cross-fire-guns-clip-art

A couple of weeks ago on Instagram, someone posted a church bulletin. Right next to announcements for kids’ church programs was a class on gun ownership, specifically featuring information on carrying concealed weapons. As far as I could tell from the picture, the class was being held at church. 

Right. Because Jesus died to give you the right to carry a concealed weapon. Can I get an amen for an ammo clip with your altar call? How about a semi-automatic rifle with today’s Gospel message? And all the people said….what the Hell?

No, literally. It’s a hellish proposition for houses of worship to condone, sponsor and promote gun ownership rights. Because, sure. As Americans we have the right to bear arms. Fine. OK. Yes, yes. Bill of Rights, etc etc. But as Christians? No. The right to bear arms is not what Christianity is about.

You wanna celebrate, promote and fight for gun ownership? Fine. OK. Go get happy about your gun rights OUTSIDE of church.

The house of God is a place of worship. It is a place for prayer. It is a place for peace. Bringing weapons into a house of prayer is desecration!

Have we really come so far away from the idea of sacred space that our churches are no longer quiet places for holy reflection but rather multi-purpose rooms fit for every conceivable activity? What’s next? Church-sponosred gun shows?

Have we forgotten how enraged Jesus became when the moneychangers sat near the Temple? Do we really believe we are somehow exempt from His wrath when we misuse His house of worship?

I know this sounds crazy but I’m pretty sure Jesus DOESN’T CARE if we’re American.

And maintaining our right to bear concealed weapons is NOT high on His to-do list.

In fact, if we’re gonna get real: Jesus didn’t even use a weapon in self-defense. When Peter tried to defend Jesus from being arrested, He told Peter to put away his sword. And then, Jesus healed the wound Peter caused.

St. Paul tells us that the “weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4). We are Christians. We don’t pull down strongholds with physical weapons but with spiritual ones. We don’t brandish weapons that are governed by mere human nature but we fight through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit.

So, if you want to own guns, collect guns, shoot guns and fight for gun ownership–go ahead and do that as an American.

Just don’t bring Jesus into it.

 

 

82 comments

  1. Jennifer

    {{{Slow clap}}} Followed by, “Thank you!”

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  2. YES! Yes and amen.

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    • Michele

      Hi Elizabeth,

      I love reading your posts. However, this time I’m going to be a bit of “devil’s advocate” and will probably draw fire for it:)

      While I personally hate guns, having grown up around the “gun culture” the only thing that gives me pause about the class is the “concealed” part.

      I agree Jesus didn’t die for our right to bear arms nor does he care if we are american, but he didn’t die for our right to knit scarves either. Another type of class that might be held at a church.

      In some parts of the country the church is more than a place to worship. It is a central locus of the faithful community and will embrace many aspects of the community’s culture. You will find this in the more rural areas especially. It isn’t a recent phenomena either. It’s a tradition going back to the very early years of this country.

      I doubt they are taking guns into the church itself. More likely a fellowship hall.

      Again, I’m bothered by the concealed part. But I feel like some of your statements are sweeping generalizations. If I knew more about the situation I might be the first to jump up and condemn their attitudes towards guns but just going off the church bulletin doesn’t give a lot of context.

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      • SR

        Excellent points!

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  3. How sad that this even needs to be said, but thank you, thank you for saying it.

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  4. Not just on the issue of gun rights, but on the issue of what churches let in their doors – I can’t stand seeing how most churches waste their buildings. Either they are full of every conceivable, non-Christianity-related activity under the sun, or they sit vacant for six days. Very little ministry happening.

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  5. stephanie

    I think your statement paints such a broad picture of gun owners rights that it might be hard pressed to argue in this forum effectively but I will try. I don’t really know what I think about a church prompting it, but I do think its an unfair statement. Are churches ever called to make a stand on things other than reflection and worship? Can they not be the same? Churches over history have stood up for the rights of slaves why? Because God gave rights alone… the question might be, Does God you the right to defend yourself? In the garden was a different context in that it was the appointed time for Jesus to be arrested, Peter had been told and not understood what Jesus was telling them. The issue with gun rights, and people may not communicate (believe me I see the ” statements ” and I cringed sometimes) who want gun rights is to hold back tyranny and protection for yourself. It may be a hard thing to conceive that it could ever happen, but it can. The church does have a mandate Proverbs 24 : 11- ” Rescue those being led away to death, hold back those staggering to slaughter” Do you think that perhaps the women in Darfor had a ” right ” to protect themselves with a gun, when the men came and raped them and stole their children? What about the women in India? That right maybe I am naive but I don’t seem them being so different from each other. Just for the sake of not being labeled… I am not a republican. I don’t have all the answers either, but I think it just not that simple.In, fact often times I wind up with more questions. I would encourage any Christian to read Bonhoeffer’s book… he plotted to have Hitler killed. We have to look beyond the stereotypes that can be associated with gun owners and those against owning guns, and have real dialogue.

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    • stephanie

      I was just going to add, tyranny doesn’t necessarily have to come the ” official ” government or like in some of these countries it comes from outside groups at war with the government or an invading force or something. Or, if their was ever a natural disaster and people tried to loot like after Hurricane Katrina

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  6. Amen and amen and amen! So well said and I couldn’t agree more.

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  7. Hurrah, EE! No disagreement from this corner of the e-verse.

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  8. “I know this sounds crazy but I’m pretty sure Jesus DOESN’T CARE if we’re American.”

    AMEN! I get so frustrated by the mentality that Christian=American and vice-versa. It’s especially prevalent where I live and it’s so hard to have rational discussions with people about these type of topics.

