With all the recent concern about guns in the wake of another gut-wrenching mass shooting, have you ever wondered whether there is a Christian position regarding guns, gun laws, or gun control?
Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #29 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.
Guns are part of the American experience. Indeed, we’ve been described as a gun culture.
"Americans made up 4 percent of the world's population (in 2018) but owned about 46 percent of the entire global stock of 857 million civilian firearms. U.S civilians own 393 million guns. American civilians own more guns "than those held by civilians in the other top 25 countries combined."
In my experience, I find people relate to these facts in widely divergent manners.
A lot, it seems to me, depends upon whether a person has grown up in a family that owned or used guns for sport or hunting, whether the person then has actually been around guns, and whether they understand much about them. People whose background has not included guns, again in my experience, often can’t comprehend why anyone would want a gun, much less use it. So it may be easier for them to embrace a no-gun or gun control perspective.
Now I know this is a generalization, but I’m suggesting this hypothesis holds water. I’m notsuggesting, though, that people who adopt a no-gun or some manner of gun control perspective are prima facie “wrong.” The judgment of right and wrong is something I’ll come back to later.
In the wake of mass shootings, especially ones involving children, the public understandably wants to do something, do anything that will stop this nightmare and make it such that a mass shooting will never happen again. As I said, understandable. No one wants shootings and the injury or death of innocents. But how to “fix” the problem is more complex than any easy or obvious solution available, including perhaps reducing access to guns.
I’ve read commentary and discussed guns and gun control with Christians who support gun laws restricting access. Many argue their recommendations are “the Christian thing to do.” In other words, they say their position is the Christian position.
They say, for example, if Christians believe in life, are pro-life if you will, then how can they not embrace policies restricting access to guns?
If Christians are non-violent, and believe God abhors violence, shouldn’t they embrace policies that restrict if not eliminate access to guns?
If Christians are peaceful, even pacifist, aren’t they compelled to promote policies restricting access to guns?
If Christians want to maintain a credible public testimony in a time when conservative Christianity is increasingly blamed for adherents’ commitment to blind patriotism, isn’t gun control one way we can demonstrate we’re relevant?
If Christians are about loving our neighbor, even our enemies, how can they make statements like “I have a God-given right to own guns”?
Then I have read, and I’ve enjoyed more than a few discussions with Christians who do not support more gun control.
They say, for example, Yes, Christians are pro-life, and in dangerous situations it is often a gun that saves lives.
Think about the two-year call to “Defund the Police.” OK, that’s a point of view. But it’s ironic, is it not, that when a situation arises where children are under direct threat from a ruthless gunman, what do people want to happen? They want police, officers with guns, to go in and stop the deranged killer. I’m not sure how you defund the police and demean the police, then in threat circumstances want police with guns to do more.
So, that said, some Christians argue that properly used guns are a means to peace and non-violence.
As to arguing it’s a “God-given right to own guns,” I’m not sure what Bible these folks are reading.
In fact, the Word of God says nothing about guns, gun laws, or gun control. It talks about weapons, war, murder, self-defense, but not guns.
This alone should not lead us to think God’s Word offers no guidance for our questions.
- Scripture reminds us in 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life.”
- In Philippians 1:9-10, the foundation for this podcast, the Apostle Paul said, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”
- And finally, in Romans 14, again the Apostle Paul reminds us God has given to us Christian liberty, that we “should be fully convinced in their own mind” what is right and righteous before God.
There are “Dos and Don’ts” in Scripture that we ignore at our own peril, but not that many do this or don’t do that. The rest God leaves to our discernment and our decision making.
The Bible never outlaws guns, nor does it condemn a person for carrying a weapon. In fact, in several passages, the Bible supports self-defense (Neh. 4:15-23; Ezek. 33:1-9; Lk 22:35-38).
So, debates about guns and gun control are more philosophic and political than moral.
But as I said, because God did not speak directly to guns or gun control does not mean we cannot discern and develop our moral perspective on the issue.
Think about this: the Word of God never condemned human slavery, does not speak to hard drugs or narcotics, offers no 11th Commandment proscribing gambling, but do any of us believe these are worthy activities? No. We have developed our perspective based upon other principles found in Scripture.
We can do the same with guns and gun control. We can honor others’ Christian liberty, recognizing each person can embrace, even passionately, their own convictions about guns and gun control, as long as we don’t violate the other person’s liberty by arguing our view is the only moral view.
What did God say?
- God made it clear in Scripture that human beings are made in his image, eternally valuable.
- He said murder is always wrong.
- God said we are to be good stewards, accountable to him for our behavior, including regarding life, work, safety.
- He said the problems in this world are not our toys and our tools but our sinful hearts.
- God is not violent and hateful, why do we patronize or purchase increasingly violent movies and video games?
You see, this only scratches the surface of scriptural principles that can be brought to bear on whether and why we buy guns, how we use them, and how as a society we might curtail access to certain kinds of guns.
My point in all this is not to take a position For or Against some form of gun control, much less guns, though I’ve hinted they’re not the only source of our social struggle.
My point is to say that we should develop our perspectives based upon good information and make our arguments on the merits of our ideas, not simply on emotion.
And my point is to say God has given us wide latitude – Christian liberty – to discern what is best when we develop our guns and gun control views…and he expects us to respect those whose views differ from our own.
Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com.
And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.
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