I, like most every American, was appalled by the attacks upon the members of Congress yesterday in Alexandria, Virginia. I pray for the speedy recovery of those who were injured in the attack and hope this happening might make Americans consider the potential impact of the rapidly-escalating nuclear arms race of destructive public discourse. I’m thankful to see widespread condemnation of the shooter’s actions.
The handful of articles I’ve read have rightly and consistently expressed admiration and thankfulness towards the two police officers who fought back against the shooter, even though they were substantially outclassed in firepower. They put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of others – and according to reports Officer Crystal Griener continued to do so even after being shot herself.
Officer Griener should make us believers stop and consider for a moment. We don’t know Officer Griener’s political viewpoints. From reading various articles, we do know is that she’s a woman married to a woman who ran towards an active shooter to stop him from harming many individuals who do not believe she ought to have the legal or moral right to marry who she did.
There’s something instructive in this for us. It’s easy in the midst of often vitriolic public discourse to make blanket assumptions about the moral character of those we disagree with. It’s easy to creep towards the assumption that because an individual transgresses God’s law in some ways they’re contemptible in all ways.
As believers we have exclusive claim to ultimate truth. Our God is the only God who spoke the universe into into existence by the word of his mouth. Our God is the only one who pursued his rebellious creation to the point of dying in their stead on the cross. Our God is the only authoritative, binding lawgiver who declares how mankind is ought to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. These truths are the exclusive stewardship of the church and no other religion, ideology, or belief system can lay claim to possessing them.
But we must remember that our exclusive possession of the gospel does not mean exclusive possession of civic righteousness. Officer Greiner ran towards rifle fire. We do well to remember things like this when we write about, think about, and speak about those who live lifestyles in opposition to what God commands. The specific ways in which they rebel against their Lord is not the only lens through which to view them. We do well to know people, think of people, and speak of people – not caricatured, reductionistic tropes.