Following Jesus: The Best Gun Control Ever!

The Central Valley of California is similar to most of rural America. It’s an area with lots of traditional folks, many who love God and desire to serve Christ in all things. Places like the Valley at times carry the baggage of some sloppy theology, handed down from fundamentalism and the Religious Right. For this reason, I grew up believing that the will of God and the will of the conservative version of the United States were one in the same. I also grew up believing that the US Constitution and its Amendments were God’s gifts to humanity, including the law that gave us rights to own guns. In fact, guns were normal in my family and shooting shotguns at skeet is admittedly fun. I never considered myself a gun enthusiast, but I was certainly willing to shoot them when I was at a family gathering or with the guys.

As part of a “man pact,” I even owned a shotgun for a time. About 6 of us agreed in college (prior to my transition into Anabaptist theology) to pitch in $100 each time one of us got married. What this meant was that we would end up with $500 to spend on a gun of choice. Some chose handguns, but because my interest in guns was minimal, I used the money for a shotgun so that I could shoot skeet on occasion (I only ended up using my gun 3 times total).

Now, having embraced the nonviolent ethic of Jesus and the early church, I no longer have such a strong appreciation for guns. Yet, because of my history and my close friendships/familial relationships with gun enthusiasts, I’m not willing to demonize all people who are members of the NRA or who like to shoot stuff. I would question why some people like to kill (non-human) creatures “just for fun,” as I don’t think it honors the Creator who cares for the birds of the air. I would equally question why any Christian would have a loaded gun in their house when Jesus clearly teaches non-retaliation, but now I digress.

As a follower of the way of Jesus, I do what I can to stand outside of political debates, at least as the media tries to set them up. Binary categories and false demonization does nothing to facilitate the kind of dialogue that brings life-giving results. In order for Christians to maintain their witness, we would do well to start thinking about better ways of talking about gun ownership. I’m not anti-gun, but I do believe that these sorts of weapons should have limited (if any) use for those who are disciples of rabbi Jesus.

Can we really imagine Jesus with a loaded handgun under his pillow or a concealed weapons permit? The only uses that make sense, based on what I see in Scriptures under the New Covenant, include: 1) sport (with no intention of harming life), 2) hunting (for those who choose to hunt their game rather than participate in the corruption of factory farming), or 3) protection from predator-animals (not killing animals for fun, but saving human life when no other option exists).

If we concede that these are the only uses for guns in the United States, then I submit that following Jesus would be the best form of gun control. Imagine if every Christian either gave up their guns or drastically reduced their intent for using these weapons; gun control would become a non-issue for us believers to argue about!

I realize that this one article is not going to convince those who are not pacifists, but I feel compelled to be upfront about my actual convictions on this issue. With that said, I do think that some important things need to be stated about the sort of things I see Christians reasoning in support of low-restrictions on guns. I invite fellow Christians to consider a life where we all simply decided to S-T-O-P… stop; stop using the following arguments or taking the following stances to justify positions on gun control.

#1 Stop appealing to the 2nd Amendment as if it were the lost ending to the Gospel of Mark.

Something that makes zero sense is how people who love God could EVER make the Constitution the center of their argument. For the past several years, I’ve been disappointed by this tendency that I see in many sectors of conservative evangelicalism. And when it comes to the 2nd Amendment, do we really have to elevate it as though it were holy writ? If you believe that gun ownership is a “right,” show us that through the Scriptures, specifically through solid narrative/historical exegesis of the New Testament. After all, it’s not like the Amendment is the lost ending to the Gospel of Mark that has kept theologians scratching their heads for centuries. This is a law made by a pagan nation – let’s treat it as such.

#2 Stop metaphorically connecting the loss of certain guns to the Apocalypse.

Let’s get practical for a second, friends. First, the book of Revelation is primarily about something that happened in the past, specifically during the reign of the Caesars of the first century. Avoiding the connection to the last book of the Bible is a simple matter of biblical integrity.

Interestingly, many people have gone on record saying that private citizens need guns in case the US government becomes even more corrupt and forms a tyrannical dictatorship (or the like). Even if we believe that Christians can justify the use of violence, do we really believe that semi-automatic weapons would even stand a chance against bazookas, rockets, grenades, or even nukes? I’m not sure that this fanciful thinking justifies an outcry for low-regulated sales of the most destructive of guns.

#3 Stop clinging to guns as if they are central to one’s identity.

We all have hobbies or things that make us feel alive. Some of us play sports. Others love underwater basket weaving. Still others can’t get enough of Dungeons and Dragons. But, as Christians, any time these things become central to our identity, we may want to consider doing some soul-searching. The same is true of guns. Many people love weapons, and I get that. But, based on the passion in some of the people I’ve observed, I wonder if guns (like any other hobby) can become too centralized in one’s own self-understanding?

#4 Stop ignoring the rest of the modernized world as if American culture has the corner on gun control (or the lack there of).

One thing that I continue to discern is that most conservative Christians are quite content to view the world through an American-centric lens. Unfortunately, we often ignore our neighbors in all global directions, when in fact they may have some practical wisdom to offer. Why are US murder rates higher than many other Western cultures? I can’t claim to have the answer to that all sorted out, but we need to listen to voices that may expose our blind spots. Let’s avoid being so proud to be an American that we fail to recognize that this comes just before the proverbial fall. Maybe nations like the UK, New Zealand, Australia, and others have something to contribute to the gun discussion.

#5 Stop trusting guns as a source of personal security.

Many Christians have loaded guns in their homes. They honorably wish to protect their family against home invasion. I respect the motives of many of these good folks and refuse to cast judgments about their character. With that said, does this say anything about where our trust is rooted? I worry that if I had a loaded gun in my home for the protection of life and limb, that my source of security would be fixated in something other than God.

If we can stop the previous five approaches to the issue of guns, then perhaps we could start implementing several life-giving approaches to the gun conversation.

#1 Start appealing to the New Testament (which includes the Gospel of Mark, amongst other things).

I’m not suggesting that we should thump our Bible in the national political debate, but Christians would do well to posture themselves as humble, love-filled, Jesus followers. In order for this to happen, we really need to recapture the peaceful vision of the New Testament as evidenced in the life of the early church. Anything we say about our understanding of guns and violence ought to be informed by our only holy text! If we do so, we may find that much of the bantering that happens from Christians of various stripes may be rendered void.

#2 Start choosing to trust in God’s faithfulness to see us through even the worst of “apocalypses.”

No matter the circumstances, it seems to me that our freedom comes from the love of God, the self-giving of Christ, and the liberating power of the Holy Spirit. No nation or weapon guarantees this; for proof, just look at the church during the reigns of Tiberius, Nero, or Domitian. When Revelation was penned, the Christians had to choose to embrace the path of the peaceful Christ, even though it often led to persecution, and at times, death. God’s faithfulness, as we experience life in the Kingdom of God, can become the only thing we cling to, no matter the cultural conditions. Even if a new “beast” rises up and forces us to take the “mark” (of course I’m speaking metaphorically and not regurgitating futurist views of the “end times”), we can learn to trust the Father. Guns don’t save, only Jesus does!

#3 Start building one’s identity on the biblical and relational person of Jesus Christ and nothing else.

Our identity as followers of Christ can become immersed in the life of God if we relinquish ourselves to the reign of God. This is a lifetime sanctifying pursuit, but is indeed the life Jesus invites us into. This is something that I continue to struggle with, but I don’t want to give up. If our identity becomes dominated by hobbies, accomplishments, family, social groups, or even guns, we have a serious discipleship gap. Fortunately, we have a gracious God. Nevertheless, let’s strive to be the kind of people who avoid abusing God’s grace for our wants and agendas. Imagine a life where Christ is the center of our identity!

#4 Start recognizing that we are citizens of a global kingdom, not an isolated nation called the United States.

The reason that I named my blog “Pangea” is because of the vision of the Kingdom of God as one that transcends borders. In Ancient Greek, Pangea means – “entire” “earth.” It was the “super-continent” that was formed prior to the tectonic plates eventually shifting to break apart the world into the seven continents we currently know. Where this becomes a theological concept is the idea that God’s kingdom is one that unites the world under God’s perfect reign. We are united as a global church that takes our citizenship from a kingdom devised of every tribe, nation, and tongue. To this kingdom and to the King of Kings we give our full and primary allegiance, even as we sojourn in a land that is called America. Our identity as Christ-followers transcends the borders of any nation or anything else our culture creates to divide people. Listening to fellow Christians from other nations as legitimate sources of wisdom is the part of recognizing our true citizenship. This includes how we understand gun control.

