by Rachel Johnson
I am deeply disturbed that President Trump officially moved to withdraw the United States from the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty at the National Rifle Association’s national convention yesterday. This treaty took a significant step toward more peaceable global relations by establishing international standards for regulating weapons sales and trades. Yet, with a flourish of a pen, Trump declared that he was defending what he called “our God-given right for self-protection.”
I don’t know what god Trump to which is referring. As a Christian, I believe in a very different God than whoever Trump thinks he’s defending. I believe in a God who taught us to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), who commands us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), who blesses the peacemakers, the meek and the merciful (Matthew 5:5-9) and who urges us to beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks (Isaiah 2:4).
The Jesus in my Bible refused to employ or endorse violence at every turn. Even at the moment of his arrest – when he knew that he would be led away to die – Jesus tells his disciples, who whip out their swords to defend him, “Put your sword away. Those who live by the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). The Jesus in my Bible cries out, “No more of this!” and goes as far as to heal the man who carries him to his execution (Luke 22:51). I’m pretty confident that the Jesus I believe in would sign on to the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, longing for a future when nation will not rise up against nation and we shall learn war no more (Micah 4:3).
I think that Trump might be thinking of the Constitution when he refers to God. And while the Constitution may be holy to some, the constitution is not God. At least not my God.
Rachel Johnson is a seminarian at United Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia, seeking ordination as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.