Excerpt from Esther 7:1-10
"One of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, 'Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman's house, fifty cubits high.' And the king said, 'Hang him on that.' So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai."
Haman, from the book of Esther, kept a gallows at his home; an instrument of death prepared for the one he feared most. Across our country, and especially here in Connecticut, a debate has been raging about another instrument of death kept in countless homes: the gun.
The fearful image of a criminal breaking into your house is an important one for gun advocates. But do guns increase home safety? Researchers from Emory University found that only 3.6% of home shootings were against intruders. A gun can lethalize anger, despair and domestic disputes. Add curious or disturbed children to the mix and the results can be all the more horrifying. 40% of all gun-owners with kids in the home do not lock up their guns.
Naturally, the National Rifle Association fiercely contests any data or suggestion that guns make us less safe, not more. With the help of congress, the NRA successfully instituted several gag orders to block federal research on injury and death from firearms.
The NRA cannot obscure the obvious. Violence is roundly destructive, beginning with those who wield it. Haman grimly proves the point hanging in his home-made gallows. Jesus wasn't commenting on Haman or our obsession with guns when he said, "Those who live by the sword, die by the sword." But he could have been.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was less succinct but just as poignant when said "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals."
Resurrected Christ, you who conquered violence, evil and death using only the weapon of love, grant us the sword that heals.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.