#5 Start trusting that Christ is our only source of security and that our only weaponry is “spiritual” and never lethal.

As I’ve already said, I believe nonviolence is clearly taught in the New Testament. Even if you struggle with my conclusion, we both can agree that the only time that a weapon is talked about positively in the New Testament is when Paul speaks of the “armor of God” (see this series). We have all we need in God’s own resources to execute justice in the world. The only weapons we actually need is God’s weaponry. God is the ultimate source of security for those who follow Jesus. And as followers, we need to get better at knowing the Spirit of God inwardly so that we are empowered to express the deeds of Christ outwardly. When Jesus went to the cross, he did not pull out a weapon to fight back. Rather, Jesus “entrusted himself to the one who judges justly” providing “…an example so that you might follow in his footsteps” (see: 1 Peter 2.21-24). By entrusting our lives to God, divine resources become ours in life and in death.

I believe that following Jesus is the best gun control ever. If we become a united people who choose Christ’s Kingdom over our agendas, I believe that much of the debate would be rendered irrelevant. May we stop giving in to the rhetoric of popular culture and start embodying the way of Jesus when it comes to guns.

  • nathanjeffers

    “I’m not willing to demonize all people who are members of the NRA or who like to shoot stuff.”

    Wonderful piece, Kurt. I’ve been trying to think of a good way to approach this issue. I feel like too many people feel stuck between what they feel are the only two sides of the gun control debate (i.e. everyone should have a gun or no one should have a gun). But as with most political/social issues, we desperately need nuance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=6713080 David Castro

    well said kurt

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Thanks @facebook-6713080:disqus ! Lets hang soon bro!

  • markmasonjar

    Romans 13
    3 For
    rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no
    fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he
    is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he
    does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

    The Greek word Paul used for “servant” is sometimes rendered “minister.” It is the same word used to describe Timothy as a “minister” of the Gospel. Some are called by God to bear the sword or the AK-47 to defend justice or if need be – defend against tyranny. God has allowed us to be born into a country where we have a say. That “say” is what has permitted Americans to forward the gospel of the kingdom like no other country before her. We would not be the United States if “We the people…” had not taken up arms against tyranny & injustice.

    I have no criticism for genuine pacifist. I do, however, see the point of the NRA in combating any and all gun control measures as unconstitutional. The purpose for the 2nd Amendment was not so we could own a gun to hunt or protect against burglars. It was so the people could be a well regulated militia. The government needs to know that “WE the people gave them their power and “WE” the people can take it back.

    The 2nd Amendment reads:
    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free
    State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be
    infringed.”

    Nothing about hunting in there. Nothing about the bogeyman.

    We (USA) supply assault rifles to the rebels of other nations so they can overthrow wicked dictators yet our our government wants to restrict our access to these guns as if a revolution never occurred here due to tyranny and injustice.

    Yes, the final authority is the Word of God. Yes, I am a citizen of God’s kingdom ultimately. But he has allowed me to be born into a republic where I can have a say and if called upon I can give my life for the freedom and safety of the people…..even if they be Amish. “No greater love has a man than the one who give his life for a friend.”

    Retired Police Officer, Pastor, Evangelist, American gun owner and Christ Follower.
    Mark Mason

    • Brian Briggs

      You know I have the utmost respect for you Mark, but I have to say that I don’t agree with your usage of Romans 13:3-4 here. I am absolutely not anti-gun and I believe we should have the right to bear arms. However, the context of this passage puts the “sword” in the hands of the governing authorities, not the citizens. I don’t see how this has a leg to stand on as an argument for the right to bear arms. If anything, I think there’s a better chance of using this passage to argue for gun control (which you wont catch me doing!).

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

      Mark, if you’re a retired officer (my dad was a judge, so i’m very familiar with the Job) you know full well that it’s ludicrous to believe that a handful of people with shotguns and handguns are going to stop an army. i served in the Marine Corps, and trust me when i say: your average gun owner has NO chance of standing up on the field of fire. you could probably hack it, but a deer hunting skeet shooter? sorry.

      not to mention tanks, bomber planes, and other advanced weaponry that the military has, and the Little People don’t. and never will.

      the US military is the greatest in the history of the world, in terms of size, weaponry, and ability. even if you disagree with that statement, it’s still way, way too powerful for a group of gun owning citizens to successfully oppose.

      i prefer the pacifist method. it takes a lot of guts and courage to stand and face someone oppressing you, who has weapons and power. MLK proved that this method can and does work, as did Gandhi. you can create the society and government you want with pacifism. what you can’t do is win in a battle against the mightiest military machine since the Romans.

      • http://JamesArtre.com/ James Artre

        The most common way people give up their power, is thinking they don’t have any.

    • http://JamesArtre.com/ James Artre

      Well put, Mr. Mason.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Johnny-Ward/100002466030200 Johnny Ward

    Weekend (Gun Control) Movies

    See “Malice in
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    Janet NANNYPOLICEitano, Harry REEK, Joe BLIGHTden, Charles SCHEMER, and
    Michael BOOBberg.
    All theaters will expect to see a valid YID.

    (For a sneak preview of the next feature, Google “Control Hollywood, Not Guns.”)

  • Zeke

    I’ve always been a fan of yours, but this piece is just rubbish. Having a loaded gun in my house means my trust isn’t in God? Do you wear a seatbelt? Do you ever lock your car door? If so you must not be trusting in God according to your logic here. Come on, Kurt, you’re smarter than that.

    Obviously you’ve never had a family member be a victim of a random act of violence. I’m glad for that. But consider having a sister who had someone break into her house to violently rape her – you’re telling me she shouldn’t keep a gun for protection after that? Or if I’d walked in during it I shouldn’t use fatal force if necessary to stop the rapist? And that isn’t a hypothetical story by the way. These things happen every single day, and I don’t think Jesus would tell us to stand by and let it happen.

    One last point. I’ve heard several people lately, including you, sort of dismiss the Second Amendment because the government clearly could take people out with their advanced weaponry if they ever wanted to. Don’t you think that’s a problem, that the government has ridiculously more weaponry than the people it is protecting? It certainly is not a valid point for those of us who do take the Second Amendment seriously (though I’m not building my entire life upon it).

    Just seems like you’ve diverted here from your typically thoughtful reflections on following Jesus and theology to liberal and shallow talking points about gun control.

    And by the way, I’m not a gun nut, or a right winger… I voted for Obama for crying out loud… twice! But honestly even I felt a little judged and alienated by the way you tie your views on gun control and non-violence to Jesus so matter of factly. I follow Jesus, and view these issues differently than you do, and that doesn’t make me a bad Christian as your article suggests.

    Might be time to read some Bonhoeffer and why he felt obligated to participate in taking out Hitler.

    • Stephen

      Might be time to read some Bonhoeffer and why he felt obligated to participate in taking out Hitler.

      I would point out that he still thought what he was engaging in was sinful.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Not fair… I personalized that statement and said “I worry that if I had a loaded gun in my home for the protection of life and limb, that my source of security would be fixated in something other than God.” I also said– “I respect the motives of many of these good folks and refuse to cast judgments about their character.”
      Even if u disagree, ur over-generalizing of my article is unfair… I sought to express my view without judging others who disagree.
      Also… Having been the victim of child abuse for many years… I know violence in an “obviously” (to borrow ur word) personal way. I am happy to simply agree to disagree.
      PS – nonviolence is not a “liberal” view… It comes straight out of the biblical text.
      I hope we can cordially agree to disagree as we seek first the Kingdom.
      Peace.

      KURT WILLEMS
      http://KurtWillems.com
      http://twitter.com/kurtwillems
      http://facebook.com/kurtwillems

      • Zeke

        My apologies for overstating my case. I sincerely do appreciate your writing and thinking. Sorry.

        I do agree to disagree, peacefully. As a fellow victim of child abuse I clearly draw different conclusions. As I try to follow Jesus and reconcile my past, I long to protect those I love at any cost. Since it is such a personal issue I have felt attacked and dismissed by many people I’ve found encouragement and challenging in my thinking with in the past.

        Again, sorry for coming across like I did. I stand by most of my points, but wish I’d have been more gracious in my words.