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    • amylynn hunt

      I so agree with Becca’s comment!! (And do you live in Oklahoma too, that seems familiar! :)) He also doesn’t care about our political party, although the one I used to be so happy to be a part of is pretty fervent that they “own” Him. :( Arrgh, so much non-useful arguing when Jesus told us to love each other. (And more but i have shaky hands today)

      Thank you for the Blog, i will definitely share it… and winnow out a few more FaceBook friends ;0)

      Reply
  9. Hey I just met you but I think I LOVE you. That was the best reply to this whole “I’m a Republican Christian so give me my guns dammit” attitude that’s held.

    Again I love you. Lets be friends

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  10. Kelli

    My only problem with what you’ve said here is that it implies that our lives are divided into “secular” and “sacred.” If more people carred the sacred into everything they do (taking Jesus with them into everything) they would be more focused on Him and not so vehement about their right to bear arms. Jesus said the world would know we are His by our love for one another, not for our passion for or against gun control. Let’s be Christians first and Americans second but let’s not be American without our Christ.
    I appreciate your words and your passion.

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    • i don’t think EE implies that false divide here at all (but when i do see that it concern me greatly, too). i read this as an argument against sacralizing violence and worldly power and the worrisome turn toward unquestioningly bringing guns and all they represent under the banner of Team Jesus.

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      • Kelli

        Thank you Suzannah, I see your point and apologize to Elizabeth. I admire her passion on the topic.

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  11. I agree that Christ didn’t die for my “Bill of Rights.” If that is all His death meant, then our grace and salvation is small indeed.

    I think we should our American rights the same way as churches deal with politics–not taking a side! And I know that gun laws very greatly between states; however, in NC, it is illegal to have any firearm in a place of worship, a place that sells alcohol, federal or state building, or a place that charges admission. Yes, even for concealed weapons.

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    • Sarah and Elizabeth,
      Too often the use of the “Bill of Rights” gets caught up in marketing and devalued. Our Bill of Rights is about all our rights, not just about guns.

      Jesus proclaimed and supported human rights before there was a bill. Slavery was in full stride and although Jesus did no condemn it, he did call for the masters and their slaves to treat each other with respect and dignity.

      I have watched churches (citizens or residents of this country)become more passive and less influential in their local communities. Mainstream Christian communities have become less like Jesus and more like the Pharisees that fought him.

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      • Deidre Yuknavich

        that’s ridiculous. If New Life in Colorado did not have an armed undercover security (very tiny female) agent many more lives would have been lost. How many more will die b/c houses of worship, schools, hospitals etc etc etc have posted that they are gun free zones? Do criminals or the insane think ‘oh I’ll leave my weapon in my vehicle” NOT!!! it only tells the lawful but armed citizens to do that. This is getting crazy…pardon the pun. All sane and lawful citizens should have the right to keep and bear arms at any time and place…

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  12. Derek

    I do agree with you, but any time someone makes a statement with the intent, “Jesus doesn’t care about this,” is a red flag for me.

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  13. I usually agree with much of what you write, but I don’t here. I think you can be pro-gun or anti-gun and still be a Christian. I don’t see how a church offering a gun class (so people can use them for protection) is a horrible thing. It would really come down to how it is being presented.
    Honestly, I do not want to attend a church where my husband ISN’T allowed to carry. If some crazy man comes into the sanctuary or church nursery or Sunday school classes, I want there to be people in the congregation who can protect the innocents that are attending church.
    Yes, Jesus did not defend Himself when the soldiers came to get Him to crucify Him, but there are verses where Jesus mentions a sword differently than you do here.
    “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matt:10:35
    “He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” Luke 22:36

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    • “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matt:10:35

      This passage has nothing to do with Jesus condoning literal warfare. :)

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      • Ok, but what about the Luke verse. ;) Not trying to be flippant or sarcastic here. I just am curious if Jesus was always anti-weapon, than why does he tell them to buy a sword? I think Jesus knows there is a time and place for everything – a time for war, a time for peace, turn turn turn. :)
        I think as Christians we are called to use wisdom in our choices. I think Jesus modeled that different circumstances require different things.

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        • Could I offer a suggestion on interpreting the verse in Luke? I’d like to come at it from the presumption that we agree that the Gospels, though accounting differences at times, do so with a sense of harmony. If that’s a fair premise, I’d ask you to consider this: Jesus says this to the disciples right before He is handed over and the confrontation in the garden is made. Luke’s repetition, echoing Matthew, that certain things are done to fulfill the Scripture should not be overlooked here. Jesus has the disciples armed, but according to Luke only with two swords. This is little given the company coming against Jesus. And what happens when those swords are out, moments later? The disciples ask if they should use their swords and, in Luke, Jesus says no, in the same chapter you quote from. What do we make of this?

          Perhaps here we turn to the cosmic perspective that the Gospel of John provides. John refers to Easter Sunday as the eighth day or as the first day of the week. From a Jewish perspective, this is strange wording. How do we account for this? Unless the One who makes all things new is indeed making something new, even time, even creation. So look back to the Friday when He is crucified, which would be the sixth day of the week, when He says, “It is finished.” Does this echo something to our ears from Genesis? Perhaps, too, that it is on this day that Pilate says, “Behold the man!” to Jesus. Ah, Jesus the man. Adam the man created on the sixth day. Could it be that God in His timing shows through John how these events mirror so well in recreation the first creation?

          So back to the garden. The swords. Why are they there? Are they perhaps there because God is showing that His kingdom does not look like the worldly kingdom, that His people are armed but they shall fulfill Isaiah 2:3-4? So Jesus rebukes the use of them and even heals one wounded by them. Even unto the end. Perhaps this tells us everything about this Jesus, who rebukes the swords for they are instruments of a worldly kingdom, of which His is not.

