As Missy and I watched the news of what happened in Colorado over the weekend I looked at our two sons who were playing across the room (ages 1 & 3) and said “The shooter used to be like that. What happened to this guy?” What we saw in Colorado last weekend didn’t happen in a vacuum. We live in a culture of objectification. We celebrate people on reality TV but really the whole point is about watching a train wreck. We don’t care about those people. We don’t love those people. They are objects to be enjoyed, not people to be valued. When they cease to catch our attention we toss them to the curb and pick up the next guilty pleasure.
How do guys like this grow into mass murderers? How does a guy go into a room full of people and start shooting like he was in the woods shooting at tin cans? Here is the elephant in the room – we live in an entertainment culture that has trained us to see the people around us as here for our pleasure and nothing more. If you don’t have anything to offer me you mean nothing to me…you are worthless. The ultimate destination of this kind of thinking give people and objects the same amount of value. We call it objectifying people. When you objectify someone you no longer see them as any more valuable to you than your laptop (in some cases, that might be too much value) or a can of coke. Once you assign that kind of value to others you have all the rights to be angry at others. You are in a position to lust after women. You no longer think of murder as murder because our society is telling us that a person and a tin can are worth the same amount and one could just as easily shoot a tin can as they could shoot a person. This is dangerous and this view is rampant.
People keep saying this is a gun issue. They saw the 300+ gun control laws we have on the books aren’t enough. They talk like we can legislate away what is actually an illness in the hearts of Americans. They act like guns carry the responsibility for this problem. Last I checked, guns are inanimate objects that cannot control themselves. People have the responsibility and people are the problem but not people alone…people who are being cultivated and inculturated to de-value life and to honor things like the objectification of others creates a heart issue that is most visibly displayed in shootings like the one that just took place in Aurora.
The solution is not about gun control. The solution is about changing the hearts of people. That is a big responsibility and the church needs to be front and center on the preventative side of helping shape hearts of people to be more Christ-like. I have yet to meet a Christian who was being faithful to God and a mass murdered at the same time. It is just not compatible. Unfortunately, we have created a culture where killings like this flow out of the culture in a more natural way than any of us would like to admit. It appalls us when it happens but it reflects the kind of people our society is developing.
I know there are a lot of strong feelings out there on this one and I more than happy to engage in a loving and respectful dialog on anything I have said here. Thanks for reading.
The issue of gun control is not about legislating the problem away. Of course we can’t curb sin—which as you say is a heart issue—by just increasing our laws. The question is: knowing that we have a heart issue that frequently spews forth in violence, should we then allow access to weapons created for the sole intent of killing humans. Of course our aim is to have hearts changed toward God, but in light of the fact that sin is still here with us, why would we allow your average joe to legally acquire objects that can inflict such devastation and destruction?
I know the issue of gun control is touchy. I’m not against hunting for instance. And I fully understand the idea of having objects ready for defense. The problem, as I see it, is that your sketch of the issue suggests that if we could only cultivated people to value life—by knowing God and being transformed by His love—then this wouldn’t happen. Sure, but in light of the fact that most people don’t value life—don’t know God or relate to others as he has shown us to—then how do we curb the extent of the damage that people can inflict because of sin?
Of course people are responsible, not guns. When my kids color on the dinner table with crayons, it was them and not the crayons fault. But if I let my kids play with the kitchen knives, and they hurt themselves and each other, then what do I say? Will people not judge me as unwise for letting them use these ‘objects that cannot control themselves’? Now the question is—the elephant in the room is—does our entertainment culture make us adults ready to use the kitchen knives, or kids????
Let’s tweak a variable or two in your argument and see what it looks like. Granted, what I substitute is not something specifically designed to kill people, and can, under special circumstances, occasionally have valid application.
