Guns (Forbidden Topic 2)

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A few weeks back, I lifted up a topic that I believe we largely don’t talk about in church to keep things “nice” and that is sex.  Today, I’d like to bring up a second topic along that line – guns.  But, as I do, I want to say I am not writing about the second amendment or what government policy should, or should not, be.  I am simply talking about what we largely don’t talk about.

When I was a kid westerns were all over television.  And an added area of excitement in the shows was that if any conflict arose it could quickly elevate to being a deadly conflict because everyone was armed.  You hoped that the hero was a quick draw in such a case.  But as I watched this glimpse of the 19th century, little did I realize that it would be a part of my future as well as my past.  More and more, the society around us seems to want to advocate for an armed citizenry.

Both sides in the secular debate in our society tend to want to paint this as a black and white issue.  Either you are for gun restrictions (which means you are for the government taking away all weapons and tyranny will ensue) or you are for no restrictions on guns whatsoever (and more and more tragedies will ensue which we are enabling).  But I don’t see this as black and white.  I see shades of gray abounding.

The issue I would like to raise to discussion is what should the Christian position be?  What do we think Jesus would tell a Christian living today in this society?  Would he encourage us to get more guns?  Would he encourage us to do something else?  What would it be?

I live in a city where murders abound.  I surely  understand the need for safety.  There are many men and women I am thankful that they know how to use a firearm.  At the same time, I have encountered people who I genuinely hope are not armed.  What can we do as Christians to encourage a safer world?

Should we talk about it some more?  Or should we get a holster and practice how quickly we can draw like in the westerns?

I am for a little more dialogue.  Most of all, I hope the church can find its voice on moral and ethical issues anew.

What do you think?

Until next time,

Tom

6 Responses

  1. As a gun owner and as (most importantly) a Christian; I have thought about this issue a lot.

    On my blog, I’ve written about self defense from a Christian perspective; please drop over and read, comment. I would love to hear your thoughts.

    Since you’ve asked; I’ll leave my comment here also.

    First, Does God’s nature change?
    Is the God of the Old Testament who not only commanded deaths but sent His Spirit/Angel to kill the 1st born of Egypt the same as the God of the New Testament?

    I think so.
    This is the same God that allowed David, armed with more faith then weapon, to kill Goliath. While it was faith that let David overcome, it was the weapon which struck down the person.

    The God of the Old Testament clearly distinguished between various types of deaths and killings. Murder was wrong but killing for certain sins, even crimes (If a Thief breaks in at night, there is no blood guilt).

    I also think the nature of man hasn’t changed in all this centuries; we may want to think so but reality says differently.

    So we turn to the New Testament and see if God through Jesus changed His commands to use. We are still to love God with all our heart, mind and strength, We are still to treat our bodies as temples. Does it make sense that God wants to let His people be ill treated by criminals?

    Isn’t there a difference in standing up for our faith, being persecuted for our Christian values and being the victim of a rapist, a mugger or murderer? I think so.

    Jesus never spoke approvingly of any criminal for his crime; often using crimes and criminals negatively in stories. Surely if He approved of Robbery, He would have made it plain, right?

    So I do believe that a Christian should exercise armed self defense; there isn’t any moral distinction between carrying a sword (assault weapon of the 1st Century) as Peter did and carrying a firearm today.

    Bob S.
    3 Boxes of BS

    • Bob, thanks for your thought out answer. I will check out your blog. I will, in time, enunciate more of my views but I am hopeful first to get more Christians talking about their thoughts on the issue. I truly appreciate you starting the discussion. More to come. In Christ, Tom

  2. Have been checking in hoping to see a little more debate on this. Unfortunately doesn’t look like anyone is taking you up on the offer.

    So…..
    I am not a Biblical scholar by any means; not false humility just an average guy. So when I ask is there a single scripture that praises or supports a criminal act that harms another person or property, I’m being sincere.

    Second, is there a single scripture that supports the idea of complete non-violence in response to criminal activity?

    The usual big 3 (Turn the Other Cheek, If forced to go 1 Mile, and If a person takes your Robe) are all responses to legal actions on the part of the other person, right?

