4 Things Christians Need to Remember About Gun Control

It's time for Christians to examine the bottom line on firearms.

Editor's Note: In light of the Senate's decision to strike down a bipartisan proposal to extend background checks on gun purchases—a proposal that had the support of 54 senators, 80% of the American public and President Obama—we've decided to rerun an article published in January on the complex issue of guns, the regulation of them and how Christians should wrestle with this issue.

January 19 is the controversial “first national gun appreciation day.”

As a lifelong gun owner from northern Wisconsin, I appreciate my guns. They hold a lot of personal value to me as a part of our family traditions of hunting and marksmanship. I’m proud of the legacy of responsible gun ownership that has been passed down to me.

For the past five years, I have also lived in downtown Chicago, working alongside others who are combating the epidemic of gun violence in this city—men and women with stray bullet holes in their homes and car doors who regularly lose children in their ministry care to violence. I have stood in candlelight vigils with mothers who have lost children and have listened to their pain.

I know something has to be done.

Despite gun-related violence and deaths being down overall, in a city with some of the toughest gun laws in the country, gun violence is up 25 percent, with over 450 school-aged children having been shot (63 fatally) last year.

This is not some rare catastrophe. Senseless gun related violence is a present reality here in my city and others.

This past Wednesday, President Obama unveiled a comprehensive gun-safety plan aimed at reducing gun violence. The rhetoric is heated, and sides are being chosen.

I do not want to debate. I want to stop the murder of innocents from ever happening. Regardless of your view on guns, I know you do too. Where do we begin?

1. Love God.

Clearly, God in His holiness abhors killing. This means engaging the issue with an extreme bias toward the preservation of all life and the reduction of violence by any means.

Are we being “careful that the exercise of [our] rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak"?

Do we love God more than our legal rights? More than our possessions? More than our patriotism? More than our own safety? Are we being “careful that the exercise of [our] rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak (1 Cor 8:9)"?

Now, I have made no mention of the implications of those questions to the issue of guns, but if you feel a twinge of defensiveness or pride already, I would challenge you to pray about that.

2. Seek first the Kingdom.

Christians are to be about the work of announcing, building and representing an entirely new kind of reality here and now, on earth as it is in heaven. Our view is to be extraordinarily invested in the immediate concerns of this present reality.

Matthew 6:33-34: "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Concern about the future of America must not prevent us from addressing the brokenness of today.

This means engaging the issue of gun control must be directed toward stopping violence today—not primarily toward defending against a potential future where certain freedoms might be more restricted. Concern about the future of America must not prevent us from addressing the brokenness of today.

3. Love others.

The Church should be so invested in the lives of others, especially the “least of these” in society, that when someone exhibits unstable behavior or are threatened by violence, they are surrounded with biblical love and ensured the help they need.

Do we love our “rights” more than we love our neighbor? Are we willing to become neighbors to those surrounded by violence?

Do not doubt for a second that if more of us left our bubbles, abandoned culture wars, locked up our guns safe behind our legal right to own them and brought the physical presence of Christ into the communities stricken by violence, we would see dramatically less devastation—by gun or otherwise. Not a single new law would need to be passed, and the 2nd Amendment would be safer than ever.

4. Love your enemy.

Loving others also means seeing your neighbor the way Jesus instructs—including those you might vehemently disagree with or even despise.

It means patience with that friend in your social media feed who has strong opinions but seemingly little understanding, or hearing out organizational leaders calling for dramatic solutions that ignite your ire, or praying for the perpetrators of mass shootings. This even includes the “enemy” of gangs doing much of the killing and literally persecuting communities.

So, where does all this leave us?

I can get behind controlling a certain level of lethal technology, extensive background checks and waiting periods—including private sales. I am for all federal efforts to remove as many illegal weapons from circulation as possible. I will not oppose laws to restrict with fierce prejudice the sale of firearms or ammunition to criminals or the mentally ill. I’ll advocate to reduce the glorification of gun violence in video games and movies if criminals or the mentally ill are using those images to validate violence. I welcome the day when media outlets stop turning killers into “celebrities” for the deranged through sensational coverage.

Honestly, whether these laws change or not does not trouble me. Would I be willing to give up my guns in northern Wisconsin if it would save a life in downtown Chicago? Yes. If it came to it. A thousand times over.

It would be a shame to give up rights for measures that don’t ultimately make a difference. What would be an even greater shame is if we allowed legal ends to satisfy our regained consciousness that something must be done. We mustn't allow legal debates to defer our personal responsibility to combat the issue of violence.

I’m not kept up at night by whether or not I’ll be able to own any rifle I want. “Love God, seek first the Kingdom, love your neighbor ...”