“People keep saying this is a ALCOHOL/DRUG issue. They saw the XXX ALCOHOL/DRUG LAWS we have on the books aren’t enough. They talk like we can legislate away what is actually an illness in the hearts of Americans. They act like ALCOHOL/DRUGS carry the responsibility for this problem. Last I checked, DRUGS are inanimate objects that cannot control themselves. People have the responsibility and people are the problem but not people alone…people who are being cultivated and inculturated to de-value life and to (INSERT ABSTRACT MORAL ISSUE THAT IS THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE MAJOR ISSUE PRECIPITATING ALCOHOL/DRUG ABUSE AND THEIR DIRECT RESULTS) creates a heart issue that is most visibly displayed in ALCOHOL/DRUG ABUSE like the one that just took place in XXX.
The solution is not about ALCOHOL/DRUG control. The solution is about changing the hearts of people. That is a big responsibility and the church needs to be front and center on the preventative side of helping shape hearts of people to be more Christ-like. I have yet to meet a Christian who was being faithful to God and an ACTIVE ALCOHOL/DRUG ADDICT at the same time. It is just not compatible. Unfortunately, we have created a culture where ALCOHOL/DRUG USE like this flow out of the culture in a more natural way than any of us would like to admit. It appalls us when it happens but it reflects the kind of people our society is developing.”
Or, are the potential (fully realized all too often) consequences of alcohol/abuse of sufficient magnitude that maybe we need to have some laws in place to prevent the needless death of say a family of four after a drunk driver crashes into them, of if a parent that is using meth inadvertently exposes their child to the drug, or just neglects them to the point of malnutrition and even death?
Keeping in mind that even the laws we have do not keep illicit (in nature or how they were obtained) drugs off the street, or keep people from abusing alcohol (like we wouldn’t totally keep guns off the street). Should we just rescind the laws and just “preach Jesus” to the addicts? Is Gospel somehow less effective with drugs than guns, so we should keep the laws in place on drugs but let guns go?
Are those that die in the precipitant situations acceptable collateral damage. Are those that died in Aurora acceptable collateral damage in the fight to maintain the uncontrolled right to bear things specifically designed to kill people (like assault rifles)? I would argue that as a follower of Jesus, I should insist and ensure that these not be left behind. That these lost sheep not be abandoned, these lost coins not left hiding in the corner. While I’m sure it makes sense to you, I have no idea how one can follow Jesus and consider these acceptable losses, any more than I can accept the losses that would happen if alcohol and drugs were not controlled.
If your family was killed by a drunk driver would you be able to remain abstract and detached from the argument? If your family was killed by the gunman, would you be abstract and detached? I don’t think abstraction and detachment as a follower of Jesus is an appropriate response. While I would not say the victims and their friends and family are “the least of these”, I would think a similar principle would apply.
My response time is limited. Your drug substitution doesn’t work. Drugs like Cocaine, heroine, etc have no positive use. Firearms do. Also, I don’t know if you are aware of this but firearms are regulated. You wrote, “to maintain the uncontrolled right to bear things specifically designed to kill people (like assault rifles)?”
Hardly uncontrolled…some have estimated 20,000 gun laws on the books. A stricter count would be about 300 that are specifically written to prohibit firearms/gun control. The point is, there are already laws on the books and yet these things still happen. It is a matter of the heart.
Let me give this example. You can put a pile of cakes and donuts in front of a health nut and they will never get diabetes. Why? Because they have self control. It is the person that is the problem.
Heroin, when prescribed, is called “diamorphine” and cocaine can be used as a topical anesthetic and vasodilator, amphetamines are used at times in the treatment of ADHD (Adderall comes to mind), barbituates can be used in the treatment of Irritable Bowl Syndrome. It’s called Schedule 2 narcotics. Google is your friend. 🙂
On the other hand guns are designed to kill. Especially assault rifles and high powered hand guns which are not used for hunting, they’d shred anything you shot at. Guns aren’t used to heal. They project force into a target and cause it damage.
Having laws on the books and things still happening is not a compelling argument against making new laws.
Is it true when it applies to theft? Theft, burglary (entering with an intent to steal), and robbery (using force or fear to steal) still happen all the time. If new ways of doing these things are developed (identity theft in the last decade or so comes to mind) do we stop making laws governing those things? Do folks that are stealing just need to be loved and preached to, and that’s it? No new laws necessary?
