Friday, January 18, 2013

Christians and Guns

Here are a few things Christians should consider before taking a stance on the gun control issue, in my opinion:

Does God care if you have a gun if you are responsible?
Probably not. Use it responsibly. Keep it locked up. Go hunting and be respectful in your hunts toward creation. Shoot clay pigeons all day (though Jesus might have something to say about how we spend our money here). You should be fine.

Does God really care about your rights, constitutional or otherwise?
It just seems to me that Jesus has a much bigger agenda, which expects something of his followers. Our job is to extend the Kingdom of God by being, first and foremost, good citizens of *that* Kingdom. "Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice’"  (John 18).

If our culture is stumbling over violence and guns, should we at least consider some control to help our fellow people?
St. Paul makes a good case for this. In Romans 14 he says, "Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual edification. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve."

"Everything is indeed clean" means that things are not good or bad in and of themselves. Food, guns, wine, cars, etc. are not bad or good - it is all a matter of how one uses or abuses them. HOWEVER, people stumble. Our nation has a problem with violence and murder - plain and simple. We should put away the things that are causing people to stumble.  For instance, my faith tradition was very in favor of prohibition, not because the Bible spoke against alcohol, but because so many people were abusing it. The nation needed a break, and the mature refused to partake in something that caused people to stumble. Don't condemn yourself by approving something, which might be morally neutral, but causes people to stumble.

Do you need a semi-automatic, automatic, and/or an assault rifle?
Let's be honest - you don't. Now, the best argument being made for assault rifles, etc., is that the intent of the Second Amendment is to keep a citizenry armed in the case that the government grows tyrannical and needs to be overthrown. There are two problems with this, one practical and one theological: (1) the government's weapons are too advanced to be met fire for fire and (2) you can't kill human beings.

Please hear this. You are a Christian. You don't get to kill people, even if they are apart of a tyrannical government. Christ was clear: we love our enemies. Christ tells us to pray for those who persecute us. Paul tells us to overcome evil with good. Peter cuts off the ear of the man arresting Jesus, and Jesus chastises Peter and then heals the ear. You don't get to shoot anyone. We have no stories of the apostles raising up violence or arms against any of the tyrannical governments in their day, and their governments were some of the worst in history.

People will want to argue about military, police officers, and defending oneself against attacks whenever someone says that Jesus removes violence as an option for Christians. Ultimately someone will bring up Hitler and the conversation will end. For now, just know, as a Christian, you can't kill another human being. Not over the constitution, not over laws, not over political tyrannies. Nothing. There is not one expressed reason in the New Testament for killing another person.


Furthermore, there are a few scripture passages that speak about Christians and their expected attitudes towards governments - tyrannical or otherwise. The ever popular Romans 13, "Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due to them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due." Now of course this scripture can be abused, but just because a scripture can be abused doesn't mean we don't have to observe its basic meaning - which is be obedient so the government will leave you alone to follow Christ.

Likewise, we see a similar passage in the Epistles from Peter, "For the Lord’s sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish. As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor" (1 Peter 2). You are free by Christ and in Christ alone, no matter the tyranny or democracy above you. Do not use your freedom to be rebellious, to fight, to start revolutions. The greatest revolution is the coming of Christ with his Kingdom in line. You, as a Christian, don't get to rebel. You are rebellious enough by claiming another King than what the world offers you. At the very least, play the game to keep peace for the saints.

If Christian history teaches us anything it is that Christians choose martyrdom over violence every time. We fed ourselves to lions for 300 years and the Church grew like wildfire. Be a pacifist or hold to Just War theory, but don't be a rebel - for if you follow Christ, you don't get to kill. 

1 comment:

  1. 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.

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