Let’s begin with a few quick scenarios – reflections on life in 2016 into 2017:
The mayor of a major city publicly welcomes illegal immigrant “dreamers,” under the rubric of not seeming unwelcoming. The mayor wants to appear humane and magnanimous as he freely gives out the keys to our city, much like German Chancellor Angela Merkel has done (to the deep regret of the women molested and raped by the welcomed immigrants). In so doing the mayor and the city council has and is welcoming into our city a group of people who are not all like Rahm Emanuel’s sentimental sop would have us believe: parents and grandparents just like his or just plain students. Rather those ‘welcomed” in our city include the likes of fleeing felons, ambitious drug dealers, hiding sexual predators, indoctrinated jihadists and territorial gang members. Included, also, are those with mental health issues.
What do you think these ‘dreamers’ dream of doing? And isn’t violence, not relationship building, their modus operandi? The mayor and the city council of Chicago have naively (?) welcomed in the lawless with their penchant for violence, including violence with stolen guns. It should be noted by all that those who would break the law do not register gun ownership as law-abiding citizens do. Those who would break the law do not want to be caught. This common-sense thinking is not something one finds in the ways and means of Chicago’s mayor or city council. Instead we find that nothing has changed except an increase of violence due to the promotion of the lawlessness of illegal immigration.
I see the local news every day. The news reports detail the fact that the south and west sides of Chicago are permeated with violent types. The news reports show mothers weeping over children being shot and killed. The news reports show community marches demanding the violence be stopped. Enter the gun control meme pushed by the media’s talking heads – “Gun Violence Erupts Over the Weekend.”
Nothing, of course, is said in the media about the kinds of people found on our city’s streets. Instead, the media’s headlines distract from the illegal immigrant problem and so many other inner city social issues such as mental health and the dehumanizing effects of being on welfare long-term. Often, idle hands do tend to the devil’s work.
The hyped solution for those in positions of political power: the promotion of “gun control” laws, including a gun registry rather than an illegal immigrant registry. Again, who signs up for a “gun registry”? Only those citizens who obey the law sign up. The bad guys ‘know’ better.
“Gun control” is the mayor’s and the city council’s ‘means’ to deal (read: redirect attention from their own actions and to pacify the crying mothers) with the unintended consequences of placing a “Welcoming City” banner over our city. It is now open season in Chicago. By the way, “Welcoming City” hokum is meant to maintain Federal government subsidies for a city and state struggling to make ends meet during the mass exodus of its citizens.
When a drunk driver kills someone, does the media call it “car violence”? No. Does the registration of all drivers and cars mean that drunk driving will not occur? The pols and media pick their opportunities to control the narrative surrounding their existence in a place of power.
Are you a libertarian who demands legalized drugs and the “right” to do drugs like marijuana, cocaine and even heroin but has no thought as to how in the future you or others will pay for and obtain those drugs without using violence once addicted? Are you a citizen who is OK with a citizenry addicted to drugs and that uses society via robbery and violence to feed addictions? Do you believe that taxpayers should subsidize your drug addiction?
Presented above are three real time scenarios. If you watch the news you are aware of what is going on and what is going on is much more than what I presented above.
As one walking around on resurrection ground in the Kingdom of God on earth, I have wrestled with the notion of owing and using a gun for self-defense. Here are some of my thoughts. You can share your thoughts in the comment section…
Recently, I listened to a discussion about guns on a Moody Radio program called Up for Debate. The title and bylines are as follows:
Should Churches Hire Armed Guards?
Violence is increasing not only on the streets but also in the sanctuary. We only have to look to the headlines of last year’s shooting of parishioners during a Bible study in Charleston and this summer’s slaying of a priest in France during church services. The violence has some in the clergy wondering whether they should arm their security teams. This Saturday, on Up For Debate, Julie Roys will explore this issue with Rev. Mark Woods, a pastor who believes that arming churches sanctifies violence and Carl Chinn a Christian security expert who believes churches and their parishioners are safer when their security team is armed.
You can listen to the program >>>
Here are some questions that came to mind while listening to this “debate”:
Is it OK for a Christian to own a gun for sport and for protection?
Does arming a church “normalize and sanctify violence”?
Are you not trusting God for your safety with armed guards around?
Do we need a specific threat to arm ourselves or can we act preemptively?
What is the difference between local police protection provided by the state and armed and trained Christians being present?
Does the difference between local but not present police protection provided by the state and armed Christians being present matter in the moment of life and death circumstances?
Does “turn the other cheek” imply passivity or a type of non-retribution self-denial?
Is Christianity a “new ethic of non-violence”?