Is it true if its about drugs? If they figure out a new way to cook meth (which has happened a few times) does meth’s presence on the street mean that new laws regulating meth possession, production, and obtaining precurssors should not be written? Just find the meth cooks and tell them how they are loved and how they negatively effect others, but no new legal restrictions? How about new designer drugs like “bath salts”? Is the solution just in addressing man’s sinful nature?
The logic of your argument seems to be found inadequate when the thing being regulated changes from “guns”. It’s only a convincing argument to those that are already convinced and have a preexisting vested interest in believing it.
Let’s try a variable substitution again:
“Let me give this example. You can put a pile of COCAINE and BARBITUATES in front of a health nut and they will never get ADDICTED. Why? Because they have self control. It is the person that is the problem”.
Even with all the legislation banning drugs, criminals still have no problem getting them. If we continue to do everything we can to ban guns, criminals will still have no problem getting them.
Taking guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens is essentially the same as putting a sign in their front yard stating, “We don’t have guns here!”
How long would it take a criminal to rob someone that they KNOW can’t stop them?
Well, it’s refreshing at least that you aren’t even pretending that your position has anything to do with the Gospel.
Unless you’re also arguing for the decriminalization of drugs, or at least not having any new laws put on the books as new issues related to controlled substances arise you really don’t seem to be making any sense. It kind of invalidates your logic if you equate two things, then take opposing positions on them.
On the other hand, if you’re just doing the radical Libertarian, thing have at it. 🙂
I’m actually not trying to sound like I’m arguing with you. I’m just trying to think outloud and figure this out. I just have two questions that stick in my mind:
Question 2: Has legislation really fixed the drug problem?? If it hasn’t.. then what’s the point? Maybe the point of drugs was to keep it out of the hands of EVERYONE. Well.. it succeeds with law-abiding citizens that wish to keep the law. They don’t buy drugs. However it still fails with criminals.
Question 2: Would more legislation really fix the gun problem?? If it hasn’t.. then what’s the point? The point of gun legislation should not be to get it out of the hands of EVERYONE. Because then it would succeed only in taking guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens wishing to protect themselves and their families. But criminals would still have plenty of access.
IF we can come up with legislation that would restrict gun access to criminals while allowing those who just want to protect their families from crazy-loonies to still have guns, I’m all for that!
Hope that clears things up.
I have had very little internet access over the last few days so it has been hard to really sit down on this one and respond to everyone in a consistent way. I will have more time on Friday to address more of the things you have brought up. I hope you don’t feel like I have ignored you.
I do wonder why we get so caught up on legislation when Jesus, Paul and the rest didn’t seem fixated on the government fixing all of these things. Jesus never held an office or even was concerned with these types of things. The whole point of the OP takes seriously Jesus’ perspective on these types of things…you have to get to people’s hearts. We have to be in the transformation business. The world will always be the world. The government is not going to fix it and more laws are not the answer. Period. We have hundreds of laws on the books and yet we still have people illegally owning guns and doing illegal things with them. Legislation is a shot at a short term, surface fix. You have to get below the surface and fix what is underneath. Our society is just not interested in doing that.
In general, Matt, I agree with you: cultivating people to love God and each other is more important than gun control. But I would argue one thing: We don’t love others or convert them to try to change culture. We dare not bring people to God with even the thought that this might help make our world a better place. No doubt our world would be better (how ever so marginally) if more people came to church, but this is not our goal. Our goal is to be faithful/obedient to God, to be truth-bearers of the Gospel and to reconcile others to the Lord, for their sake—for love. While we should be ‘missional’, praying ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ and personally, corporately acting in accordance with such a plea—we don’t treat people as a means to this end!
With respect to guns: look, if we remove all guns from the world it would not solve a thing. People would still find ways to live out sin. Cain did it. Timothy McVeigh did it. Whether it’s our bare hands or farmers fertilizer, we kill. We sin.
The question comes down to this: in light of being in a sinful world, is the liberty for the ‘average Joe’ to buy guns (made for the sole purpose of killing others) more of a help or a hindrance in seeking to minimize the consequences of this dark age?
Good thoughts there. Just one question…Do you think all firearms are specifically designed and sold/purchased with the intent to kill people?
