Jesus Didn’t Give You The Right To Bear Arms

Jesus Didn’t Give You The Right To Bear Arms October 29, 2018

Yesterday at church I led the Prayers of the People.

I stood wearing a white robe draped with a green chasuble, a maniple draped over my left arm. “For peace in Pittsburgh, and for what other places shall we pray?” I asked, inviting people to add their prayers.

We prayed for Pittsburgh by name because of the unspeakable shooting that occurred in a synagogue there this weekend.

Other weeks, we have inserted different cities, depending on where the latest violence occurred.  Orlando. Parkland. Oakland. Chicago. Las Vegas. Ferguson.

Every time we say prayers of the people, the leader lifts up a maniple (a broad piece of long fabric held in the left hand), as if capturing the people’s prayers and lifting them closer to the ears of God.

Alphonsus Liguori, a 17th century Catholic writer, wrote, “It is well known that the maniple is for the purpose of wiping away the tears that flowed from the eyes of the priest…”

I get it.

I was on the verge of tears during the service yesterday, and as I walked home after the service, I let the tears flow.  I couldn’t hold them any more.

My heart continues to be heavy and sad today as we say the names of those who senselessly lost their lives when they were gunned down by a white supremacist in their house of worship.

We also need to say the names of people who have perpetrated and perpetuated the climate of anger, hate, selfishness, violence, racism and rampant gun ownership.

Donald Trump.

The NRA.

Robert Bowers.

Cesar Sayoc.

White nationalism.

And millions of conservatives who call themselves “Christ-followers” while virulently defending their right to bear arms.

No matter how you slice, dice, skew or spin it, America’s gun problem is out of control.  There have been 47,220 gun incidents in this country in 2018 (not including more than 20,000 suicides committed with a gun.)  Nearly 12,000 Americans have died from gun violence in 2018 — which is quadruple the number of Americans we lost on 9/11.

While the president tries to convince us to be afraid of people from the Middle East and Somalia and Honduras and Mexico, the truth is that the biggest threat against America is us.

White American men have perpetrated more violence in America than any foreign-born terrorists ever have.

What really, really bothers me is the number of Christians who look at these stats and still insist that they have the right to bear arms.

They parrot asinine sayings like “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”  And “We just need better mental health services,” while at the very same time cutting insurance benefits and mental health services.

If you claim to follow Jesus, you have to reckon with the fact that Jesus didn’t give you the right to bear arms.

Jesus didn’t write the Second Amendment.

Jesus didn’t endorse the NRA.

Jesus said the opposite. Jesus said to turn the other cheek.  Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’  Jesus told Peter to put his sword away.  Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, to bless those who persecute us, to practice radical love in a radicalized and violent world.

As we approach elections this year, we have to remember that yes, we are to be responsible citizens and use our right to vote to promote the common good.

And we also have to remember that when there’s a discrepancy between our country’s constitution and the Gospel, the Gospel wins.

Every. Single. Time.

Until Christians stop insisting on their right to bear arms and begin to insist instead on the radical love of Jesus that has the power to bring peace to a violent world, we’ll say new names.  We’ll pray for new cities.  We’ll continue to weep tears and whisper prayers and hold up a threadbare maniple to God’s weary, heart-broken ears.




Browse Our Archives

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • This is pretty sad that someone can write this with a straight face (I’m guessing). But it’s incorrect. #sarathebarge

    First, the gun problem doesn’t matter only in the sense that people will kill themselves and others with whatever they can. They already do with drugs (but ironically those who are of the political bent to ban guns often want to legalize drugs. I’d like to make a point that this is hypocrisy, but I need to save space in this reply). Cain killed Abel with either his bare hands or a rock, etc. The murder weapon is basically pointless.

    The same guns #sarathebarge cries about are the same guns that keep you safe at night. Almost the same gun I carried in Iraq. The same guns that police carry to defend human life.

