Friday, August 9, 2013

Guns, Guns, Guns

Jesus Christ was a man of peace.

Jesus expects his followers to be people of peace.

In light of this, what are God's people to do about guns?

Like most things in life, guns can be used for both good and bad. Good examples include hunting for food and defending family. Examples of the bad include much of what we see in the news: murder, burglary, etc. Because of their very nature, guns tend to cause extreme reactions. I admit that I'm troubled by the tendency of so many Christians to fall in line with conservative (Republican) politics. The right to bear arms is not exactly critical to the mission of the church. And yet, some Christians seem to get more riled up about keeping their guns than they do about evangelizing the lost.

On the flip side, other Christians are looking to government to curb crime through gun control. Two problems exist with this line of thought. First, more government in general almost always causes more problems than solutions. Second, gun control in particular takes the guns out of the hands of the good guys, but leaves them with the bad guys (look at Chicago to see what happens).

What are Christians to do? This is not an easy answer.

A few suggestions:

1. Pray fervently about what to do.

2. When in doubt, fault on the side of peace.

3. Remember that gun rights are not a gospel issue.

4. Guns should be used in a very limited, controlled capacity.

5. Guns should be a last resort in self-defense or other-defense.

6. Let's avoid more governmental regulation on any side of the issue.

7. Let's avoid entanglement with secular lobbying groups.

As with many other topics in the Christian life, this is not a simple issue. However, there can be no doubt that Jesus Christ was a man of peace.

In Matthew 10:34 Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." In this verse he is referring to spiritual issues, in particular the gospel. This has nothing to do with peace/violence toward another person.

As Jesus' disciples we should be people of peace who fault on the side of peace. In light of this, we must be cautious and careful in how we choose to talk about and use guns. Christ's church must stand out as different from the world. We cannot afford to sound like the NRA or some anti-gun group. Instead, let's think biblically.

We must be people of peace.

5 comments:

Dennis Brown said...

Eric,

Thanks for the topic and your insight on it.

I have to confess that I have, in the past few years, adopted a more radical stance on this topic than you. I feel that Jesus goes well beyond what you term, "limited pacifism". Jesus' comment in Matthew 10:34 indicates that Jesus fully understood that his teachings would result in extreme division and physical violence against those who preached it. This is not the same thing as calling his disciples to committing the violence; quite the contrary, Jesus called his disciples beyond pacifism - he called on his disciples not only to love their estranged family members and neighbors, but to LOVE their ENEMIES as well.

The disciples of Jesus were not only to avoid violence, they were called to be Peacemakers and, if necessary, to ABSORB any violence committed against them on behalf of the Kingdom of God and others.

I agree with you that Christians should not seek solutions in Government. Christians are called to be a "Holy Nation", a "Kingdom of Priests" (I Peter 2:9). It is difficult to serve in obedience to one government when one is a part of another government. So we have a choice to make, are we going to serve God's government or Man's (remember who is in control of man's -Luke 4:1 - 16)?

There are three very broad approaches Christians have historically taken with respect to the Kingdom's of this world. Avoid them altogether, join them in some sort of "Partnership", or practice some form of limited Anarchy. I prefer to think of Christians not so much as anarchists as a-political. We are respectful to the citizens of the countries in which we live, and obedient to those countries - even to the point of paying taxes and following their laws - as long as those laws do not conflict with the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. But our primary focus is on being the best citizens in our new, adopted country and Kingdom to which we belong, which is not of this earth.For if it was of this earth Jesus would have followed the ways of this world and already sent his army to conquer and control it.

Eric said...

Dennis,

Thanks for your thoughts on this topic. I'm sort of in flux right now so I appreciate hearing from brothers and sisters in Christ. Philippians 3:20 is driving much of my thinking.

Dennis Brown said...

Origin: "We recognize that in every nation there exists another national organization, founded by the Logos of God. We exhort those who are mighty in word and of blameless life to rule over churches. But we reject those who are ambitious to rule. Instead, we use those who, because of an abundance of modesty, are not inclined to take in office of oversight in the Church of God.Those who rule well over us...neve allow themselves to be led away by worldly policy." Quote from The Pilgrim Road, pg 174, edited by David W. Bercot

Sam A said...

Eric,

I would relate this issue to your idea about pew sitters in that, we have all become spectators in the game of life and our seats (at home, church, and in civil society) are quite comfy. We really can't be troubled to get up for much of anything. Dad, Brother Brown, and Citizen Brown (all the same man) are pretty well brain dead when it comes to being a responsible MAN OF GOD in all areas of faith and practice.

In all three spheres (home, church, and state) christian people need to get out of the bleachers and into the game. It's that whole "salt and light" thing, right?

When the QB needs help, the coach does not typically recruit from the stands. Isn't that the point?

Having said that, we need to be very careful in all these issues because we have lost a critical element to our freedom - a well informed, responsible, self governed citizenry (or laity, if in the church sphere).

When we loose self government (which assumes a certain level of individual citizen/laity capability) we really no longer have the ability to handle certain "rights."

I do not believe the scripture teaches pacifism, but I do believe many have already lost or become unfit to own their freedoms as a result of compromises made leading up to this point. The frog is nearly cooked. We can't concentrate on symptoms only - we must diagnose the whole man before we can treat.

When the foundations are destroyed ... we have a bigger problem than kneejerk responses from either side of an issue can solve.

Who is tackling this?

Eric said...

Sam,

Thanks for commenting. It certainly is a difficult issue. It's one that I'm finally dealing with/thinking through at this stage (age 42) in my life.

Much of the church in this country automatically supports Republican politics. This means embracing guns. I'm not saying guns are necessarily wrong, but my struggle is with believers who let politics decide what they believe instead of looking to scripture.

That said, I'm trying to let the scriptures lead my decision making here. I see much in the way of peace.