Again, guns don’t intend anything—and I’m not really interested in the intent of people’s buying and selling of things. I would, however, argue that ‘many’ guns are designed with the power to inflict fatal wounds on people.
Far too many guns are not designed for mere hunting of animals. Others are designed for use by ‘authorized’ personnel, i.e. police, military. Otherwise, I find what some possess as a symbol of their freedom to be absolute utter nonsense. That’s my opinion…
Depends on the heart… if someone else other than this lunatic would’ve had a gun, then there would’ve been a chance that they could have saved lives. Unfortunately, it was mostly kids there.. and the movie theater had a ban on guns.
I don’t follow much of what is being said here.
The spirit of democracy came to a people who had a robust understanding of sin and evil. They knew that if a king or a regime had too much power that it could be misused with dire consequences. So, while they knew that democracy was not ideal, it was the best amongst the alternatives. In the same manner, gun control is about limiting the power of individuals to minimize the consequence of misuse. Gun control does not ‘solve’ the problem—and us as Christians should know that nothing will ever solve this problem. You can’t educate the problem completely away. You can’t medicate the problem away. You can’t psychoanalyze the problem away. You can’t even love the problem away. Some people will still hurt others. Even people who have known God’s love, who have gone to church, and served in their community, might act this way. It is a sad reality.
The question is: how much individual freedom is worth the negative consequences of people who might miss use it? I, for one, don’t need an assault rifle to feel cool; I will forgo that freedom for the greater good of a safer community. As a Christian, I don’t need a hand gun to feel safe; I will forgo that liberty for the greater desire of a community that fears God, not man.
Chris, I find your thought that maybe if some else hand a gun that it might have turned out different to be a little naive. I’m not taken by the vigilante hero complex. I would rather die to a lone madman than arise unscathed from the crossfire of society gone to seed. Think about it: this guy was covered in body armor and threw some sort of smoke bomb. I, for one, am glad no one else returned fire, which could have equally caused even more carnage.
I am not sure I am following what is being said here. Which people are we talking about? If we are speaking of Adams, Jefferson, and so forth, I think it should be noted that they did not think that a democracy was the best amongst the alternatives. They founded a republic, not a democracy (there is a big difference.)
Chris, consider this scenario (by Jamey Dickey) : “You’re in a movie theater. No doubt it’s crammed full, since this is opening night of a major summer blockbuster.
The first thing you have to register is that someone has entered the theater through the emergency exit. Depending on how engrossed you are in the movie, you may take 10 to 20 seconds to realize someone has come in. Some people might not even notice at all.
Next, you have to react to the gas bomb. Your mind has to compute whether or not it’s dry ice, a stink bomb, a flaming sack of dog poo, or anthrax itself. In the time you’re figuring out what’s going on, the air has already become too difficult to see clearly through, and the rest of your senses are being bombarded. Also, at this point, the gunman has already opened fire.
So now you’re having to add in the time for your brain to process that you’re in danger and that someone has opened fire, and that NO this is not part of the movie.
If you are carrying, you’ve got to reach down to wherever you’re keeping your gun–purse, ankle holster, hip pocket, wherever–unclasp the holster and free the firearm. Then, you’ve got to release the safety.
Then, if your eyes and throat aren’t burning from the gas attack, and if you can see through the dark and haze (which would be compounded by the light of the projector) you’ve got to figure out where in the world you’re going to point the gun.
By the way, you’re doing this amongst a frenzied mass of people in absolute terror and shock who are scrambling every which way to get out. So if you could even see the perpetrator, through the tears in your eyes, the haze of the gas bombs and the smoke from the gunfire, you still can’t shoot, because one of the 100 plus people in the theater may move into the line of fire at any given moment.
Oh, and by the way, did I mention you’re also contending with an AK-47 firing bullets everywhere?
Not that it matters, because in the time it took you to draw your weapon, the massacre is already over. If you by some miracle are able to take a shot, you will in all likelihood miss, and cause him to fire on you and your family.
There is just simply no way that anyone could have prevented this, armed or not.”