    Now did Jesus endorse Trump, the NRA, or the 2nd amendment? No. None of those existed then. And I did not, nor will I ever, vote for Trump.
    I’m not a Republican. But Jesus did endorse people carrying weapons to keep themselves safe (Luke 22:36, etc). So Jesus is not against us carrying for self defense. But plenty of people did bad things with swords back then, and note Jesus didn’t stereotype all swords as being bad because some were used for bad things. Jesus would do the same with guns: it’s not about guns, it’s about what they’re used for. Jesus would applaud the one who rescued lives in Alabama with a gun.

    So, #sarathebarge , don’t write stuff in Jesus’ name pretending Jesus is on your side. Don’t you get on Republicans for doing the same? So this is #hypocrisy .

    And what’s noteworthy is #sarathebarge intentionally leaves out scripture that would contradict her diatribe.

    The man in Alabama who killed the gun-toting madman is a hero. He used a gun to defend human life. Imagine how many people would be dead if the gunman was allowed to continue spraying bullets into the McDonalds.

    God defended Israel by having their enemies break out into war against each other (2 Chronicles 20). The Angel of the Lord (often considered a Theophany, i.e. Jesus) slaughtered the Assyrians (2 Kings 19) to defend Israel. God is love, but that love can be moved to protect the object of His love. Indeed, God, in love, slaughtered Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins, for us, the ones He loves (Romans 5:8).

    Before you try to twist the Bible into proving only your own stance on this matter, you should consider the totality of Scripture. I’m not saying the Bible endorses Trump, the NRA, or guns, necessarily, because all of those came after the Bible was written. But God is not against violence when needed to defend His people. And He’s not against swords (the guns of that time period). The Bible doesn’t support you, #sarathebarge

  • Fred L Anthony

    1Where did you get the stats that there were 47,220 incidents in the US in 2018 alone??? 2 “He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword,
    sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with
    the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me.
    Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” Luke 22:36,38 3 You might want to read this report with data issued by the CDC 4 Data for gun deaths in the USA for 2018 has not been released since the year is not over In 2017 there were over 35,000 gun related deaths according to the FBI reports

  • Cal-gal

    Said the priestess. Seriously, if she thinks she can be a priest, why should I think anything she says has credibility? Obviously she has no knowledge nor understanding of Biblical symbolism such as the priest being a man as he represents Christ as the Church represents the Bride. That’s not made up by the Church, it comes from God. Give me grace…there are atrocities because of sinful men, not because of guns or politics and the people she doesn’t like. Perhaps she should find a Church that teaches that…oh yeah, that’s the Catholic Church…founded by Christ. Even Google knows that.

  • Tammy Mills Hanley

    It was written so that they would all be considered thugs and fulfill prophecies. Bags to look like thieves, cloaks to look like they were hiding something. When they said, “Lord we have only two swords,” he said, “It is enough.” If they were meant to be ARMING themselves then nothing less than a sword apiece would have done.

  • Mark Rich

    You stopped reading your Bible too early, Fred. The story continues. Jesus and the disciples then go out to Gethsemane where he prays while they sleep. Then, at v. 49, “When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, ‘Lord, should we strike with the sword?’ Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.” The early Christians rightly understood that when Jesus said and did this, he was disarming all of his followers. So what Luke has done for us is create a scene where Jesus commands his followers to get a sword, they show that they have already armed themselves (like rebels/bandits), and then he disarms them. That is, he is commanding it first in order to prohibit it later. God does the same kind of thing with Abraham in Gen. 22, commanding him to sacrifice his son Isaac in order to later prohibit child sacrifice. It’s how God does it.

  • pen44

    Yes, Sarah, I weep with heartbroken anguish and angry tears with each massacre, each unneeded death of individuals…and I vote for candidates that want positive gun control. I do not want to punish responsible gun owners, nor to assist in the horrific things and events of hate and malevolence that guns seem to promote! We can do better than what is out there now, but we must stop and listen to doctors, nurses and police officers who deal with the carnage daily…and actually know what they are talking about.