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?

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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.

Top Comments

Ed

9

Ed commented…

The 4 points are right on and biblically based. Unfortunately, it is so easy to forget them as we try to find our true purpose in life (i.e., the "bottom line" as mentioned in the sub-title).

Please go to HTDYSL.com to download a free excerpt (and more) regarding the "bottom line".

Johnny

15

Johnny commented…

This whole debate really boggles my mind. More guns = greater chance of people dying. From my perspective, the idea of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" should not be impeded by some guy who had easy access to a gun and killed me randomly (as done in Connecticut). We should uphold the GREATER rights of life OVER the rights of being able to bare arms.

Honestly, especially as Christians, this whole debate is nonsense. We should always LOVE FIRST. Why not make a statement by trusting God to take care of you? Why do you need to also have a gun? Is our faith that lacking?

Stricter limits on guns will logically create a safer environment. Chicago is obviously a poor example of this considering the high crime rates and gang related violence. This therefore would NOT translate to Connecticut.

Sorry if this is all over the place, but I just can't stand how foolish we sound in this 'debate'.

196 Comments

Maria Wehmeyer

12

Maria Wehmeyer commented…

I believe the real reason why gun-control is arising now is because of our new and rising tyranical government. If our administration is so concerned with saving lives, they would not give millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood which is in the business of murdering children. Anyone who's educated in history would understand that governments first disarms it's citizens before completely taking over. It happened in Germany, North Korea, Russia, ect. The reason why we have the second amendment is because our founding fathers were aware of this history. Now, yes, I'm a Christian and hurt with the fact that innocent people are been shot. It pains me to see parents bury their children. But it also pains me that since Roe vs. Wade, 52 millions children have been murdered. One cannot choice to be a Christian on one crime and ignore the other only because we have the "right" to have an abortion. I am also questioning how God wants to me to respond to a tyranical government. I believe God blessed this country when He helped our founding fathers establish this country and give them the ability to include Him in our constitution. Gun-control doesn't prevent murders of Chicago children. Gun-control only helps a tyranical government. And with so much ungodlyness that American's have been taught to "tolerate", God is removing his blessing and if we fall to a tyranical government, that is because we've removed God from every aspect of our lives. I'm not blind to who our enemies are and I won't disguise their intention either. I stand for truth. Truth right now is been censored by this administration as well. Look what they did to Giglio. Hang on Christians, hang strong to the Cross, hang on to truth and pray because we definately need it. We need Him!

Thad McRae

13

Thad McRae replied to Shannon Wagers's comment

Yes, civilian guns are stopping invasion. Strong point.

Shannon Wagers

34

Shannon Wagers replied to Thad McRae's comment

"You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass." - Isoroku Yamamoto

Thad McRae

13

Thad McRae replied to Shannon Wagers's comment

A quote doesn't make it true. Our nukes, tanks, jet fighters, seal teams, etc stop invasion. Also the world's dependence on our economy.

Bradley Neese

1

Bradley Neese commented…

Chicago has one of the — if not THE — most restrictive gun control in the nation, yet it is now the murder capital of the nation. My honest question: Will more gun control practically prevent gun violence?

With deepest respect, I would suggest that our nation doesn't have a gun problem, but rather a very serious heart problem. Life has become so devalued in our society and our collective moral compass as a nation so corrupted that removing all the guns wouldn't end (or even dramatically reduce) the level of violence nor would it achieve the stated goal of protecting innocent people.

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

This is truly the only solution.

Brent Carlson

1

Brent Carlson commented…

While the writer makes some very good points, I have to disagree. History shows that by giving up of freedoms and rights it inevitably leads to things many people fear will happen. America's freedoms aren't guaranteed if we allow ourselves to give them up in the name of making things "safer". Hitler, Stalin, and other dictators were very successful in using the "safety" argument in limiting freedoms, and we all know what happened. I am all for loving our neighbors and for loving our enemies...even gangs and trying to reach them with the truth of Jesus Christ and to show them a better way. I would not argue differently. The church so often fails in this. The fact is we live in a fallen world with sin and death everywhere. We can not avoid or prevent this. Crime is going to happen because of sin. We do need to put the Kingdom of God first before all things....this again I do not argue against. The reality though is sometimes we must fight fire with fire...a necessary evil. This is unfortunate, but still is truth. You might argue that we are safe because of law enforcement and the military, but it fails to realize that these are still human institutions subject to corruption, evil, sin, and death as any other.