Correct. There is a difference between a democracy and a republic (as envisioned by the framers of the American ‘experiment’) I hope, though, that my point still stands if the two terms are swapped. I just did not want to connote ‘republicanism’ or other partisan inflexions.
If you are considering the aims and intent of the founders of that republic, it was understood that it would be preferable to take the risk that you might be shot by a lunatic than to live under the constant threat of a police state that had disarmed its populace. The second amendment was so that the militia could keep its government in check, not to protect hunting rights or target shooting.
But regardless of the merits or flaws of democracies or republics, there’s a perspective issue that we need to maintain. This is not our kingdom. The best form of government is a benevolent monarchy, and our monarch is coming to establish his kingdom in the very near future…. paraphrasing, “… we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth, for we that say such things declare plainly that we seek a country” (Hebrews 11:13-14).
If your kingdom is the United States of America, and you are loyal to its constitution, then you should fight to protect your right to bear arms, and keep your government in check. You’re probably safer even with an occasional madman on a shooting spree than the inevitable alternative of the fascist state that controls all weapons. But if your kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36) then maybe this isn’t the time to fight.
The kingdoms of this world aren’t “fixable” because they have the wrong foundation. They are doomed to fail, so although we can watch and learn, we shouldn’t get drawn into it. Is it not said that one cannot have two masters, that one would love one but hate the other? Debating about gun laws is aiming our attention in the wrong direction, I think.
You just nailed it. That is exactly right.
Andrew, exactly right; but do we do this?!?
It is true that we are strangers/pilgrims passing through—and you are right to point out that our ultimate allegiance is to our heavenly kingdom—to Christ. But I think many give lip service to this kind of thing but then proceed to walk an awkward (idolatrous) split between the sacred and the secular, between the spiritual and the physical, where we try to have it both ways. We either want our non-Christian friends to govern/protect us (Anabaptist) or else we so divorce this world from the next that we think we can do our civil duty apart from the demands of the Gospel.
Most in the churches of Christ have a peculiar view of church and state. They will appeal to Romans 13 as they join/support the military, never really asking for themselves if this or that war is just from a heavenly point of view. But these same people will procure weapons for themselves because of some inexplicable fear of a ‘police state’. They will ‘submit to their authorities’ up to a point (all while not seeing themselves as really linked to that authority), but then out come the guns.
I think many Christians who actively support the individual’s right to ‘bear arms’ are being slightly illogical. On the one hand most of these same people will say that society is riddled with moral relativism, with vice—selfishness and greed—they will decry how so many lap up violent video games and movies and how so many are only concerned with their own pleasure—but then they will say that they are glad that this same society has guns to protect against some imaginary ‘evil police state’. It’s like we’ve read Orwell’s ‘1984’ and not Huxley’s “Brave New World’.
Mokus…. how do we do this?
I would suggest that we see ourselves as foreigners. Do not take an oath, do not pledge allegiance, and by no means join an army whose job is to break things and kill other people. “Swear not” (Matthew 5:34, James 5:2), “Thou shalt not kill” (Romans 13:9).
Should we “want our non-Christian friends to govern/protect us?” I think that we should want God to protect us, even while passing through this foreign land, and it shouldn’t make a difference what form his angel takes. God can send men, spirits, animals, or even weather. We should not depend upon friends to protect us, but we should recognize that God is able to protect us through our friends. They shall in no wise lose their reward (Mark 9:41.)
Whether or not this is something that normally receives only nominal lip service is a moot point. We shouldn’t worry about what others are doing, but rather what we should be doing… “what is that to thee? follow thou me” (John 21:22).
As concerning fears of a “police state” … as I read Revelation, that’s exactly what we are told to expect to happen preceding the return of Christ. As such, I do not think that we should preoccupy ourselves against it. I think we should recognize it as such, but then remind ourselves that this is not our kingdom. To use an analogy, when God told Judah that they would be taken into captivity by Babylon, he told them not to resist, and at that point fighting as an Israeli patriot against the invaders was rebellion against God.
Rev 13:10 KJV
(10) He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
I am not exactly sure why you are contrasting Brave New World and 1984, but it seems to me as if both novels are somewhat prophetic. For example, compare Big Brother’s eye with England’s CCTV that watches you on every block and in every bathroom.
