GOD’S KINGDOM FIRST!
My family in Christ, shalom.
I used to have admiration for guns. I even owned an air pistol in the 1990s! It was such a life-time ago that I cannot remember what model it was, although I’m almost certain it was a Glock. But then on 13 March 1996 something happened which caused me to question those lethal bits of metal. I remember on that day hearing about a shooting at a school, but exactly where it was I had no idea. Which school? Are my loved ones ok? As I listened more closely I found out that the
shooting ‘massacre’ had happened at a primary school in Dunblane (Scotland). No doubt I was relieved – none of my loved ones went there. But I honestly can’t remember feeling anything positive. My memories of that day are just the concern and anxiety of not knowning followed by the sorrow of knowning what did actually occur at that school. I am so glad that the incoming Labour Government of the following year brought in legislation to tighten this nation’s firearms laws.
About six or seven years ago I started to have an interest in gun clubs. I did go to one, and most of what I heard sounded pretty good. Then came the bombshell: I would have to keep the gun at home! Maybe this is an obvious thing which I should have understood at the research stage, but I promise you it never occurred to me. Though in those days I would have called myself a Christian, I then (like now) knew that I was still human and still prone to my emotions. I really do not like the possibility of feeling rage, feeling cheated by someone, or maybe even one day feeling suicidal, and having access to a lethal weapon. So when the gun club staff told me that my gun would have to be kept in my house, I decided there and then that my attachment to guns had to come to an end.
Sorry, some of what follows may sound offensive. I humbly ask that you remember that I make mistakes just like everyone else and that I, too, am on this journey of faith within a group of human disciples being led by Christ.
Sitting here in Britain in the midst of these ‘restrictive’ gun laws, knowing that only the most criminal citizens would possess such a weapon, I look at America and think that some of its citizens are being brought up to be blind to the obvious. The Second Amendment seems to be more of a curse than a blessing. Just like every other nation every one in the U.S. has their own opinions, their own feelings; differing views on race, society and politics which should be able to co-exist and be discussed in a calm and cool atmosphere. And thankfully, such places in America do exist – when the Second Amendment is swept under the carpet and / or ignored.
But when the Second Amendment resurfaces… that’s a whole different kettle of fish. Differences of opinion can lead to bloodshed. For example, while a Remainer in Britain may be beaten up by a Brexiteer, a similar occurence in the U.S.A. may very well end in fatalities. I am sorry if you find my views offensive but, just like you, I am a product of my culture. And this ‘cultural product’ is the starting point from which the convert has to move forward. That is, I am such and such a person; what must I cast out from my life in order for me to grow in faith and become the sort of person Christ wants me to be?
Now I’ll tell you right here and now that when I wrote about Britain’s conscientious objectors during World War One I was holding them up as my model for the Christian life. In theory (at least) I am one of God’s conscientious objectors. Any war I study I want to know about the people who refused to fight, and in all areas of life in which people can take up arms I want to look for a peaceful and loving alternative. For example, in the Dunblane Massacre I didn’t ask why there weren’t armed guards in or near the school, but was thankful for those who tried to shield others.
This blog was born out of a conversation between Ryan Callahan and Agent X that I was encouraged to read. I will gladly give you my conclusion now before I try to argue my case:
I believe that the disciples of Christ need to stop dragging their heels and throw their guns away!
I don’t like guns. I don’t like lethal weapons at all. But I will start my argument by partly agreeing with what Ryan said. Ever since the Holy Spirit revealed to me the glories of Christ I’ve wandered what actual spiritual gift I have and what role I can play in the Church (Mark 16:17-18; Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-30; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Peter 4:11). I think I may be found to be wanting as an evangelist so, as I like arguing points of theology, maybe I should say teacher! But one thing’s for sure, I am not an agent of God’s wrath (Romans 13:1-5) – and neither is Ryan – so I believe that I have no use for guns. Maybe if you are not in that position either then you should throw your guns away.
Ryan cites 1 Corintians 13:7 a lot and says that this is his justification for ‘protecting’ his family with a gun. He says:
“Love always protects, always, not sometimes, always.”