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          • Interesting. I think that if Jesus didn’t want his disciples to have swords at all – ever – He would have just told them that right away. Perhaps when they were asked to leave their fishing businesses, tax collecting, etc. He would have said, “And oh yeah – leave all your swords behind too when you follow me.”
            I am not a theologian (yet, haha), but I do try to just look at the big picture. I am also going on three hours of sleep from two sick kiddos at my house, so I probably would more to say in quantity and quality if I weren’t dealing with that. :)

          • Your proposition is well stated and agreeable. I suggest that the reason Jesus rebuked Peter in the garden was to, once again, get him back on track.

            Jesus stated he had not broken any laws, so for Peter to react violently was both legally and morally wrong. Peter could have hit the person with a tree limb and would have still incurred a rebuke. I agree with you that the weapon of choice was of no use here whereas being more “Christ like” would have served Jesus purpose better.

          • I read these entries via Jason M’s posting. The above comment is exemplary as a reflection of how I too read Jesus’s call to us and it is quite elegantly constructed. Well Done. As to the whole notion of guns in church, I continue to be overwhelmed with the notion that when we strap that gun on, either concealed or not, when we place that loaded gun in our closet ready to use, we have already chose our action in regards to how we respond to “Thou shalt not kill”. All notions of protecting the innocents aside, most folks I know that rely on their “rights” argument to do so really reinforce for me the points made in the lead posting we comment upon here — it relies on our secular, Constitutional right to do so and has no relation to Biblical justification. I fear in the final accounting, it is actually quite against God’s call to glorify him with praise and worship. It is more about our narrower conception of our secular rights than our Biblical call. I think its wrong-headed and its probably time for me to get my double barrel out of the closet and back under lock and key and rely on God’s call and not my own worries.

    • I don’t understand. Why are you not willing to let yourself and your family be martyrs?

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      • Are you being for real or sarcastic? I can’t tell online. I am willing to be a martyr if God has that for me. But I also believe that I have the freedom as both a Christian and an American to protect innocent people if need be, myself included.

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        • I am rarely sarcastic in comments. It can cause confusion. I simply can’t imagine killing another human being because I want to live. As Christians we don’t fear death. We don’t fear it for our brothers and sisters. In this instance, in a church, you’re denying others opportiny of martyrdom. “Saving” their lives might not be something they want. I wouldn’t want you to do it for me.
          As for the two swords. It was customary in the times for Galileans to carry two swords. Romans weren’t fun to deal with. If we look at Jesus, his humbleness, his lack of weapons, his refusal to defend himself, rebuking Peter for hurting the servant, AND him healing the servant – this is often seen as Jesus basically being sarcastic.
          “Look guys, a bunch of people are going to come and take me away.”
          “What! No! Look, we have two swords.”
          “Oh great! Because that’s exactly what we need in this situation” *dramatic eye roll from Jesus*
          You should also know, though, that I’m a Tolstoy-an. So we’re not even coming from the same place.

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          • I have never heard that Jesus was being sarcastic in that context of Scripture.
            I have a lot I would like to say in response to your comments, but I don’t know that it would be best since I’m not here to change your mind. I just wanted people to think about the freedoms we have as Christians – and Americans – as well as the responsibilities. I also want people to remember to look at Scripture in the context of the entire Bible, not just pick and choose the ones that fit our agendas. (We all do this to some degree because we are sinful humans, and I am not saying EE is/isn’t doing this in her original post.)

          • Hi, Amber,
            About 40 years ago, a woman began attending a local church here in Houston. Her boyfriend decided to make a point to the church people and her family. He came into a service, walked to where she was seated and shot her in the head; she died there.

            None of those that helped her come to God, her family or friends were excited about her opportunity to become a martyr.

            Scriptures requires me, as husband and father, to defend my family against criminals. I am not required, by scripture, to violently defend myself or my family against attacks because of our faith, but as a man, I probably would.

            BTW: What is a Tolstoy-an?

            Thanks.

    • Marie

      Thank-you, Amanda. I’m not a big gun person at all, but this post kind of brings out my inner devil’s advocate for those who might happen to protect themselves/fellow worshippers in a dangerous situation. I really don’t think Jesus would condemn them. The tone of this particular post kind of rubbed me the wrong way…

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  14. And you can tell I was raised Pentecostal because I just want to shout “GLORY!” Jesus didn’t die to defend the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution is not scripture. As much as we love our country (and might disagree about what those constitutional rights entail), let’s not lose our sense of perspective.

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  15. Good morning, Elizabeth,
    This is a sensitive topic for you, so,

    “You wanna celebrate, promote and fight for gun ownership? Fine. OK. Go get happy about your gun rights OUTSIDE of church.”
    For a Christian, there is no inside or outside of the Church.

    “Have we forgotten how enraged Jesus became when the moneychangers sat near the Temple? Do we really believe we are somehow exempt from His wrath when we misuse His house of worship?”
    Jesus was enraged because the moneychangers were using the facility and business to cheat the people.

    “In fact, if we’re gonna get real: Jesus didn’t even use a weapon in self-defense. When Peter tried to defend Jesus from being arrested, He told Peter to put away his sword. And then, Jesus healed the wound Peter caused.”
    Jesus had a constant body guard of angels to prevent harm to him before his time.

    “So, if you want to own guns, collect guns, shoot guns and fight for gun ownership–go ahead and do that as an ‘American’.
    Just don’t bring Jesus into it.”
    Consider the people abusing weapons of any type have not been Christians. Leaving Jesus out of anything, in our lives, invites Satan in. As a Christian American, I would choose prefer a Christian environment class and balance than Secular views without that balance. Just a thought.

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    • “For a Christian, there is no inside or outside of the Church.”