For those whose heart and treasure (and kingdom) is in this world, they should fight to shape and/or reclaim this world after the way they want it fashioned, the way they want to pass it on to their children. This might be the political process, arming themselves as loyal citizenry, or serving in the armed forces so they can fight beneath their flag. But personally, I now think that type of loyalty conflicts with a faith of a better kingdom, because faith places all your hope on one thing, without reservation.
So in a nutshell, answering “how do we do this?” Step back and let the people of this world have their world, and be a good guest, and trust that our king is coming soon… which will either be in your lifetime, or failing that, the very next heartbeat (and I mean that literally, assuming the dead are raised with beating hearts.) We really don’t have long to wait, do we?
I admire the passion and coherence of your stance. I certainly agree with your view more than the dualisms that permeate many churches. However, I personally take a bit more of a paradoxical stance. I, too, want to live as though the end is nigh, but I also realize that it might be a long way off. I must also look past myself (whose end IS near) and see to it that I’m being faithful to future generations. Without bowing to idols and without the insidious idolatries that dualisms hide (for that’s what they do), I think we can and should engage politics and perhaps even the military. I’m not exactly sure how; but I doubt it can be as simple as you’ve expressed. I worry that what you are saying is an easy way out, one that feigns piety while hiding a self-love, a ‘loving God’ over the ‘love of the other’. We can and should make radical breaks from our culture and politics, but sometimes this even is not radical enough.
Our views of eschatology certainly guide our thoughts on these things–and this is perhaps where we differ. I don’t know. But now I fear we’re drifting too far from the heart of this post…While admitting that we are exiles and foreigners here (I’m not an American, by the way) I still want to pray ‘Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven’, all the while knowing that this won’t fit neatly into the packages and programs peddled by many voices of our time…
I think that the best thing that you can provide for future generations is the hope of that coming kingdom. All things considered, that’s what matters most, isn’t it? “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)
I am supportive of some gun legislation. While I have no issues with the 2nd amendment, I see no reason why any civilian needs to buy an AR-15 assault rifle (or similar “assault” weapons) as you cannot legally hunt game with them and I don’t see how a law restricting the sale of such assault weaponry would violate the 2nd amendment.
Having said that, I am in full agreement that the fundamental root issue of such violence is not about guns. It is a heart issue. The heart of America has an almost unconditional love affair with violence. Added to that is the issue to point to, in that we objectify humans and so those objectified people exist only for our sake. Because of this, such humans mean nothing to us and so whatever happens to them make little, if any, difference. God help us!!!
I agree with you that nobody needs to buy an AR-15 assault rifle but I don’t see how any level of legislation is ever going to stop a criminal who really wants one from getting it.
If legislation alone could fix the problem, then we wouldn’t have a drug problem.
It’s not criminals who commit shooting spree massacres though.. it’s the mentally ill.
Everyone is talking about hunting in this discussion. I am sure you all realize the intent of the 2nd amendment was not at all about ensuring the general public could hunt. It was to ensure that populace could take up arms against any oppressive regime that stood against the freedom of the people…that may be too simplistic but you get the point.
I’m pretty sure, at least for me, that hunting only came up in response to your “… etc have no positive use. Firearms do.” comment. At least we’re getting to the point where we recognize that by “guns” you mean something designed to kill people. Yep, it’s unpleasant when put that way, but that is what we’re discussing we we talk of firearms not used for hunting, right?
And for the sake of the conversation, are we putting the Constitution on equal authority with Scripture? (some folks, although they would deny it if asked directly, do equate the authority of the two on a functional level) The constitution used to allow for human beings to own each other and for some humans to only count as 3/5 of some other person, until we amended it to better express true justice.
If you’re advocating for the allowance hypothetical armed resistance (which requires killing people) I don’t know how you can get there based upon the teachings of Jesus. If you only claim the (amended) Constitution as authoritative at least I can see that.
