Editor’s note: Daniel Darling is a pastor, author and speaker in the Chicago area. His latest book is "Real: Owning Your Christian Faith." He tweets at @dandarling.
By Daniel Darling, Special to CNN
(CNN) – The Bible doesn’t clearly express an opinion on the possession of guns, but many evangelicals defend the unlimited distribution of firearms with the same fervor that they defend biblical orthodoxy. According to a recent Public Religion Research Institute survey, 8% of white evangelical Protestants favor tighter gun laws.
But in the wake of yet another deadly school shooting, it’s time for evangelicals to contribute to the national discussion beyond: “It’s not guns that kill people, it’s people that kill people.”
In fairness to gun enthusiasts, no reasonable observer could pin the blame for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting solely on the lack of effective gun laws. Even President Barack Obama and other influential voices have called for a balanced approach that looks not only at guns but also at mental illness, violent video games and a culture of fatherlessness that produces young troubled men. And the research about the effectiveness of gun controls laws seems mixed at best.
Still evangelicals should not defend the use, proliferation and availability of assault weapons with as much vigor as they defend their faith. In spite of some who insist the Second Amendment is drawn from the Bible, there is no clear-cut Christian position on gun control.
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On one level, the Bible affirms the government’s first and most basic job to protect its citizens, especially the most vulnerable, our children. Romans 13 reminds us that government is “God’s servant for our good.” The Bible also gives high priority to the welfare of children.
At times, the Bible seems to affirm the right to self-defense. Even when Jesus famously told Peter to put down his sword during Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, he didn’t tell Peter to destroy the sword but put it in its rightful place.
On the other hand, the Scripture is pretty clear that Christians should not only oppose violence but should be advocates for the sanctity of human life. This doesn’t simply apply to abortion but to any unlawful taking of human life. Advocating for life also includes taking care of children's and others' well-being after they are born. Each life is created in the image of God; therefore, death is the work of the evil one (1 John 3:15). The Apostle Paul labels death God’s final enemy. Christians are also called to be “peacemakers” and not lovers of violence.
Given the lack of a straightforward biblical imperative for or against guns, faithful followers of Christ should be more flexible in their opinions on this issue.
Why can’t we support sensible restrictions, such as a ban on military-style combat weapons? These weapons seem to serve no purpose other than the glorification of violence. If we take seriously the command to protect our children, we’ll avoid the risk of these weapons getting into the hands of unstable people. Sure, a ban won’t eliminate all weapons, especially those purchased illegally, but it may reduce the chance of another Sandy Hook massacre.
Massacre of children leaves many asking, 'Where’s God?'
We also should also advocate making it harder for people to acquire guns, even sensible weapons purchased for self-defense or hunting. Gun ownership should be a privilege earned by good behavior and conferred only on the most trustworthy of our citizens. I think we can do this without disrespecting the Second Amendment, which besides guaranteeing the right to bear arms calls for this right to be “well-regulated.” As blogger Marty Duren says, “While the Second Amendment provides the right to keep and bear (“carry”) arms, it does not necessitate the right to own any armament the mind of man can create.”
New gun laws won’t prevent every future crime, but perhaps a few common-sense regulations would help destroy a culture of violence that so tempts young troubled men.
Some will argue that new restrictions only hurt those who are already law-abiding. This may be so. But as Christians called to care for the common good of our communities, we should be willing to endure the inconvenience if it saves one child from death. Since 9/11, we have all endured more hassle at the airport to prevent even one terrorist from killing our fellow citizens.
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Followers of Christ know that it is ultimately not the gun that kills, but evil that resides in every human heart. And yet it is precisely this belief in total depravity that might inform our views on gun control. In a fallen world, the most vulnerable among us need protection from those who cannot or will not discern right from wrong. (Ironically, this is the focus of the Christian anti-abortion argument.) Let’s not put instruments of death so close to hands that would do evil.
At the end of the day, living out our faith requires that we do more than simply react in a defensive posture but engage in this important debate. We can protect the cherished right to bear arms in self-defense and still make sure unnecessary and violent weapons are not sold on our store shelves and online and are not accessible by those in our communities who would use them to commit acts of aggression and murder.