      This kinda goes down a different path than the original point of the post but here’s a few thoughts: I’m a Catholic Christian so I’m guessing there are a few basic differences, here, in how we view sacred spaces. For me, the idea that there is no inside or outside of Church is fundamentally flawed if only because we can’t consistently apply it to real life; ie. in ALL areas of life we understand whether we are inside a house, car, shopping mall, museum, school, etc. because we are humans. We are not disembodied spirits. Jesus didn’t come to merely redeem our spirits but our bodies. Jesus Himself was fully human and fully God. So, to say that when it comes to how we practice our faith it’s all just in the ethereal “spiritual realm” doesn’t hold with me.

      “Jesus was enraged because the moneychangers were using the facility and business to cheat the people.” Right. This was my point. The moneychangers were MISUSING the house of God.

      “Consider the people abusing weapons of any type have not been Christians”

      If I understand you correctly you’re saying Christians don’t misuse weapons? If so, that’s simply untrue.

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      • Kristin

        Elizabeth,
        You present an interesting point here about how Christians view the physical church building. Yes, Catholics view their church as a sanctuary, a sacred space. For many Evangelicals, it often appears to be more a place to party or socialize with like-minded believers, than to worship and meditate on Christ.
        While I 100% agree with and support your position on the church and it’s inexplicable support of gun control, I cannot help but wonder if this would never have become an issue had we Evangelicals not missed a main point of Matthew 21, which was that Jesus was demanding respect for His Father’s house.
        Thanks for this thought-provoking post.

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    • Frank

      “Jesus had a constant body guard of angels to prevent harm to him before his time.”

      Gary, this is your invention. Not in the bible.

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  16. Tammy

    You know, I’m of 3 minds about this. The first is that you bring up a good point and make a compelling argument. It’s a perspective I appreciate. I really hate when Christianity is connected to this whole far-right conspiracy-theory super-conservative thing that makes us all look like hillbillies.

    The second is that I belong to a church that utilizes its spaces throughout the week for all sorts of different programs, such as Dave Ramsey and various 12-step programs for addicts. We offer services on Saturdays and Sundays and ask people to continue their reflection and worship outside the buildings as they go through the week. In that vein, I can’t view a building as a sacred space but I know enough Catholics to understand that you do. I just think that having a gun ownership class taught by a Christian might give the students a more Christian perspective on the responsibilities of owning and handling a weapon, rather than just “gung-ho, we’re packin’ now!!”

    In any case, it’s a very good post and thanks for writing it.

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  17. Simon

    I didn’t see the advert, but perhaps it was a missional initiative aimed at non-Christians. Perhaps some of the attendees coming into contact with a church for the first time might decide to follow in the way of Jesus. Obviously once they did they would renounce the way of the gun, but they might still have gun-loving friends, so this new Christian could be a bridge from the community of Christ into the world of gun-owners.

    As I said I didn’t see the advert, but I hope it was a form of outreach from the community of peace into this warlike nation, which God grieves over.

    Otherwise it would be a pretty screwed up church if it thought that was a good idea for disciples of Jesus!

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  18. Thank you Thank you Elizabeth! Very well said!

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  19. Jean

    Over the past two years, I’ve been in two frightening situations that could have resulted in physical harm. People who care about me encouraged me to consider obtaining a gun for protection. I took my concealed carry class with a wonderful group who were compassionate in their care for those of us who were exploring carrying a weapon. For me they were an answer to prayer because this was definitely out of my comfort zone. I now have the license to carry concealed. I rarely carry concealed but do have a lock box installed in my car for when I travel alone. I also practice at a target range often enough to keep comfortable with shooting and precise enough when hitting a target. My hope would be to stop an attacker, not kill.

    As far as my church, we strive to open our buildings for the community and church members to use for any activity that is a part of our lives. This includes Bible study, recreation groups, and support groups for addiction, foster care, adoption, etc. The building is used for food bank and will soon be utilized for a Spanish-language church that needs a place to meet. It’s a polling place during elections and a conference center when local schools need room for workshops. Classes are offered on a wide range of topics from “managing your finances” to “supporting those who adopt.” I would not have a problem seeing the concealed carry information imbedded in a class on self-protection.

    On days we have worship services and when kids are in classrooms, there are people with military or police backgrounds stationed at strategic places to provide armed protection for our children and congregation. Very few people know this about this part of church security, and you would never know they are there because they are carrying concealed weapons. I do not have a problem with that. For me it’s just part of the care my church offers to me and others while we are there. I don’t want anyone killed, but if one of our armed security people can stop someone from getting to our children or congregation, I am for guns at church.

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  20. doing the slow clap over here too. well done, EE.

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  21. About a year ago, a gunman walked into a church just a few miles from my home church and opened fire. Several were seriously wounded. None were killed thanks to a church member carrying.

    I truly believe the house of God is holy and sacred. However, there are crazed lunatics in our world who certainly do not feel the same.

    I don’t particularly like the idea of guns in church but I am thankful for the strategically placed folks in my home congregation that will protect my family if necessary.

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    • Melissa,

      What do you mean when you say “none were killed thanks to a church member carrying?” Did the church member kill the gunman? How do you know that his carrying prevented deaths? Could the seriously wounded not have died?

      I’m just a little confused by the logic.

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  22. Janie

    I had almost this exact conversation with someone less than 1/2 an hour before reading your article that I found on Twitter. I even brought up Jesus and Peter as you did. She disagrees, because “the Bible is full of where people take a stand for God, with weapons.” I told her the OT is, but not since the New Covenant, Jesus, came. I believe people have the right to own guns, just don’t make it a ‘Christian’ stance, because it isn’t, but many have made it that, especially recently. Many believers seem to have lost sight of Christ, and are fighting for the wrong things. Romans 12 has some great things to say about not conforming to this world, and how to treat others, just read it this morning. Blessings!