Nate Heldman

2

Nate Heldman replied to Shannon Wagers's comment

where are we told to fight fire with fire? our model is to put the ear back on...to turn a cheek...to go above and beyond...and to give our lives. no part of the redemptive work of our Lord says to fight fire with fire.

Emma Thuresson

1

Emma Thuresson replied to Shannon Wagers's comment

Ohmigosh! Your world view is definitely very different from mine! In Sweden I feel safe because it's hard to get hold of guns!

Brent, you wrote "We do need to put the kingdom of God first before all things […] The reality though is sometimes we must fight fire with fire...a necessary evil"

So the reality Isn't that we should put the Kingdom of God first? Putting the Kingdom of God first happens in some spiritual realm? Watch out, it's dangerous to split things into sacred and secular. That's how you become a Sunday service christian, who limits his relationship with God from affecting other areas of his life other than Sunday morning.

"You might argue that we are safe because of law enforcement and the military, but it fails to realize that these are still human institutions subject to corruption, evil, sin, and death as any other."
-Well... every gun owner is subject to corruption, evil, sin and death.

About giving up freedom and right - maybe not all "freedoms" and "rights" are good? Up until about 50 years ago a husband was free to rape his wife in Sweden, because according to the law rape couldn't take place in a marriage, the natural place for sex".

Many commentators have been pro guns here - but against abortion. Abortion is considered a "right" by a vast number of people. In my opinion, this right would be a good idea to cancel.

Reading about the people of America I sometimes marvel at the opinions and the views of the grassroots.
When it comes to guns it makes me think "was it the US that had an armed guerrilla running wild across the country, or was that some other place?"
Because people surely seem to feel a need to "protect themselves".
Against what? All the others that also have easy access to guns?

Shannon Wagers

34

Shannon Wagers replied to Emma Thuresson's comment

How ironic that those who are calling for gun control are those who want the guns so they can have the control.

Looking back, who has committed murder in the largest degree? Dictators Adolf Hilter, Mao Tze Tung, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, etc.

Time and time again, it has been a corrupt governments that has responsible for the mass murder of their own people under the deceptive guise of “gun control,” all of which the dictators implemented.

Keep in mind these people promised their citizens protection and freedom upon the forfeiture of their means to defend themselves and those freedoms.

How many times, I ask, does history need to repeat itself?

Matt Martin

3

Matt Martin replied to Shannon Wagers's comment

You might want to get your facts straight.

The German legislature in 1919 passed a law that banned all private firearm possession. In 1928, the Rechstag relaxed it a bit, requiring permits for citizens to own guns. In 1938, Hitler signed a law that actually deregulated the acquisition and transfer of rifles, shotguns and ammunition.

http://www.law.uchicago.edu/files/files/67-harcourt.pdf

Barry Davis

3

Barry Davis commented…

I thought it was a nonsense article. He offered no solutions, and was very vague about his own personal stand. It sounded like the implication was that those who stand up for the 2nd Amendment somehow have less of a commitment to the Kingdom. Typical lib-speak.

I do find it ironic that he mentions that Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but some of the highest levels of violent crime. That hardly makes for a good argument that stricter gun laws work.

The truth of the matter is, even if you threw the 2nd Amendment out of the window, there is not one thing Obama or anyone else is proposing that would have stopped one of these mass killings from taking place. In typical liberal fashion, they just pass laws to make themselves feel as if they've "done something," but what they've really done is just made it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves.

Nate Heldman

2

Nate Heldman commented…

I'd considering adding number 5 to that excellent list...the overemphasis in our culture on personal safety and security. The idea of taking another life in defense of my own, especially when I cannot wait to join my Savior, is very difficult for me to comprehend.

Life is wonderful and I love my wife and family and so many others dearly, but I would not damn another soul at the expense of my saved one. I do not consider my life to be any more necessary than theirs, and I see many examples throughout Scripture and history of those who gave up their lives in exchange for others. I believe it to be a core part of truly following Jesus, as He did it readily, although He struggled with it.

I love life, but my safety and security cannot be found at either end of a gun barrel. I have One who holds my life in His hands and do not cling to this life more desperately than I desire to be with Him.

