Why This Christian Will Never Own a Gun

Sign the petition: Christians Standing Together Against Gun Violence.

Photo by twak on flickr

As a Christian and a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA) I often struggle with Scripture and how God intends for me to live in the world. Jesus and our faith demands of us to make difficult decisions in life that often stand firmly against our own upbringing, our own wants and, at times, our friends and family.

I believe that, today, the question of gun ownership and fighting gun violence is one of those times.

Trust me, I do not wade into the topic of guns lightly. After posting on this topic here and here, I am fully aware of the passion with which people approach this issue and the subsequent conversations about it. While some would say it would be wiser and even safer to avoid such engagement, I disagree. For if I, as a Christian, cannot find a way to engage in healthy and helpful conversations with those  who disagree with me, Christian or not, then, I am abdicating my responsibility to live the kind of life that I believe God hopes for me to live in the world.

Still, I know that there will be some immediate reactions by many who might react to any opinion that seems anti-gun, so let me try to pre-empt some of the obvious pushback that is likely to be directed my way.  I have no delusions that commentors will, in fact, read this blog before commenting, but for those of you who do and are interested in fruitful conversation, know this . . .

  • When I say that I will never own a gun because of my Christian faith, that does not mean that I am saying that you are not a Christian if you do.
  • I do understand that there is a difference between owning a rifle for hunting and owning a handgun for self-defense. And while I would never own either, my Christian sensibilities are not as challenged by those who have grown up in a culture of hunting as by those who advocate widespread handgun availability.
  • This is not about the 2nd Amendment or gun control, but rather a public expression of how my faith informs the way I chose to live in the world.  There is a time and place for conversations about civil engagement and faith, but in this post, my primary authority is not the US Constitution, but my faith in Jesus Christ and God’s unfolding reality as told through the Bible.

Gun ownership, gun violence and gun control are obviously not new debates in our nation. At the same time, I do think that the ideological, philosophical and theological foundations that give structure to the arguments about guns in our culture are beginning to manifest themselves in ways that are tearing apart the social and cultural understandings that have brought this country together for a very long time. In the name of free speech, we are experiencing a rise of violent political rhetoric; in the defense of freedom, personal interactions are increasingly tinged with violent posturing; and  recent shootings – mass or otherwise – are creating a fatigue that further normalizes gun violence in our culture.

As a Christian, a pastor, a father, a citizen of the United States and member of the larger global community, this is not an acceptable reality, nor does this align with the many ways in which I believe Christ calls us to live. There is much in the teachings of Christ that offer me pause, but in the case of guns, any way I look at the questions of owning a gun and the risks involved to the larger community, it is abundantly clear to me why I will never own a gun.

I first begin with my place in the greater community. I choose not to own a gun and provide an opportunity for the violence that so often accompanies guns because this is how I would hope others would be in the world. Yes, many will label me a fool and accuse me of creating an atmosphere of inviting gun violence into my life, but when it comes to faith, my actions, while defying logic to many in the world, is an expression of my deep commitment to God.

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40

Secondly, nowhere in Scripture does Jesus give us permission to solve our problems, respond to aggression or even defend ourselves with violence. In word and in deed, we are often called to fight injustice and violence with words and actions that are distinctly NOT violent, even in self-defense. Turning the other cheek, defending with a swordstoning of the prostitute, etc, Jesus reminds us of other powerful ways to respond to those who would chose to goad us into violent conflict. Yes, we do those things out of self-survival and self-defense, and justified by society or not, viewed through a lens of the Christian faith violence of any kind cannot be justified.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:17-21

People may call this approach to faith and life absurd, weak or out of touch, but this is where my Christian faith leads me to stand and I consider this posture of non-violence in word and deed, to be one of power, transformation and graciousness. Again, because this is where my faith leads me, does not mean that I think any less of those who decide that gun ownership aligns with their faith, only that I have chosen differently.

I believe is that at some point, people of faith must stand side-by-side speaking together to let the world and one another know that there is a different way to live and respond to that which may threaten us . . . and it is one that does not involve guns, so if you would like to add your name to a “petition” is support of church leaders everywhere who are engaged in importnat work against gun violence, please sign sign and share This Petition:  Christians Standing Together Against Gun Violence.