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  23. A very controversial topic, even among Christians it would seem. I applaud you for starting the conversation :-)

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  24. Lane

    My thinking has been much along the same lines. American culture has been mixed with Christianity to such a degree that we tend to think we have “rights endowed by our Creator”…but I think this is a fallacy. It is true that under proper governance that we would have rights and equality in the eyes of the state, however we know who the ruler of this world is and it is unlikely that he is interested in properly governing us. We do know what Paul thought of our rights. He thought he was a slave of Christ. As slaves, we have no rights (other than the right to belong to our owner…a very good right in this case), we simply have to do what Christ calls us to.

    I have been trying to separate the cultural rights that we hold from the legal rights that we hold in my mind. It is not an easy thing to do because we have hundreds of years of cultural thinking to fight with in this regard having considered ourselves a “Christian” nation for so long. There is the mindset that as a husband and a father I am obligated to provide for my family, however God is our provider…and yet the Bible has some pretty harsh things to say about those who are able bodied that do not engage in an effort to provide so there is a bit of a mystery here.

    Some in this comment stream have indicated that we should not stand against violence or abuse with violence and I don’t believe that at all. As I am a father I am to both do everything within my power to provide and protect recognizing that ultimate protection and provision are gifts from God’s hand. There may be a time when I will fail, but that does not mean that I should not make the attempt. If I find someone kicking in my front door I am obliged to make them leave it in a pine box. Were my welfare the only one to consider then I would not be so insistent on this, however I have my wife and children to consider as well and it is reasonable to believe that anyone kicking down my door will be kicking down my neighbor’s next. I think there is a distinction to be drawn between those that are agents of evil vs those that are enacting policies that we do not like. Unfortunately there are a growing number of criminals in our society that have shown through their past behavior that they have no concern for others in society. When their behavior infringes on the safety of my family I feel it is incumbent on myself to take action.

    It is interesting to note that we have an example of Paul using his rights as a Roman citizen at times and at other times not. This means that there will be times we use our civil rights and other times not as well. The decision point I think is always whether God will be glorified in us claiming those rights or not and that is a very situational decision to make. I think the whole gun discussion is very similar. When pushed we will all have a decision to make (at least those of us who own guns). The point that I agree with you on is that when we make the decision about how to respond to a tyrannical form of government that is breaking the contract with the people we should not run around saying that Jesus made us do it. We should make the decisions individually, but let’s have no BS about how God wants us to have guns. God is in control of government and we are told to be obedient to that government. If our government should change, and it looks as though change is coming, then presumably we should comply with those changes. However, this government did break it’s contract with the people when began to infringe on the rights that were written up in the contract. We were blessed with a government that we can have a say in running and it is hard for me to see why any of us should be willing to give that up…but I think those are decisions Americans need to make, not Christians. For myself, I have made no decisions. I am still trying to separate the two influences in my mind and understand better what the Bible says as well.

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  25. There are so many great pieces from this blog about Faith… posts that really enlighten and offer a sense of unity and understanding that are often lost or forgotten within Christian communities and in our own hearts. It is {mostly} refreshing, hopeful, and good…

    But this post and the subsequent comments are so political, and like the same-sex marriage posts, lean toward painting Jesus as the poster-boy for politically correct liberal America instead of the Liberator that He truly is.

    Jesus didn’t carry a weapon because He was {is} fully God. If I were fully God/man like Him, I wouldn’t feel a need to have a gun in my home or on my person either…

    But I have 4 children. If an intruder, armed and ready to slaughter us, entered into our home, I would not smile at my terrified babies and say, “Oooh, goodie! We’re going to be shot and go to Heaven!” Human instinct doesn’t allow for that, and while faith in Jesus brings amazing peace, I have to shake my head at the mental image of some self-righteous commenters sticking out their chests and asking to be shot in place of holding a gun to defend their families and homes. I don’t care how “faithful” or holy people want to pretend to be. We are all liars if we sit and bloviate about what bold, godly pacifists we would be in the face of a ruthless killer.

    Jesus, understanding our human condition and the times we live in, understands our need to protect. Yes, He protects us. And He also offers us help… If we push “help” away in order to appear more holy, we are fools asking for a shortened life. Will God allow us to pass before our time based on our choices? Of course He will. And Heaven will be better… but does that mean we should all drink cyanide right now? NO.

    As a mother, I will fiercly protect my children. It is deeply ingrained within me to do so. God forbid it ever come to me having to use a gun, but if it did, I would be thankful for that option and that right. And if a church offered the option of a gun safety class, I wouldn’t hate on them or think of myself as *better* for disagreeing. I would tolerate their view and their choice, just like so many authors here ask each of us to do in many of these stories every day.

    I hadn’t ever brought Jesus into this debate {other than in the private weighing of my own convictions} until today, when you did. If you really want to leave Him out of it, then do just that.

    Reply
    • “Jesus didn’t carry a weapon because He was {is} fully God. If I were fully God/man like Him, I wouldn’t feel a need to have a gun in my home or on my person either…”

      May I suggest that there is a real, powerful danger in this line of thinking? It’s the same line of thinking that caused the Pharisees to jeer that if He was truly the Son of God, He should have come down from the cross.

      Fortunately for you and for I, God is not like us in this regard. He apparently has some better thoughts on how to go about things.

      Reply
      • Preston ~

        Since you don’t live inside my mind or heart I think it unwise to assume to know all my thoughts.

        If my KNOWING that I am NOT God is somehow Pharisee-like, I guess I’m guilty as charged. If my knowledge that I do not posess the power to stop a bullet with my peaceful demeanor is Pharisee-like, I’ll pray for my eyes to be opened. You can pray for me, too.