Maria Wehmeyer

12

Maria Wehmeyer replied to Nate Heldman's comment

I respect your opinion on not wanting to rise above the life of a perpetrator. I understand that you'd want to show mercy for someone who is coming at you with a knife or a gun. When it comes to self defense, I agree with you. Would I kill someone to save my life? Maybe, maybe not. Now, lets change that situation a little bit. Would you shoot at someone to defend the life or your child? Or your spouse? Or a parent? Something to ponder about. Now, when it comes to defending a country. Now, that is a whole different thing isn't it? Our soldiers protect our country. So, since gun-control only helps a rising tyranical government, how would you react then? I believe that we as Christians, have to really pray and ask God for wisdom. I say wisdom because our bleeding hearts do not help in this case. Our hearts bleed for the victims but our tyranical government uses it to control us. So wisdom is what's needed right now. Repentance is the other. We need to ask for forgivness for the children we don't stand up to defend like the 52 million babies that have been murdered under abortion since it became legal in 1974. I do apologize for my rant. I don't mean to come across as agreesive or insentitive to what Christians feel but we have to be very grounded on what we're supporting. Bottom line and in my humble opinion, gun-control will not stop gun violence or violence entirely. America and the world for that matter, have a heart problem. Their hearts are cold and hard and we need to pray for that heart to become flesh and seek and love Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior!

Kelly Anderson

28

Kelly Anderson replied to Maria Wehmeyer's comment

I likes your comment. There is one place recorded in Scripture that Jesus came into a a discussion about a weapon (and in this case was self defense). He rebuked the owner/user, he fixed the damage, and questioned why he had it to begin with.

I do not think that necessarily means that Jesus was anti guns, but I do think it means that weapons and personal safety were not significant priorities that Jesus taught, and I believe, if we were to follow, they should not be significant priorities to us. The Christian outrage at gun control is confusing and hard for me to understand. Guns may be able to be useful in certain situations, but having a gun in the home with children has greater statistics of accidents. Of children shot, 73% of those come from guns owned in the home. There are pros and cons to this debate of family safety.

In accordance with foster care and adoption rules (and best practices for having children in the home) in many states, you either cannot have a gun in the home, or it must be locked out of sight of the child (like an attic storage or something, not in view). Thinking of using it in an emergency for home protection would render it useless. The issue is, by a large margin statistically, it is far more likely the gun will be used for harm than good in a home with school age children.

I am not against having personal security. I know that if a homeowner keeps their gun in a dresser, I really do not want my kids playing over there. Any other scenario in lock up and out of sight renders it primarily useless in an emergency, so there does not seem a win in either side in this scenario.

About abortion, it is confusing to me that those who do not believe gun control will inhibit any crime believe that criminalization will stop any abortions. The numbers of abortions before legalization are significant...as well as the deaths of the mothers. It assumes that abortions are "easy answers" and the decisions just merely "birth control". I think a more realistic scenario that has shown right in every case I know of, is that abortion is a decision of pain, desperation, and lack of hope as well as a depression that is not forgotten in this lifetime. I have empathy for the children, but I have empathy for the mothers and their decisions as well. I believe that it is a fallacy in the political community that Roe vs Wade is one case that can be overturned with the right Justice mixture. That is just simply not reality. It is bound and reinforced in multiple dockets using multiple amendments as validation (off the top of my head, 14th and 9th, I am sure there is more) that would take decades of the exact same Justice appointment with the hearing of nonstop cases to even make any small impact to that law. It would also assume that Justices will vote to personal beliefs or party lines. We also know that is not close to a given.

So, as a Christian, I can dislike abortions and the impact to all involved, but it comes down to what can I do considering the fact that it is here now, and overwhelmingly a given that it is here to stay? I do not think the abortion discussion and the gun discussion are related but I keep seeing Christians bring them up (in many places). It is like saying that my 5 fertilized eggs that did not make it in treatments are as big in my priority to God as the ones living in my house (which are adopted). We live in CO. We have had some horrible things happen lately. Mine, and most other kids that come over are scared of many things they never thought of before. Carrying a gun would not make mine, nor those children feel safer, but more afraid. I have no intention of teaching or promoting any more fear.

And I agree with the author of this article, I would give away my house to save one of those precious children.

We, as Christians, have to take a role in changing the hearts of this country. We will not do that through judgement as Jesus rightly emphasizes, but through unconditional love. There are a lot of aspects to that Christians are just not doing or supporting. We need to get educated on what factors curb abortion, what needs our communities have, what trends are disturbing for our communities children, and where are the things that contribute that may just save one life regardless of the sacrifice.

MB

8

MB replied to Maria Wehmeyer's comment

Even if abortion legislation will not stop abortion completely, anti-abortion groups believe it is worthwhile to pursue. Likewise, even if gun legislation will not stop gun violence completely, many believe it is worthwhile to pursue.

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