  • rudman miller

    Hey Pastor, you quote Mathew 22: 40, ” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Jesus did NOT do away with the law. In the LAW, the act of protecting innocent life is MANDATORY. It is unfortunate that Christian seminaries do not study & teach the Torah in detail. For if they did, the Christian community would not be so anti-self defense / anti-handgun. The proliferation of handguns in society is by law-abiding citizens for the protection of the innocent. So pastor, you can stand on your pulpit and pontificate how holy you are. I, on the other hand, will carry my handgun and recommend the same to others who are like minded. We will put ourselves on the line between good & evil. We will protect people like you who are too sanctimonious to carry a gun, yet rely upon others for your safety. Shalom
    By the way, I just happen to be a Yeshua believing Jew.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_S3YJDPIC7MDN7F43RFNPXPG5JQ yahoo-S3YJDPIC7MDN7F43RFNPXPG5JQ

    Alcohol is being used by law abiding citizens who then kill theirs and other families when driving drunk and other situations. People are dying all over the world because of alcohol. Yet, because you want your dinner cocktail, or a glass of wine, or a beer after you finish mowing the lawn, those deaths will continue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rlee.emerysgt Rlee Emerysgt

    Yawn geez, all that describes is a response to a verbal attack on your faith, nothing more, try again!

    Yet you cant refute the truth of God helps those who help themselves. Sitting around praying for a miracle when all one has done is pray is utter hypocrisy and trust me, have seen too much hypocrisy of so called righteous people hiding behind the veil of religion.

    Conveniently didnt address controlling free will, just as well, no one can.

    You can choose to be a physical martyr, not I. Yet I go to my end with a clear conscious regardless of that choice.

    One fine June day in 1983, I stopped by my parents to drop some groceries off during lunch time and as I walked in, I heard my 5’1″ 100lb mothers dynamite going off yelling (usually reserved for yours truly when I yanked her chain too much, kinda onery when younger, lol). As I peel around the corner into the living room, there is a rather intimidating 6’2″ 300+lb monster trying to break in the sliding back door.

    I hollered for him to leave and he responded with an FU and continued his effort.

    Now even being just out of the USMC and in great shape, telling me to FU in my families home really wasnt very smart. In the seconds of seeing this man, I decided I had no wish to engage this monster in hand to hand as I did not have suprise to offset some of his obvious size and strength advantages. My old hand to hand instructors drilled this irrefutable fact, in hand to hand, if you can engage them, they can engage you and unlike hollywood fantasy, your opponent will get a piece of you, maybe even get lucky and win. You willing to risk those you love on a what if chance, I am not.

    If I have the advantage in a hand to hand situation, the opponent will be visiting the emergency room at best. But less likely the older I get.

    Instead, I pull my 4″ Model 29 custom .44 mag out and whipped it up right on his nose as I started to squeeze the trigger. Funny how I had to break the then law of no concealed carry in order to protect my mother.

    Never saw anyone that size, run so fast while crapping their pants.

    Come to find out this guy had a lengthy felony rap sheet with numerous violent assaults on women.

    Where were the police? Oh thats right, they only get there as a rule to clean up after the crime is committed. Besides, by law they are not legally liable to protect the individual civilian.

    So you infer due to your experience that I should have just sat there and let that monster break in and attack as someone who gets caught trying to break in and doesnt then turn away isnt intent on just robbing you.

    No doubt in my or my families mind that I saved my mother from a viscious attack that day, maybe even death. Did I have time to pray and wonder how this would turn out, no.

    Did not wait and pray, I helped my mother.

    So pardon me if I dont think too much of those whose only response to a physical attack is to turn the other cheek.

    Stockholm syndrome comes to mind in your case.

    Bans and controls on morals have never worked.

    As to environment, lol, uh better get rght on that fixing the seven sins of man, one parent households, drugs use, cartels, gangs, greed, lust, envy, avarice, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, as that is the environemntal training grounds for violence.