What about loving our enemies (Matthew 5:44)? Does “always” mean “sometimes” if on the odd occasion you are able to shoot an enemy?
“You just can’t love an enemy with the working end of a Glock. However, you can die at their hand blessing the hand that harms you. And THAT is to display the very image of the one we follow…”
Shooting does not necessarily mean killing, and I, probably like everyone else, am surprised to be corrected whenever we incorrectly assume the opposite. I just hope the shooter remembers their duty to evangelise the wounded intruder (no matter what the law may say about that).
The secular media is a really corrupting power. Although British law (at least) says that guns must not be used to settle disputes, the film industries seem to pound into people quite the opposite. When they feel threatened birds of the air can simply fly away but we are taught that guns and other weapons must be our first form of defence. I like the way that no matter what you look at on Jon’s site (NonViolent Christians) you always see Luke 14:26 – Christ’s command to relinquish our old life – in the right-hand column. I believe that guns and secular media are part of the chaff which should be cast out. Christ never resoughted to weapons and neither must we. We need to learn to continually and in all situations trust in God our Protector, hope in God our Protector and persevere in the strength that God our Protector gives (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:7). If I point a gun at someone, even for a second, I pretend to be ‘the agent of God’s wrath’ which I am not.
“Guns are not as powerful as love…We must set our imaginations free from this slavery to guns and death!”
It’s interesting that Jon’s college professor laughed when asked “how” the Bible “supported” (inspired? encouraged?) him to fight in the Vietnam War (1955-1975). I like the Bible, I try to read it and to follow its teachings. But admittedly I am not an expert. What I understand about its contents, though, leads me to agree with Agent X that:
“…the Bible is not a self preservation manual. It’s a crucify your flesh manual instead.”
I love Agent X’s story about stopping an intruder by making coffee. I think this sounds brilliant, and if I ever had to try it myself I would honestly be afraid of offending them. I’m a tea-drinker and I don’t have coffee in my house. Seriously though, I have never been in any situation like this, but I think that something like this really needs to be attempted in order to diffuse an already intense and frightening situation. Maybe a hug would be helpful, too. I know I am in no position to tell other people what to do, but I suggest that for a Christian shooting should never be an option.
I have touched on it briefly already but I would like to say a few more things about evangelism. For example, the Christian who carries the soldier’s pack in Matthew 5:41 is duty-bound to do it. No doubt the apostle Peter grasped the opportunity in Acts 10 to make Cornelius the (former-)Centurion understand something similar to Jon’s definition of non-violence. And I would like to think that in a household of, say four, where every member is a Christian, that means there are four golden opportunities to evangelise the perpetrators. As I said in the paragraph above, an intense situation needs to be brought under control. And I’m sorry but I have no further suggestions to help you do that.
But in those few seconds and minutes before you get to meet the intruder face-to-face I believe each of you must find a way of doing what years of being friends with Christ have taught you: do not fear. Maybe the intruder is a drug addict, maybe they just want money, food, shelter. My guess – and I can only guess – is that they will be just as afraid as you are. When the situation has calmed, try and listen to them and don’t judge. And in your own unique ways, let them know that they are still worth the price that Christ paid for their sins:
I hope I have not been too offensive, or even missed the point. In any case, I hope that I have been of some help.
Lehitra’ot and God bless you.
Since this post was published Ryan Callahan and I have corresponded with each other and are now at peace with each other in the name of Jesus. Those of you who have read this blog, and the blog that Ryan wrote in reply to me (click here), will see that we have many differences of opinion. But Jesus led a group of twelve disciples who couldn’t always see eye-to-eye, and when the missionaries started to bring millions and billions to Christ from all around the world there was an endless amount of quarrelling between those who saw life differently from others. History testifies to that. But all of us are one in Christ (Galatians 3:28). And thanks to the Holy Spirit working in both of our hearts we are now reconciled brothers in Christ. (Yes, I am a man). To God be the glory for ever and ever, amen.