Should Christians carry guns? I’ve heard that question posed with genuine sincerity several times recently, both on the internet and on the ground, so I shall attempt to tackle it and embiggen the discussion.
First let me say Christians, meaning the body of Christ, are composed of many parts. There are hearts, heads, hands, feet, all having different skills and abilities, all having worth and value. So just posing the question, “should Christians carry guns,” kind of implies that we shouldn’t. Well, perhaps some of us shouldn’t, but others should do as their conscience tells them, as God leads them.
There is nothing I can see in scripture that implies it is wrong to be armed. The disciples had swords and my favorite, Peter, actually once lopped off a man’s ear. It is not that Peter’s actions were wrong, it was that his timing was off, as was his obedience. I love Peter, I share his heart sometimes, as in “I can just fix this situation right now!” Peter is pragmatic, practical, matter of fact, as in, not always a big fan of theoretical considerations.
There has been a push within the culture lately to try to imply that Christians must always love their enemies, turn the other cheek, never judge anyone, nor defend ourselves. I’m not buying it. Complete pacifism can be a noble pursuit, but it isn’t a calling for everyone nor is it a scriptural mandate. God is not a pacifist, forgiving and merciful for sure, but not a pacifist. Jesus Christ Himself once went into the temple throwing over tables and chasing people out with a whip. So forget the cultural messages, as usual the culture is often wrong.
Many people around the world are kind of fascinated by America’s gun culture, and I think they believe we eat bacon and bullets for breakfast. I didn’t grow up that way however, guns were just a fact of life, always for hunting, protecting yourself from bears and cougars, and really just a tool used to provide provision and protection for your family. To give you an indication of how much things have changed, kids used to drive trucks to school complete with rifles in racks. Nobody ever thought anything of it. Young kids had BB guns and older kids were given rifles. It wasn’t like an old Western at all, no gun fights at sunset. Surprisingly little violence anywhere, or perhaps not so surprising at all, since everyone was armed.
It’s somewhat amusing, but for such a blue state, we are still heavily armed here. People have some powerful stereotypes and misconceptions, some assuming that only the South is armed and Texas, for sure. Always Texas. People don’t think about the North much, but a few times in Alaska, I had the thought, I wonder if anybody is NOT armed here? I remember going into a laundry mat to get quarters and the girl behind the counter was armed.
Our cities that see the most gun violence are heavily armed too, although perhaps not legally because cities that have the highest number of gun crimes often also tend to have the highest number of gun restrictions. I know, it’s a cliché, but guns don’t cause violence, people do.
I was giving some thought to protection, provision the other day, listening to one of our infamous celebrities….surrounded by armed bodyguards. That kind of self-deception and dishonesty is so typical. “I am totally against guns,” said rather tearfully while standing behind the biggest guns you can buy. People need to be honest with themselves. At the first sign of trouble what do people do? We often call the cops, those we pay to carry guns. You can’t be lamenting the alleged immorality of self-defense as if your hands are clean…while availing yourself of someone elses willingness to protect you.
Anders Breivik always comes to mind when I think of the gun debate. Breivik was a Norwegian terrorist who detonated a bomb and then went to an island and shot 69 people at a youth league summer camp. What I will never forget are the stories of the first responders, those forced to stand by helplessly waiting for the guns to arrive. It took more than an hour for him to shoot 69 people. The horror of what it must have been like for the people who wanted so badly to save lives but couldn’t do a darn thing has stuck with me.
I think we could safely say that there is a sound moral argument to be made for taking responsibility, for the moral implications around creating a culture that makes it possible for people to save lives, their own and the lives of others.
Because someone on the intertoobz implied that I don’t take gun violence seriously or perhaps I live a sheltered life, my grandma was shot and killed after picking up some hitch hikers. I was present at a robbery in a grocery store before the cops shot one of the guys right in front of me. A guy I once cared about blew his head off.
I’ve seen some gun violence but in spite of it, how I really feel about living in America is protected and safe in away I wouldn’t feel anywhere else in the world. That is mostly due to the fact that there are people willing to stand up and take responsibility for protecting others and a Constitution that still grants us that right.