      • http://JamesArtre.com/ James Artre

        Brother Kurt,

        Your… “Places like the Valley often carry the baggage of some sloppy
        theology, handed down from fundamentalism and the Religious Right.” statement is just as over-generalizing, not to mention judgmental, of “other” Christians simply because of where they live or their personal convictions. If you truly sought to express your views without judging others who may disagree with you, as you say you were, then you have failed my brother.

        – Owning & using a firearm and having faith in our God are not mutually exclusive –

        Had Adam been the man he was commanded to be by God, protecting Eve by the word of God that was given to him, the only thing he had, and needed, at that time against Lucifer, than we would not be having this discussion today. Unfortunately, Adam did not stand on his faith in the Father; as you have argued that we do so eloquently here, and the rest, as we say, is history.

        I understand and appreciate your side of the story; as well as, the place from where you are coming from when you wrote this. The temptation to place our faith in anything other than our Father is a trap in which we all may fall, just as did Adam.

        Having said this, however, since we are living in a “post garden”
        world, it is still my command to protect my families lives; and mine and, if this means taking the lives of others with whatever weapon I have at my disposal at the time, including a firearm, then so be it. I would much rather stand before the Father and answer for protecting the “flesh & bone of my own”, than I would for standing by and allowing them to be beat, raped and murdered before mine eyes. What kind of man could, or would, stand by and let that happen?

        As for Jesus coming down from the cross to fight his enemies, brother, that is a slap in the face of what Christ died for; namely,
        us. The reason Jesus did not take up arms against his enemies, is because of the fact that he was laying His life down as a sacrifice for sin. His “enemies” were not taking His life; He laid it down willingly as the Son of God for the salvation of all humanity. This was the sum of His mission, to lay down His life willingly. There was no need to protect himself from His enemies, because there were no enemies present. Jesus laid down His life for those that were nailing Him to that cross, including those who “convicted” Him, just as much as He was
        for any of us today. You are not Jesus, nor am I, or anyone else on this planet. Our mission is not to lay down our lives as a blood sacrifice for the sins of the world. Our mission is to love one another. Love includes defending our wives, children & family members from those who would do them harm.

        – There is a time to pray and seek God’s face, there is also a time to take action and quit using God as an excuse not to. –

        Had the Jewish men of the Holocaust era understood their God-given
        responsibilities as men, then they would not have allowed themselves, their wives and their children, to be herded into boxcars like cattle and slaughtered to the tune of over 6 Million. The Jewish people learned the lesson of “pacifism & non-violence” the hard way. Tragically, many innocent women & children were murdered simply because of the men’s unwillingness to fight for them. Hitler is to blame for the Holocaust; the Jewish men are to blame for letting it happen.

        – Jesus resorted to violence to defend what He loved. –

        “…so he [Yeshua] made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.” – John 2:15

        Violence is and always will be, a fact of life on this earth until Yeshua Jesus returns and restores all things. Adopting the myopia view that, “If enough of us are pacifists we can make everyone pacifists”; which is the gist of your argument, is dangerous to say the least, not to mention irresponsible as men. When the Samaritan woman was about to be stoned to death (if you’ve never seen it as I have, then you do not realize how brutal it is- you wished someone to shoot you) who stood against them? Was it not our sweet, loving, gentle and kind Yeshua Jesus? Indeed it was!

        – Pacifists sleep easily at night knowing there are others who are willing to perform violence on their behalf. –

        Being imitators of Christ does not preclude us from taking full responsibility for the safety and welfare of our wives and children. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Our Father will hold each of us accountable, just as he will the Jewish men of the Holocaust, for not doing every thing possible; including taking the life of others, if need be, to protect our wives and children until Christ’s Kingdom is set upon the earth. This not the rhetoric of today’s popular culture, nor is it outside the embodiment of God’s command…it is God’s command.

        “Forsaking all others…” means just that; forsaking, turning your
        back on, turning against and protecting, by any means necessary, your wife, children and family members, from those who would bid them harm. Firearms are simply another means by which you; as a loving, kind, gentle and obedient servant of God, a tender warrior, are able to fulfill that role. We did not ask for the fight, nor do we want it; but if others try to impose it on me, or especially members of my family, than by God’s grace, I will finish it.

        As for the Constitution, our government, etc. — there are too many things to say about the issues that cannot be addressed here adequately. However, there is an organization I know of that have devoted their ministry efforts to America’s founding principles of government, the 2nd Amendment, ad nauseam. Their website is here: http://wallbuilders.com

        Brother’s, these are mine own words. I say them freely and without reservation, nor do I make apologies for them.

        Shalom and amen

        • http://nailtothedoor.com/ Dan Martin

          “– Pacifists sleep easily at night knowing there are others who are willing to perform violence on their behalf. –”

          Well, no, actually pacifists sleep a lot more restlessly at night knowing how many are being killed in their name … leading both to a burden on their conscience, and an increase in people ready to retaliate against all of us.

          • http://JamesArtre.com/ James Artre

            Brother Martin, this is extremely egotistical of you to think that there are people on this planet either killing or being killed in your name. They most assuredly are not! The vast majority of American soldiers I know and have served with, are merely serving as watchmen on the walls, protecting you and your loved ones from those who would do you harm. With the way America is being infiltrated by muslims from within, you and your loved ones just may get to make good on your pacifism unto death.

            As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord and defend the defenseless, the down-trodden and the oppressed…

            From what I read in the article, as well as many of the comments, Pacifists portray themselves as if they are holier than anyone else. They most assuredly are not! In fact, they are merely cowards who’ve copped out of their responsibilities as Godly men & women. Based on your own words, brother Martin, you seem more concerned that what others do may bring death down upon your own head.

            If pacifism worked, than surely the savage & brutal torture and murder of over 6 Million Jews would have appeased Hitler and the German people. But no, it did not. It took many Godly men & women (and many ungodly) from countries across the world to band together, take up arms, and set the captives free from their oppressors. There were no pacifists in any of the fox holes I’ve sat in. There were no pacifists at Desert One when our plane collided with a helicopter while trying to rescue hostages in Iran, there were no pacifists in Grenada when we liberated students, some of them “devout pacifists”, who were some of the first ones on the planes and darn glad to see us.

            People like to throw around MLK, Gandhi, Dalai Llama and others; as well as Jesus, as examples of what “Pacifism” and non-violence is capable of. If you care to do the research, I’m not going to do it for you, you will see that each of these men advocated violence, if necessary, to protect yourself and loved ones.

            If the time comes, I pray that I have the strength to lay down my life in the defense of my friends from those who would bid them harm. I will do this a clear conscience, I will not do it in yours, Jesus’ or anyone else’s name, I will do it because that’s what Godly men & women do.

            Brother Martin, if you should choose to reply, then do me this small favor. Go back and read what I’ve written in its totality, with the intent to listen instead of the intent of how or what you think you should reply. Read with the intent to hear, not to speak.

            Pacifism is nothing more than faith without works; and, as we all know, faith without works is dead. And in the case of “Gun Control Jesus”… Doing nothing is not doing something.

          • http://nailtothedoor.com/ Dan Martin

            James, this is a conversation that would be more effective in person than on a blog, but in short:

            1) I am an American citizen, so when the American military kills in its official capacity, it is killing in all of our names, and funded by our taxes. I am therefore party to those killings, however unwilling, and nothing short of renouncing my citizenship could change this fact. This is one of several reasons I attempt, however ineffectively, to influence our government to take fewer bellicose actions.

            2) I dispute the common claim that the military is “defending my freedom.” no action by the US military since WWII has had any impact (positive, anyway) on freedom in this nation. More often than not, it has been the defense of the economic interests of American businesses abroad…in combination with American pride. These are not interests for which blood (“ours” or “theirs”) can morally be spilt.

            3) We pacifists do not claim moral superiority in ourselves, but we do claim to represent the clear will of Jesus Christ, who incidentally did not say the way of peace was practical or effective, jut that it’s his way. We may, in fact, die for it. What we dare not do, if we name his name, is kill for it.

          • http://JamesArtre.com/ James Artre

            Most conversations would be better in person, brother Martin. Until “Smell-a-vision” is invented, than we are creatures burdened with a medium devoid of tone and inflection.