    • While the gun posting is only second to the sex posting, there were precious few comments (yours being the only one). I would argue overall that our world is a different world from Jesus’ world and so we have to extrapolate on his teaching and not simply rigidly apply them (I would also argue that Jesus himself did this in his day with Jewish Law, knowing that living in 1st century Palestine under Roman occupation was not the same as living in the wilderness centuries before following Moses). But, at the same time, I do not think Jesus saw violence as the solution to our ills. As a matter-of-fact, I think his whole revolutionary concept was not to defeat one’s enemies but to turn them into allies, indeed brothers and sisters. I serve in the military. I have always accepted the Augustinian notion on just war (which we can extrapolate to personal security) that if we have to power to stop someone from being harmed and do not use it, that we are complicit in the act. I therefore find it more compelling when folks argue that they need firearms to defend their families than themselves. I do think that, even in an act of defense, that when we cause harm to others we harm ourselves (which is why I, with a passion, minister to veterans, especially combat veterans – they have lost something of themselves in sacrifice to their nation). People mistakenly think that if they shoot someone breaking into their home they are only harming the perpetrator. Instead, both are getting harmed (but again, I accept this sometimes as a necessity in our fallen world). What I find illogical is the argument that we can’t track who has a gun and make sure they are mentally stable and able to use the weapon. We make people go back every three or four years to make sure they are able to drive a car. The government isn’t about to confiscate all the cars are they? Why is making sure someone is still able, agile, and mentally acute enough to have a deadly weapon so onerous? (Note: I am not arguing with you in particular but just arguments I have seen raised in our society).

      Overall, I think Christ would call on us to work for a world where deadly force is not necessary. I think we should really expand our non-lethal weapon capabilities (which enables even the worse to have a chance of being rehabilitated). I do think that Christ does not call on us to be a doormat and that we are called to care for those entrusted to us.

      It’s a delicate balance. I just see our society as having no balance on this topic.

      That’s where I stand. Sorry it didn’t generate more discussion. I perpetually have more readers than commentators.

      In Christ,

      Tom

      • Tom,

        Great discussion and I hope you take my ‘rebuttal’ as friendly. I enjoy hashing out this type of discussion because it helps me see if my perspective is skewed or not.

        You said:
        would argue overall that our world is a different world from Jesus’ world

        I would posit there is nothing new under the sun. Our world isn’t fundamentally different from ancient times. They had chariots and horses, we have cars and trucks. They had swords and slings, we have rifles and shotguns. Equipment changes but as the Bible clearly shows; people and their issues remain the same. To say our world has fundamentally changed would mean that the Bible is no longer relevant — and to do this at the same time you are arguing that Jesus spoke to us on how to handle our issues. Huh? Doesn’t make much sense.

        Jesus didn’t speak of sanitation issues or rules dealing with housing; He spoke of the ills of mankind. He spoke against how mankind had twist God’s word (You have heard…..) and has that really changed?

        I do not think Jesus saw violence as the solution to our ills

        Please don’t take this the wrong way but I find the inference (if it was meant) highly offensive; that gun owners view violence as a solution to our ills. It is true that we do view violence as a solution but only after all others have failed.

        . As a matter-of-fact, I think his whole revolutionary concept was not to defeat one’s enemies but to turn them into allies, indeed brothers and sisters.

        This is where we can have a long lengthy discussion all on its own.
        People who seek to rob, to kill, to rape are not my enemies; they are criminals. They neither persecute me for my faith nor do I seek to harm them. Isn’t there a dividing line on ‘neighbor’ and ‘enemy’ between ‘law abiding’ and ‘criminal’. Jesus never condemned those who exercised violence as required by law or faith, like the Centurion. Surely if He condemned violence of any sort; that would have been mentioned, right?

        But he did repeatedly use examples of violent people; shepherds protecting their flocks. I see no difference in a shepherd protecting his flock and I protecting my car, my valuables in my home. Jesus was crucified between two thieves; one believed and the other scoffed. Yet both suffered the consequences of their illegal actions.

        What I find illogical is the argument that we can’t track who has a gun and make sure they are mentally stable and able to use the weapon.

        Now we veer into dangerous grounds in deed. There are some who argue the very possession of a firearm means I am not mentally stable. So; do we let them make the rules, evaluate who should be able to defend themselves or not?

        Or should we use the system we have in place; one that works — that people can exercise their rights until they harm someone else.