    Controls on firearms that do not work to begin with and being that the BATF/Govt refuse to enforce the background checks (less than 1% of the time etc, etc, etc, etc), yet a few misguided zealots claim they are the BIGGEST problem, all without facts to defend their position.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-G-Spivey/830952527 Michael G Spivey

    The prohibition is against murder not self defense.

    He that
    suffers his life to be taken from him by one that
    hath no authority for that purpose, when he might
    preserve it by defense, incurs the Guilt of self
    murder since God hath enjoined him to seek the
    continuance of his life, and Nature itself teaches
    every creature to defend itself.

  • sooner4ever

    Just wait until some drug crazed lunatic comes into his house, beats him silly, and then rapes his daughter. All before looting the house. That is, if the perp doesn’t kill them all first. Of course, you can be sweet and naive all you want. You’ll just get to meet Jesus face-to-face sooner. And when He asks, what you did to protect your family, you answer, “I died.” Good one.

  • Ben

    Bruce,
    I appreciate the way you approach this and that you don’t consider this issue to be a test of faith. This is the kind of conversation that I wish we could have on many issues within the church, but so many seem to divide instead of unify.

    That said, I have to disagree with your stance and what I believe the Bible says about self defense and the defense of others. Others have mentioned that Jesus told his disciples to take a sword with them, but consider that for Peter to have used his sword at Gethsemane, he was carrying it with him. Why did Jesus say nothing to him before that incident? I believe that Jesus knew what had to happen and knew that a physical fight was not how God would bring salvation. I think this is an isolated incident of Jesus rebuking self defense because of the unique circumstances surrounding it, not a blanket ban on defending oneself.

    Having a gun, even carrying a gun, does not make a person more violent, just more prepared. I have never been arrested, never been in a fight, and I do all I can to avoid any kind of conflict. Several people that know me well call me ‘gentle Ben’. All this to say the following: I carry a gun whenever it is legal to do so and train to use it well, actually feel naked without one. I hope I never have any cause to even pull it out of the holster, but if I must to defend my loved ones, I will.

    A word on that. Drawing my gun and shooting someone would be my absolute last resort option. I would do everything possible to avoid a situation where my gun was needed, would never provoke a fight or even an argument. But if I truly feel that my life or my loved ones’, or another innocent person’s life, was at stake, I would use it in a heartbeat. Never for personal possesions of any kind, they don’t matter a whit to me, only things of eternal value. I would much rather talk to the guy about Jesus, but if he doesn’t give me an option, I’ll do what I have to.

    While I train with my guns in case I have to use them, (I do hunt and shoot recreationally as well), I am also training to be the best Christian witness that I can. I have a BA from a Bible college and am in my second year of Seminary right now. That training is vastly more important to me than that which I do with my guns, but one does not exclude the other.

    I respect you for digging in deeply to this issue and sticking to your guns (no pun intended) on what you feel God is calling you to do. I’ll respectfully disagree and go on loving you as a brother in Christ. I hope this discussion and blog post serves to unify the Church and not divide it.

  • TJ

    I am a Christian and a Church Elder. In Titus, chapter 1, elders are called to be shepherds of the flock, protecting them from wolves. This protection is not just from tainted teaching and doctrine, but protecting the flock as would a shepherd, (i.e. David, Jesus) protect the sheep. Jesus, in righteous anger, drove out the money changers from the temple. Some would say that was a violent action. I say he was protecting the temple and protecting the flock. Wisconsin recently had a shooting at a place of worship in which several were killed. This is not one isolated case. These things happen. You may choose to be a sheep. You may wish to not defend yourself if attacked. I will choose to be a shepherd. I will do what is needed to protect the flock, even if it means arming myself to prevent harm to come upon the flock. My protection against false doctrine and teaching is the Word of God. My shepherd’s staff to protect the flock from violence is a sidearm. I am well versed in using both.

  • Legion7

    Jesus actually DID say “get a sword, even if you must sell your clothes” to his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_S3YJDPIC7MDN7F43RFNPXPG5JQ yahoo-S3YJDPIC7MDN7F43RFNPXPG5JQ

    Does the phrase “Congress shall make no law…” have the same meaning with religious terrorists blowing up whole cities as it did 200 years ago.

