I want to share my thoughts and my heart as a 42-year old father of three young boys in the public-school system of Pennsylvania, who is also a Bible-preaching pastor, a patriot and a guy who usually votes Republican.
My thoughts on this are in reaction to the latest school shooting and are governed by the teachings of Jesus Christ, first and foremost, not the U.S. Constitution, political activism or the like. I’m going to start with four teachings of Jesus, then offer up my understanding of their implications. I share this with humility and conviction.
Jesus taught that justice is summed up in two commands—to love God with all of your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. According to Scripture, all of our actual rights and freedoms ought to flow from our love for God and neighbor. Whereas the State may legally sanction evil, God never does. I humbly believe that American law-makers and law-enforcers who fail to encourage love for our neighbor, or act to restrict love for our God, are instruments of injustice and will be held accountable by God. Net: All human laws are lesser laws subject to the highest law—the law of love.
Jesus taught that no one is good except God alone—that includes me, and you. He made it clear that he came to Earth for this very reason. He came because we are rebellious, selfish, “sick” people who need a doctor. He embraces the repentant sinner and ultimately gave up his life for our sins that we may be forgiven, healed and filled with his Spirit. This very fact is also why we need humans laws—to regulate sinful groups of people trying to live together and keep them from imploding under the weight of their collective wickedness. Net: Our laws must factor in the reality that we are all sinners, capable of tremendous evil and wickedness.
Jesus taught his adult followers to welcome and protect children. Our children are being shot to death. Our children are being killed by gun-toting psychopathic sinners. Jesus welcomed children and blessed them because he loves them. If Jesus said that whoever leads a child into sin would be better off drowned to death (which he did), then what would he possibly say about someone who willfully murders children? Net: Our children cannot vote, run for office or affect any of the changes needed for their own protection; we must do it for them.
Jesus taught us that his kingdom is not of this world. If you call Christ Jesus, Lord, then you have already submitted yourself to the laws of his kingdom—the laws of love. You feel it in your bones that America is changing in profoundly negative ways. The West has embraced a nihilistic view of the world, that says with joy, “From dust we came, to dust we will return.” In the vacuum of this nihilism, the West wishes to insert the fiction that we’re becoming better as people and creating more enlightened societies. The truth is that almost every notion of what we believe about goodness—like the primacy of love—flows out of the teachings of Jesus, not modernism or its many advocates. Consequently, the more we reject Jesus the Savior, the more we will ultimately reject Jesus the Teacher. Net: History teaches us that the rejection of God’s laws often gives rise to State tyranny and oppression, and yet, our response is not to arm ourselves for Armageddon, but to sound the clarion call of the gospel.
Jesus obviously taught more than this, but I believe these teachings are enough. So what do I think Jesus would say (I admit this is risky theological territory to walk into) about the tragic instances where some deranged young man walks into a school (or a church or a concert or a club) with an illegally purchased automatic rifle and kills as many people as possible?
Do everything in your power, as a society, to protect and care for your children.
Be willing to give up your “rights” whenever they don’t promote my law of love.
Trust me—not your guns—to defend you, should the State ever turn against you.
If we were perfectly good we wouldn’t really need laws, much less laws governing our most deadly weapons. But we’re not good. So, we need laws that restrain our anger and derangement as best as we can, so we can get on with the real work of loving God and each other.
To be clear, I’m not completely against guns. I don’t believe when Jesus taught his disciples to “turn the other cheek” he was teaching us to give up bodily self-defense. Instead, I believe he was teaching us to give up protecting our honor, our reputation and sometimes even our property. However, I also don’t believe when he told his disciples to share two swords amongst them that he was recommending that all his followers be armed for battle. In fact, the apostles themselves taught that the greatest honor was to participate in Christ’s sufferings. When faced with a tyrannical, oppressive State they did not call the church to arms, but to live by the Spirit of Christ.
In conclusion, I’m for people being able to own guns, that stay in their homes, for the sake of self-defense. I’m for people being able to take guns and go hunting with them (though I hear real men use compound bows!) I’m for our police and military carrying guns to protect and defend us and themselves. I don’t know all the gun laws and regulations currently in place, but I can say that beyond that, I can’t think of how greater gun rights actually encourages or promotes God’s law that we love our enemies and our neighbors. I also can’t think of one single reason to let a nation of sinners arm themselves with automatic or semi-automatic rifles, it puts all of us at greater risk.
Mass shootings by murderous people—not mass bombings or mass poisonings—are the cause of so many dead children. Thus, it is mass shootings that we must do something about. I would argue that since other measures are not working, we have arrived at a point in time where to protect our own children—just as one might argue concerning the protection of the unborn—someone's “rights” have to give.