        Nor does that argument address the logistical impossibility of what you suggest. In order to evaluate every gun owner, every let’s say 5 years ( the Length of a Concealed Carry license in Texas) — we would need to:
        1. Identify every gun owner in the country first
        — want to take on that job?
        2. Track the sale of every firearm in the country
        — let’s see approximately 85 million gun owners and 290 million firearms…doable?
        3. Develop a ‘fair’ and reasonable evaluation.
        —Guess as a gun owner I’m supposed to give up my right to privacy, eh.
        4. Evaluate every gun owner.
        — Let’s see 85,000,000 divided by 5 years = 17,000,000 gun owners per year. What would be reasonable – 1 hour prep for the interview, 1 hour for the interview?

        So given a standard work schedule we would need approximately 16,340 trained psychologists. Average pay for a psych – $69,280 which means we would need $1,132,461,538 just for their pay. Add in a few clerks, record keeping, etc and it adds up to real money.

        And let’s not forget that criminals are not required by law to incriminate themselves. So they don’t have to report to evaluation. Hmm. sort of defeats the purpose eh?

        Why is making sure someone is still able, agile, and mentally acute enough to have a deadly weapon so onerous?

        More importantly why limit this to firearms. If safety is the concern; why do we allow mentally ill people to possess gasoline, clorox/ammonia, diesel fuel and ammonia or thousands of other dangerous objects like knives, cars, baseball bats, slings, etc?

        Why do we allow mentally ill people to wander the streets without taking their medication, to bear and raise children. — Because liberty isn’t safe but it is better than the alternative.

        Overall, I think Christ would call on us to work for a world where deadly force is not necessary.

        Again this argument is patently offensive in that it assumes that we aren’t working toward a better world. I’ve often discussed ways we can reduce violence (improve education, employment, strengthen the family, get rid of insane drug laws, etc) that don’t infringe on ‘gun rights’. Gun owners for the most part really don’t want to use deadly force and I think the numbers bear that out.
        Even if every homicide and firearm related violent crime was committed by a different person; the number is incredibly low. Bureau of Justice Statistics shows approximately 400,000 per year. Again 85 Million firearm owners — means 0.47% of gun owners each year. Less than half a percent.

        So — again where should the focus be — on gun owners or criminals in general?

        I think we should really expand our non-lethal weapon capabilities (which enables even the worse to have a chance of being rehabilitated).

        I am for effective non-lethal weapons but I find our current crop of options limited. And in some cases counter-indicated; for example I have asthma. Therefore Pepper Sprays, Mace, and type products aren’t a good choice for me or my loved ones.

        I just see our society as having no balance on this topic.

        Again I disagree. Don’t be fooled by the anti-gun media and the gun control advocates. What they don’t show is the millions of people who safely use firearms for defense, the millions of safe hunters, the millions of recreational shooters. How many billions of rounds are safely fired for every criminal or hate filled act?

        How many lives are saved due to firearms? How many rapes are prevented? Assaults stopped?

        You spoke earlier of :
        I therefore find it more compelling when folks argue that they need firearms to defend their families than themselves

        How can I defend my family if I am not there for them? How can I provide for the; not just financially but emotionally if I am in the hospital or morgue because I let some criminal beat me/shoot me?

        1 Timothy 5:8 talks about providing for family; is my only method of providing for them to be a good life insurance policy….but oh wait, many life insurance policies will not pay out as a result of a criminal act. Quandary, eh?

        Doesn’t a Christian owe it to his family to return home safely every day as long as that return is within the God’s dictates?
        And given the scriptures regarding crime and how people are to respond, i see no conflict in armed self defense.

      • I am writing on my phone (sitting in a line, so my response is limited and I can write more tomorrow but some initial thoughts:) A) I am glad you responded and like that you speak your mind B) I do think it is vital for us to primarily see ourselves as Christians who also are 1. Americans 2. Gun enthusiasts 3. Like fishing (etc.) C) While Solomon was right about human nature (nothing new under the sun) our environment significantly influences us. There is a reason why polygamy is viewed as sinful today but not for many of the patriarchs, for example E) We regulate all sorts of things in our society for public safety. It is not logical to me that figuring out better gun safety in our society is beyond us. D) I do not see the biblical warrant for classifying people either criminal or noncriminal. Also, some of God’s people in the Bible were criminals by the state’s definition thereof. Looking forward to discussing more. In Christ, Tom

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