            However, that is not the case here. I understand thoroughly and completely the position taken and the comments rendered on this matter. I simply disagree, vehemently, on the premise and the logic used to justify the position…

            As for your points listed above, my personal thoughts:

            I am a child of the most high God, I just happened to be dropped off in this location in the planet. As for my citizenship, it is not of this world…

            Additionally, I am not now nor shall I ever be held accountable for the sins committed by others; either by association or commission. Vicarious sin was atoned for by the shed blood of our mutual Lord & Savior, Yeshua Jesus. It is I alone who will stand before God and give an account for what I have done (good and bad) while in the body in this earth on judgement day. As for taxes, “I render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

            Do I agree with all that my government does? Most assuredly not! Do I agree with my country going to war in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere? If God has truly placed those in power as our Bible tells us He does, including the individual who occupies the Presidency now and his predecessor, than He obviously has a much bigger view of the big picture than the rest of us (tongue in cheek).

            Here is what I do know: there are many, many Afghans, Iraqis, Kurds, Kuwaitis, Jordanians and others who are very, very grateful that there were soldiers from around the world, many of whom are of The Way; who, as soldiers under authority, delivered them from the brutal murderous regime of Saddam Hussein and other dictators. And, as a “side benefit”…more & more people in that region are hearing the good news of the kingdom and are being delivered from worshiping false gods.

            Do governments have ulterior motives than simply freeing those that are oppressed by dictators? Well of course they do. Namely, keeping the free flow of oil through the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz open. There is always a trade off; but, did something good also come of it? Yes, it did. This is usually the way it works in this world…

            Now, before we stray completely off topic of “Gun Control Jesus”…

            My final words on this:

            As a born-again, baptized and set free by the shed blood of Yeshua Jesus, Christian, I have a moral obligation; as well as, a right and a command from God Himself, to protect and defend my wife (the flesh and bone of my own), my children and my loved ones from the evil forces that would bid us harm. If this means taking the life of those that would do harm or cause death to my family members, even if it meant knocking that “devil” in the head with a baseball bat, then I will execute my responsibility as Priest, guardian and protector of my home & my family with all judiciousness. I will do so with absolutely no mental reservations whatsoever, and I will do so with the full knowledge, understanding and faith in my Lord & Savior, Yeshua Jesus.

            Lastly, if protecting my family & loved ones from those that would do them harm means standing there in my home, praying & weeping “Oh Lord, please save us from this calamity”, while my wife & daughter are dragged before me and brutally raped then murdered, my son sodomized then murdered before eventually being murdered myself, is the will of God or acting in faith according to “Gun Control Jesus”, if you consider yourself a man of God and you advocate this, then you are wrong, dead wrong! Unfortunately, so is your wife, your daughter, and your son. And why? Simply because you as Priest, protector and guardian, a man, had to prove your faith in God? Or rather, test God? This, my beloved brothers & sisters, is flawed doctrine and is going to get innocent lives killed for those who choose to act on it.

            If every fiber in your being is telling you that this thinking is wrong, especially if you consider yourself a man if God, then you better take heed to what the Holy Ghost is trying to tell you…

            Shalom, amen

          • http://nailtothedoor.com/ Dan Martin

            And if the next to last paragraph of your comment is what you think I stand for on the matter, James, you’re spectacularly mistaken. Look carefully and you’ll note that my comments have been about militarism, not home defense. If you are actually interested in my views about the two, you might check out this post on my own blog, which I think you’ll find differs quite extremely from the caricature you have painted. Follow that topic tag to other posts, though, and you will see that I *do* believe that it’s inconsistent with the way of Jesus to serve in the military, and to voluntarily surrender to another the right to determine whether the action you are about to commit is moral or immoral.

            I would also challenge you on one point … while I do not dispute that I, too, would do what is in my power to protect my family, where exactly do you find in Scripture that you have “a right and a command from God Himself, to protect and defend” your family? I’m afraid I don’t see that in my Bible.

          • http://nailtothedoor.com/ Dan Martin

            Oh, and you didn’t respond to my suggestion that you were abusing the words of our Savior when you alluded to Luke 22:36-38. How do you justify your twisting of Jesus’ words?

          • http://www.thinktheology.org/ Kenny Burchard

            I tend to agree with Dan here (with specific reference to his FIRST sentence). I do not identify as a pacifist, though I do identify as a peacemaker. I graduated from the same seminary as Kurt. I, too, see the tension in this discussion. I advise my pacifist friends to be thoroughly consistent with their own convictions. If it would be wrong to trust a gun for self-protection, then I exhort pacifists to avoid any behavior that would bring guns (theirs or anyone else’s) into the equation. That will mean that you will not be calling the police, using their guns by proxy to do what you will not do yourself. To use a policeman’s gun to kill or shoot your enemy (by asking him to the scene of your circumstances) is to trust — at the end of the day — a guy with a gun. Thoughts?

          • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

            Kenny… It depends on how you understand pagan government… based on Rom 12-13. Here’s where I wrote about this issue… http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/2011/02/14/nonviolence-101-submit-to-the-sword-but-do-not-carry-one-romans-12-13-part-5/
            Peace.

            KURT WILLEMS
            http://kurtwillems.com
            http://facebook.com/kurtwillems
            http://twitter.com/kurtwillems

        • robert

          Spot on, James! The disciples even took a sword when Jesus sent them out!

          • http://nailtothedoor.com/ Dan Martin

            Yup, he sure did. Luke 22:36-38, which says:

            “He said to them, “But
            now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack.
            And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

            Sounds like a ringing endorsement of concealed carry to me: “and he was numbered with the transgressors.” Plus, two swords are such a great defense for thirteen guys.

    • http://nailtothedoor.blogspot.com Dan Martin

      One thought, Zeke, on your point of disproportionate arms in the hands of government vs. citizens … if this were an argument many held to (I don’t think they do), don’t you think the same people defending the 2nd amendment would oppose the massive expenditure this nation does on our military? As a rule, they don’t seem to mind…

      • JonJonE

        A few things:
        1) There are many second amendment advocates that are disgusted with massive expenditures for “defense”. I myself am one. Hasty generalizations only add fuel to he fire.
        2) When was the last time you saw a private citizen using a predator drone strapped with a laser guided bunker busting warhead on his neighbor?

        • http://nailtothedoor.com/ Dan Martin

          “There are many second amendment advocates that are disgusted with massive expenditures for “defense”. I myself am one.”

          I know this is true because I know several myself, though I’d wager they’re a minority.

          “When was the last time you saw a private citizen using a predator drone strapped with a laser guided bunker busting warhead on his neighbor?”

          Not my question. When was the last time you heard any gun rights organization or group of significant size, criticizing the excessive power of our military, or even the constitutionality of maintaining a standing army in peacetime?

    • http://JamesArtre.com/ James Artre

      Excellent reply, Zeke!

    • SharonBohn

      I don’t think he was trying to demonize anyone for the wish to protect their family. I think he was speaking specifically to those who wish to follow Jesus

      One cannot follow Jesus with a gun in their hand. Period. His was a non-violent revolution, even to the point of death. As if the point were not clear enough in his life and teachings, it is illustrated with crystalline clarity at his arrest in the garden.

      When the soldiers move to arrest Jesus, Peter draws a sword and cuts off the ear of one of the guards. Jesus immediately rebukes Peter, orders him to put away the sword, and heals the guard’s ear. The sword is not even to be drawn in retaliation.

  • dan jr.

