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My Take: It’s time for evangelicals to speak up about guns
December 28th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: It’s time for evangelicals to speak up about guns

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.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Guns

soundoff (2,819 Responses)
  1. Gene Brady

    The religious right has consistantly been on the side of the distruction of God's creations, the Earth and humans by backing BIG OIL and the NRA. They take lots of their money and they do their bidding. They are bought and paid for. All the death and distruction is on them.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • dreamer96

      Pro life GOP Presidents have killed millions of Muslims in the Middle East all in the name of their God a Pacifist....Ironic...

      December 29, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  2. Gary

    Jesus also told his disciples to purchase a sword. Luke 22:36
    "Then He said unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one."

    December 29, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • MICHELE

      being a Christians means to love peace and hate violence and any weapons . there is someone who remember deaths of Christians in the ancient Rome ??? no arms .... but testifying with sofferences to belong to the Lord

      December 29, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Bonnie

      Please see also verse 37 where he advises his request for swords (ened up being two of them) was to fulfill scripture about being "reckoned with lawless ones". Then please see verses 49, "..Lord, shall we strike with the sword?" verse 51, "But in reply Jesus said, " Let it go as far as this." In other words, no, not necessary.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Ray

      It is about the "accusations". He had to be accused of being a "criminal" and his company had to look the part to be accused of running with criminals. This speaks nothing about defending yourself or not. It is about fulfilling a prophecy about himself. He wasn't a criminal and neither were the ones that had the swords. He didn't heal the guards ear because he was anti-weapons, he healed the guard because he had to be arrested and betrayed by Judas. He didn't say weapons are bad and he didn't send the person that struck the guard to hell. He accused those in power in religion of being evil and corrupt. He drives the point home in verses 52-53. All done as it was fore-told it would be done.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  3. THE REALIST 1

    THE CHRISTIAN GOD IS a MURDEREr and is PRO_SLAUGHTER! There are countless examples of mass murders commanded by God, including the murder of women, infants, and children. http://www.evilbible.com/Murder.htm

    December 29, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Bonnie

      Jesus tells the truth. "In fact, the hour is coming when everyone that kills you will imagine he has rendered a sacred service to God. But they will do these things because they have not come to know either the Father or me." John 16:2&3.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  4. jeffrey

    Do these pastors even realize the basis for the 2nd amendment?

    It was heavily influenced by the English Bill of Rights which was written due to King James II after he attempted to disarm the Protestants when they become the majority. It as well as the 2nd amendment did not create the right, but reaffirmed the natural right not to be disarmed.

    The author may know the bible, but clearly doesn't know history or even have a good understanding of the intentions of 2a

    December 29, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • AZ Fatcat

      Go join your state militia that the 2nd Amendment protects in spite of what the Supreme Court says.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  5. cuzIsaidso

    If Jesus had been packing heat, the Romans wouldn't have f****d with him.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Athensguy

      Curious statement, as Romans dominated half of the known world then, and certainly had defeated army's more powerful than a 1+12 group even if they were packing heat.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • John P. Tarver

      Peter was packing heat and cut a man's ear off, but Jesus put it back on. When it was time to die Jesus did not resist.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  6. John P. Tarver

    As all pastors take money for evangelizing and Paul wrote that they are "fake Chriistians" for taking money, how about Darling gets himself on to hell and stops giving us his fake Christian opinion?

    December 29, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • AZ Fatcat

      This statement applies as well to all those who support assault weapons.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  7. lol??

    Kings that let servants have more power than them are in a "spot".

    December 29, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  8. Rabbittroup

    Personally, I've always felt right is right. If someone chooses to discredits a point you're making because of grammar not realizing the human brain is capable of understanding a sentences structure based on the sound/pronunciation of a word, more often than not their just looking for a reason to justify their own point of view. But, that's just my opinion; Perhaps some people aren't capable of listening as they read, in which case I can see the importance of proper grammar even when ranting.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If you can't write an intelligible post, why should anyone believe you have the education or intelligence to make a valid point? If your writing is so poor that it would embarrass a high school freshman, why should anyone care what you have to say?