Furthermore, an unwillingness to entertain common-sense restrictions casts the evangelical faith in an unnecessarily unfavorable light. It may cause some to think we love our guns more than our neighbors.
There are many things about which Christians should be unyielding; the right to own a killing machine should not be one of them.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Daniel Darling.
So some Evangelicals believe the 2nd Amendment comes from the Bible? Someone please stop the bus and let me off. The crazies have just about completely taken over.
The bible says simply, "Thou shalt not kill." It doesn't way with what or how...
Does it also say: "Thou shall ban arms when we get upset over 4 psychopaths with mental illnesses and blame the entire Gun industry instead of looking at the Mental Health field and how we are dealing with these sick people."
If your going to ban guns because they kill then why is do we still drive cars? They kill more than any guns have in the last 10 years. You have ore fatalities on New Years than all these shootings combined and that will just be in New York alone.
Those Bible wavers in Texas and their Death Penalty laws would say different...
Ban Claw Hamers and work you way up to kitchen knives....... Leave Firearms alone. We like our Freedom and Liberty!
I'll bet you have an autographed copy of Sarah Palin's 'crosshairs' poster hanging in your bedroom.
Palintwit, you have such a hard on for her that you created a name to login with. LOL, a little obsessed aren't we? Your the type that will try to kill Palin to earn the love of an actress. Psycho!!!!
@ firstname.lastname@example.org... *poot*
Evangelicals don't glorify violence and desensitize people to it. Nor does the NRA. The media performs this vital service. From "If it Bleeds, it leads," to the Action Hero, Hollywood and the Press make their living assailing us all with constant images of violence, then desperately seek to misdirect the blame elsewhere when the chickens come home to roost.
CNN, do you really think people don't notice that the only religious views you present are liberal ones??? This is not an open-minded religious blog, this is liberal indoctrination.
I bet you think Rush Limbaugh is a lefty dupe, too, don't you?
Oh, ya think? Considering the author stated his position is only 8% of Evangelicals, it would seem you're the delusional one, but what do you expect from a liberal truth twister.
Richy Rich, liberals have denied media bias for years, but it's pretty blamed obvious these days now that all media outlets have departed from simply reporting the news to hosting tabloid quality opinion pieces by non-experts. Oh, and Rush is a loud mouth who only sometimes gets it right, and that's more of an admission than you'd ever get from a liberal about their Bill Maher, Chris Matthews, or other liberal blowhard.
And we are dam n proud of it! The sooner the gun-worshiping NRA loons are exposed for the paper tigers that they really are, the sooner this country will start moving progressively and peacefully into the future.
"Happiness is a warm gun. Bang bang, shoot shoot." – The Beatles
"There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
Now that I found out, I know I can cry." – John Lennon
The 1st Ammendment is secured by the 2nd. Scripture does not instruct believers to be willingly helpless. I for one indertand that turning the other cheek is not about excusing the cowardice of Hirelings.....Hireling!
Love the glasses and goatie. Don't you "guys" ever break from the pack?
Christians are already in an unfavorable light. Evil will still commit acts of evil no matter what the weapon may be.
Christian and Armed.... EOM
Evangelical church and in fact all torch bearer of morality should come out and advocate ban on assault weapons and all kinds of violence if they truly believe in what they teach.
THEY SHOULD SHOW THE MORAL COURAGE AND LEAD THE CRUSADE AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE.
Ever heard of bullyin' kings? They be big on death.
An evangelical minister stops the line before the important point. Yes, Jesus told Peter to put away the sword, but then he goes on to say: He that shall live by the sword shall die by the sword. Seems anti-sword to me.
Oh no!! What will the GOP do now? Two of their BIGGEST supporters at odds with each other! Decisions, decisions, decisions.
Hopefully, we will stand by while unarmed sheep like you are slaughtered by the thousands by criminals.
Ignore all after 'My invisible friend says guns are bad..."
Many of those 'invisible' friends were created by atheist or tyrants to control the masses.
They all were. Every parent that pushes religion is a tyrant of degree. Don't have to be Napoleon.