Can you tell me what Jesus meant in Luke 22:36? Can you tell me why John the Baptist didn’t tell the soldiers who came to him in Luke 3 to leave the army, not kill, etc? He had his chance to say exactly that but didn’t. Or why did Paul say to submit to governing authorities who wield the sword in Romans 13? You could make a case that the intention of the 2nd amendment would violate Romans 13.
Hmm… hopefully this is intelligible as a response to the response to me. I don’t seem to have the option to actually respond to the response.
First, I note you don’t seem to actually interact with my points, but rather just talk past them.
Second, on the Luke 22 passage, it is one of those sticky ones that we kind of have to guess at, isn’t it. Especially in light of the fact that he give a reason in the following verse Jesus seems to make it part of him being numbered against transgressors. Not to mention that just a few verses later Jesus stops Peter from continuing to attack Jesus’ captors. You have to take it as part of the narrative, which seems to make it a bit more complex and unclear than you seem to want to make it by isolating the verse.
On Luke 3, an argument from silence, something not being mentioned, is not evidence in favor of that which is not mentioned. Jesus and John never spoke about homosexuality, is that proof of advocacy? The never explicitly rejected ancient astronauts either.
Roman soldiers in that context would have probably been closer to police than soldiers at war. I work in law enforcement, and a police action is fundamentally different than war. You’re attempting to apprehend and/or stop a person from doing something, not kill them, and collateral damage in terms of people is not acceptable. In fact, I do my job without being armed, by my own choice.
On your Romans 13, I’m not quite sure what your point is because it doesn’t seem to interacting with anything I’ve said. Granted, I may just be not understanding…
It ironic that many Christians suggest that we do what the early church did—that we don’t want to let our practices ‘evolve’. But in civil matters we’ll take the 2nd amendment and forgo any kind of return to the ‘pattern’. If you’re going to bear arms then stock up on muskets. Otherwise, stop heaping liberties upon liberties… (is there not some distance between yesterday’s musket and today’s semi-automatic hand gun?)
But more seriously, what do we do when the populace itself becomes tyrannical (as you’ve described above)…?
The issue is that our technology has outgrown our humanity. Nuclear bombs don’t kill people, people kill people. How true—yet how meaningless. I don’t think that we, as the church, should support such weapons… So, the question is what is a reasonable tool for use as a defense, and what qualifications should proceed the owning of such a tool?
Yes, the issue is people’s hearts—but we have had murder since the Fall. So how do we as a society act responsibly in light of this?
Thank you all for your insightful comments. I will be very slow to reply over the next few days so bear with me. I am appreciative for how informative, well thought out and respectful the comments have been so far.
Mokus, you are asking some penetrating questions that I will toss my two cents on when I have more time.
What about mentally ill people? How does one prevent their access to firearms and ammunition without tighter gun control?
There are already background checks in place that check for both mental ilnesses and for criminal activity
Well, they clearly arent working. While tighter gun control might not limit access to guns by criminals, it can and will (as evidenced in Australia where I live) limit access to the kind of person who commits a shooting spree massacre. Criminals generally do not go on shooting spree rampages.
I think it is a narrow understanding of evil to point the finger squarely on the mentally ill. What exactly is a mentally ill person? Who decides this? When do they become mentally ill? To me, such notions are just modern idealist fiction. Even if you lock ‘them’ all up, these types of crimes will still happen in a society armed to the teeth.
Perhaps the response (as Australia did after the Port Arthur massacre) is to de-arm the society? One cannot stop evil acts but one can attempt to limit the harm by not having assault weapons freely available. I didn’t point a finger squarely at the mentally ill. I merely said that shooting spree massacres are committed by the mentally ill. Do you know of any shooting spree massacres committed by a mentally healthy person? And mental illness comprises a whole range of conditions and I am NOT suggesting locking anyone up, except those who have been proven to be a danger to society by committing criminal acts.
You are saying it is the mentally ill not the criminals doing these things but that only the mentally ill who do criminal things should be restricted. Isn’t that contradictory. There are plenty of people who do these things who would have been previously undiagnosable for mental illness. Look at the north hollywood shoutout or the one in miami back in the 80s…those guys were greedy bank robbers, not guys who would have otherwise been institutionalized for mental illness. Or how about the D.C. Snipers or the arkansas boys who shot their classmates?
