Another shooting…..what’s a Christian to do?

Another shooting…..what’s a Christian to do? July 23, 2012

Here we go again.  Another shooting and the very low expectation that we will have serious conversations about the role which guns have in our culture.  The “talking heads” on the various news programs acknowledge that this recent event of the shootings at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, will unlikely produce any substantive conversation about gun control, especially military assault rifles, like just one of the guns used by the shooter in Aurora. The political will is just not there, given the inordinate influence the National Rifle Association has in our political system, and our unbridled acceptance of individual rights in all things that trump everything else.

How should a Christian respond when the language of freedom and individual rights is used to squelch debate and to keep us from examining deeper issues?  Certainly this works both ways:  I am free to not own a gun and am protected from being required to purchase  one.  But why own one anyway is the question I continue to puzzle over. I realize there are various reasons for gun ownership.  But would Jesus own a gun?

Our Christian discourse on social ethical issues sadly tends to get co-opted by the language of individual rights and freedom.  I’m not one to “pooh pooh” this language as if individual rights and freedom are bad things.  I simply think they are limited and somewhat misguided in what they can offer us when thinking about issues from a Christian perspective.  I am drawn to the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians here, where  freedom and rights are shifted and relocated in a narrative context in light of the gospel of Christ (and not the gospel of the United States).  In chapters 8 through 10, Paul weaves through an argument about a believer’s freedom and right on a variety of issues such as eating food sacrificed to idols and  compensation for work done.   He ends up in a place that should give us pause:  “‘Everything is permissible’ – but not everything is beneficial.  ‘Everything is permissible’ – but not everything is constructive.  Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others” (1 Cor 10:22).

Just because we can do something does not mean that we should do something.  Just because I can own a gun does not mean that I should own a gun.   Just because gun ownership is permissible does not mean it is beneficial and constructive.  Just because I have a right to own a gun as an American citizen, does not mean, that as a Christian, I should own a gun.

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  • humanity on fire

    The shooter in Norway got guns in a society that does not allow them. Restricting guns isn’t going to stop someone who is determined to carry out the devils work on this earth. The answer lies in a feminist culture that is emasculating men… likely there is more effects coming from that and the PC left and extreme right stirring up troubles…

    • Cynthia

      Humanity on Fire, the Norway shooting was one (albeit, horrific) single incident, and the shooter (I refuse to say his name because it adds to his infamy) had to go to extreme efforts to acquire his weaponry. He left his own country, and traveled to the Czech Republic, which has some of the most relaxed laws regarding guns and drugs in Europe. Yes, a very determined individual will be able to acquire highly dangerous weapons, but that doesn’t mean that some gun control laws won’t stop other, less determined individuals. It also doesn’t take away from the fact that Norway still has a much lower firearm-related death rate than America (The U.S. has 10.27 deaths per 100,000 while Norway has 4.39 per 100,000) due, in part, to its lower rate of gun ownership.

      “The answer lies in a feminist culture that is emasculating men…” Perfectly “masculating” cultures that oppress women such as Iraq and Somalia have high gun ownership rates and a lot of violence. Perfectly “masculating” cultures such as Communist/Confucian China, where females are often aborted due to society’s poor estimation of women, have low gun ownership rates, and low firearm-related deaths. Correlation is all over the map when it comes to “masculine” or “feminine” cultures (and, I don’t even agree with you that our country’s culture is particularly feminine: for example, most major motion pictures target young men).

      Mass shootings by gunmen are a complex sociological phenomona, and many potential causes need to be explored.