Guns and the Kingdom of God

gunThis is a post about a biblical/Christian view of the gun control debate. It is not a political or constitutional one. I suppose there’s no way to make any perspective on this topic apolitical, but it is not based on a political perspective nor is it meant to make or refute political points. Christians purport to be citizens of the kingdom of God which is often in conflict with the “kingdoms of this world.” To truly be citizens of this kingdom means we take on the posture and actions of its King. I believe this King has something to say about the issue of guns in our country.

Biblical Christianity is never about personal rights.

One of the more bothersome American perspectives adopted as a Christian is the idea that we need to stand up for our rights. Jesus had the right not to take on flesh and become human–exposing himself to difficulty, pain, and death, but he humbled himself and became like us. He had the right to not die, but he willingly laid down that right for the sake of the world. Paul appealed to his right to a trial as a Roman citizen, but primarily so he could get to Rome and proclaim the gospel of Jesus there.

When we take a position on gun control (or anything else for that matter) and appeal to our personal rights we are making an explicitly American argument, not a biblical one. In the kingdom of God we have the right to lay down our rights for the sake of others.

The kingdom of God is a kingdom of peace.

In the Bible the specific brand of peace found in the kingdom of God is called shalom. This is a holistic peace that touches everything from the smallest creature to societies to the entire world. It is a peace devoid of anger, bitterness, violence, and revenge. As citizens of this kingdom we are called to be peacemakers–those who bring shalom.

We cannot be purveyors of violence and revenge and those who bring shalom. I understand the argument that there are times in our fallen world when violence is seemingly the only way to stop greater violence. I also believe we run there very quickly.

Guns are instruments of violence–especially the assault weapons that are constructed for the sole purpose of inflicting as much damage as possible in a short time. The idea of Jesus owning or advocating assault weapons is absurd. This was a man of shalom who laid down his own life and prayed for those who were killing him. Our Americanized, gun-toting Jesus must border on, if not cross over into blasphemy.

Citizens of the kingdom of God are not driven by fear.

With the horrific shootings that have occurred in our country fear is an understandable reaction. I think about the places my kids and my wife go and easily begin to worry about what someone could do to them in light of what’s happened at other schools. I hurt and cried for what has already happened to children and adults I have never met. Romans 8 says that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus–not angels or demons or life or death or even guns. Our hope and peace come from the knowledge of the love of God we have received in Christ that cannot be taken away.

Ultimately the worst someone can do is take this life, and in Jesus there is hope that there is life beyond their here and now. This is not something that leads me to disdain this life, but something that hopefully allows me to work for the good of others with all my might.

I cannot say I live without fear–especially for my wife and kids. Things like Newtown do cause me to fear. But I try to take that fear to the true King and trust that he loves my family more than I do–whether in good times or bad. While I may take actions because of fear I know that is not a proper motivator as a citizen of God’s kingdom. He releases us to live out of love rather than fear.

Guns in the kingdom of God

So what is a proper Christian perspective on guns and gun control? I don’t think there is one in black and white, but aside from baptizing our perspective in the water of the NRA, it must be one that leans toward non-proliferation of weapons. Whatever our perspective, we should ask these three questions.

  1. Is my perspective in any way a desire to retain my rights?
  2. Does my perspective have the power to help bring God’s shalom to my house, neighborhood, city, and world?
  3. Is my perspective driven by fear?
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About Trevor Lee

Proud to be the husband of a wonderful wife and the father of two great kids. I love to hang out with them, hang out with others, read, lis

Posted on December 28, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I grew up in a miitary family. My father was an ace marksman in both the Army/Air Corp and the United States Air Force. I learned early how to shoot a gun. Earlier, I learned how to handle a gun. A gun is an inanimate object. It is not deadly — unless it is used that way and for the specific purpose of killing something – which is determined by the person behind the trigger — not the gun. Guns were an integral part of our young nation — both for food and for human predators. Guns win wars — and, conversely, lose them. Guns can be used for bad and for good (just aske the members of our local constabulary and the recent death of an officer by an officer). But that is true of everything. Think of how “religion” has been used to bludgeon people from the Crusades to the martyrs of today. Is this Shalom? But it is in Christ’s name! And Christ is Shalom.

