Over the past number of months, we have heard about several unfortunate and tragic instances where gun violence took the lives of many. The young children of Sandy Hook became victims to an extremely unstable individual who did not have the courage to face the penalty of his crimes.
Overshadowing all of this is the discussion on gun violence and gun regulations. Some claim that our 2nd Amendment allows us the freedom to possess firearms. Those who uphold to this standard claim that it is a right that was fought for and many others died ensuring that this freedom is not lost.
On the other side of the fence, are those who feel that no person (other than law enforcement or military) should be allowed to have firearms as most people don’t need them. They feel the 2nd Amendment is outdated and irrelevant.
So with both sides voicing their opinion, I finally felt that I should weigh in. The problem we face is not one of legal rights or moral rights, it is simply what does the law say and how are we to respond as Christians. There is no evidence in Scripture that any of the disciples or followers of Christ has weapons when they preached. There is also no evidence that they did not.
From a Western culture standpoint, we tend to think of Scripture as peaceful and loving. We have been told that if we are not peaceful and loving that we are not following the direction Christ placed before us. We tend to cite only those passages which show a timid, loving, turn the other cheek methodology. Are we to take the abuse and not say something? Are we not to try and protect ourselves and families from the horrific events of our world? This is the struggle of the Christian and what we believe.
However, I must admit, that I personally do not believe that life is that simple. Sickness, natural disasters and unfortunate violence have a tendency to take our lives and flip them upside down. We tend to think that if there is violence and disaster that God must not love us or decided to take a break from organizing the universe or maybe He doesn’t exist at all in our minds.
In no way am I going to over simplify the debate, nor am I in any way minimizing the gut wrenching emotions and life altering events for those affected, but I would like to spell out a rounded view.
It is true that our 2nd Amendment gives us “the right to bear arms”. However, there is more to it than just our enjoyment. Here is what it actually says:
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
First, there needs to be a well regulated militia. Why? For the security of a free state and doing so, we were given the right to bear arms. Not only that but what is this “shall not be infringed”? Basically, it means that this specific right shall not be outdated or violated. This makes sense in the world in which it was written.
History tells us that during our early years, the British government was trying to infringe on the freedom our ancestors were fighting for. They tried sanctions, taxes and other means to secure the “Queen’s” country. In doing so, we were not allowed to do what we wanted for our families. When the 2nd Amendment was written, it was a security check for keeping the freedoms we have today. It was written, not as a gun club, but as protection against an oppressive government. During that time, our forefathers wanted to be sure that no government could try and regulate our freedom. It wasn’t an anarchical type of freedom, but one that was guided by the rule of law.
So does that mean we should be able to buy, sell or fire any type of weapon we want? According to the Constitution, my answer would be yes. However, we must also place common sense as well into this equation. Are we to say that registration is a bad thing? Are we to say that safety and understanding are an obstruction to our right? Certainly not.
Personally, I believe that we need to mandate that all gun owners go through safety courses to protect them and others. When we educate those on proper handling of firearms or other type of weapons, we allow citizens to exercise this right to bear arms, while protecting those who choose not to.
When you look at the Department of Justice statistics, you see that most violent crimes are not done with weapons, but without weapons. And those that are weapon related have a small percentage of handguns and rifles. In fact, there appears to be more violence with knives than with guns, yet we do not see “knife control” on the news today. If you dig even deeper, most of the violent crimes that had guns involved were committed almost exclusively with illegal guns. In fact, even the DOJ indicates that most young people who commit violent offenses do so with illegal guns. Why? Because it is easier to obtain illegal guns than legal ones!
So where does Christianity play into all of this? Well, as I said earlier, we tend to think of Christianity as peaceful and loving. Although this may be true to some regard, let me shed some light on something else. Did you know that there will come a time (and probably is already here to some degree) that God will allow natural disasters to increase exponentially in order to show us that He is in control? Did you also know that there will be a time when Jesus returns with a double-edged sword coming to free His people?
I want to be true to Scripture, so I will be as clear as I can. Sometimes, Scripture can be rated “R” and is not all peaceful and loving. The focus of Scripture is Jesus. The message of Scripture (both Old and New Testaments) is God loves us and wants a relationship with us. So how is it rated “R”?
Throughout Scripture, we see details that are violent, yet justified. We also see unjustified violence and the horror that follows. Think about this for a second. King David was “a man after God’s own heart”, yet he murdered his lover’s husband. We see a judge named Deborah who “sends a spike through the temple” of her oppressor. In all of this, we see either God’s judgement or God’s calling to an individual. To Deborah, it was to free Israel. To King David, it was a sin that he was judged for.
Our job as Christians is to respect and obey the laws of the land. Therefore, if the law says that our 2nd Amendment is outdated, we are allowed to speak up, but we ultimately must obey whatever laws are passed. There is only one area where we are allowed to disobey the law of the land. If our government tells us that we are not allowed to read Scripture, pray or share Scripture, we are given a clear command to disobey. The disciples didn’t stop preaching even though they were beaten and warned. Daniel kept praying three times a day, even though the laws of his land forbid him from doing so.
The ultimate law of all lands is to have a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are to do everything in our power to keep that relationship healthy and strong, no matter the cost. In Hebrews we read about those who lost their lives and kept their faith. History shows Rome oppressing the Christian Jews, sending them to the Colosseum to be killed by gladiators and lions. They did not fight for their rights, they just obeyed God in His commandments.
As Americans, we have been given the right to stand for what our forefathers declared as law. We have the right to voice our opinion and vote for those who stand for what is right. As Christians, we have been given the freedom to pray and seek God for wisdom. We have been set free from the oppression of sin and given the ultimate freedom that Christ fought for.
As an American, I believe that our government and news agencies are barking up the wrong tree. As it is easier to obtain an illegal gun, then the regulations and laws need to be focused on that and not on the legal gun owners. Legal gun owners have been given a background check and in most cases can’t pick up their weapon until they have been cleared with the federal agencies. Therefore, the focus should not be on the legal weapons but the illegal ones.
As a Christian, I believe that even though we have the rights based on our Constitution, we do not have the right to disobey our leaders when it comes to these same laws. We are only to disobey if it interrupts our relationship with God.
Even though I believe we have the right to bear arms legally, I also believe that God is in control and if He decides that our government is to be oppressive in order to fulfill his judgement then so be it. My personal belief is that if we are losing our rights, then Christians need to stop living their current lifestyle, where no one knows who is a Christian and who is not. We need to repent and change our lives in order to reflect a God who is drawing others to Himself. We need to change our lives in order to show others that God isn’t a wimpy God, but a strong, loving, yet jealous God who cares about what and who we worship.
Let’s start by looking into our own lives, as Christians, and ask God to obliterate the sin that so easily entangles us. Pray, read, study and memorize Scripture in order to do what Scripture says thereby changing our minds to be more Christ-like.
God bless and encourage someone today.