Gun Control – A Christian Perspective

Posted: December 19, 2012 in Christians & Culture, Politics

gun-ban

In wake of the Newtown shooting, everyone is asking how we can prevent yet another tragic shooting. Many have suggested mental health care treatment while others have advocated putting God back in the schools. However, one issue has inevitably been thrust front and center of this debate: gun control. Liberals love the idea and gun toting, 2nd amendment conservatives abhor it, but one thing is certain: the issue will be addressed.

So how are Christians to think through this culturally sensitive issue? Since all truth is God’s truth, Christians must have informed convictions about gun control. To begin, let me briefly tell you about my personal relationship with guns so you will better understand my vantage point. I come from a gun-owning family. In fact, I may be the only male in my family without a carry/concealed license. Nonetheless, I have always been acquainted with guns and I own a couple for personal use. I have a pistol for home protection and a shotgun for trap shooting and hunting. So if I proceed to offend an NRA reader, please know that I am a friend of the 2nd amendment.

But my concern here is gun control from a Christian worldview perspective. In order to think clearly about this issue, we must grasp two key truths about reality (human sinfulness and the role of government) and then assess gun control in light of this understanding.

Human Sinfulness

Man, in his current state, is fallen from his relationship with God. Man has turned from God and God’s perfect moral standard to pursue his own selfish ways. The Bible calls this sin. But the reality of sin is much greater than man occasionally doing immoral acts. Christianity teaches that man, by his very nature – the core of his being – is sinful. Although man is not as corrupt as he could possibly be, he tends toward sinful, selfish, and evil deeds. Just a brief moment of introspection will reveal this own conflict within us. We are moral creatures, knowing right from wrong, but we often desire things we know are wrong. People cheat on their spouses; they steal, lie, and gossip; yet they know these things are wrong and harmful.

Gun advocates often say, “Guns don’t hurt people. It’s the people behind the guns.” In a sense this is true. Apart from the causal agent with evil motives pulling the trigger, no problems would ensue. But there are persons with ill motives and evil actions do occur, and here enters our next reality, the government.

The Role of Government

Governments, broadly speaking, are institutions put in place by groups of people and ordained by God (cf. Rom. 13:1) to carry out certain functions unable to be fulfilled by the individual members of that group. Example functions of good government are as follows: carrying out justice, restraining evil, protection of God-given rights, public works projects, protection from foreign powers, etc. Although the American system of government was designed to be limited, there are certain roles it assumes to ensure the success and welfare of the country.

One role of government particularly relevant to this topic is protection of the people. As Thomas Jefferson said, “The first duty of government is the protection of life, not its destruction.” The founders accurately understood that life was a God-given right and one function of the government should be to secure that right. The military fulfills this role when they protect citizens from hostile foreign powers. The police fulfill this role when they protect local citizens from the evil actions of other persons. In short, the heart of man is the root cause of evil actions, and the government functions to restrain this evil and maintain order in society.

The Christian Response

I believe the appropriate Christian response to gun control lies somewhere between the ultra-conservative and the ultra-liberal view. The reality of the sinful heart of man is such that government cannot legislate away the problem. Taking away guns does not fix the core problem, the corruption of man; it merely eliminates an outlet. Mankind needs a heart change and a restored relationship with his creator. This can only come through faith in Jesus Christ, who produces this effect in the life of the believer.

However, many Christians will affirm this conclusion and quickly assert that every citizen should be able to possess any gun they wish. But I believe this is a hasty conclusion. Sin and evil exist and guns are an outlet with the potential of producing mass destruction. Therefore, consideration must be given to the protection of lives – humans made in the image of God. If we care about life, a cavalier approach to guns will not suffice. Christians must weigh the rights and privileges of gun ownership against the potential loss of life from gun use.

This certainly becomes a tough issue to resolve, but tough questions must be asked and answered. How far should the government reach to ensure safety? At what point do our constitutional rights take a back seat to potential lost lives of others? Is all gun ownership a right or just some types of ownership? What about assault weapons? Who should have the right to own guns? I do not presume to have all the answer to the questions, but I do know this: the Christian must think through ALL the issues and offer an informed response. A knee-jerk reaction is not acceptable, for it is ill informed. A redneck, gun-worshipping response does not regard human life highly enough. And a “take away all the guns” rejoinder seems to be an unnecessary overreaction. However you choose to respond, remember that human lives and human rights hang in the balance.

Jordan Tong

Comments
  1. James Lewis says:

    I believe the “assault weapons” are just chosen for there threatening appearance. You can actually do the same damage with any gun. Banning so called assault weapons would be only for show, it would do nothing towards stopping crime, or mass killings. If somebody gets that in their head, then they’re going to do it with any gun they can get their hands on, or any other means necessary.

    • Jordan Tong says:

      James, I think there is some truth in what you have said. People with evil intentions will find ways to carry out those intentions. But the question for us to ask – and what politicians must ask – is where do we draw the line in our control measures? Obviously certain types of weapons are off-limits. Finding the balance of limiting and restraining evil the most while maintaining maximum amounts of freedom seems to be the solution. Where exactly that balance lies is up for debate. Thanks for your input.

  2. Mark Tong says:

    Jordan I do agree that the root of this problem is the sin nature that is woven into the very fabric of our being. man kind is plagued with this disease called sin and the only cure is found in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately sin will remain in the hearts of those who denounce Christ until his return and their wicked intentions will not be thwarted by gun laws, “putting God back in schools” or gun free zones. In fact, gun free zones are the vary calculated targets of these wicked people. Which brings me to this point; why gun free zones? The answer, no fear of opposition by lethal weapons.

    I will stop short of what I believe to be the answer to deterring these violent crimes and allow you to give some possible solutions after pondering for a moment on my reply.

    Great post Jordan

  3. Jillian George says:

    Good thoughts. I’ve been trying to get a handle on a Christian perspective on this issue. I also found this guy’s thoughts interesting:

    http://thegoodbookblog.com/2013/nov/18/seek-the-welfare-of-the-city-the-biblical-argument/

    He’s a Bible prof at Biola University

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