“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is by a good guy with a gun.”
This is a statement that most of the people I personally know, generally politically “conservative” and Christian people, would agree to as sheer common sense. After all, this is why the police and the military are equipped with guns. I for one have always thought the “security” personnel in some public places that are not so equipped, presents something of an oxymoron.
In the light of the recent “revival” of gun control advocacy I will propose a question: “If there was another way to stop the bad guy would you be willing to do it?” To be even more specific, if it was statistically demonstrable that gun control works would we be willing to comply?
The reason I ask this is merely as a test, because as far as I know the statistics support the opposite, that gun control does not “stop the bad guy.” But my fear is that most of us in hearing the question will only hear (and reject) the first half of the question regarding the efficacy of gun control, but will thereby ignore the most important part of the question concerning our willingness to be open-minded.
My purpose here is merely to present us with a test, whether we are even willing to consider gun control. Should we not as Christians be for the preservation of life? If so, then we should probably support whatever will do so in relation to gun control. The point is that if we are Christians we should be considering God’s will, and God does not usually help a person find his will regarding something if they are already persuaded otherwise. Ultimately, we only really ask God, “what is your will?”, when we are willing to obey him.
Another test is to consider whether or not God’s will could require us to venture in hope and faith upon a new and uncharted way. In other-words, do we need proven statistics of past success before we adopt something new? If that were the case there are probably innumerable numbers of good things in the world that would not exist today, since they were begun without any previous demonstration that they would work. The church itself was a venture in faith in a world that by all appearance gave it little hope of success. America itself was a new type of society that had never before been tried. So what if gun control might work? Are we willing to be persuaded that it might? Could God convince us that our guns could be a problem?
Please let me state that I am presenting these “tests” because I am still trying to get us to the place where we are willing to hear God. I am not at all saying that gun control is God’s will for America today (although you probably should know that it is not a question of “if” but one of “when” since someday the nations will voluntarily “beat their swords into plowshares”).
Martin Luther said “You should not believe your conscience and your feelings more than the word the Lord who receives sinners preaches to you.” Have we been paying more attention to our conscience and feelings, or even to the constitution, than to the word of God? A theologian explaining Luther says the word of God is always coming to us “as adversaries noster, our adversary. It does not simply conform and strengthen us in what we think we are and as what we wish to be taken for. It negates our nature, which has fallen prey to illusion; but this is the way, the only way, in which the word draws us into concord and peace with God.”
I believe that it is extremely difficult for us to formulate a Christian response because we have so many factors that seem to conspire against this:
One reason is what I have largely concentrated on so far, namely we cannot respond as a follower of Christ if we are not willing to listen to Christ. One problem here is not just in our sinful propensity to want what we want, but in a misconception regarding knowing God’s will. We see God’s will purely in universal “black and white” terms: If self-defense is biblical, then it is always God’s will that we defend ourselves in every situation. But if Jesus always defended himself we would not be saved. He told us to “turn the other cheek.” The truth is that God’s will is particular, so that we know what to do when. The problem with the “universal” view is that sometimes the situations are not black and white. I believe the gun control issue in America today is certainly a “grey area” which is all the more the reason why we need to seek God’s will.
Another reason is the context in which we are supposedly thinking about these issues: we are subjected to the knee-jerk emotional reactions of the masses, the self-seeking posturing of the politicians, and the propaganda of the media, all meeting us in our polarized camps where we only hear what resounds to our already made-up minds. These things all conspire together so that we are hardly thinking at all, with the result being that we are more acted upon than acting in freedom to think rationally, discern the spirits (including our own), and learn God’s particular will for us today.
Yet another reason is that we don’t have a good bottom line of solid Christian faith and obedience to God’s will that we are already living. In order to demonstrate this I present a few excerpts from Donald Bloesch’s “Freedom for Obedience” which I think may show “where we live” and that our concerns in relation to the issue are generally centered on our own self:
“The will of God is the way of the cross. It is not just an ideal but a present course of action. It entails sharing the burden of Christ for the salvation of our neighbor. It means taking up the cross in faith and following Christ into the darkness.”
“The will of God is not abstract and universal but particular and concrete. It is not a system of rules established from the outset but something new and different in each episode of life; consequently, we must examine ever again what the will of God may be.”
“We should bear in mind that our ultimate goal is the glory of God. We should do that which will redound to God’s glory and not to our own advancement or security.”
“We should accept the fact that no matter how we choose we will be unable to avoid mixed motivations. We should nonetheless press forward in the knowledge that God will have mercy on our best endeavors.”
“The will of God will invariably conflict with the expectations of the wider community in which we live. Those prophets who play to the fears and hopes of people will always outnumber those who remain faithful to God’s commandment.”
The final reason I wish to present is that I think we are so fully responding to the issue as Americans that our response as Christians barely surfaces. We need to remember that our citizenship is in heaven, and we are really only strangers and pilgrims in America. Thus the founding documents that give our ultimate freedoms, rights, and duties are the books of the Bible, not the documents of this nation. They may and do coincide in many ways, but which should be more definitive to us as Christians? According to America we have certain rights, but the biblical ethic often calls on us to forgo our rights for God’s purpose; and God’s providential purpose has certainly not seen American rights as necessary for all those that have been his children in the past and present, in other nations. We also need to “mind our manners” and bear a Christian (charitable) attitude to those on the “other side” of the debate, remembering that our warfare is not with “flesh and blood but with the principalities and powers.” We also need to “pray for rulers and those in authority” remembering that the situation in which those words were written was much worse than our situation in America.
It could be that the “principalities and powers” are behind gun control to ultimately disarm and enslave us in a growing Babylonian system of “totalitarian” ungodliness.
It could be that God wants his people to begin serious work toward ultimately “beating their swords into plowshares” by immediately working to “seek the peace of the city” in which we are now, praying and working for “thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”
I believe that God orchestrates everything so that things like these two scenarios can be happening simultaneously. Have you ever read Revelation where the false harlot Babylon and the true bride New Jerusalem are both clothed with their “garments” through the same period of “tribulation.” My point is that whatever occurs in America in regard to the gun control issue, God’s purpose is to purify his Church and further his Kingdom through the gospel.
And to the individual Christian, I hope that this meditation has served to help you to respond to this “gun control crisis” as a citizen of heaven, a follower of our Captain who “for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame.”
“For the kingdom of God is not guns and ammo; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (We may need “meat and drink” to live but they are not what life is all about!)
In “Part 2” I will share some of my more personal thoughts regarding gun control.
Please let me know what you think! Donald Bloesch. whom I quoted extensively above, also said: “it is the Holy Spirit working through the fellowship of the church who makes the will of God known.” We need to hear from each other as part of the process by which we hear from God, so I hope to hear from you! (Please lets all “mind our manners” – otherwise I won’t post your comment.)
Original Content © Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.