      December 29, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      But it's ok, because I only have a high school edumacation and post here day and night because I was able to snooker the company I worked for into paying me diability. So, now I sit all day long on my parents basement having fun being a moron to other people, eating cheese puffs and drinking mountain dew.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  9. John

    CNN is nothing more than an extension of the Democratic Party. For every article they post like this there are 50 to counter it. Anyone who thinks CNN is balanced is off their rocker. I am a Christian and was just as outraged and sickened by the school shooting, but trying to ban guns is just idiotic on so many different levels. If you believe banning is the way to prevent deaths, let's start with heart disease which is the #1 killer in America...so let's ban all fast food restaurants. Next lets ban all cigarrettes to prevent lung cancer and stroke related deaths. Next lets ban all alcohol (prohibition worked really well in the 20's) to prevent drunk driving related deaths. Next lets ban all cell phones to prevent texting while driving related deaths. Don't forget to ban fertilizer since that is what Timothy McVeigh used to mass murder people. Where does it end. The problem is not guns...its that our society has fallen away from God And there is a lot of sin and evil which is perpetuated by a generation that has little time for God

    December 29, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • rdeleys

      I guess someone who is so intellectually underdeveloped that he still believes the myth of Christianity would also have a hard time distinguishing a gun from a hamburger. But here's a hint: Guns were designed for the purpose of killing. Hamburgers were NOT designed for the purpose of giving people heart attacks. If you still need help seeing the difference, just let me know.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • dreamer96

      Most American do not want to ban all guns...but think some control over military style weapons is needed...and every gun owner and gun buyer should have a back ground check...and gun should be stored safely.....Why do the Pro-Gun groups go crazy at the mention of gun control....most hunters I know have seen or met a person they think should not even own a gun....specially if they have had a few drinks...and get mad....

      December 29, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  10. Bob

    I am sorry to see that you "pastor," and yet fail to understand the Scriptures. If you were theologically literate, you would recognize that the Bible commands the duty to preserve human life and civil liberty. Where there is a God-given duty, there is a God-given right to the means of performing the duty. How do you expect to restrain tyranny and violent criminals apart from access to the same modern weapons they have? Because God gives the duty, it is unlawful for another (government) to interfere in my right to perform my God-given duty. This is Biblical Theology 101. Before you decide to spout off, take some time to learn your own professed religion. Is it as important as salvation through faith alone in Christ alone? No. But if it is a point of our faith under attack, it merits a vocal and clear response. The Bible is clear. Even Jesus told His disciples to carry swords, but not to live by them.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Athensguy

      Cool. Tomorrow you'll be teaching physics to Hawking, right?

      December 29, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Bonnie

      Please provide the Scripture where Jesus instructs his followers to carry swords.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  11. Ray

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMg0FQS6Fqo&w=640&h=390]

    this is what you guys don't want to report about, because it doesn't fit your agenda

    December 29, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Mike Haessler

      This incident was widely reported. What are you talking about?

      December 29, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Ray

      I can't find it on CNN

      December 29, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • dreamer96

      A home owner in Texas shot and killed his neighbor's gardener who was cleaning a flower bed under a window.....The neighbor said he thought the gardener was trying to rob the house....Under the laws in Texas it is legal to kill someone if you think you, or someone else is in danger...this covers property to....The Governor even spoke up in support of the shooter.....He was not charged with shooting another man in the back...and killing him...where is common sense....How many innocent people are killed by guns.....

      December 29, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Ray

      Probably fewer innocent people than are killed by criminals.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Ray

      You know Chicago has some of the toughest laws against gun ownership right? Do you also know they have just set a new record for homicides? You also know that New York and DC have very tight gun laws right? Do you also know that they are among the nations most violent cities along with Chicago?