    Awesome. Well said.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mtboydtertius Michael Boyd

    Kurt, what is it about THESE weapons that makes you want them banned above other semi-automatic shotguns and rifles? Since many semi-auto rifles can actually fire a much more devastating round than these smaller caliber “assault weapons,” why ban just them and not ALL semi-auto weapons? Is it the magazine capacity? Is it because these have been used in some recent noteworthy mass killings? Do you know how many of the 11,000 gun related deaths are caused by these “assault weapons” compared to all other guns? I believe the numbers suggest that while these were the weapon of choice for some folks in highlighted cases, these are not what cause most gun deaths each year. I want better gun control but not when its just based in emotional response instead of good science. What I truly do think would help is reducing magazine capacity and ensuring better mental health access and follow up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mtboydtertius Michael Boyd

    Oh, and by the way, I agree with just about everything you stated above in your blog.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Thanks for the clarification… I didn’t make too many statements about which weapons I want banned and which ones I don’t… U are kinda putting words in my mouth. I spoke a simple word about them in reference to the apocalypse but that was about it… I said nothing about specifics of policies but rather tried to do a reframe of how Christians talk about the issues. Does that make sense?
      KURT WILLEMS
      http://KurtWillems.com
      http://twitter.com/kurtwillems
      http://facebook.com/kurtwillems

  • Brian

    Kurt,

    I appreciated your honest, balanced approach. I agree with the statement that Americans are very Western minded in our worldview and how we view culture. That would apply to all areas of life, not just simply gun control.
    While the murder rates in other countries may be lower, the violent crime rate is at LEAST 7 times greater in other growing cultures than the US.
    I think the American reaction to this issue is not about the guns, per se, it is about the govt removing the right to such freedom, thus the reaction. I think Christ followers are taking a firm stand because this is just one of many freedoms that they perceive are being diminished.
    As an Army Chaplain, (I am also a pastor) where my #1 responsibility is to maintain the right of my soldiers to worship freely according to their conscience, I am very in tune with the Constitution. I believe that God called me to this office and I have a responsibility to support and defend this Constitution, however, it is not my god and should I be asked to violate my conscience regarding it, I would follow obey God rather than man. I think that is where most gun owning, proud American, Christ following believers really stand.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Thanks for bringing your perspective. We may disagree, but we do so in the love of Christ. Have a great rest of the week @122a16db9fd220b68a24a00460fa8f82:disqus

  • http://twitter.com/JIanClark Josh Clark

    Im responsible for locking and securing our church buildings after Sunday and Wednesday night services. Its a fairly large facility with lots of places to enter, and lots of places to hide. On more than one occasion we have discovered people in the building (who probably entered during operating hours) clearly intent on robbery. I carry a gun. I believe my wife and 4 kids DESERVE for me to carry a gun. Sorry Kurt…on this I cant square with your logic.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      I understand but could not do what you do. I pray that you never feel compelled to have to use that gun. Grace and peace.

    • http://JamesArtre.com/ James Artre

      Having faith in God and carrying a gun for personal protection are not mutually exclusive, as I stated previously. It is merely common sense. As a man of God, asking that your wife & kids place their safety, their very lives “totally and completely in God’s hands”, and without any personal protection, is hands down the absolute dumbest notion I have ever heard.

      “Oh, okay, I’m going to test my faith in God by swimming in shark-infested waters with a T-Bone steak tied around my waist.” This is nothing but pure “faith only” garbage! It is a slanted distortion of the truth; and, in fact, is tempting God, which is strictly forbidden. “Faith without works [common sense, right thinking, good decision making, sound judgement] is dead [worthless].”

      I’m with you, Josh, I will continue to carry my pistol with me everywhere I go. Who knows, maybe one day I can help save a life like the young lady in Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas COULD HAVE done, had she not left it in her car when the crazed man crashed his truck through the front doors and starting shooting everyone. Including her own mother & father, right in front of her.

  • http://www.kingdomseeking.wordpress.com/ K. Rex Butts

    A very good blog! I too own a few rifles/shotguns that I have used for occasional hunting and sport shooting but I am far from a gun enthusiast. I don’t feel the need to keep any guns loaded in my house for “self-defense” and because I have children whom I would be more worried about but I understand and respect those who feel differently.

    Any ways, I also would like to see the way Christians, pacifists or not, engage this conversation in a way that is saturated with the gospel and makes an argument based on “solid narrative/historical exegesis” of scripture. There are too many pro-gun Christians who sound devoid of any faith in the crucified and resurrected Jesus while treating the American Constitution God given, resorting to haphazard proof-texting of scripture to justify their arguments. What that does is reveal just how much the American constitution and 2nd Amendment have been made into an idol.

    Grace and Peace,

    Rex

  • Dan

    Man I like you Kurt! I don’t agree with all of your article but the general thrust of your article is spot on! More than that, your tone with this matter was a source of relief in a debate that usually gives me anxiety! I really wish more peace loving people articulated like you did and anabaptists didn’t act like they had the corner on the peace movement! There have been peace loving Christians in all traditions of Christianity!

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      @4423e4b98f5121b1b984275e0a5385d8:disqus , I like you too :-) I appreciate this affirmation brotha.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aaron.strietzel.9 Aaron Strietzel

    Kurt, you have greatly challenged my thinking on many issues…thank you. I have been raised an avid hunter and until two years ago I carried a gun everywhere I went. I can see where others come from (as I know you can as well), but the more I read Jesus the more I have come to see things so differently. Guns may well be one of our idols (it has been for me) and we like our idols. You challenge the very idols many keep (as would Jesus). It’s amazing how so many who followed Jesus willingly gave up their “rights” and sometimes their lives, yet we see so many who would fight for such silly things. I’m not anti-gun, but as a follower of Christ I think it’s right to challenge others to pursue the things Jesus would. Very good article!

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Aaron,

      Thanks for this thoughtful comment. I’m looking forward to chatting with you, not sure if you saw my email… not a big deal. Lets try to carve out 30 mins next week in the afternoon.
      On your comment, it’s amazing how the Spirit of Christ can change us… even the deepest parts of us… including the idols we keep. Great observations here brotha!
      Peace.

  • http://twitter.com/PeaceLibLady PeacefulLiberalLady

    I don’t agree. Jesus tossed the table. “Then Jesus went into the Temple, threw out everyone who was selling and buying in the Temple, and overturned the moneychangers’ tables and the chairs of those who sold doves.”

    Our elected officials in collaboration with the banks, are selling our doves, and changing money on our behalf, making war, endless war. If Revelations is what some think, I don’t know, I believe Revelations is a challenge to every believer, to fight for your faith, to do whatever you can to create a state of Heaven on earth, and sadly that is slipping far away from America. Don’t be lukewarm, prayer is powerful, acting on faith, with hope for the outcome that is most freeing is our challenge. We must first organize, we must come together, and say enough. If you aren’t angry about the way government is behaving you really are not paying attention.

    I love Jesus, I am a Yogi, I take wisdom from Buddha, Dalai Lama. And as quoted in the Seattle Times, May 15, 2001, the Dalai Lama said:

    If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun. Not at the head, where a fatal wound might result. But at some other body part, such as a leg.

    Gandhi in his autobiography: Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest … if we want to learn the use of arms, here is a golden opportunity.

    MLK had guns, was a registered republican, his grand-daughter is pro-choice advocate, and he was known to maintain an arsenal in his home.

    The issue here is that we were created for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, being American, endows us with that right, and the rights that the nation were founded on. Our elected officials are eroding those, not in Faith, but in fear. Where there is Fear there is no Faith. The Benghazi trials were sheer evidence that the elected, have concluded we, the people, are dumb, but the sheep are becoming wolves. Day by day.

    Ahimsa, non-violence, is just that non -violence, to impose your non violence ethic on someone else, makes it now violence. I may exercise my rights, and it won’t infringe on yours, but if you take my life, I’ll defend it.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      True, MLKj had guns earlier in his time as an activist, but eventually saw the folly of that and gave up his swords and beat them into the plowshares of nonviolent resistance.

  • Jenn Baerg

    I attempted to comment earlier and I think the Internet ate it.

    First I would like to say thank you Kurt for your response.

    Secondly I have to say I find this discussion completely perplexing as a Canadian, a Mennonite (ethnically and faith orientation),the daughter of a refugee and an MDiv student. I cannot understand how the idea that a gun is a source of safety continues for those without a faith in Jesus, given the statistics that a gun will be more likely be used against you or be involved a suicide. As a Christian, where is there in scripture that we should live in fear of man? Having a gun in your possession in the off chance you’ll need it, is daily living with the fear of violence, while in the same breath claiming your owning of it represents your freedom. How is it a freedom if it doesn’t free you? The freedom of Christ is what truly frees you – if someone were to shoot me and I die, yes my family would grieve in this life, but my faith in the Father, is all that really matters, that is truly where my life resides daily.

    Thirdly as I mentioned earlier, I am the child of a refugee and I’ve seen the profound damage of war and the fear in the lives of my mother’s family, that alone is enough to know that no weapon, whether wielded by the “right” or the “wrong” side will stamp out tyranny, but rather is just a method for spreading more darkness.

    I do not understand the desire to own a gun and I hope I never do.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      This is an excellent and insightful comment. I appreciate the fact that you are not American and can speak wisdom into our context.

