God, Gun Control, and the Gospel: Where Is Our Hope?

God, Gun Control, and the Gospel: Where Is Our Hope? February 25, 2013

I’m a big fan of guns. Anyone who follows along here regularly at FaithWalkers knows that. I think guns play a vital role in securing our liberty to worship God freely in the United States.

But I’m a fan of laws, as well. And I think that guns can do a lot of harm when used improperly. So I see both the value of laws to provide boundaries on our freedoms to own guns, and I see the value of owning guns to protect those freedoms.

In this ongoing gun control debate in our society, my concern is that we Christ-followers may lose sight of the simple need to walk by faith and not by sight:

Some trust in laws and some in guns, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (My modern rendition of Psalm 20:7)

If we Christians are not careful, we risk making one mistake in two seemingly opposite directions. To paraphrase then-candidate Barack Obama, we risk clinging bitterly either to our guns or to our laws. As if they could save us. As if the gospel of Jesus Christ were not greater than both. As if the advance of the Kingdom of Heaven depended on either tougher gun control laws or freer gun access.

A Faith-based News Flash

If every gun restriction were lifted tomorrow, the gospel of Jesus Christ would still go forward.

If every gun were banned by law and confiscated tomorrow, the Kingdom of Heaven would roll on unhindered.

Don’t get me wrong. Such changes might make it more challenging for us to be faithful to Christ’s call to make disciples.

For example, if we roll back laws to the point that we unwittingly welcome anarchy, we will, no doubt, find it more challenging to share the good news of Christ and make disciples in a destablilizing society. In the extreme, sharing your faith with your neighbor could get you a bullet in the head.

On the other hand, if we roll back the right to own guns to the point that tyrrany takes hold, we will meet stiff resistance to sharing the news of freedom in Christ and ultimate allegiance to a King other than Caesar. In the extreme, sharing your faith with your neighbor could get you a bullet in the head.

But there’s the rub, isn’t it? We’re worried about that whole bullet-in-the-head thing. We’re far too concerned about minimizing friction that comes from being obedient to Christ. (Tweet this!)

I confess that I have at times embraced some end-of-the-world thinking on this issue. And I know I’m not the only one or even the most extreme among us. We tend to think that if certain laws don’t get passed or if certain laws do get passed, then “disaster beyond imagination will occur!” But the gospel exists apart from guns and human laws.

While we rightly want to make the world safe for the sharing of the gospel of Christ, we should not fear the consequences of doing so in any environment. After all, Jesus warned us that the gospel will meet resistance. He warned us that we will likely suffer — even unto death.

 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:18-20)

Where Is Our Hope?

Somewhere along the way in Western Christianity, I think we’ve become more committed to keeping the peace than sharing the gospel. I confess that I do not relish the thought of suffering for Christ. I also think that further restricting access to guns will likely lead to tyranny which will likely result in persecution for those committed to sharing the gospel. Yet I and Christians on both sides of this issue must acknowledge by faith that, at the end of the day, neither laws nor guns can separate us from the love of Christ and our allegiance to His cause.

When it comes right down to it, where is our trust? In laws? In guns?

What if both fail? Then what? How freaked out would we be and what does that say about our faith?

As I pondered these questions, the words of the hymn Rejoice, The Lord Is King by Charles Wesley came to mind. Funny, I haven’t heard it of late in modern Christianity. Maybe it needs to be dusted off and reinserted into our liturgy:

Rejoice, the Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore;

Rejoice, give thanks, and sing, And triumph evermore:

Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;

Rejoice; again I say, Rejoice!


Our Savior Jesus reigns, The God of truth and love;

When he had purged our stains, He took his seat above:

Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;

Rejoice; again I say, Rejoice!


His Kingdom cannot fail; He rules over earth and heaven;

The keys of death and hell Are to our Jesus given:

Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;

Rejoice; again I say, Rejoice!


He sits at God’s right hand Till all his foes submit

And bow to his command And fall beneath his feet:

Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;

Rejoice; again I say, Rejoice!

Like it or not, our hope must be in His Kingdom that cannot fail. Neither bullets nor the lack thereof can ultimately stop the growth of the stone that was carved without hands. “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed…. [I]t shall stand forever….” (Dan. 2:44)

God laughs equally (would scoff sound more theologically correct?) at those who trust in gun control laws as He does at those who trust in guns. Each has a legitimate place in His world. Each can easily become a counterfeit God, an idol in which we vainly put our trust.

