should ban humans or we should do nothing to stop mass murders because we can’t stop all of them. Doing nothing because we can’t completely solve a problem is a favorite of conservatives when it comes to any problem when doing something means changing the status quo in a way that inconveniences them. Poverty, health care, education, climate change, mass murder---nothing to be done because, you know, the poor we will always have with us, etcetera. Why should I pay for health care coverage I will never need, etcetera. Parents should decide how to educate their own kids, etcetera. The climate changed before there were human beings, etcetera. It’s all part of God’s plan, etcetera. Seventeen people have to die to protect my right to the fantasy that when the day comes I will be the hero who fights off the invading hordes and the jack booted agents of the Deep State, just me and my little assault weapon against a thousand, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!
But this is not what the original tweeter meant. They were just doing more sincerely and with a lot less irony---that is with no irony---what I did. They were showing off their own scripture knowledge to make the point that the potential for evil has always been a part of human nature and it will persist as a problem even if there are no guns---but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t deal with guns as problem. They’re actually in favor of stricter gun control and for banning assault weapons. The tweeter is aghast and furious that anyone would think they meant otherwise. The tweeter is young and apparently not aware they were echoing the guns don’t kill people, people kill people so there’s no point in any passing any gun control laws position of the NRA. The tweeter is in college and despite including Proverbs 19:21 in their profile---
Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.
---which might sound like an argument that we might as well do nothing because God’s taking care of it all for us, they’re getting a degree that will qualify them for a career wholly devoted to doing something to ameliorate human suffering and make the world a better place at a great inconvenience to the tweeter’s self, health, and physical well-being for relatively little money.
Proverbs 19:21 can be read as if it says it’s all part of God’s plan, if you don’t read your bible much and don’t know that the vanity of human wishes is a constantly recurring theme of the Old Testament. Yes, humans have always persisted in doing evil, but much of the evil they do they do in pursuit of their own vain desires and selfish plans. Cain kills Abel out of vanity. He thinks he should be God’s favorite. Samson’s story is a story of vanity punished: He loses his strength not because he’s vain about his hair, but because he’s been vain about his superpowers---Samson is a proto-superhero, like Hercules. In fact, Hercules’ story has many similarities to Samson’s, including Hercules’ downfall being a punishment for his vanity.---he’s used his strength to make a hero of himself for his own self-aggrandizement and then he’s used his position as hero to take whatever he wants and do whatever he wants, which is what brings him to Delilah. Moses, Saul, David, and Solomon pay a price for their vanity too---a lesson Right Wing Evangelicals ignore when they cheer on Donald Trump as another flawed vessel God is using for his own purposes. Vanity, vanity, all is vanity, and seeking after wind, says the Preacher.
The point is not to leave it all up to God. The point is to try to figure out what God wants us to do, as opposed what we want to do out of vanity, and then do that, even though it will inconvenience us and comes at the expense of our vanity.