      Beautiful comment here: “Having a gun in your possession in the off chance you’ll need it, is daily living with the fear of violence, while in the same breath claiming your owning of it represents your freedom. How is it a freedom if it doesn’t free you? The freedom of Christ is what truly frees you – if someone were to shoot me and I die, yes my family would grieve in this life, but my faith in the Father, is all that really matters, that is truly where my life resides daily.”

  • Daniel W. Flowers

    Very well said Kurt. My thoughts exactly on the issue.

  • Grandpa Jack

    As a right wing extremist atheist.. with unreasonable respect for our Constitution.. I totally agree with Makowski. The second amendment was written to protect us against tyranny. That threat truly does not exist here today. Probably because of the Constitution. The automobile came to us long after 1776 and we quickly accept changes in laws that infringe on our personal freedom but tend to protect those we love (like speed limits and seat belts) To retain an archaic law so that boys can retain there toys is criminal! Now ask me how I really feel about it.

  • Grandpa Jack

    As a right wing extremist atheist.. with unreasonable respect for our Constitution.. I totally agree with Makowski. The second amendment was written to protect us against tyranny. That threat truly does not exist here today. Probably because of the Constitution. The automobile came to us long after 1776 and we quickly accept changes in laws that infringe on our personal freedom but tend to protect those we love (like speed limits and seat belts) To retain an archaic law so that boys can retain there toys is criminal! Now ask me how I really feel about it.

  • Max

    If God be for us, who can be against us?

  • T in Ohio

    Really enjoy your blog. Very well said!! This is the way I have been thinking for a long time. It is refreshing to know that there are people out there who look outside themselves for true answers. I believe that too often people who are pro-gun are really selfish. People need to open up and look to the greater good to solve problems.

  • Boyd Barrett

    Great word. Many Jesus followers don’t think about this issue through the actual words of the one they follow. Here’s my poetic take on the subject: http://youtu.be/jrAfJFSGY8s

  • David

    Thank you for your article, to which I agree wholeheartedly and appreciate. What saddens me (and baffles me too) is the debate on gun control among Christians (predominantly among Protestants) in our nation. I think it says a lot about our theology(ies) (eschatology, missiology, ecclesiology and/or christology) and Christianity in America.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=566326443 Stuart Dale Coker

    I would have to agree.

    I think David wasn’t showing faith in God when he carried a slingshot into battle with Goliath. I think Israel didn’t show faith in God when the had a standing army. David and Israel should have just given their enemies a stern look and waited for the lightning to strike them dead.

    But, of course, according to this logic, God wouldn’t strike anyone dead because He is a total pacifist. I bet God won’t really punish Satan and the fallen. He was just kidding because everyone knows that God is totally non-violent and only full of love.

    I guess someone should have told Jesus that though. He must have been acting out of the will of God when he made a whip and attacked the people who were defiling the Temple.

    Also, Jesus should have disarmed Peter and his disciples as well. Who’s sword did he use to cut off the ear of the servant? Jesus was negligent in letting them carry swords. Didn’t Jesus trust in God if he allowed them to have weapons?

    Then of course, someone should have told God to believe more in Himself when He would tell the Israelites to take up weapons and attack their enemies.

    For those who can’t figure it out, the preceding was satire. For everything there is a season, a time for peace and a time for war. There is a time for taking up weapons and a time to lay our weapons down.

    When a group of guys come into my house where my children are living, that is the time to pick up a weapon. That is unless you accept whatever they are going to do to your wife, daughter and son as “God’s will”. After all, if God hadn’t wanted them to do that to your daughter, he would have stopped them according to your logic, right? I tend to think that God gave you the right to arm yourself and the ability to use it to protect yourself.

    Some people might say that under the new covenant we don’t live as the Israelites did under the old testament but I would say that we still live under the same God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      “But, of course, according to this logic, God wouldn’t strike anyone dead because He is a total pacifist.”

      No Christian pacifist that I know holds to this statement… at all. God is the only one, under the new covenant, that has the wisdom or permission to take life. It might be clear that you haven’t actually consider the arguments we nonviolence folks make, beyond superficial assumptions. I encourage you to read through my series “Nonviolence 101″ to get a biblical intro: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/category/nonviolence-101-series/

  • BB

    In response to the post below:
    Or imagine having one aunt killed in her bed during the night because the next door neighbor broke in to steal the guns from her deceased husband’s gun cabinet.
    Or imagine another aunt killed at her neighbors’ home when a guy who had done some painting for the neighbor came back & shot both of them. He came to steal (& did) the neighbors’ guns. My aunt was simply an innocent victim visiting her neighbor at the time.
    Guns were viewed as protection by the gun owners here; yet, they were the reason two people in my family lost their lives. We all have personal stories.
    Neither wearing seatbelts nor locking doors kills people. The theme of this is balancing one’s professed spiritual journey with one’s actions. It must have hit home somewhere, though, or you would not have inferred that he was calling you a “bad” Christian. He never said or inferred any such thing. The only stated insult was yours–calling his writing “rubbish”.

    • http://humofdelicious.com/ Minou Barton

      Properly secured weapons are no danger to anyone. The answer isn’t to outlaw weapons.

  • http://humofdelicious.com/ Minou Barton

    Interesting viewpoint, well stated. I seek your thoughtful, prayerful input.

    Imagine this, Kurt: you see a person at a concert being held off the ground by her throat by an obviously enraged significant other. Do you use the weapon at hand to intervene? Would you stand there and do nothing because you believe the Jesus who cleared the Temple wants you to?

    I couldn’t, and I suspect neither could you. Given opportunity and time, I would have called in armed men (police/security) to help. The hyoid is a fragile thing, though, (see below) so I used the weapons at hand, which happened to be my teacher’s voice, my hand on his massive forearm (which was even with my eyes, he was so tall), my own wellbeing held out as a substitute target.

    Should I have NOT done so because Jesus is my peace and whatever was about to happen was God’s will for her?

    (The armed bouncers at the New Years Eve Bonnie Raitt concert finally noticed and stepped in at when he turned his fist on me. He probably took her home and beat her senseless, but she at least had a moment’s opportunity to choose something better for herself. I hope she took it.)

    Now imagine this: a grad student is stalked by a married and unbalanced would-be suitor. Even the mail brings terrors–a tiny human fetus, terrible “love” poems, threats. Her boss moves her to a secure area at work, because the Romeo keeps pushing in. She schedules her classes carefully, taking care the buildings have nearby and well-lit parking. He stays just under the police radar–they can’t really do anything, until he does something besides pester, threaten, stalk. She moves, changes jobs and her phone number. Her best friend–her neighbor under her old apartment–is found strangled to death soon after, with no clues (even today). On the weekly anniversary of the friend’s murder, the grad student’s phone rings at midnight. Only open air, no words, but it’s enough to crush sleep, for years. Tracing technology adequate to the task is a few years off yet (1986), so a new unlisted number would have to do.

    Time passes, more than 25 years. Eventually the grad student marries, has kids, moves on. Is at last convinced by her husband to re-list the phone number, and really, it IS silly that their old friends struggle to track them down. She gets a face book page! Uses her real name on publications! Shows her face for the first time in 25 years. She begins at last to feel as free as Jesus died to make her be!

    But.

    Within just a few months, the calls start again. Social network “friend” requests roll in on EVERY network she’s on, even LinkedIn, for crying out loud. Comments on nearly every post she’s ever written online, now that he knows her married name. The doors to the house are found open upon returning home from time to time…a strange little thing that they all realize has been happening fairly often for several months, but which they sanely ascribe to the horse of forgetful kids rather than to ominous zebras. (A detective’s search uncovers the crazy man’s career path: locksmith.) Letters. Threats against her children, her mate. In-advance apologies for what he’s going to do to them to get her “back.” He’d been looking, waiting, all this time.

    She’s grounded in Christ, her kids and spouse also love Jesus. God is truly her peace (which is why she’s still standing anyway).

    But she still calls the police after the first real threat arrives, shows them everything. Sort of like you’d call the doctor if you think you might have the ‘flu instead of just waiting to see if it’s what God will use to call you home. No, of course you say here are the symptoms, what do you think, what do I do?