    With religious fanatics having the power to gain WMDs, we cannot afford a society with the free exercise of religion.

    My proposals really don’t infringe upon “rights.”

    1) All ministers go through state-provided training to ensure they have a rightful, state-approved understanding of their religion, and what it allows and doesn’t allow.

    2) Sermons are submitted 1 month in advance to be screened by authorities for improper topics.

    3) Children are impressionable and may not know the difference between reasonable and unreasonable religion teaching so they shall not receive any religious training until the age of 18.

    By following these simple regulations we can certainly put a stop to not only all suicide bombers but also abortion clinic bombers and those who would stand in the way of society moving forward on important issues such as gay marriage.

  • Barry Hirsh

    Exactly. No matter where you are, dead is dead.

  • Simple Truth

    Excellent point. If the author is going to be consistent, he should never own a hammer, because people have murdered people with a hammer in the past and will do so in the future. People have murdered people using automobiles – guess he can’t own one of those either. The list goes on and on.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_S3YJDPIC7MDN7F43RFNPXPG5JQ yahoo-S3YJDPIC7MDN7F43RFNPXPG5JQ

    A passage that illustrates this is Acts 23. A plot to kill Paul is hatched (by 40 assassins) and he is moved by night to another city. As protection he receives an ARMED escort of 200 soldiers, 200 spearmen, and 70 horsemen. There is no objection by Paul and no comment as to why this is incorrect by Luke (the author). Paul did not refuse the escort and demand that the Lord supernaturally protect him.

  • Simple Truth

    The article above says, ” viewed through a lens of the Christian faith violence of any kind cannot be justified.”

    That is 100% unBiblical. It is unscriptural when it comes to self-defense and it is unscriptural when it comes to capital punishment.

    The author is simply another liberal who wants to promote liberal views and try and stamp “Christian” on those views.

  • Barry Hirsh

    Then, perhaps while you’re exercising your right to practice your religion unimpeded any way you wish, you will be so kind as to respect our right to exercise our right to arms any way WE wish.

    Sound fair?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tec-Sg-Beatty/100003397673038 Tec Sg Beatty

    Christains should stand together, but not against “gun violence”. They should stand together against ALL UNJUST violence.
    Pastor, I believe you do a disservice by not attending to the Righteous defense of innocent life, as written in the Book.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_S3YJDPIC7MDN7F43RFNPXPG5JQ yahoo-S3YJDPIC7MDN7F43RFNPXPG5JQ

    Bruce… I have no problem with your personal convictions about most anything. I have Christian friends who won’t go bowling or to baseball games because they serve alcohol there. So be it.

    As long as you don’t attempt to interfere with my right to keep and bear arms I will never interfere with you and your beliefs. The moment you choose to attempt to decide through the political or legal system what is best for me and mine, well, then you’ve moved to personal to public… and that opens you up for me to raise holy hell down upon you (metaphorically speaking, of course.)

    Be as persuasive as you want on the concept of what you consider proper Christian behavior. Just don’t cross the line into political activism on the subject and we’ll be jake.

  • me

    Luke 22:36 New King James Version (NKJV)
    Then He (Jesus)said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.”Sounds like Jesus wants us to be prepared………

  • cypress

    Using a gun in self defense is not about revenge. It is not “repaying evil for evil”. It’s about stopping the violence right then and there. Singling out violence by the tool used to commit it is foolish, whether by gun, knife, baseball bat, rocks, fists, dead is just as dead. There is a difference between murder and killing. I’m still going to carry, because stopping evil is good and it just makes sense.

  • http://stitchinguptheseams.wordpress.com/ Stitching Seams

    Your graciousness in response to disagreement is encouraging. Thank you.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Matt. 5:38-39
    Matt. 5:43-48
    Luke 6:27-28
    Matt. 26:52
    Matt. 5:9

    Any of those help? What verse did you find “God helps those who help themselves” in? I can’t seem to find it in my Bible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rich-Haynes/100000145346677 Rich Haynes

    Protecting life is good. Not protecting life in the face of evil is bad. What are the best tools for protecting life?

