Kingdom Gun Control
Alright, just to confirm: there were no guns in the Bible. Well, there is that verse on baptism which an old preacher I once knew referred to as our “Acts 2:38s.” But apart from this incredibly bad joke, you won’t find any firearms in God’s Word. You will find David’s sling, Peter’s sword, a soldier’s spear and rocks for stoning. But no guns.
It seems if people wanted to kill one another during the years the Bible was written, they found a way. And when governments needed to execute criminals and rebels they threw them in the lion’s den, tossed them in a fiery furnace or crucified them for all to see.
Just for the record, ancient history is full of mass killings, but they were usually pulled off by an army or a sadistic leader with plenty of resources. If you don’t believe me perform an internet search for “Genghis Khan.” The one standout, perhaps, is Sampson of the Old Testament who once killed 1,000 men with the “jawbone of an ass.” It’s ok. This is the King James Version wording which was very popular in my Sunday School class when I was thirteen.
Incidentally, when I was thirteen I also had a firearm. It seems unimaginable now, but my cousin and I frequently hunted along a roadside fence in a small town in Kentucky. On occasion, we stopped at Mary Flannery’s store, unloaded our guns and carried them inside to warm up by the stove. When we stepped outside we would pop our shotgun shells back into our guns and walk down another fence-row in hopes of jumping a rabbit.
I do not intend to enter the debate on government gun control here. I must admit, it is hard for me to think about controlling something that was a normal part of our lives as kids. On the other hand, I know a fence-row in a small town in Kentucky is a long way from a turf war in the inner city. I must also admit there have been seismic shifts in the moral fiber of our country in the past forty-five years.
What I can say, unreservedly, is that the root problem is not guns. Gun violence is a symptom of a much more serious problem in our culture. We have differing opinions as to how we should treat the symptom, but we cannot ignore the fact gun violence is a heart issue.
Violence has always been a heart issue, and the poor moral state of a society only increases the possibility more innocent people will be hurt. James once wrote, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:1-4)
According to James, we are never going to solve any kind of violence in our world by just focusing on external factors. The battle lies within, and the main cause is our adversarial posture toward God.
This gives me hope as a believer. I respect the right we all have to form an opinion on government gun control. Yet, if we know the Lord, I believe there is only one strategy for kingdom gun control. We must help people find the One who can transform them from the inside out. Once they are clothed with Christ they begin to bring every word and action under His Lordship.
I am not so naïve to think everyone who claims Jesus as Savior can be trusted with a gun. No one needs to remind me of extremists who have murdered innocent people in the name of God. Nor do I wish to suggest non-believers cannot be trusted with a gun. While I want every law-enforcement officer in my town to know the Lord, I don’t have any less confidence in them if they don’t.
All I am saying is, the one thing we can all do as Christians to stem gun violence is step up the intensity of our mission. People need Jesus. If violent people come to know Jesus as He really is, and receive Him as Lord, the process of regeneration will begin to change them. Followers of Jesus will still commit violent crimes, but grace can change them if they remain open to the Holy Spirit’s work. I have heard too many powerful testimonies from believers who have left a violent past to think differently.
Follow your heart and best wisdom when it comes to government gun control. But when it comes to seeking the ultimate solution to violence follow Jesus, and lead as many people as possible to do the same.