        All I am saying is that in the line of fire, I choose not to be unprepared physically just as I am not unprepared spiritually. And, I choose to be thankful for my American rights. That’s me. You don’t have to oblige.

        If you don’t like it, and your way is the “right” one, go give yourself a big pat on the back and then please leave me alone. If I’m meant to be as wise as you in this regard, I trust God will guide me there without your help.

        Sincerely,

        Jenny

        Reply
        • Can we consider clearly what I criticised, please? I criticised the attitude that treats the fully human Jesus, who is also fully God, as somehow less human. He had the same doubts, the same struggles, the same uncertainties. Scripture gives us this picture. So what I pushed against, specifically, was the implication that because He is God, that is why He didn’t need a sword. What if He didn’t need a sword because He is God and the God He is is the God who does not use the sword when He inaugurates His kingdom? I am criticising an attitude that presumes Jesus was a superhero that could deflect bullets. Could, yes, but would? This is not the picture the Gospels give us. So should we, then, operate along the lines of our could or our would? Along the lines of the One who was, as Hebrews puts it, went outside the city gate to be crucified, where too we must go?

          “You are gods,” this Jesus commands us. What is unity with Him other than the slow work of becoming like Him? Even in this. I am suggesting that His would must be our would. That the divine would must become our daily would.

          Reply
          • Dear Preston ~

            You are preaching to the choir. Jesus came here to know what it is like to be me, and I am so thankful for that that I have chosen to give Him my life. When it is my time to join in Him in Heaven, no gun of mine will prevent that from happening.

            Preston, you are not here with me, do not know me, and we’ve never ever spoken before: You cannot pretend to know my attitude. Please stop deciding what my beliefs and attitudes are.

            I cannot find in any of my posts where I’ve said Jesus is a superhero who can deflect bullets… I wouldn’t be such a stupid ass, to put it bluntly. I only said that I cannot deflect them, and for that reason, I can’t condemn others for choosing to hold on to their gun rights because I can 100% relate to their very human concerns… and even their fears.

            As can Jesus. And that is why I don’t believe He condemns those of us in favor of gun related permits and rights. He does know what it is like to be us, and so he has mercy on our very weak and often vulnerable human condition.

            I am a person being worked on constantly by Him, and am not yet perfected. My views on guns do not define me fully or even give you a fair glimpse into the complexity of my spirit, so please, put down your metaphorical guns, and stop shooting.

            Jenny

    • Marie

      Well-said, Jenny.

      Reply
    • SR

      BRAVO!!

      Reply
  26. Brittaney

    This post feels a bit harsh. I am a Christian. I own a gun and I have taken classes to get my concealed handgun license. However, I don’t plan on carrying a gun as I’ve come to the realization that even if my life were at stake I don’t feel that I could take the life of another to spare my own. I would rather trust God for my safety. But as an American it is my right to own and carry a gun if I choose to. And I’m both an American and a Christian. I feel like you had a couple of good points but they were obscured by a lack of grace towards those who might not agree with you on this subject. From what I can tell you aren’t 100% certain that the gun class is being held at the church. Also, perhaps it was in the bulletin because a church member volunteered their services as a teacher for this class? I just think there are other potential factors here. The tone of this post felt like a personal attack against Christian gun-owners and I’m sure that is not your intent.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      I agree. This post does sound very condemning. There are many people who carry concealed weapons in our church every Sunday. They don’t flaunt it. However, after too many violent actions in churches elsewhere in the nation, I do feel safer knowing that they are around to protect us on any given Sunday.

      Reply
  27. Donna

    As a non-American, I feel the need to point out that the rest of the world (or at least my part of it) is looking on in complete disbelief at the furore that is going on over guns. I understand why people need guns – that is, people like farmers or soldiers. I understand that people in America feel the need to have guns. Most of the rest of the world doesn’t, but Americans do. Ok, that’s fine. What I completely do not understand is why average Americans think they need to have semi-automatic weapons available to them, or why it is such an imposition to have any restrictions at all on gun ownership. Given how many people are murdered with guns every year in America, why would sane, reasonable people NOT want restrictions on who can own high-powered weapons? Why are so many presumably sane, reasonable people acting as though the government is threatening their supply of oxygen by wanting to put such minor restrictions on gun ownership? These restrictions are far less than those that been in place for decades in most of the rest of the world.
    And then there’s the apparent connection between a lot of Christians and gun ownership – the rest of us didn’t know there was any such connection and are struggling to find anything about it in the Bible.
    As for classes on how to conceal weapons, held in a church? This is the point at which words fail me…

    Reply
    • The entire heated, distorted, often inaccurate, debates about gun control seems strange to many of us Americans.

      “These restrictions are far less than those that been in place for decades in most of the rest of the world.”
      This is part of what we fear here. Nations/countries that removed guns from their citizens did so to prevent uprisings. There are several countries that require their citizens to own and have weapons on-hand for self and national defense.

      I will agree that having to own and keep military grade weapons seems unnecessary in our country. Where I grew up and currently live, we have a variety of wild animals roam through our neighborhood. Having a gun was a given but as the farming and ranching communities decreased, the “city folk” government began to think carrying loaded rifles or shotguns was not needed. Then it became illegal. That did not take long.

      “And then there’s the apparent connection between a lot of Christians and gun ownership – the rest of us didn’t know there was any such connection and are struggling to find anything about it in the Bible.”
      Christians are people (secretaries, mechanics, farmers, etc.) and people/Christians have historically had weapons (guns, knives, pitchforks, axes, etc.) for daily use, when needed. I admit, I do not know any fellow Christians, that pack heat, that seem much concerned.

