God, guns and obedience: One biblical view

I am blessed to have a number of thoughtful and reflective friends who blog. Perhaps I should also mention very smart. Among them are two pastors, Todd Littleton and Alan Cross, and a church planter turned denominational worker, Joel Rainey.

After the recent shootings in Aurora and Wisconsin the call for some kind of gun control was repeated once again. Two prominent missiologists, Michael Frost, of Australia, and Alan Hirsh, of Los Angeles by way of Australia, called for more/better gun control in the United States. Frost asserted it was an issue for the church to address.

I was raised in a gun owning family. Much of my extended family does or has owned guns. I have been hunting though I do not particularly enjoy it. I have shot an Uzi and I did particularly enjoy it. (Apologies Mr. Gun Range Owner for that damage done to the target bracket.) The only thing I regret about target shooting is that I do not have more time and money to devote to it.

Yet is recognize this to be true about firearms: they seem to provide the ability to de-personalize killing while simultaneously increasing the scope of it. What I mean is the Aurora shooter would not have been able to kill and wound as many had he been using a knife. It’s the same with the guys in Wisconsin. Or Columbine. Three people who will run from an automatic weapon are more likely to engage a knife wielding fool.

Into this often vitriolic and emotional discussion wades Joel Rainey. He has written an extremely thought provoking post entitled, “God and Guns: Do they Go Together?”

Joel explains his own thoughts while affirming those who would strongly disagree:

I’m a Christian, a minister of the Gospel, and a gun-owner. (Actually, I own more than one!) Are these identities irreconcilable? Certainly they can be, but must they be? Or, as Darrell Cole astutely asks “How can Christians reconcile God the Warrior with God the Crucified?”

In light of all this, I wanted to take a moment to speak to my pacifist friends in the larger body of Christ who believe guys like me are a living contradiction. But before I explain how I reconcile my faith in Jesus and my strong belief in our nation’s second amendment, let me say the following to my pacifist brothers and sisters:

1. You are right to point out that our nation has grown too war-hungry. Too often when our leaders decide to take us to war, American Christians are more worried about being “good patriots” than we are followers of Jesus who must sometimes condemn unjust violence, even when it is waged by those in authority.

2. Contrary to the stereotype, the pacifists I know are VERY tough people. Inherent in living the pacifist lifestyle is that you must, if necessary, be able to take a beating. Though I disagree with you, I have an enormous respect for the sacrifice you are willing to make if necessary, to truly and consistently live your faith.

3. We need your voice in regard to how we interact with our government. Alan is absolutely right that “civil war” resides in too many hearts in the United States. Where government authority is concerned, the first responsibility of the Christian is to submit, not rebel.

After providing an solidly biblical defense for the ownership of firearms, he finds common ground even while continuing to disagree with Hirsch,

Like Alan and others, I long for a world where violence no longer exists. Unfortunately, this isn’t heaven. This is earth, and its an earth filled with sin. Alan is correct that “violent hearts” are many, especially in the United States. He is correct that it is these violent hearts that cause much of the anguish we see on the news each night. As a Christ-follower, I stand with him in wanting to see an end to this. I just happen to believe he is mistaken to think that the way to end criminal violence is to take away the ability of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and those whose safety and well-being they are responsible for.

Regardless of your position on gun rights or gun control if you are a follower of Christ I strongly encourage you to read all of Joel’s article.

Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.

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