Due to the acted-out intent of evil doers such as gang members, drug traffickers and thieves, a constant scapegoating phrase is heard in Chicago’s media: “gun violence”. To come to a Kingdom understanding about guns and their use and especially since the populace is constantly barraged by the media’s lockstep negative annotation of guns I believe that we need to separate those two words – “guns” and the ubiquitous media modifier “violence”. I believe we also need to discuss the matter of guns outside of the political hothouse where opinion grows out of proportion to reality by constant emotive watering.
Consider the following from Morissette v. United States (1952): “The contention that an injury can amount to a crime only when inflicted by intention is no provincial or transient notion.””
The obvious: Guns are inanimate objects. Guns require intent to be used. A gun can be used as a weapon of violence when the user’s intent is to aggressively attack another with a self-serving purpose. The intent of such an aggressor is similar to another person who drives their truck into a crowd with the objective of running down people down. Intentionality aims and pulls the trigger or points the knife or the car or the…, whether for benign reasons or for malevolent reasons. The intent of a person using a knife may be to slice some bread for dinner or to deliver a death wound into someone’s gut (knife intifada). Beyond an individual’s rationale, of course, some objects do reveal their intended use – a pipe bomb, for instance. And, as you must know, the media reveal’s its own intent, its own agenda daily.
Our local media’s constant word association -“gun violence”- has, I believe, created a public fear of guns by projecting violent intent onto the object itself. Often, media reinforced fear-driven thinking is taken to the extreme. The demand to ban all guns is pushed under the rubric of ‘we’ don’t know your what your intentions are” and “we are not that kind of people”- a hubristic mélange.
Does arming a church “normalize and sanctify violence”? Maybe a better question is “Does disarming a church “normalize and sanctify violence”?” For those with evil intentions, disarming the public is an effective means to an evil end. “Gun free” signs give the public false assurances that someone with criminal intent will think twice and not enter a gun free zone. Yet, don’t crimes of passion occur without a second thought? Have we not see that terrorist acts occur with malice aforethought and without regard to a posted sign? Do not “Gun Free Zones” in effect “normalize and sanctify (to set apart) violence” as the unrestricted means for an aggressor?
Some general thoughts and questions:
This topic is not a black and white topic. Nor can this topic be confined to a short post. This topic requires knowledge and a lot of introspection about one’s intents. This topic opened up many avenues of thought for me (subject to modification) as you will read:
The spirit of fear
I hear some say that we should trust God and, in effect, do nothing to protect ourselves – God will intervene (or not, que sera sera). There is a spirit of fatalism here and not of faith, it seems to me.
If a bear or a lion or a mentally unstable person attacked, would you not defend yourself and your child? Or, do you accept the attack as God’s will and submit to it without resistance? If a deadly virus was around do you take precautions? Do you vaccinate your child? Are taking precautions a lack of trust in God? Is defending yourself from imminent danger not trusting God? Is defending yourself against evil holding a gun not trusting God? And, isn’t learning the Scripture and walking in the Spirit proactively defending yourself against heresy?
We are told that we have not been given a spirit of fear and also to put on the whole armor of god. A sword is included in the list and in Hebrews 4:12. We are to arm ourselves:
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrew 4:12
This verse reminds us that thoughts and intentions matter. The weapon, the word of God, is used to bring out what is hidden beneath the surface by using its finely-honed razor sharp cutting edge. Jesus made sure that his disciples knew that his Kingdom was not about the violent over throw of the Romans. Rather, the world would learn that truth was more powerful than violence. Consider what happened to Ananias and Sapphira in an early church setting (Acts 5:1-11). Truth happened.
“Jesus, the Prince of Peace, was a pacifist”:
Do not put Jesus into your safe space. Put yourself into his ‘unsafe’ hands. To make a false understanding of Jesus (e.g, Jesus as an anti-war hippie guru) the lynch pin of anti-gun ethic is dangerous. As was said of Aslan:
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34-36
As the passage from Hebrews would later reinforce, Jesus said that he came with a sword, a divisor. Thoughts and intents would be exposed. Relationships would be severed because of him. There will be those who will reconciled to Him and to others and there will be those who will not reconcile at all. Those who do not want to be reconciled with others often use violence to obtain what could have been gained in relationship.
Jesus wants us to set his kingdom in motion with our peace-making forays before he comes to reign on earth as the Prince of Peace.
Jesus’ command to “love you neighbor as yourself” and to seek happiness in being a peacemaker means, in my estimation, seeking to be reconciled with your neighbor when there is a conflict. It also means to never seek revenge for a wrong done to you. Revenge is a common theme on cable TV and in the movies but it has no part in your Kingdom life. You turn the other cheek to say to your neighbor “the wrong you have done to me is already forgiven by me two-fold. Let us be reconciled.” Forgiveness is not passivity or pacifism. Rather, forgiveness is an aggressive part of loving your neighbor.