      Reply
  28. Josh

    Organized congregations often become community centers of a type, especially since, in our highly mobile society, close church friends may live nowhere near one another.

    So if the church in question has some members who have been wanting to learn about firearms, what’s the problem with approaching that member who’s a local sheriff’s deputy and asking if he’d be willing to offer a Saturday morning gun safety class? Maybe it could even meet in the fellowship hall, since the church is centrally located and we all know how to get here? We’ll see if we can put it in the bulletin to catch anyone else who might be interested. You don’t care? You don’t come, and nothing else gets said.

    That’s completely different, of course, from a person in a church leadership position regularly using that position as a bully pulpit to push his opinions on self-defense off on those who have simply come to worship.

    If we’re going to have a serious conversation about firearms in any context, we have to be able to look at objective reality and put aside how guns make us feel – regardless of which side of the issue we’re on.

    Reply
  29. Well stated points. Okay.

    ” I’m a Catholic Christian so I’m guessing there are a few basic differences, here, in how we view sacred spaces.”

    I am a Pentecostal Christian and we believe when one becomes a Christian, they become a member of the Lord’s body and his Church. We meet for worship in a designated place – Church – and the Sanctuary is considered a Holy place. Some classes may be held in our Sanctuary but most are conducted in side rooms. Even though my physical person is currently outside the building, my body and soul are technically never outside his Church.

    “Right. This was my point. The moneychangers were MISUSING the house of God.”
    Good point, and there are events we would not allow conducted on our premises because they would not be appropriate for a Holy/Christian image.

    “If I understand you correctly you’re saying Christians don’t misuse weapons? If so, that’s simply untrue.”
    My error. I should have been stated myself differently. Christians do misuse weapons but Christians do not randomly murder people, regardless of what a person may profess they are. Catholic Christians and Protestant Christians have rightly fought in wars to defend homelands and families for centuries against evil people.

    Jesus did chastise Peter for using his sword against a soldier and stated a principle (people that live by the sword will die by the sword). Jesus had broken no law and for Peter to violently defend him was legally and morally wrong.

    A godly man or woman is commanded by scripture to provide for and protect their family. Pentecostals are as divided on this as anyone. My opinion is, I have the options, scripturally, to use one of two tools or both; physical weapons or those provide by God in scripture, prayer, commands, Jesus’ name and angels.

    Thank you for this discourse. You articulate your conviction very well and I respect you for your ability and your belief.

    Have a wonderful day.

    Reply
  30. My thanks to Elizabeth and all you commenters for a delightful discussion. I have seen far too many meetings, blogs and conversations become rude and hostile to each other.

    I wish more people would remain calm, rational and courteous about other such sensitive topics.

    God bless and increase everyone.

    Reply
  31. Beth

    I just started following this blog and this post took me by surprise. While I agree with a lot of it, I was a little shocked by the intensity, judgmental attitude, and anger toward Christians who approve of guns. Maybe it is because I live in a small mountain town where everyone hunts on the weekend (including the paster). I see that we are talking about the difference between guns for hunting & guns for protection but maybe this church is just trying to draw people in – to create community. I don’t see the church being in the wrong necessarily. Churches have scrapbook parties, pot lucks, jazz band concerts, and other social gatherings. Did Jesus die so you could scrapbook, eat a lot of food, or play the saxophone? Not really, but He did die for us. and community is something that keeps us together. and something he encourages us to do – ” not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25

    Reply
  32. Wow, EE – way to stir the hornet’s nest. I am with you on this one! These issues are tough ones for Americans but wow! For Christians? Why is it so hard to see that the teaching of gun usage for the purpose of killing others – even in protection of self or another – is antithetical to the teaching of the gospel? Completely antithetical to the teaching of Jesus life and death? It boggles my mind that anyone can think this is okay. Knowing how to shoot a target is a skill to be learned – I’ll grant that. And it is a helpful tool for many in their professional lives. But carrying in church? Learning how to shoot to kill in church? How in the world can anyone reconcile this? We are called to a life of sacrifice, not self-defense – and that is a tough call indeed.

    Reply
  33. Agnes

    One thing I don’t understand about people who are pro-guns is why you think it will necessarily protect you. And why you feel the need to be so ‘protected’ all the time. Do you really think a gunman will come in your vicinity at any given time? Sorry if that sounds sarcastic. But really? I don’t think this is a Christian/non-Christian issue. For me it’s an issue of FEAR. Are we so fearful in approching the world around us that we need to be armed to go out the door?? Me and my partner were held at gunpoint by 3 men, robbed and handcuffed to a waterpipe in our own home while living in Russia. Did we have a gun? Hell, NO!! Do I wish now I’d had one? HELL, DOUBLE-NO!!! No one died, and if I’d had a gun and used it, SOMEONE would have died. For what. Me and my partner’s health? Our ‘stuff’? Our PTSD? All that can be gotten over, moved on with. Death or life-threatening injury? Not so much. I think a little instrospection about WHY people feel the need to carry guns is in order – that to me is the dysfunction here. Sorry if I sound p-d, because yeah I am on this topic.

    Reply
    • Agnes, I would never depreciate yours and your partners experience, but you both are lucky that the attackers did not wish to kill you. Consider a woman, defenseless, being attacked and raped. Her attacker is stronger than her and will kill her if she does not cooperate. Your ideology insists the woman take it and “get over it.” Your ideology enables the evil and the violent. So long as they don’t kill or maim her, you insist she should just work through the psychological and trust damage she would carry from that point on and be unable to prepare for a future attack. But the very real fact is people are killed and maimed every day, and the defenseless should not have to be defenseless.

      Reply
      • Nate

        I couldn’t have said that better myself.

