The news, media and numerous political blogs have been saturated with discussion and debate on gun control policy the past few months. Heated conversations have swelled with recent tragedies such as the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado and the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. We have heard the pleas and rants from politicians and opinionists, but what is the right answer? Is there a right answer? What does the Bible have to say about gun control policy?
Well, actually this is one of those gray areas where the Bible is not clear. So, for starters, let us not focus so much on what we do not know, but rather let us focus on what we do know. What we do know is that evil exists and, sometimes people commit evil things such as murder. Another thing we know is that murder is wrong. But, we also know that individual choice is important.
God seems to think that freedom is vitally important, and that the means the freedom to do right or wrong. In fact, historically it appears that freedom is seen as more important than prevention of crime. God does not prevent all of the evils from happening in the world because he has given us the precious gift of free will. Yet, many think they can prevent tragedies from happening by limiting our choices. Strange that some think it their job to do what God himself has decided not to do.
Gun control is a complex and multi-layered issue. “Gun control” is very different from actually controlling guns; the person holding the gun has “control” of the gun. So when things get out of control, the person has lost control, not the gun. Some call this cliché a cop-out, but nevertheless, “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” This is not to say that people should have total access to any all kinds of weapons and destructive tools. Simply, this standpoint states that it is the individual who chooses to create and use a weapon for ill purposes.
Policy and politics
A further point to consider is the control of policy. What happens if policy is out of control? We must be critical and cautious. It is a slippery slope when tragedy in one place dictates policy in another place. We all want to limit or even eliminate future tragedies, but we cannot allow fear to take control of our decisions. Pastor Bob Coy sympathizes, “If you allow tragedy to dictate what you do with policy, you may miss the point of what happened.”
Do not miss the point. Gun control is not a legal issue; it is a moral issue revealing the heart of man. Yet, gun control is used mostly today for a political agenda. The issue becomes a game of passing the blame instead of proactively seeking to actually protect people’s livelihood and freedom! Today’s culture has created a very different idea of the purpose of weapons. Weapons have become about power and control rather than protection. It is a condition of the heart.
So we have to ask, what are we really trying to control—guns or people? Because the unfortunate truth is that a government can completely outlaw guns, but it can never stop people from hurting one another. Evil men find a way to commit evil acts. Having a lock on your door gives you a sense of control. But honestly, it does not stop a burglar from breaking in if they wish. This is why Christians put our trust, hope and faith in the LORD. He is our protector and righteous judge. Door locks and gun policies may help, but ultimately it is God who saves us.
Law and responsibility
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew people clearly had armies and weapons. Passages such as Luke 22:38 and John 18:10 tell us that the disciples had possession of swords. In the ancient world, it was not uncommon for people to carry personal weapons for protection. Roman Statesman, Cicero, expounds:
“This, therefore, is a law, O judges, not written, but born with us… which we were not trained in, but which is ingrained in us, namely, that if our life be in danger from plots, or from open violence, or from the weapons of robbers or enemies, every means of securing our safety is honorable.”
But with freedom, we cannot forget our responsibility. Life is a gift and we are to be good stewards. Truly, we have no rights. We have done nothing to earn life and liberty. God simply gives them to us. Life is a privilege. So we must ask ourselves and truly wrestle with the questions: Why do I need or want a gun? What is the purpose of a gun? What would I do with a gun? Pray and seek the LORD that he would grant you his wisdom in the midst of a confusing and controversial world.
Finley can be reached at: [email protected].