The gun is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. (My modern version of Psalm 33:17)

For not in my gun do I trust, nor can gun control laws save me. (My modern version of Psalm 44:6)

Where is your hope?

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  • Preston S.

    Our hope should be in nothing but Christ agreed. but, per
    “God laughs equally (would scoff sound more theologically correct?) at those who trust in gun control laws as He does at those who trust in guns.”:

    would you say that both views in their extreme are correct?
    I get the feeling that you dont :), but I believe that freedom is a biblical principle, and that guns are included in that freedom and that a certain amount of gun control infringes that freedom.
    I know that “trust” per the quote validates the statement, but would you agree biblically with the same if the word “Believe” (or a synonimical rendition) were used instead?

    • Hey Preston! Short answer — no. Using the word believe would change the statement. I would say both views in their extreme are in-correct. The fact is that any one of us can trust in the means more than we trust in the one who provides the means. We could say that those who trust in money trust in a vain thing — yet there is aproper place for it in God’s Kingdom.

  • Matt Thornton

    Bill –

    Thanks for the thoughtful post, and especially for a willingness to consider multiple, conflicting points of view with honesty and good grace. Much appreciated in these divisive days!

    One consideration though, on the point about ownership of guns and the liklihood of tyranny. I hear lots of arguments of the general form “My gun is my last line of defence against my overreaching government”. This point of view is not only a-historical from the perspective of the US Constitution and the second amendment, it’s patently unworkable. A tryannical government, especially one in a rich country like the US, will not be slowed by your (or your neighbor’s) assualt rifles. The whole point of tyranny is to take control of a society and its wealth by force, and if you have illusions of citizen soldiers facing off against a modern, drone-equipped, laser guided military, then your friends have very diffferent weapons from mine! I’m no stranger to this, BTW – in my neck of the woods ammunition is purchased by the pallet, not the case.

    More generally, I think there is a deep narrative at work here, where a frontier community defends itself against a distant, and somewhat disinterested, opponent. In the modern world, governments are anything but, and the only question to be answered in a citizen’s armed insurrection would be how long the bloodshed would last, and whether the ultimate result would be just decimation or actual genocide.

    Basically, you can’t win an escalating war against fighter jets, nuclear weapons, satellites and drones without similar hardware of your own, and I don’t think that’s what you’re advocating.

    Given that all that, I’m very cautious of ‘defense against tyranny’ arguments, and generally assume they say far more about the person making them than about any sort of reality that might actually occur when the safety switches come off.


    • Thanks, Matt.

      I agree that you cannot easily resist a well-armed tyrranical government (though I would note Afghanistan and other geurilla warfare situations where that approach has had some success through attrition). But in our setting of avolunteer military force, it would be more difficult to convince them to act against the people, I hope, with that hardware.

      As to “defense against tyranny” arguments, I would point to our Foudners as being pretty concerned about it. Perhaps that’s where some of that fear comes from, an attempt to be true to that perception of our “founding principles?”

      And, no. For the record, I am not advocating fighter jets for all. Maybe just me a few close friends…. 🙂

  • Gene Bernstein

    I think as Western Christians we forget a few simple things. If we are to pray in the pattern of our Lord and Saviour:
    9 Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
    10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
    11 Give us this day our daily bread.
    12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
    13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

    Then we are inviting the Lord’s will to have total sway in our lives. “Thy Kingdom Come” is no phrase to be taken lightly. We are inviting the Lord to usher in his Kingdom, and all the suffering and pain that will cause us to have to be perfected in Him.
    This post that you have made in regards to guns, is the only well-balanced one I have seen anywhere, from a true, honest, and complete Christian perspective. There may well be another Civil War coming to the U.S.A. over these issues. As believers, we are called to be unwavering servants the the Lord of Hosts. This really means that as things degrade, as they surely will, we are to allow the Lord to put us through the full refiner’s fire.
    Think about how coal (carbon, one of the building blocks of us) is turned into diamonds. Deep in the ground, under tremendous heat from volcanic activity, and pressure, combined in just the right amount, for just the right length of time turns ugly, cheap, basic coal into beautiful diamonds. They same is the process of sanctification. I would submit to you that only in these end times upon us, in all of human history, is the most perfect of heat, pressure, and ultimately suffering available to us as believers. Let me re-frame that for you. In all of human history, we are being presented with the unique opportunity for uniquely powerful suffering for the Lord’s sake! Brothers and sisters, this excites me! Count it a joy when all manner of trials are upon you.

