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

Jim G. George

2

Jim G. George commented…

http://www.freethought.mbdojo.com/guns.html has a very thoughtful discussion of the issue.

Tammie Diggs

25

Tammie Diggs commented…

We have become so fearful and there is a lot to fear, but I think Christ intended for us to trust in Him Christ never intended for us to react like our enemies. As a result of His love, He gave His life for mine. His love gave His life for Hitler, and His love gave His life for Adam Lanza.

Matthew Harmon

1

Matthew Harmon commented…

The utopian ideal from the last paragraph of point #3 will not come about by our own doing. No amount of Christians living out the Kingdom will redeem the world and make for less violence and less laws needed. The whole point of the gospel is that we need a savior because we can't do it on our own. So sure, shoot for that utopia but you will always fall short no matter what political side you reside. It's this imperfection in us and ourselves that drive us to scream "Lord come soon!" And no matter what side of the issue you are on, ask yourself, If I see someone in danger, am I going to pray and lock up my gun, or am I going to do something to save that person? Are we not also to be protectors of the beaten as well as our families?

Jim Cooper

1

Jim Cooper commented…

With the assault by both the media and government (on all levels) over the past few years, do you honestly believe you'll have the ability to demonstrate your love for your neighbors in five, ten, twenty years? The second amendment was designed to instill and maintain in the government a fear of, and therefore accountability to, the American people. We've slowly allowed that power, which belonged solely to us, the people, to be worn away, and now, we stand at the breaking point. Without government accountability, our ability to express our faith will erode, and much faster than most people think.

I'm not pulling ideas out of thin air. You simply need to look to history. 1930's Germany. Soviet Russia. You will never have freedom to express faith in a society controlled by government. Freedom of religion comes exclusively from a system where the people rule. The people cannot rule when government can so easily trample them.

Gerin

40

Gerin replied to Jim Cooper's comment

Unfortunately, this argument is totally obsolete. Unless we are willing to allow citizens to own fighter jets, drones, chemical weapons, nukes, and spy satellites, there is no way we are going to be able to oppose the government militarily.

I'm sorry, but the size of your clip is immaterial to the US military if they decide to abuse their power.

Clay Fielding

6

Clay Fielding replied to Gerin's comment

I totally agree with this in many ways! We have the finest government and military in the whole world and yet people act like that's not really true.

Amy Reyes

11

Amy Reyes commented…

"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."

I think that right there goes to show just how these proposed measures DON'T work to stem gun violence. What they do is put more barriers in the way of law abiding citizens while having little to no effect on actual criminals. (Not to mention the dramatic show case in Boston, that even without guns, maniacs can and will hurt others).

In the end it's important to remember that government CANNOT (and IMO, ought not even try to) legislate the condition of our hearts. No law can force us to love our neighbors as ourselves. No law can force us to be respectful of others or to value their lives as fellow human beings and creations of God.

Since government cannot do that, then what government ought to do is to promote freedom and stand by the essential liberties we are guaranteed in the Constitution. Government is not the church, it is not Jesus - it's not it's job to change the hearts of men. And when it tries to it inevitably limits our liberty. (Legalism, anyone?)

I want to live free. In my country and in Christ.

Gerin

40

Gerin replied to Amy Reyes's comment

I disagree. Gun violence is higher in the US than in any other comparably developed nation. (15 times higher than the Netherlands, 20 times higher than New Zealand, which are the too closest counties on the Human Development index.

The only other country that even comes close is Switzerland (we are 2.5 times higher than them) and they also have no gun control.

The reason why gun control isn't effective in Wisconsin is that the whole country has to get behind it, or people will just buy guns in another state.

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