      December 29, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  12. Alan

    Good grief. So today CNN loves pastors, next week they'll hate them again. Using people for your own agenda, classic CNN. Pastor Darling should be ashamed of himself for allowing CNN to use him as a political pawn.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Athensguy

      Well, you are free to stay only with fox... No need to come here, if u dislike is so much

      December 29, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Alan

      @athensguy. Oh okay, so now you want to take away my freedom too. Sheesh, hypocrisy comes in all shapes and sizes doesn't it? Yes I'm free to leave, but I'm also free to stay you ignorant doofus.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • JohnS

      Like to project much? Didn't see anything indicating CNN's views towards pastors. Got the impression that someone doesn't like CNN – – despite the time he spends on it's site – – and looking for some way to criticize... however convoluted.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  13. Country Folk

    Just because city folk feel guns have little to no reason doesn't mean that country folk feel the same. Why on earth are liberals, who defend every other so-called right to the extreme, won't defend the right to bear arms and the freedom to choose the firearm you prefer for hunting and target shooting? If you're a liberal city-slicker, you don't have a clue and have probably never hunted nor gone target shooting for fun, so butt out of our business.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • 111ken111

      Your fear will be contained to you and God's people will be victorious with trust in Him instead of assault guns.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Country Folk

      Huh? Fear? Where exactly does fear come into hunting and target shooting? Apperently smart city folk have comprehension problems, too.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • JohnS

      I don't mind – – as long as you keep your guns on the farm and out of my neighborhood and schools. Gun control, to me, means being in control of your guns – – locked up when not used. If your guns somehow turn up in my neighborhood or misused by someone – – man up and accept responsibility... and any consequences.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Country Folk

      I agree that gun owners should be resposible with their guns. However, gun owners cannot control what others do. I wouldn't hold someone responsible if a theif stole their car and the hit and killed multiple people with it. I would not hold a gun owner responsible for stolen guns. Oh, and the jounalists who thought it was a good idea to post names and addresses of those holding guns were complete fools and possibly just incited revenge nuts or theives looking for guns. What cdumb and creepy stalker journalists!

      December 29, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Fdo

      Don't forget that my rights end where yours begin... and someone's right to bear arms might affect some else's right of life.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Country Folk

      Non-rational people will do anything despite laws regarding your rights. There is little that can control that, just like we can't easily control terrorists by subjecting every airline passenger to humiliating searches. Rational gun owners will not violate your right to life and respect the country's laws, and that is the majority of gun owners. That being said, if you attempt to rob me, my house, or threaten the life of my family or friends, then you've may have just forfeited your right to life, although that is a whole other conversation.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  14. todaymessage

    One good thing abut those gun lovers...angry old men. If they don't get killed bytheir own guns or their guns don't kill their young, they will die out soon, but not soon enough for those who don't own gun.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Seth

      So your argument against gun violence is death to those who don't agree with you? Well, seeing that you think guns are evil, you'll just pick up a rock and stone your opposition to death? HYPOCRITE.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Raven

      Maybe that's because guns don't kill people, People kill people.

      More old angry white guys were killed by Doctors and Cars than guns.
      Should we ban those?

      December 29, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  15. RichardSRussell

    If there are Christians who think the Bible has taken ANY kind of position on guns — a technology that didn't come along until thousands of years after the BIble was written — they should seek professional mental-health are immediately!

    December 29, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Raven

      You are quite wrong. The right to defend oneself and family was long ago written in the "Good Book"
      It's the "Concept" not the tool.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • 111ken111

      Raven,
      True for simple guns. Assault rifles are weapons for the fearfull.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Bonnie

      Raven, please provide the Scripture where Jesus advises that we have the right to defend outselves with arms.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  16. 111ken111

    Ones who want assault rifles are acting in fear. They do not believe our God given country will protect us. They are in fact against our country because of living in fear and believe our country will try to destroy them. They are haters of our country not true citizens. The God given USA is being destroyed by these fear mongers and it is time for Christians to take action and SHUT UP these UN Americans with laws. Then they will only murmur to ones who will listen to them a flock of satanic bread thinking. Some may have these guns not understanding this and please rid yourself of these guns and live the faith of God believing your God given country will also follow God’s will allowing Him to protect us, He has done it before and will do it in the future as we believe in Him..

