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Jesus and Guns

April 13, 2013

I’ve been following the gun-control debate with interest these past few weeks.  It appears that a bill is now going to wind through the Senate that will extend background checks to gun shows and internet sales, a position that poll after poll show is supported by almost 90% of the country.  Nevertheless, the future of the bill is anything but certain.  All this has me thinking in a nostalgic WWJD sort of way.  What would Jesus think of gun control?

As it turns out, there are people ready with that answer.  It is really great that we have people around that are so plugged-in to the mind of Christ that they can get answers to questions like this.  I bet you can guess what this church thinks the answer is.  You can find several articles on the internet where like-minded Christians are sure that it is biblical that we should be packing heat.

On the other hand, I’ve read several articles written by folks that quote Isaiah 2: 3&4 and assure us that the prediction that “they shall beat their swords into plowshares” proves that God is in favor of gun control; and that no true Christian would ever own a gun anyway.

It is the way of politics to demonize folks who disagree with us.  Those people who want to own guns don’t care about those little children in Newtown.  Those folks that want better background checks are only doing this so they can come and take all our guns away.  All motives on “the other side” are evil and self-serving, unlike our motives that are pure and undefiled.  Bringing Jesus into the picture ups the ante.  “I’ll counter your evil opinion with my own righteous one which, by the way, is the same opinion Jesus has.”

Gun violence in America is a complex and difficult problem.  While they won’t admit it, neither side has an easy solution.  No, expanding background checks would not have stopped the Newtown shooting,  but no reasonable person would say that it won’t stop any shooting, just ask Rick Warren what he thinks about it.  The free and often unregulated flow of guns is a problem.  So are violent video games, poverty, the breakdown of the family and a host of other things.  But it is much easier to demagogue for your point of view than it is to try and persuade tactfully.

So what would Jesus think about gun control; or more accurately what would He want us to think about it?  Why is it that we have always had pacifists who are sure that their faith calls for ending all war and violence and patriots who know that God has called them to defend their faith and freedom?  Maybe it is because He knows that there are no perfect solutions in an imperfect world.  Maybe it is because He wants us to wrestle with these issues with grace and humility, doing the best we know how, until that day when all wars will cease and He is Lord forever.

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