        Reply
  34. http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/cruelty/long.html

    Christianity both began and survived via warfare and violence. While I may tend to agree that “self defense” has no place in the church (as christianity’s soul mantra is sacrifice and martyr), weapons are absolutely inseparable from “the word”

    Reply
  35. Elizabeth, from reading your posts it’s clear you’re a huge supporter of free speech. This headline alone says that. You enjoy the liberty to say what God has put on your heart. And that’s awesome! The Founders of this country felt the same way — having been under the hard boot of an earthly king named George — and they wanted that for all people, everywhere.
    What works in heaven is sometimes different from what works on earth. Here, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That’s how we came to this time-worn guarantee: should you lose the right to own a gun, you would soon lose to the right to speak and live as freely as you do.
    Like Amanda, I don’t ever want to forget how I got my rights — though the blood of sacrifice, both by men and God himself.
    You are blessed to say whatever you want on this blog, and not worry about going to jail for it. But that blessing came from, yes, a gun.

    Reply
  36. I’m curious of what Elizabeth and the commenting community thinks about any Christian involvement in government in general. For example, was MLK wrong to be involved in the civil rights movement? Should Christians vote?

    I understand there is a distinction between holding a CHL course in a church building and my question – I’m curious more on my question about the role of Christians (if any) in government.

    Reply
  37. Is protecting innocent life high on Jesus’ to-do list? Is being true to your conscience something He condones? What about protecting oneself from evil in the world, or, better yet, protecting those who can’t protect themselves?

    If so, I see no issue with having a concealed carry class in a church, any more than a self-defense class, a parenting class, AA or any other non-church but still valuable teaching.

    Reply
  38. wendy

    “Just don’t bring Jesus into it” is certainly a troubling statement. Isn’t that precisely what we need to do? Let’s bring Jesus into EVERYTHING!

    Reply
  39. Katelyn

    I think we are all on a journey of knowing and becoming like Christ, and as we are all on different parts of that journey, I love following this discussion and joining in with all of you as we are trying to figure out where our Christianity fits with our humanity, ideology, and even our nationality. I am excited about this discussion and would like to thank Elizabeth for starting it and helping us along in this journey. That being said, I have a hard time with some of the ideas in this post and these comments.

    First is the idea that in one part of our souls we are Christian and in another we are American and they are and should stay separate. I think that is close to impossible. While the identity I find in Christ is immeasurably more important to me than my identity as an American citizen, I am both no matter what I do.

    Second, a similar idea mentioned in the post is that there is church and then there is society and the two should seldom overlap. I heard a wonderful sermon years ago called, “Christ in the Common,” about how when the veil was torn, God didn’t reside solely in the temple anymore. God was with His people and His people were with Him. Later, our bodies were deemed the new temple, where the Holy Spirit, the presence of God, now resides. We cannot leave God at church, and I believe that it is also true that we can’t check our other than strictly Christian philosophies at the door when we enter the service at our church. There is a new phenomenon in the city where I live for people to study their Bibles throughout the week in public, at Starbucks, in parks, etc. I think this is the church: a fellowship of believers living their lives while they are simultaneously living their faith, not a sacred building.

    Therefore, activities other than prayer, worship, and study, in designated church buildings I think are perfectly acceptable and should be encouraged rather than condemned. In this, the body of Christ is simply turning the building called church into yet another place where they worship Jesus with their lives and daily goings-on.

    On gun control, I have wrestled with this for a time, never knowing where I stood on the issue. Recently, however, I realized my stance was motivated by fear and other emotions, rather than founded on logic and reason. Here’s the thing – no matter what laws our government passes, it will remain that law abiding citizens will follow the law and criminals won’t. Which group is behind the massacres we have seen in the news for years? Criminals. So take away gun rights and you are not taking guns away from criminals who don’t abide by the law anyway. Take away gun rights and you are only taking guns away from those who follow the law, or in my opinion, responsible citizens. I don’t know how this fits into my faith, but I do know that I am not called to be a victim. While I am not called to respond with violence, I think it is my responsibility to protect.

    I am baffled by some of the comments here that say when one’s life is threatened, they should give up their life in that moment. I look at the life of Paul, who was threatened with violence throughout his missionary career. Given his best judgement through the counsel of the Holy Spirit, he sometimes went toward the violence trusting God’s protection and sometimes wisely fled, depending on where God had called him. He didn’t live motivated by fear, but he also didn’t give himself up to the violence. Had Paul done so, he would not have reached many of the places God called him to. It is a balance of looking forward to eternity with God and praising Him with our whole life here on earth – to live is Christ and to die is gain. Both are acceptable options according to God’s will, but we should not give in to violence as a victim and claim martyrdom.

    I am excited to discuss this with my group of friends because I think the question of what Christians should think about guns is thought-provoking and could lead to very interesting discussions and philosophical discoveries. I have friends and loved ones that carry and friends and loved ones that don’t but support and are proud of those who do and I have friends who hate the idea of being around guns at all. I trust, though, that all these parties will enter into the discussion with grace, patience, and respect for those with opposing opinions. I would encourage those following this thread and Elizabeth in future posts to continue to do the same.

    Reply
    • Well said, Katelyn, and in a respectful way. Well done. :-)

      Reply
  40. Tim Terhune

    Um, I’m pretty sure Jesus insists on being brought into everything. He is, after all, Lord of all. That might be why Scripture says “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.” I suspect that some or all of what you are concerned about should indeed not be done, since it can’t be done in a way that brings glory to God. Something for all of us to consider, not the least of which would be those pushing gun rights in the assembly of God’s people. Thank you for the thoughtful post.

    Reply
  41. Scathe meic Beorh

    Jim Morrison’s stage character the “Sunday Trucker Christian Motherf**cker” said it all, but thanks for the necessary reminder.

    Reply

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