    The “chief physician,” the 30-year vet of the force warns her that based on his experience, this guy is a “credible threat” and the family needs to take him “very, very seriously.” Too bad the police in either city can’t really do anything until HE does something really awful. And further, they don’t want to “reach out” to him for fear of escalating it, but they’ll drive by the house a couple of times a day (and they still do, 2+ years out). But DO take him seriously, they say. Don’t go anywhere without an escort. Don’t let the kids go anywhere without an escort. Call the schools, the bus drivers, the church. Watch your back, watch their backs, just watch. The husband should be very, very, very careful, aware that he’s “in this guy’s crosshairs as competition.” Do they own guns? the policemen wonder, every time they’re called out to document a new threat. You should, they all say. We might not get here, in time.

    So she renews her self-defense course with the local PD. Gets a new bottle of pepper spray for herself and the five-foot-tall teenage daughter whose face is a carbon copy of her mamas, no question at all whose child she is.

    And she gets…and legally carries…a concealed weapon.They both do. They train the teens to load them, to shoot them, to consider escape first before all, and mostly, to *never* touch them outside the shooting range unless both adults are…down,…and then, only in defense of each other.

    Are you willing to advise her against it?

    Know that she knows her friend (the strangled one) died because…and here’s a truth that strangles most but not her…BECAUSE God *allowed* it. She knows her own death is on the books somewhere, too. She’s good with that. She is.

    But yet, she’s armed.

    And here’s why she chose to learn to use well–and practice using–a weapon filled with monster-stopping hollow point bullets:

    Because she knows this man exists, and he has many, many compatriots in crime who feed on others’ pain.

    Because she knows the God of her peace often uses one event to prepare her for something else around the curve in the road ahead, and she doesn’t want to miss His point and be unprepared to save a life somewhere down the line.

    Because the police take 7 minutes to get from the station to her rural home, and because their drivebys leave a lot of time between.

    Because the newly installed cameras can only document a horror for a trial, not prevent it.

    Because the new alarm system will only wake her up and warn her something’s coming, not necessarily scare the determined bad guy away.

    Because watching her skinny, brave teen son or middle-aged husband die trying to defend her isn’t really an attractive option, and…because stopping someone at the start an attack really does make more sense than dying trying to end it.

    But really, here’s the REAL why: because this guy could have swooped in from the fringes of hell he abides in and killed them all without warning, and so she takes his warning like the rattler on a snake: it’s Divine Providence’s prod to prepare.

    (You surely don’t believe this man loves Jesus and would come armed only with his words, do you?)

    This story, you might say, is one of the few allowable exceptions your no-guns Jesus would allow. But I say this: her story is but one of many like it being written by our Enemy at large.

    Whether you know you’ve been cast in a lead role changes nothing except your preparations.

    • http://JamesArtre.com/ James Artre

      Very well stated, brother. I summarize: You can not deal logically with illogical people, nor can you deal rationally with irrational people.

      To place ones “faith only” in Jesus as Lord & Savior of your life, as my family and I have, and to carry a pistol (she and I both) due to the locations and type of work we do, is not a negation of our faith. Carrying a weapon for personal defense and trusting in Jesus Christ as Lord of your life are NOT mutually exclusive.

      We do not live in an either or world, we live in “as well” world…

      God’s children perish for a lack of knowledge and understanding. Even wisdom herself, cries out from the streets for you to find her. Oh how I wish that we all could move past these “faith vs. works, works vs. faith” side discussion and move on to the real meat of the word, true freedom that comes from knowing that you are His, and of a sound mind to make common sense everyday decisions without dragging God off His throne to try and decide these trivial issues.

      “You surely don’t believe this man loves Jesus and would come armed only with his words, do you?”

      To do so, would to be a fool!

  • Rod White

    Thanks Kurt. I have had my house robbed in Pasadena CA, Riverside CA and three times in Philly. My wife courageously talked an intruder out the door while he backed away with a knife in his hand. We still haven’t been tempted to have a gun in the house.
    http://rodwhitesblog.wordpress.com/

  • http://www.facebook.com/maxwell.shockley Maxwell Shockley

    pirateperspectivetheology.blogspot.com speaking of guns, check out this piece on “Charging into ‘hell’ with a Squirt Gun”, a critique of the tired and discouraging church expression.

  • SCOTT WAGAR

    Peter had a sword when they came for Jesus. Jesus told the disciples to sell a garment and buy a sword. Jesus told the soldiers to do there job honestly not quit there job. Swords were assault weapons in the day.

    • http://nailtothedoor.com/ Dan Martin

      @7d10bee02f5111b50207e582687da6ad:disqus, oldest, lamest excuse you can possibly come up with. Go back and read your gospels … Luke 22:36-37 says:

      “He said to them, “But
      now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack.
      And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.”

      So by that logic anyone who has an assault weapon per your definition is a “transgressor.” That the sort of label you want Jesus applying to you?

      Oh, and in the verses that follow, it turns out Jesus thought 2 swords were enough for 13 guys. Sounds like an effective self-defense strategy to me. And don’t forget what happened when Peter actually tried to *use* his sword…

  • Shari

    I’ve yet to understand why anyone, let alone Christians would stand in the way of laws to make all of us safer from gun violence. The right to bear arms must be weighed against everyone else’s right to life.

  • jeremiah

    Reading post #5 under things to stop- I worry that if I had a loaded gun in my home for the protection of life and limb, that my source of security would be fixated in something other than God.
    If you have a dead bolt on your door to your house- is your source of security something other than God?

  • Unchurched Christian

    “Following Jesus is the Best Gun Control Ever”.. As church people say.. Amen to that!!! Now what does following Jesus personally and choosing not to own guns have to do with all the political gun control debates? Do you honestly think Jesus would be in Washington trying to get gun control enacted; as if less guns in society will somehow make our hearts more peaceful or bring us closer to God? Honestly, I feel like on nearly every issue Christians can’t help from bringing (legitimate) *Christian* beliefs into the public square and using that as the reason the rest of society should also follow this philosophy! I do not want to sit in church and hear how I should be calling my senator and asking that he support gun control legislation. So I guess I agree with you Kurt, following Jesus IS the best control ever.I would just add may we stop giving in to the rhetoric of popular culture that every *christian* belief has to be a regulated political debate!

    • unchurched Christian

      Much love to you by the way, I’m a fan! I’m not angry, just a little fed up with the organized church (as the name implies). I live in a heavy anabaptist area and they seem to be some of the worst when it comes to this stuff- As if owning a gun or supporting family in the military is akin to heresy.. !

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      This comment totally missed the point of the article…

      KURT WILLEMS
      http://KurtWillems.com
      http://twitter.com/kurtwillems
      http://facebook.com/kurtwillems

    • http://nailtothedoor.com/ Dan Martin

      @4423e4b98f5121b1b984275e0a5385d8:disqus, maybe it’s the area you live … but most of the Christians I encounter are on the other side of the spectrum, i.e. they are the loudest 2nd-Amendment advocates. You have at least part of a point about pacifists forcing their views on society, although I think if you’d examine it closely, most of the gun control advocacy nationwide is not particularly coming from churches. But in vast swaths of the country, the flag-waving, Bible-thumping Christians are the ones most likely to treat the Constitution as a divinely-inspired document and the 2nd-Amendment as something close to an 11th Commandment. That, at least, should be called out for the blasphemy it is.

  • Bethany

    As a person who strives to follow Christ, I have become increasingly frustrated with the anger and vitriol that many Christians demonstrate when they defend their right to own guns. To make matters worse, these individuals infer that their Second Amendment rights are “God-given”, making their arguements even more irrational. Thank you for your biblically-based insights on this issue…they were encouraging and motivating as I continue to attempt to live life while looking through the lense of Christ. I came across this article on Twitter and have now been able to explore more of your blog~ thanks for all the “food for thought”. :-)

  • Andrew Watson

    I have to ask, what is the difference between having a gun for protection from predator animals and having one as protection from predator people?

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Simply put: Jesus and the early church unanimously detested human on human violence.
      KURT WILLEMS
      http://KurtWillems.com
      http://twitter.com/kurtwillems
      http://facebook.com/kurtwillems

    • http://JamesArtre.com/ James Artre

      Short answer: There is absolutely no difference, Andrew.

      “Whoever knows the good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” – James 4:17

      Is it good to commit rape and murder? Most assuredly, no!

      Is it good to stop a man from raping and killing a woman; your wife, if by no other means than by taking the offenders life? Most assuredly, yes!

      “Whoever knows the good and does not do it…”

      Unfortunately, Brother Kurt has adopted such a one-sided interpretation of what the scriptures say, that even if the truth reveal itself unto him; because he has so emotionally invested himself in this view, his pride may be too much for him to repent of the damage he has done/is doing.