    • Good point s all, Genee! Thanks for contributing. Although we all have to admit it’s easier said than done, right?

  • Jennifer

    I look at guns as a “do unto others” issue. I think that most of us realize instinctually as well as intellectually that being able to do anything we want to without boundaries or restrictions would be a bad thing. Can you imagine trying to paint a masterpiece without knowing how paints work? Or what would happen if you ate dozens of donuts a day? Do we think it is more “loving” to allow our children to hit others? Or to play in traffic because we don’t want to impose our will? So speaking in generalities, then, I think most of us find rules beneficial and even loving, though we may disagree on exactly which rules should be imposed. Guns, in my opinion, can be a useful tool in helping to maintain loving boundaries. They are, if used appropriately, a way of saying “I will not let you do this thing because it is bad for both of us”. If I was ever going to make a terrible choice that could gravely hurt another person I would want someone to stop me.

    Having said this, I have concerns about the spiritual dangers of guns. Guns give us the ability to distance ourselves from a situation. There is a great difference between fighting to defend yourself or others in close combat and with being able to shoot someone dead from a distance. I think it is all too easy to use a gun from a feeling of anger, revenge and rage from this distance. and this makes guns less a useful tool and more an expression of negative power. When you combine this with the emotions running high on both sides of the gun ownership debate in the United States, I think it would be difficult to use a gun in a Christian way. I sincerely hope and pray that a peaceful resolution to the division over guns in the United States can take place.

  • Eddie Buchanan

    Good article but I disagree with your statements about resisting government tyranny. To begin with, it would be civilian law enforcement enforcing gun laws such as confiscation-not the military. I don’t see fighter jets ever being a factor since the goal is to enslave, not kill. I do, however, see the potential for police SWAT teams to be utilized for this purpose. And if so, high powered rifles would be a very effective means of defense. I write this as a 20 year veteran of law enforcement who now is employed by a large federal agency. Thankfully, I can say without any doubt that orders to take firearms from law abiding citizens would NOT be obeyed by the majority of agents and police officers and we would side with the people. I pray that we never get to the point of needing to take up arms to defend our God-given rights against a tyrannical government. But if we do, I hope as many people as possible are prepared.

    • You bring an interesting perspective given your position. I’d love to hear other readerrs jump in with their thoughts about the need for such weapons given your argument. I suspect they woudl say, wouldn’t such resistance to SWAT, etc. simply prolong the inevitable?

  • malcoda

    I have really been thinking about the issue of whether or not a Christian can kill another person who is trying to kill them. I believe this question is the crux of the gun control situation. After studying the OLD testament I can clearly see that the laws and basic meanings of the OLD testament scriptures support the action of killing someone else who is trying to kill you. They also support the idea of killing someone who has committed adultery. HOWEVER, there is the NEW testament. I believe that Jesus, while not abolishing the old laws, fulfilled their purpose and REFINED those laws. Today…we would not KILL an adulterer because Jesus showed us by specific example to have mercy on them. Jesus also taught us that we should LOVE our enemies. To give the thief MORE instead of protecting your property. Yes…he did say to buy swords…but he clearly did NOT want those swords used since he yelled at Peter for doing so. I suggest that the reason he said to buy swords was simply to make people see that a spiritual battle was coming for a spiritual kingdom. He didn’t actually mean to go out and buy swords! In the new testament Jesus teaches us that we must rely on God. That when we try to be in control of the craziness around us…we only make things worse. We must have faith in GOD to control the things around us. I truly believe that if someone tries to kill us, we should try to run away, or just cover up and defend…and PRAY HARD. What happens to us in our lives is ALLOWED by GOD…for GOD’s purpose. I pray that God never decides to allow some crazy person to break into my house and kill my family, but if it DOES happen…then it would be absolutely wrong in God’s eyes to kill that person. When Jesus was attacked he either ran away, or let them kill him. We should follow his example.