Religion is the greatest form of controlling the masses. Just ask the Pope....
I don't believe in God. But the only thing I agree with the evangelical is gun control. We need to ban any gun PERIOD!
And sharp pointy objects
Knives, fire, cars, bats (no, not bats as in Vampires. We know how you girls like your twilight), Poison, smoking, booze, and anything that can kill someone. Did you absent people forget what took the 4 planes over on 9-11? BOX CUTTERS. Not a Gun but BOX CUTTERS. I did not seen one person ask to ban box cutters after 9-11. Why not? Killed more in that day than all the shootings in the last 10 years. It started with Box Cutters. Look at the big picture. Oh and we control Cocaine and Pot SO well, you think they can control guns? Seriously?
We also need to ban Liberals and stupid people like you, oh wait, one and the same.
In 2009 we had 25 calves killed by wolves. Legally, we can shoot wolves caught harassing livestock. We do. Earlier this summer the neighboring ranch had two cows and 6 calves killed by wolves 1 1/2 miles from our house. We use guns for this reason.
A good percentage of what we eat each year is taken by hunting. We usea variety of guns for this.
We always alert to wolves, bears, and mountain lions when we are int he back country. I carry a large caliber handgun for this.
Please do not presume to claim a ban on all guns remotely makes any kind of sense. Idaho is not Connecticut or Chicago. That is why any gun laws should be implemented at a community or state level, never at the federal level. This country is much too diverse for such an approach.
Sandy Hook, Columbine, Aurora, etc. are people problems that need to be dealt with, not a gun problem. Until personal responsibility and social justice are the core beleifs of our cultrue, there will be massacres by disenfranchised individuals.
Cut past the means to the effect, Chedar. What we need to ban is not a particular means of inflicting violence but violence itself. Good luck with that equally realistic crusade.
Please see http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrexX04KeSXH9S5qkQUICisBJgjNFhDkR for details
Did Pontius Pilate have that spear registered? A soldier killed Jesus so was it the soldier or Pilot who is responsible? Anyways, We just need to ban spears! That is it! I am fed up!
Good thing you have a magic world to escape to.
uh, JESUS was dead when the Spear was thrust into his side.
It was the Nails that Killed him. We need to ban Nails over 1/2 so they are not used on little kids hands.
In the United States, You are 32% More Likely to Be a Victim of Violent Crime in States that have Enacted Strict Brady Gun Control Laws.
Internationally, Countries that have Enacted Gun Bans Have Violent Crime Rates 300% Higher than the United States.
Each Year, Over 2,000,000 Americans Use a Lawfully Owned Gun To Prevent Themselves or SOmeone Else from Becoming the Victim of a Violent Crime.
Contrary to news media reports, the vast majority of Americans do not believe gun control measures will prevent mass shootings.
The media LOVES this. We like lambs to the slaughter (keeping to the religious theme) just keep reading and buying and taking the Media's word as gospel (hehe did it again). The Media will keep this a story until WE let it go. They keep poking the fire and making the money and we keep debating. Why do you think owners of News papers and other Media get into Politics? To do exactly this. wait for a story and write laws to keep it a hot topic while we just hand over the $$$$.
Saw a YouTube video of a derange guy who has no access of a gun but a knife. All the derange guy did is to slash the young kid but everyone including the other kids are running after the derange guy with a broom. Isn't this a proof that without access to the gun, the Sandy Hook kids would have survived from the carnage. Stop lying that we need guns. What we need is to overturn the 2nd ammendment and declare the NRA as an illegal organization.
What nonsense? Get your stats from Dr. Seuss? Death by violence is higher in the U.S. than ANY other first world nation. Stop making stuff up.
So, Paul, how do we demarcate the difference between "1st-world nations" and all the others?
"Why, I'm surprised you had to ask. It's the extent of gun deaths, of course. Don't you understand anything? As soon as you shoot, starve, beat, or machete too many people to death, you're automatically a 2nd-world nation. The real danger is that the US is on the verge of being the kindest 2nd-world nation, and then nobody will fear us any more."