People are often labeled as mentally ill ‘ex post facto’. That is, after someone does something like this, then they’re considered mentally ill—because we ‘normal’ people can’t (and rightly so) imagine why someone would do this. We NEED to figure it out, though; to understand it. I get that.
But with this modern anthropology it puts a lot of pressure on professionals—‘they should’ve known he was mentally ill beforehand’, ‘his doctors and his family should have seen this coming’. ‘Maybe then we could have prevented this’. But I don’t think that’s how this issue of humanity—of sin, of good and evil—works.
No, Im not saying that at all. What I am attempting to say is that radical gun control will make it much harder for the mentally ill to get access to weapons to commit shooting spree massacres. Criminals (those who live a life of crime, not those who commit one crime only before they are arrested) will still find ways to get access to guns. However, hardened or long term criminals are NOT those who go crazy and commit a shooting massacre.
Wasn’t this guy refused members hip of a gun club because he was acting bizarrely? Surely some others noticed bizarre behaviour? And, do, not professionals. His family? Colleagues? Associates?
But I don’t think that solves anything in retrospect…
Insofar as we sin, even in the slightest, then we are all mentally ill. Some just act it out more visibly/completely.
(maybe I’ve been reading too much Pascal…)
Mokus, you don’t believe that people with serious mental disturbances are more mentally ill than those of us with mild depression or anxiety (I suffer from both)? There is severe mental illness in my family. I do think there are differences which can be clinically diagnosed.
I, too, have suffered “mental illness” (clinically diagnosed bi-polar disorder, severe depression, and anxiety). In many ways I have conquered this (God has). But I still recognize the frailty of the ‘self’. I could point the finger at my immaturity or to social causes (both family and broader cultural influences). Maybe it was in my genes. Maybe it’s a result of my personal choices. I think it’s all of these and none. My mental issues were and are more a heart issue.
I think we are responsible for everything we do and don’t do, and yet I consider it God’s grace that I am where I am. That I didn’t do otherwise…
It comes down to worship for me—and less religiously, to thankfulness. The greatest cure to our heart/mind dis-ease is thankfulness to Jesus. This is the only cure for a ‘hard-heart’. Where we have hard-heartedness we sin, to greater or lesser degrees. We hurt ourselves. We hurt others. And sin begets sin. But by God’s grace, and by those who walk by it (knowingly, or not) we see goodness among the dark.
Man is a paradox—equally capable of being like God (reflecting His image) or the inverse. I don’t think it can be explained away…
Thanks for your thoughtful essay on a heart-of-the-matter issue, Matt.
A heavy heart to read through – hope can seem a small word sometimes but we are to hope, to share hope and to walk in hope and faith.
Looking at Genesis 34 – an ungodly selfish man objectified an innocent young adolescent girl (Jacob’s daughter Dinah), defiled her, then his father enabled the situation by suggesting they should just marry and make it all better. Dinah’s father was quiet, didn’t react, but her brothers were so mad they exacted revenge in a tricky way by suggesting yes lets all intermarry but all your ((Shechems clansmen) dudes get circumcised first. THen those angry brothers in retribution killed all those men and boys (most of whom did no harm). It goes on.
I appreciate the point is objectification makes important things and people disposable – cast-away like trash if its convenient. I shall consider that more as I choose how I feel about people – even those I don’t share common ideals with.
One last note – making a baby a ‘fetus’ is an ultimate objectification huh? Shame on society that finds abortion a ‘right’.
Abortion is the ultimate objectifying of humanity. Not a baby…just a fetus. But if that fetus is outside the mother killing that same fetus would be murder. Crazy.
Here’s someone that raises some interesting questions:
For example, exactly how does an unemployed grad student get $20,000 worth of guns, ammunition, armor, and explosives, and the know-how of how to use them and set them up?
I am still wondering why the police *detonated* his stash of ammunition? Isn’t that destroying the evidence? Shouldn’t that be saved so that the trail can be followed back to find out how he got all of this stuff while he was collecting unemployment insurance?