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

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".

Alicia

1

Alicia commented…

loving others does not mean not defending ones self. By this logic we should not, as a nation, maintain a standing army as this would not be loving others. But nowhere is Israel commanded to lay down arms, nor does Christ state that we are to never be capable of self defense. Almost noone who is not a criminal is against gun control. we all want guns controlled away from criminals, the mentally ill, terrorists, and children. But increasing paper work does NONE of that. No proposed legislation has had any measures to keep guns out of the hands of those who would use them to kill and terrify. Criminals dont obey laws. They dont sign up for background checks. Background checks that do not disclose anything about mental illness or any crime committed before the age of 18 btw. Christ doesnt want us to be gun toting whackos.. he also disnt stand up and command that swords be turned in, or that soldiers couldnt be believers. I love my neighbors and I own a gun. the two are in no way related. There is a big difference between murder and putting a hole in someone who invades my home intent on raping or killing me or my loved ones.

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'.

Rick Blaine

1

Rick Blaine commented…

You don't want to debate? How quaint of you. You just want to be a tyrant and dictate to others what they can own and do. Your solution is the problem. If you want to stop the gun violence arm the honest people. Your ideas of loving God and seeking the Kingdom are great. But they don't apply. It is not Christian people who are murdering each other. Those dictates don't apply to communities of robbers. It is thinking like yours that makes me despair for future of American. Muddle thinking with no foundation in reality. You talk about loving God, but you worship the State.

Terry Leonard

12

Terry Leonard commented…

Regardless of which side of the “stand your ground” law you are on, or how you feel about the Second Amendment, or your NRA membership status, I would very much like to hear your personal take on the State of Florida’s controversial “Warning Shot” bill. This bill would, “allow people to show guns and fire warning shots if they feel threatened” (Menzel).

I'm currently blogging about "GUNS" at http://isthatinthebible.com

POST TITLE: Take Up Your Sword… I Mean Your Gun

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