CNN is trotting out every possible anti-gun opinion they can find. Maybe tomorrow they will have an article by a used car salesman who hates guns. If anybody believed that CNN was unbiased before this frenzy started, they don't think so now.
Well at least this fellow is not screaming and calling gun owners murderers like some of the have done. The whole media lynch mob thing just distracted us from a thoughtful discussion of the issues.
And yet, sugar, you continue to show up here and eagerly await each and every CNN report, don't you? Whatta matter, slow day at False Noise Network, is it? Haven't received your limpbag spewing for the day yet? That too bad, huh?
I'm in favour of concealed carry permits and fire arms training for all school personnel as well as for all adults. I'm also in favour of increased limits on what type of magazines or weapons are permitted. If we restrict the magazine size at the manufacturer level as well as their possession the impact will be twofold. There's a small chance the next nutter won't be able to get a really big mag and it will be a compromise between the pro and anti gun types. Major restrictions on firearms won't work because criminals will always have guns. British police work in an atmosphere of fear that the men in the stolen car going from store to store doing smash and grab late at night are going to kill them with guns.
I also agree that the gospel of Christ is so much more important than the second ammendment. Without the power of God to deliver from evil, we would have no hope. So it could be argued that the teachings of Jesus tell us, if a wicked man goes to shoot you let him. If he goes to shoot an innocent, blast him good.
Of course he holds this position, because he does not know how Christians killed Baptists under William Tryon when Baptists were not allowed to Marry, be in government, gather for worship, have a shcool, or own land.
He and all of America know nothing of the Battle of Alamance and how WIlliam Tryon had a Price on the Head of one Daniel Boone.
America does not remember that genocide agianst real chrisitans is evident from 6000 familes quitting the Province of North Carolina.
America does not remember how thos Baptists who fled over the Mountains with Daniel Boone (in violation of law) came down when threatened, carrying the Assault Arm of the Day, the Kentucky Rifle, marching 183 Mountain Miles in 8 days, dispatched the would be shooter of George Washington, and one walked a month to York PA to announce Victory at King's Mtn, when Congress was about to vote on Surrender.
Of course he holds this positon because, not only does he not know that one must sell their cloack to buy a sword, but he does not know that alleged Christian Psebyterians and Puritans were killing Baptists under license of government same as Nazi's Killed their Jewish Countrymen, which means he is propbably not even a Christian as predicted by J. Gresham Machen in 1922 on his Thesis on Protestant Liberalism vs. Christianisty.
An examination of his eaching would probably prove him a product of Protestant Liberalism.
oh please...they are the last ones that should speak out. They'll just say "God's been taken out of schools" or "we need to become a more God-centered" society, and then continue ignoring the lie that's been their bread and butter.
When my dad grew up in Texas, God and Guns were both in schools and these things did not happen.
The Amalekites Rule this land now where there is no morality, there is no absolute punishement of their courts, and their spawn attack the defenseless, as those events are the only ones tragic enough to make the news
I don't agree with everything in the article. But overall it is a thoughtful, respectful piece, and does not have the rabid tenor of so much of what has been written. As someone from a rural area who has hunted, and where hunting is a way to survive, I am not anti gun. But I am against the culture of paranoia, anger, hate, and just that culture of violence that often surrounds guns, especially assault weapons and handguns. Those reflect, to me as a pastor, our fallen mentality. I find the loud voices of those saying get rid of all guns irritating. But I find the repeated talking points of the gun advocates, who have their fingers in their ears and just shout their talking points without even listening at all, or being willing to engage in a dialog that takes our penchant for violence and distortion serious, sad and sinful. I liked this paragraph..."Why can’t we support sensible restrictions, such as a ban on military-style combat weapons? These weapons seem to serve no purpose other than the glorification of violence. If we take seriously the command to protect our children, we’ll avoid the risk of these weapons getting into the hands of unstable people. Sure, a ban won’t eliminate all weapons, especially those purchased illegally, but it may reduce the chance of another Sandy Hook massacre. "
So happy 10 year olds could get their hands on fully automatic sub machine guns in the Warsaw Ghetto.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.