  • Rev. Paul T. McCain

    So, Bruce, you are saying you would kill somebody trying to murder your wife and children? If so, I apologize, for missing that thought in your essay.

  • http://stitchinguptheseams.wordpress.com/ Stitching Seams

    I think for me the question still remains, in cases of abuse, am I morally obligated to allow myself to be abused.

    As I’m sure you can understand, this is a difficult topic for me to grapple with. I can’t change the past. I know that paralysis during sexual assault is normal, and I have even been told by others that if an assault turns violent that I should submit lest further harm be done (as if sexual assault isn’t inherently violent?). That then contradicts the voices of those who do place blame on my shoulders for not fighting back, or in their words, “allowing” it to happen.

    The reason I bring any of this up at all on this thread is because my question and doubt does extend beyond the realm of sexual assault. I am a pacifist; my husband is not. And his argument is always that he needs to be able to protect me – and considering where I work and incidents that happened to me where I work, his concern is quite valid. I am always very conflicted.

    The most concrete “solution” I’ve personally been able to work out is that peace ought to always be the answer. But there are those who will not listen to words, who for whatever reason – in a particular moment or as a way of life – will not understand or cease their attack until they are physically forced to. However, I feel that this is an incomplete answer.

  • http://stitchinguptheseams.wordpress.com/ Stitching Seams

    Luke 6:29 – “Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also…”
    Matthew 5:43-48 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    There’s actually nowhere in the Bible where it says that God helps those who help themselves. That originated with Aesop’s Fables, though it’s commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin.

    I don’t think anyone is saying that we want to control free will so much as create an environment in which the ability to easily cause physical harm to another person is lessened. Whether this affects the desire to cause physical harm remains to be seen, though I suspect that it won’t do much.

    I’m also unsure why you’re directing this response to me. Are you saying that my inability to fight back against my attacker means that I wasn’t helping myself and therefore God didn’t help me?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Miguel-Gonzalez/1559615087 Miguel Gonzalez

    Call me silly, but as a gun owner and a Christian, I am against all violence against the innocent. “Gun Violence” reeks of Pharisee-Speak trying to uselessly put a fast one through Our Lord. He ain’t buying.

    “The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I
    am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like
    this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I
    get.”
    Luke 18:11-12

  • Chas

    I have a sneaking suspicion that you would be grateful if you or your family were to ever benefit from someone else being a gun owner.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rlee.emerysgt Rlee Emerysgt

    Yawn, yeah right, firearms are the root cause of violence.

    Mental health experts have reviewed this endlessly.

    A minor mental illness that believes an inanimate object has the supernatural powers to load, aim, and fire itslef is a FETISHISM.

    However, this minor mental illness can become much more evolved, where the belief said inanimate object now has the supernatural powers to speak and use esp to force a person in close proximity to commit a violent act. These people who hear voices and must obey are for the most part locked up for being the loveable and violent schizophrenics they are.

    Based on your statement, you are like the Holmes and Loughners of the world, someone has not done their civic duty to notify the local authorities and have you committed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rlee.emerysgt Rlee Emerysgt

    Ownership makes even more sense in urban and city environments where the violence is even more concentrated and the police are still incapable by ruling of law, and reality of defending the individual civilian (only solve 8.06% of all violent crimes on avg), many times response times can be hours.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rlee.emerysgt Rlee Emerysgt

    Explain again where the bible explicitly says you are to be a physical martyr?

    I was always taught God helps those who help themselves!

    Free will, the right to choose.

    Since God can not control free will, otherwise everyone would be righteous gentle beings guaranteed to go to heaven, explain again how mere mortals intend to control free will?

  • Walk

    Thanks, Bruce, for another thoughtful essay/blog post. Don’t underestimate the vast difference between rural, urban, and suburban life. I’ve been a ‘country preacher’ in a very rural area, where many, especially the poor, hunt to supplement their food. One law enforcement officer may patrol an area of 100 square miles or much larger and not be available when you need them. Gun ownership makes sense there and it is not just heritage.

