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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Is There A christian Position Regarding Gun Control?

Is There A Christian Position Regarding Gun Control?



God and guns go together in the United States. It’s a part of our heritage.  Most Americans believe that the Second Amendment gives every citizen the right to own and shoot a gun.  This is important to Americans because most of us live in fear - fear of the “bad guy”.  And we believe that the only way we can be real Americans and protect our homes and our freedom from the bad guys is to have guns – and lots of ‘em.


Christians in the U.S. are divided when it comes to their position regarding gun control. Some Christian groups teach their children Bible lessons and then more lessons on how to fire guns right on their church grounds! And thousands of Christian in the United States spend their Saturdays’ shooting guns at a gun range and then Sunday’s at church worshiping Jesus, the Prince of Peace.  God and guns go together.  


But there are Christians in the U.S. who don’t agree with this picture. And there are millions of families in the U.S. who have tragically lost a son or a sister, a daughter or a father through gun violence.  And they are also asking questions about America’s romance with guns. I was unaware that my church, the United Methodist Church, has taken a stand to control and regulate the possession of firearms. And the police chiefs in the U.S. want lawmakers to ban “weapons of war” so that our policemen on our streets won’t be outgunned.  There are voices of descent out there against the “gun worship” that is so popular here in our country!


For a long time many U.S. citizens have wanted to change the law that allows a person to buy a gun without a background check.  But amazingly there are more citizens who have fought against background checks for gun purchasers even though our society is a more dangerous place when guns are allowed to be purchased by mentally ill persons and felons. At the present time a mentally ill person can buy a gun at a gun show without a background check.  And the powerful National Rifle Association doesn’t want to change this because it might inconvenience gun buyers!


 And in the U.S. at the present time it is legal to sell military type assault weapons and magazines carrying large amounts of ammunition to the general public. Folks all over the country are rushing to gun stores, department stores, Walmart, sport shops and gun shows and often waiting in long lines to buy these popular assault weapons. It’s the patriotic thing to do!


As a nation we seem to believe strongly in the redemptive power of violence.  But in the last few years many cities in order to save money have drastically cut their police force.  Money seems to be more important than human life. But then surprise- with fewer police on the streets, urban crime rates shot up! But do we strengthen our police force back to what it was?  Or do we all become our own policemen?


 You guessed it, we all become policemen!  We rush out and buy a gun or guns and learn to shoot to kill so that we can protect what belongs to us.  We seem to think that it is our sacred duty to protect our expensive jewelry and our nice automobiles, our video games and our television sets.  We work hard to buy all of these things and we will shoot any “bad guy” who tries to take our stuff away.  We have that right!


 But as followers of Christ we ask ourselves, is this what Jesus would have us do?  Jesus let go of all of His rights when He went to the cross for us.  Would He encourage us to hold onto our right to shoot and kill a thief we find stealing our material things?  If the robberies continue and our livelihood is jeopardized, wouldn’t we have to do something?   If we didn’t actually shoot the thief, what then would the Christian response be?  


We read in Scripture that Jesus is the “Prince of Peace”.   He calls us to be peacemakers. Would Jesus suggest that we give every person in the U.S. a gun and teach them to shoot to kill in order to keep the peace?  If someone is trying to harm ourselves or our children or another person we might have to threaten them with a gun in order to stop them from committing the intended crime, and then call the police.  Or if we were forced to we might have to shoot the person to stop him from his crime. As peacemakers we are to try to stop a violent crime I would think, even if that might mean shooting the person who is shooting at others.


What would Jesus have us do?  Let’s turn to Scripture for some possible answers.  In Matthew 26:47-52 Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples when Judas arrives with a crowd of chief priests and elders who are carrying swords and clubs.(they didn’t have guns back then)  Jesus’ enemies were coming to arrest Him and kill Him.  “Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear.  (Jesus stopped and healed the ear)  And then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who live by the sword will die by the sword.’” (Matthew 16: 51-52)   Would Jesus give us similar advice today?  “All who live by the gun will die by the gun.”  He just might!


Another Bible passage on this subject is Zechariah 9 and it reads:  “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!  Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!  Lo, your king comes to you, triumphant and victorious is He, Humble and riding on a donkey.  On a colt, the foal of a donkey.  He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war house from Jerusalem: and the battle-bow shall be cut off.  And He shall command peace to the nations: and His dominion shall be from sea to sea. And from the River to the ends of the earth.”  (Zechariah 9:9-10)


Other Scriptures seem to show us that Jesus practices a different Way to peace than the way of the sword. (or the gun).  He tells us: “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’”  (Matthew 9:13)  In Matthew 10:28 we read more of Jesus’ words.  “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul…”  In 2 Corinthians 10:3 we read: “Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does…”


 Jesus shows us more about His Way of peace.  “Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, if another sins against me, how often should I forgive?  As many as seven times?’  Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy times seven.’” (Matthew 18:21-22)  Jesus asks us to join Him in living a humble life.  Here are His words to us.  “Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me for I am meek and lowly in heart and you will find rest in your souls.”  (Matthew 11:29)  Do we as Christians carry a gun on our hip at the same time we carry Jesus’ yoke of humility on our lives– His meek and lowly heart?  How does that work?  I don’t have all the answers!  Do you?


And Matthew 7:1,”Do not condemn, so that you may not be condemned.”  In Matthew 5:38-41 Jesus tells us:” You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not fight an evildoer.  But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also: and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well, and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.  Give to everyone who begs from you…”  Should we as Christians vote for more laws to level the playing field between the rich and the poor? Laws to bring in more jobs so that desperate people won’t be tempted to steal?  How would Jesus have us obey these instructions He left with us? Yes, the Prince of Peace calls us to a new way of finding peace – different than the world’s way.


Scripture says that when we are in heaven we will “beat our swords into plowshares” (Joel 3:10)   And there will “be no killing in My Holy Hill”. (Isaiah 11:9)  There will be no more violence – no swords (guns) no killing in heaven.  But we aren’t in heaven yet.  You notice that in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus told his follower- the one who cut off the ear of a man in the group that was arresting Jesus- to put away his sword.  Jesus didn’t tell his follower to get rid of his sword.  Just to put it away.  We are still living on this earth and we may still need a sword (gun) sometimes.  


As Christians we walk a fine line.  We are in the world but not of it.  We are called to be Jesus’ “peacemakers” here on earth. (Matthew 5)  So how does our role as a  “peacemaker” influence how we ask our law makers to vote on gun control?  Should the general public have access to military weapons and large clips of ammo?  Should every citizen be able to arm himself with machine guns and heavy weaponry?  How do we answer those questions?


  The statistics are sobering. We Americans lead the world in gun violence. Each year roughly 30,000 Americans suffer a violent death from being shot by a gun.  Many more are hurt or maimed. And the economic costs associated with our gun violence is about $32 billion yearly in the U.S. according to most recently available data. And who can estimate the amount of suffering and pain our gun violence causes!


 Because we have so few restrictions on gun control, many more people die each year in the United States from gun violence than in any other country in the civilized world! There were four deaths in Norway last year due to gun violence and over 400 in England.  And ours is around 30,000!  Shouldn’t this concern us as human beings and as Christians?


If enough of us would speak out about this issue, we could make a difference. Our opinions matter. Is keeping the sale of guns free from most restrictions more important to us Americas than protecting and saving human lives?  How many more people have to die in America from gun violence while we look the other way?  I believe that the Lord is calling us to speak up – to do what we can to keep gun violence at a minimum –to ask our law makers to vote for gun control and make our country a better and safer place.













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