    If we “outlaw” guns, some other weapon will be developed or used for distruction. Bombs are easily made — just check out your local internet. Check out your local suicide cult. Are we going to outlaw bombs? Just how do you do this? Laws are words and nothing more. If someone wants a gun or a bomb, that someone will obtain one. It is much like prohibition. The United States outlawed alcohol. HIstory speaks to that fiasco.

    This really is an unsolveable issue. Outlawing weapons doesn’t remove their accessibility. User control is impossible to define, let alone enforce.

    So, do we live in fear that the next person we see will kill us or our family? It could happen. It does happen. What’s to be done? We, as a nation, have often elected to eliminate God from out society and culture. What has filled the void left by moral accountability? You guessed it. Choices may be freely made, but consequences must always be paid. So, we as a nation are paying the horrible consequences of our own moral stupdity. Do you think Newtown is bad? Wait until the next big massacre. And there will be another one — bigger and more deadly. And one more after that. And another after that. History repeats itself. And, if it’s one thing history teaches us, it is that we learn nothing from history. Are we doomed to see the type of tragedy at Newtown repeat itself. Yes, we are.

    Personally, I say let us arm ourselves — openly. There will be idiots who will abuse this; idiots cannot be outlawed, either. But at least we can have a chance to defend ourselves. Is this a brutal thing much like life in the Old West? Yes, of course. But it worked then — and, with noteable exceptions — it will work again; if only by default. Let’s take the “scary” out of guns. Let’s teach people/kids what they are and how to use them correctly. Afraid to see Ayla with a gun? More afraid to see her slaughtered? Take your pick.

    No easy answers when one is dealing with rampant evil. At least you have read the book and know the end of the story.

  2. Never once did Trevor talk about outlawing guns, nor working to legislate morality. I think we can infer clearly that he calls for Christians to stop using the same arguments and rationale that non-Christians use to support guns. Perhaps a biblical case can be made that challenges his perspective, and that would be interesting to consider. But a secular rationale is not a rebuttal. Unfortunately, I’m afraid responses to his post will continue to miss the point in favor of a pragmatic, “ends justifies the means” perspective. Thanks for the food for thought, Trevor.

    • No, Trevor hasn’t said we should outlaw guns. But if I’m not mistaken, he is saying that Christians should have nothing to do with guns. I’m not a gun owner nor plan to be one, but it still gives me pause. While I think we should strive for nonviolence, as I said in a recent post, we don’t live in the Biblical world of Jesus, nor are we Jesus. We live in a world of greys and the fact is, there are people who own guns who don’t go out and shoot people.

      I think we need to talk about guns and how we as Christians should respond, but I think we need to get beyond the guns are always good/guns are always bad sort of talk that doesn’t take into account the totality of guns in America. I don’t know if there is a “Christian” answer, but we do need to think about how as Christians we should deal with this issue.

      By the way, here’s the link to my take on guns:

      http://questorpastor.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/how-a-progressive-christian-pastor-made-his-peace-with-guns-kinda-sorta/

  3. Dennis, I specifically did not say that Christians should have nothing to do with guns. It’s true that I am not a big fan of them, but I know numerous people who have some kind of gun that they use for hunting or sport shooting. (I even go and shoot sporting clays once a year!) I did say specifically that I see no use for assault weapons in the general populace, but did not suggest a specific response by Christians beyond that–only that we would consider what it is that forms our opinion in light of Jesus’ example and biblical teaching.

    My goal was to challenge people to think about the issue in light of faith rather than the same old tired cultural and political arguments that have been worn out in recent weeks. While it’s true we don’t live in Jesus’ time, as Christians we do take his teaching and all of Scripture and seek to appropriately apply it to our lives and culture.

    I’d be curious your thoughts on biblical themes that might influence this discussion.

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