    There is also a huge difference between families with children and those without. I did not own a handgun while I had children, especially teenage boys, in the house. Now I do. We also did not have a swimming pool until the children were very good swimmers.

    I think your theology is shaped more by your urban context than you realize.

  • Simple Truth

    Old Testament – killing another in self-defense is totally acceptable. New Testament, Jesus told his disciples to buy a sword – and Jesus didn’t say to hang it on the wall as a conversation piece.

    It’t not about your faith, because faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

    You are standing on your opinion and calling it faith.

  • http://www.digitalundivide.com/ Android Guy

    Guns are being used by law abiding citizens to kill their families. People are dying all over the world because of guns.

  • Lindsey

    I would say that I agree with you about 90% but I wonder what you make of this part of Luke 22 because it’s been brought up to me in discussions such as this:

    35 He [Jesus] said to them, ‘When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?’ They said, ‘No, not a thing.’
    36He said to them, ‘But now, the one who has a
    purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword
    must sell his cloak and buy one.
    37For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled
    in me, “And he was counted among the lawless”; and indeed what is
    written about me is being fulfilled.’
    38They said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ He replied, ‘It is enough.’

  • heydoug

    A excellent article on the other side to the story:
    http://www.biblicalselfdefense.com/

  • LM

    Proof texting, anyone?

  • http://www.facebook.com/RevClay Clay Thomas

    Look at you. Choosing to live on Kingdom of God terms and not the world’s terms. It’s interesting how quickly the conversation always shifts to hypothetical. It’s troubling how justified we feel in our need for (false) security. The saints who have gone before us and among us cared first about imitating Christ. I can’t see the truly human, truly divine popping a cap in someone. Thanks for carving out a little room for hunters. Might just get a little venison jerky for your kindness.

  • Ken3

    Romans 14 clearly applies to the question of “To what degree do we use these weapons?”. Bruce, I believe this solves your personal hesitation to judge others, and drives your early points home quite neatly. A citizen of Chicago, for example, has little need to save his best sheep from a coyote attack – although one in rural Illinois might differ. Each must do with his full heart what glorifies God, and we snowflakes here in creation have different functions and abilities to do so.

  • Peace4All

    Preach!! AMEN and Hallelujah! I’ll stand with you! This describes my exact same feelings on the subject!

  • Jeff_Z

    Full disclosure: I’m a Soldier.

    Bruce, Have you reflected on what your position would be if you were a native of Syria?

    Frankly, it’s easy to not own or even want a gun in this country.

    Also, it seems pretty clear that God expects his people to take care of the weak. When many of the Scriptures were written, weakness was personified by the widow and the orphan. However, the weak are many. Are Christians in the U.S. in a position to advocate for the oppressed in Syria? Should they? With violence?

    Absolutes, like the title (“never” owning a gun), should cause us to pause and say is there never a role for the gun? Or for the rock that God commanded to stone the guilty? Both can be tools for justice or evil.

    I’m reminded of the writing of C. S. Lewis, “It is a mistake to think that some of our impulses – say mother love or patriotism – and others, like sex or the fighting instinct are bad. All we mean is that the occasions on which the fighting instinct or the sexual desire need to be restrained are rather more frequent than those for restraining mother love or patriotism.”

    Can violence never produce good?

    Can non-violence ever be evil?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/breyeschow/ Bruce Reyes-Chow

    While there is much that I might take issue with in your assessments and assumptions, I’ll sign off as you did and say . . . respectfully received.