That keeps me up at night.

196 Comments

Steve Davis

3

Steve Davis commented…

It's shocking to see the sickness of guncrime in the US, obviously with this sickness, trying to control guns is akin to closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, something much more basic needs to take place in the US society.

John Dougherty

1

John Dougherty commented…

I think this article has a lot of problems, and I won't get anywhere near to addressing all of them, but some of this cannot go uncommented.

Let's start with the "LOVE GOD" section. If God simply "abhors killing" then He would not have instituted the death penalty for murder in the Torah and then reaffirmed the right of governments to apply it in the Apostle Paul's letters. Rather, what God clearly abhors is murder. The accurate translations of the 10 Commandments include "thou shalt not murder", not "thou shalt not kill". Our God also commanded quite a lot of killing in the Torah and historical books for a God Who "abhors killing". So I suspect that you started reasoning from a profound misconception about the God that you discuss.

Next, under "Love Others", there's a question demanding to be asked: Why can't I love my neighbor enough to want to prevent him from being murdered? What justification is there for disarming myself, so that I am unable to stop that injustice? No, just as God does not simply "abhor murder", He also does not want His people powerless to oppose oppression. There is a time when surrounding the broken person with Christ's love is the appropriate response, and there is a time when the only moral response is to choose to love your neighbor enough to protect him from the brokenness of others.

Now, your conclusion assumes much that is not evident. Would giving up your guns in Wisconsin save a life in Chicago? No, I suggest it would not. Chicago, having some of the strongest gun restriction laws in the nation, also has one of the highest rates of gun violence. That relationship is observable in every city in America that has strong anti-gun laws. Disarming you because criminals in Chicago possess guns is pointless, because it never works.

Most Americans have been taught to put the locus of evil in the weapon instead of in the person using it, so this response of calling for more gun control laws has become commonplace. But on any rational grounds, it's a non-starter. Further, you have to understand the underlying purpose behind that teaching: once people believe that evil does not lie in the heart of the murderer but in the weapon that enabled his crime, then it is no longer a large step for them to deny that he, or they themselves, need that evil rooted out by the transforming power of Jesus. What I'm saying is that the common response to gun control is closely linked to a social conditioning that prepares people to evade the most important relationship they could have: at it's root is a doctrine designed to keep them separated from God. Allowing Christ to clear away those veils puts everything, gun control included, in a very different light.

In the darkness to come, God's people must pray, and they must love with Christ's love, a love which is also wise, and the wise ones will arm themselves.

Jim G. George

2

Jim G. George replied to John Dougherty's comment

http://www.freethought.mbdojo.com/guns.html has a thoughtful discussion of the topic. Personally, I have difficulty imagining Jesus returning fire - no matter what the circumstances.

David Strassner

1

David Strassner commented…

A few random thoughts:
1. As Christians, we are to respect our authorities. This is first, the Constitution of the United States; then that of our States; then our local county, municipality, community, etc. All of the above are under the Authority of the Constitution if you are a Citizen of the USA. That stated, the issue of gun control is that of Constitutional authority/recognition. 2nd ammendment has been clear from inception; but is muddied by our distance and increased firepower. Until we have legislative action that is upheld by the Supreme Court, we have the right to bear arms.
2. Also, a prior comment or two pointed out that an increase in laws controlling guns has no effect on diminishing firearm related deaths. Where the laws are the strictest, the rate of murder per capita is highest. The folks doing the murdering are not going to be impacted by laws that restrict firearms. The impact will be upon the law abiding citizen that will end up unable to defend himself and his family.
3. The problem of the heart of man is central. Since we have a constitutional system that allowed the proliferation of firearms, they are everywhere and readily available to the evil-doer and the mentally unstable.
Conclusion? In submission to the ruling authority God has placed over me, I will "cling" to my guns in order to defend my home and family from those who would do harm. Full disclosure: I cannot claim a heritage of gun ownership (Suburban/City Northeasterner by heritage) and I am not a hunter. I do have a concealed carry license. I will not use my firearms to protect my property, as it is replaceable; Life is not.

Christopher Battles

1

Christopher Battles commented…

Thank you for this view. It gives me some points to chew on.

Onix Alberto Sosa

1

Onix Alberto Sosa commented…

Well stated brother Brian. The operating principle for Christians is not the 2nd amendment but rather The Kingdom of God. IN my blog I raised the question Where are the disciples of Christ in the gun debate. I'm glad to see that you are present proclaiming your "thus saith the Lord" .

http://www.myprogressivefaith.com/2013/02/where-are-disciples-of-christ-...

Log In

Please log in or register to comment

Advertisement