    December 29, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Athensguy

      Indeed, if god is on their side, why do they need guns? Or is the almighty not mighty at all?

      December 29, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Raven

      So do you vote? Or do you let God pick your leaders?

      participating in your government is a Christian Duty.
      Obeying your laws is a Christian Duty.

      The nations highest law give the right to the people to own weapons to defend against tyranny.
      God didn't give us this country, we stole it by force from the natives.
      The only nation in history given to anyone by God was Israel.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Sean

      You need help.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • 111ken111

      Raven,
      Typical eye of fear and you will never dictate to me or any Chriatian the truth of His leading of the USA. Faith can only understand this and what is your choice?

      December 29, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • kevincasper

      I am afraid I don't have that faith in the country anymore. We have taken GOD out of schools and public places. We allow abortions that have estimated to cost 20 million in lives. The country is upside down stacked against those that want to work hard in favor of those that take. I live south of the Mason Dixon line where we have many shooting events as sports. Our registry of firearm owners unlike NY is called the phone book. Oh, one little point , there was a home invasion last night in SC and the home owner shot the suspect in the Buttocks fearing for his life. The police in rural America would take several minutes to respond.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • jeffrey

      Because your country always does what's best for the people... right?

      Such as King James II attempting to disarm Protestants while allowing Catholics to maintain their firearms.
      Such as the British and Loyalists attempting to disarm the Colonial Patriot Militia.

      Of couse something like this would never happen again.

      “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So let’s not have any native militia or native police. German troops alone will bear the sole responsibility for the maintenance of law and order throughout the occupied Russian territories, and a system of military strong-points must be evolved to cover the entire occupied country.”

      -Adolf Hitler 1942

      This is effectively what happened due to the 1938 Nazi Weapons Law. Subsequently he began disarming the Jews, Austria, etc

      December 29, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  17. lifeknoxhard

    The Lord helps those who help themselves.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Athensguy

      God helps those who eat from salad bars?

      December 29, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • 111ken111

      True in a way. One needs to help themself in a Godly way not a fearfull way. Having faith in Him will allow Him to help.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • AZ Fatcat

      Turn the other cheek. Forgive 7 times 70. Thou shall not kill.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Bonnie

      Galatians 6:5, "Each one will carry his own load." Verse 7. "Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap."
      "Then Jesus said to him: "Return your sword to its place, for ALL those who take the sword will perish by the sword."

      Matthew 26:52. Please also see God's promise of protection and rescue, for whom and why.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Bonnie

      Sorry, find this at Psalm 91. Please also see God's promise of protection and rescue, for whom and why.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  18. jesus giron

    Government and criminals have weapons and sometimes the goverment are criminals like in Syria,Libia,Mexico.We should have a way to defend ourselves from our governments.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Athensguy

      Sure, feel free to point your .22 at their F22 anytime. Or, if you want, feel free to buy weapons from China, Russia, and the US.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • 111ken111

      We are talking about th USA. BIG difference.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  19. UtahProf

    Sure, go ahead, freedom of religion will be next. Once one fundamental right falls, the others will fall shortly thereafter. Why people don't see that the Second Amendment is the Keystone of this Republic is beyond me. So, go ahead, speak out against firearms, but don't try to claim ignorance after the wheels fall off.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • lifeknoxhard

      You are right. The left has already started attacking God after Newtown shooting. The shooting is the fault of God and guns, the two things that the left HATES.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Athensguy

      Actually, the right is the one assaulting freedom of religion. See their actions against Muslims. Freedom of religion, is not reserved to Christians.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • 111ken111

      Blinded by fear.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • AZ Fatcat

      Go join the National Guard. The only purpose of assault weapons is KILLING fellow humans.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Zeke

      Your'e from Utah, what do you know about freedom of religion?

      December 29, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  20. lifeknoxhard

    The Lord helps those who help themselves

    December 29, 2012 at 10:26 am |
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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.