  • Pete Sorrells

    Bruce,

    As a Christian brother it so saddens me to see your post. You are claiming a few scriptures to support your position, while ignoring all the rest of scripture which supports self defense, protecting the innocent, defending against atacking armies, in which the citizens themselves had to do the fighting. The Mosaic law is clear on self desense. Indeed, you are ignoring the fact that the twelve disciples – Jesus’ closest friends- owned swords. If they had walked the earth a few thousand years earlier, I suppose they’d have used sticks and rocks. If they were walking the earth now instead of two thousand years ago, they would be carrying guns – the technology of the day. And He did not speak against them – He told them to bring the swords along on their second mission. To argue against one’s right to self- defense is not logical, and is not supported by scripture. Turning the other cheek is in response to a strike – not a violent, deadly, evil attack on you or your family. In fact, your blog seems to indicate that even police (many of whom are also Christians) should never shoot a criminal to protect innocents. You might want to envision just what you would do when a drug-crazed, serial killer/rapist comes through a window of your home to rape and murder your own family. You might want to also consider the scripture that says if you don’t take care of your own family, you are wose than an unbeliever. (no offense intended). Owning a firearm and being trained to use it to defend one’s family and other innocents, does not make one a violent person. Quite the opposite. If you or I had been in the theater in Coloado, watching dozens of people die, would it not be better to save them by stopping the bad guy? That is stopping violence, not creating violence. Respectfully submitted.

  • http://twitter.com/RevGmoney Halos Sweep Red Sox

    Thanks for this Stitchy…

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/breyeschow/ Bruce Reyes-Chow

    Thanks Brian. As you can tell from some of the other comments, there are many who would disagree with us both.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/breyeschow/ Bruce Reyes-Chow

    Bryan. On this we obviously differ, though I would be interested in your religious tradition and how that has influenced your current stand/position.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/breyeschow/ Bruce Reyes-Chow

    You hit on one the most difficult of topics raised. I debated whether I wanted to exegete that passage any further in that I DO NOT think think that the “turn the other cheek” passage was about offering yourself to more violence, but culturally it was a sign of public shaming. Lastly, as one who knows folks who have been sexually assaulted, my heart breaks for any and all people who must deal with the attach as well as the aftermath.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/breyeschow/ Bruce Reyes-Chow

    Paul . . . I think you must have missed the part where I do say that we do this as a natural part of our self-preservation AND that it is socially acceptable, so I certainly would. I will say that, not having a gun in my home does limit my ability to actually kill someone.

  • http://stitchinguptheseams.wordpress.com/ Stitching Seams

    I am very strongly a pacifist.

    However.

    Secondly, nowhere in Scripture does Jesus give us permission to solve our problems, respond to aggression or even defend ourselves with violence. In word and in deed, we are often called to fight injustice and violence with words and actions that are distinctly NOT violent, even in self-defense.

    This very thing was very influential in my life when I was sexually assaulted. My assault did not last long, and there were a myriad of factors for me to consider. While I literally physically could not fight back due to paralysis by fear (not to mention being physically restrained by my attacker), the brief thought I had as to whether I should fight back or not was silenced in part by “turn the other cheek.”

    In fact, this teaching led me to tears in the dean of students office when I was asking to be removed from the class in which I was assaulted. I asked that my attacker be suspended for a time, and that teachers be made aware of what happened because I believed it to be a pattern of his. I felt so very deeply guilty for even this, because I believed that I was being neither forgiving nor fighting injustice in a way that was acceptable.

    I was further tormented by “well-meaning” friends who used my lack of fighting back to indicate that I either desired the assault or was responsible for it.

    I mention this largely because I suspect I am not alone in my experience. And I’m curious whether this line of thinking must always lead to non-violent retaliation, particularly in cases of sexual assault.

  • Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Problem is Christ did order his disciples to take swords with them as the went on on their mission work.

    I’m a Christian, a pastor, and an enthusiastic supporter of the Second Ammendment and the right to *keep* and *bear * arms.

    I stridently disagree with you.

    Would you actually not try to save your wife and children if a person was trying to kill them, if you could? If you had a gun and could stop that horrible thing from happening, are you telling us you would be willing to let them be killed via a senseless act of crime? You would be willing to stand there and watch your children killed and wife raped and then killed?

  • Bryan

    Sorry but I prefer the old Christian ways. Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.leport Brian LePort

    Bruce,

    Excellent post and very well said. I won’t own a gun for the same reason and I come from a family that loves guns. It seems odd to them, but I can’t find justification to own one. I don’t hunt for animals and I don’t feel comfortable with “defending” myself with such a lethal weapon (maybe a broom stick to disable someone or something like that!). Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I hope people engage this post with civility and respect!


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