      “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. 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.” – Matthew 5:39-44

      Does Jesus’ teaching that we should turn the other cheek and love our enemies mean that it is always wrong to go to war?

      Should the world have turned the other cheek to Hitler and tried to love him into surrender?

      When Osama Bin Laden ordered the attack on the World Trade Center, should the U.S. have responded by sending him the Sears Tower as
      well?

      Or does Jesus allow a place for both loving our enemies and yet, in certain situations, using force to restrain life-threatening wickedness?

      Pacifism is not only harmful, it is ungodly. To let someone murder when it is within your power to stop them, is completely contrary to Christian moral precepts. If a Hitler (a predator person) is on the move and seeking to bind the world in tyranny and destroy entire ethnic groups, it would be a sin not to oppose him with force (which sometimes is the only effective method).

      It is true that war itself is harmful and tragic, but pacifism would result in even more harm to the world because it would give wicked people virtually free reign. We of course must be open to letting the Bible transform our moral sentiments, however, this observation should at least cause us to pause and reflect more deeply before concluding that Jesus is intending to teach pacifism.

      If Jesus preached pacifism, then not only would we have to eliminate the police, but the military also. In fact, if we were to conclude that governments should always turn the other cheek and never resist evil, then we would be logically committing ourselves to getting rid of not only the armed forces, but also the police force and criminal justice system. For police officers arrest criminals, using force against them if necessary to put them in jail. That is not turning the other cheek. Does Jesus intend his command to turn the other cheek to apply to the police? Surely not as their primary way of responding to evil. God does not want evil to run about in our society unchecked. If one accepts the legitimacy of police using force in some instances, there can be no objection to the military using force in some instances, either.

      Luke 3:14 allows military service. “And some soldiers were questioning him, saying, ‘And what about us, what shall we do?’ And he said to them, ‘Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages’” (Luke 3:14). It is significant that John the Baptist did not tell the soldiers to leave the military when they asked him what it meant to repent. Since it is, therefore, possible to live a godly life and yet be in the military, it must be because engaging in war is not always sinful.

      John 18:36 acknowledges the right of the sword to earthly kingdoms. In this passage, Jesus says: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” When Jesus says that if his kingdom were of this world his servants would be fighting, he implies that it is right for kingdoms of this world to fight when the cause is just and circumstances require it. As Christians, we are citizens of “two kingdoms”–our country on earth, and heaven. Jesus shows us that it is never right to fight for the sake of his spiritual kingdom, but that it is right to fight on behalf of earthly kingdoms (when necessary to counter evil and destruction).

      Romans 13:3-4 grants governments the right to use force to restrain and punish evil. Paul writes: “For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings
      wrath upon the one who practices evil.”

      Here Paul affirms the government’s right to use force in two ways. First, he says that it “does not bear the sword for nothing.” Second, he states that government is a “minister of God” when it executes vengeance against evildoers.

      Governments, of course, do not have the right to use force for any purpose whatsoever. They do not have the right to use force in order to lord it over their citizens and impose unnecessary restraints upon freedom. There are two purposes for which this text says the government is justified in using force: the restraint of evil and the punishment of
      evil. The purpose of force is not just to prevent further evil from happening, but to punish evil acts by bringing the perpetrators to
      justice. Government is acting as a “minister of God” when it serves as
      “an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.”

      Does the right of the sword in this text extend to the case of war? The
      immediate context does have in mind the use of physical force in regard
      to a government’s own citizens. But by extension this also implies that if one nation commits an act of war against another nation, the offended nation has the right to engage in self-defense and to avenge the wrong. Would it be consistent to say that a nation has a right to restrain and punish evil committed against it by its own citizens, but not to restrain and punish evil committed against it by another nation? The mere fact that the civil offense was committed by another country does not remove their accountability to the country they attacked.

      1 Peter 2:13-4 confirms the teaching of Romans 13:3-4 — In 1 Peter 2:13-14, we are taught: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.” Once again, the right of governments to punish evil is affirmed.

      Is it right for a Christian to fight in a war? Since the Scriptures teach that it is right for a nation to engage in a just war, it follows that it is therefore right for a Christian to fight in such a war. Some have argued that non-Christians may fight in wars but believers may not, but this distinction is not found in Scripture. Scripture teaches that it is not sin for a government to engage in a just war, and there is therefore nothing that forbids Christian from being involved in just wars.

      Think about it: If only ungodly people served in our military and police forces, how long would it take before our forces against evil became forces of evil?

      What about turning the other cheek? What, now, are we to make of Jesus’ radical commands in Matthew 5:39-41? “Do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two.” How does this fit with what we have seen above?

      First, we need to clarify what the problem is not. The problem is not that
      Jesus appears to be telling us to lie down and let evil overtake us. That is clearly not what he is saying. Instead, he is telling us what it looks like “not [to] be overcome by evil, but [to] overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). We have all seen the wisdom of Jesus’ words here in our everyday lives. Much of the time, the most effective way to overcome evil is by not resisting. If someone says a mean word, it is far more effective to respond with kindness than with another mean word in return. If someone tries wrongly to cut you off on the freeway, it is usually best just to let them do it. If we would learn these principles, our lives would be much more peaceful and, ironically, we would be vindicated more often.

      Again, pacifism is harmful and contrary to Jesus’ commands. For a Christian to stand by and allow bad things to happen to good people is not only a cop-out, it is a sin. This includes those instances where the only recourse to stopping the evil person, is to take their life in order to keep them from taking the lives of the innocent.

      Woe unto those on that day, when they stand before God to give an account for their actions, when asked “Why did you not stop that evil doer from taking the lives of innocent people, when it was within your power to do so?”

      “Well, Lord, it’s like this…I’m a pacifist.”

      I hope I am there to see the look on God’s face when He hears this…

  • Preston

    Loved this blog, bro! Once again, and despite the response in many of these comments, you have the weight of Scripture on your side, despite how counter-intuitive your ethic may be. So was Jesus’s.

  • Preston

    BTW, Kurt, in case you’re interested, I said something similar here:

    http://facultyblog.eternitybiblecollege.com/2013/06/christians-and-gun-control-what-if/

  • Preston

    Oh my word! Just realized that this post is as old as the internet!! I’m such a dork. I need to pay attention to the dates as I’m surfing the net. Still: a well-written and timely post.

  • Janssen

    I love Jesus. I like to hunt. I like when my bird dogs (created by God) point birds. It is a beautiful sight. Quail and pheasant taste good. I love to give back to the land in the non Hunting season. I give more to the land than I take. You most likely don’t understand the sport of hunting. That’s sad. Also, your American ancestors procreated and survived in the wilderness…Hunting and fishing. They used guns. Guns are good. Some people choose to do bad things with guns. Shooting a bird is not a bad thing. Have you ever gone to a pheasants forever banquet? So many folks honoring creation. Please be careful. You sound like you are weakening g my country. I take ownership and responsibility. It is a great one. The best. Perhaps you don’t like the constitution? You have a choice. You don’t have to stay.

    • http://nailtothedoor.com/ Dan Martin

      I wonder if you paid attention to Kurt’s article Janssen. He even mentions having owned a shotgun (I still do). His arguments are about self defense, using firearms on people, and the firearms lobby which is all about self defense and threatening government. Hunting and fishing can be carried on without crossing any lines in what Kurt said.

      And I would qualify that guns aren’t “good” as you stated. What I believe you implied (and I agree) is that guns are devices that can be used well for good and used poorly for evil. We might disagree, though, in that I am with Kurt that using them for a (highly transitory) sense of security would be on the “evil” side.

  • jon kubar

    Kurt, great topic and extraordinary writing. I just personally have to stand on the side of protecting my family (or if in a public place, protecting or defending a person that I deem needs it). I don’t own a gun at home but believe in someone’s conviction to for the right of protection. Home invasions are much more of an issue and I am willing to hurt an intruder before they hurt me. My point on this is- if you need something of mine, ask. But if it’sa choice getting my teeth knocked out or having brain trauma or the intruders because of property, then I choose the intruder to have to deal with that. The debate on this is what many of us need to rely back to Jesus and His perfect plan for each of us, I have just always felt a conviction to act and protect (and I’m not saying reliance on pacifism under extraordinary circumstances is not acting).


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