At CNN’s Belief Blog, Pastor Daniel Darling calls for Christian evangelicals to ‘speak up about guns’. Since I’m both Christian and an evangelical, here I go.
I can also say that I do not own any ‘assault weapons’, as they are currently defined by our Mainstream Media (as ‘big, scary guns’, apparently); and frankly the term ‘assault weapon’ as applied to ‘big, scary guns’ is, IMO, meaningless.
Why, you may ask? Believe it or not, anything can be considered an ‘assault weapon’ if it’s used to assault another person; a knife, a frying pan, a fork, a spoon, a broom, a baseball bat, a cane, a piece of tree-branch, a pencil, a rock – all of these can be used to ‘assault’ someone. In fact, even a clenched fist or open hand can technically be considered an ‘assault weapon’ (hence the term ‘assault and battery’, used usually to describe a fistfight).
The term ‘assault weapon’ is also meaningless as the Mainstream Media uses it because it deals with the look of the weapon, rather than its function. It doesn’t take much searching to discover that fully-automatic firearms, such as those the military use, can’t be had by Joe Civilian unless he or she fills out a short ton of paperwork or acquires them illegally. Pastor Darling falls into that trap when he says:
’Why can’t we support sensible restrictions, such as a ban on military-style combat weapons? These weapons seem to serve no purpose other than the glorification of violence (emphasis mine).’See? ‘Big scary guns’ that look like something the military would use have no purpose other than to glorify violence.
I guess he never took into consideration that staring down the barrel of one of those 'big, scary guns' might just be enough to make a would-be burglar or rapist think twice about following through on their shenanigans, even without the gun-holder having to pull the trigger.
Pastor Darling would also like to see it be more difficult for people to purchase firearms. How much more difficult than filling out the paperwork, submitting to a background check, and waiting five, seven, or howevermany days to take possession of the firearm he would like, he doesn’t say; however, he does say that:
Gun ownership should be a privilege earned by good behavior and conferred only on the most trustworthy of our citizens. I think we can do this without disrespecting the Second Amendment, which besides guaranteeing the right to bear arms calls for this right to be “well-regulated.”Right here I could make the argument that’s been made before that automobile ownership needs to be heavily restricted because cars end up killing as many – if not more – people annually than guns do, but, well, I won’t. But there’s a fundamental problem with Pastor Darling’s belief that making gun owner ship a ‘privilege’ – that pesky Second Amendment is found in something that, if memory serves, is called the Bill of Rights, not the Bill of Privileges to be Bestowed Upon Those Who Pass the Test and Can Prove They’re Good People.
Pastor Darling does get it right when he says, ‘New gun laws won’t prevent every future crime’ and ‘Followers of Christ know that it is ultimately not the fun that kills, but evil that resides in every human heart’, but how ‘a few common-sense regulations would help destroy a culture of violence that so tempts young troubled men’ – when even the ‘common-sense regulations’ we already have don’t seem to work that well – escapes me. And when did it become the job of the government to ‘help destroy a culture of violence’ when that violence stems from the ‘evil that resides in every human heart’?
That job falls to the churches, not the secular government. And the churches are the ones who’ve fallen down on the job, IMO.
It doesn’t escape me that the vast majority of churches don’t place the ‘evil that resides in every human heart’in their Top Ten Important Sermon Topics’ anymore. Ask any church-growth consultants and they’ll let you know in no uncertain terms that pointing out man’s inherent sinfulness and inherent evil isn’t a pew-filler by any stretch of the imagination. Most churches are too involved with telling their parishioners that God is love and Jesus is love and God loves you and Jesus loves you and not nearly involved enough in telling you that God and Jesus love you even though you’re vile and evil and a sinner from birth. You’re a Christian – you’re SAVED!!! But from what? Don’t expect to find out from the Sunday sermon, folks – chances are, that ain’t gonna happen.
Christ came to earth to do what? To save us. From what? From our sins. Without His death and resurrection, we would have no chance of making it into heaven. But that washing away of our sins gave us something else – it gave us the opportunity to actually fight our baser nature. As Paul says, before Christ we were lost to sin and couldn’t do anything to get away from it; after Christ’s saving death and resurrection, we can fight against those urges which carry us into sin. We can actually fight against the evil that we’re more inclined to do. Sure, we need all the assistance we can get from Jesus, but at least we’ve got the chance now.
And if we as Christians live for Christ, and follow His rules to the best of our ability, we’re compelled to fight against our baser nature – Paul has whole chapters devoted to this concept. Yes, we’re saved, yes, our sins are forgiven, but that doesn’t give us the privilege of sitting back on our laurels and not doing anything – Christ expects us to dispose of the ‘old man’ and put on the ‘new man’, and that’s not something we do all in one fell swoop: our salvation is once; our sanctification is a process. And part of that process is putting a leash (or a bridle, or a heavy chain and collar) on our evil nature and curbing it.
What happens, then, if we as Christians sit back and expect government to put that leash on our baser natures by restricting access to things which may hurt us? It’s no longer we who have the responsibility of controlling ourselves, it’s the government’s responsibility to control us. And since part of our sanctification is learning how to control ourselves, by giving that up to the government – or to any other person or thing – haven’t we in fact diminished what Jesus did for us on that cross?
Too many Christians have forgotten this – or were never taught it by their pastors. Rather than pastors calling for government restrictions on things which can potentially cause us harm, perhaps they ought to be calling on their flock to exercise their God-given ability to work through their sanctification by putting a leash on their baser natures?
I don’t know…but that’s how I see it.