Many today take umbrage at the slightest perceived offense. Then they proceed to slander, malign and mock their ‘offender’. Turning the other cheek says I know who I am and what I am about. Your words can come into either ear and do not change what I am hearing from the Lord.
Being a peacemaker: aren’t we told to meet our neighbor on the way to court so as to resolve matters with your neighbor instead of by a judges’ ruling? Aren’t we told not to sue each other in court?
Not once are we telling our neighbor “It is OK to do whatever you want to us.” We are saying, “Whatever evil you do to us breaks our relationship. I am willing to forgive to mend our relationship and to show you the full extent of love.”
I can read the same scripture as you:
Meet your accuser before going to court to settle matters
Seek peace and pursue it.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
As I read these passages I see in each of the statements an equation of relationships. Two or more parties are involved. And the Christian in that relationship is the one who proactively makes amends to resolve the conflict the other has with the Christian.
Violence – doing harm to the other with the purpose of “winning” or gain -is not the Kingdom way of living as taught by Jesus. Of, course doing violence to another also includes bearing false witness, gossip, stealing, adultery and murder with intent to deprive someone of life. Violence done to others also includes abortion, a suctioning off of human life that is now called “a right”, while the right to own a gun is denigrated as violent intent.
What if you neighbor embraces evil? We are told in Scripture to abhor evil and cling to what is good. We can never be reconciled with evil and should never try. This is a situation where the Scripture and the Holy Spirit must inform your decision to defend yourself. Maybe you move away. Maybe you surround yourself with Christian friends and prayer. Maybe you should buy a gun and learn to defend yourself. Maybe do all three. Evil knows no bounds; it knows no “Gun Free Zones”.
“Sell what you have and buy a sword”. I find it interesting that Jesus knew that Peter was armed – with a sword – when they were in the garden of Gethsemane praying. Prior to Peter whipping out his sword to defend Jesus, we don’t hear Jesus ever telling Peter to get rid of that sword. But once Peter pulls out that sword to harm another in an act of aggression (Peter’s intent was to keep Jesus safe for the Kingdom Peter so desired) then Jesus tells Peter to put away the sword because “those who live by the sword die by the sword.” This is no mystical saying.
Consider that if you use violence to get your way you can be sure that what goes around comes around. If your intent is to harm someone to ‘put things right’ then there will be no end to the violence. The other who is harmed will want to ‘put things right’ with violence. Jesus wants us to stop the cycle of violence. That is why seeking to reconcile and forgiving are imperative in his Kingdom.
I do not think for a moment that God intended us to lay down our lives for the sake of laying down our lives. That would be suicide. What is your intent? Hopefully your intent is to stay alive.
We live in a violent universe: Big Bang, Gamma Ray bursts, meteor strikes, floods, hurricanes,… How do we explain the Lord’s “Blessed are the peacemakers” to such a violent world?
Violence forces change through coercive power. Love is not coercion but an offer to redeem and to be reconciled. When violence and love meet, they do not kiss like when justice and mercy meet. So be for-armed.
What is my relationship with guns? After the age of eight-years-old I attended several different Christian camps over several years. These camps are where I first came into contact with an actual gun – a .22 gauge rifle.
At these camps I was shown how to load the rifle and how to aim and shoot at a target. And not only did we use guns, we also learned archery, horseback riding, swimming – all sorts of activities, some considered as “unsafe” by today’s hand wringers.
I now own several guns, a FOID card and a CC card. Contrary to what is often implied in the media, to obtain these licenses my background had been extensively checked by federal and state authorities. To obtain my CC license I was required by the state to take 16 hours of classes: 8 hours of Illinois Conceal Carry law and 8 hours of gun training. A written and target test were taken after the eight-hour sessions.
As a Christian, I enjoy target shooting at the range. I practice for accuracy. I hope I never have to shoot anyone in self-defense. If I do I hope to be able to shoot the aggressor so as to only disable him or her. God knows the intent of my heart.
As a Christian, I believe we can be ‘unsafe’ and good at the same time, like my King.
Shooting someone in self-defense is no small thing. It is traumatic and it may end up ruining your life with all of the legal ramifications. It is best to know the law and to not think you have any right whatsoever to shoot someone in self-defense. Know the law in your state.
A great legal resource:
The Law of Self-Defense, The Indispensable Guide for the Armed Citizen by attorney Andrew F. Branca
His website: http://lawofselfdefense.com/