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.
Wow I really can't believe how some of you "ADULTS" speak. Did your mom and dad really raise you up to speak with such filth and disrespect? Why do people think they have to go to great insults to try to make their point. I think its people that don't choose to bridle their tongue that shouldn't have guns. Its called self control and there seems to be a lack of that here. Just lets start showing some respect to one another. Wouldn't that work better?
If people showed respect for other people we would not need police....we are more like animals, then saints...just stress the system and see the cracks in humanity come out....sad.. but proven true in our own history...
"The Bible doesn’t clearly express an opinion on the possession of guns..." Really? Only a moron would be unable to draw a comparison from words "swords" and "spears" to "gun's".
"4 God will judge between the nations, and settle disputes of mighty nations. Then they will beat their swords into iron plows and their spears into pruning tools. Nation will not take up sword against nation; they will no longer learn how to make war." Isaiah 2:4
The Jews in Germany under Hitler reign, were waiting for God to save them....Now everyone in Israel learns to shoot....
So your lesson there is not to wait on God and definitely don't follow the bibles advice of getting rid of your swords and spears because God won't save you from crazy people who want to stuff you in ovens... Got it.
My faith has absolutely nothing to do with my stance on gun control (I don't support infringing on the liberties of law abiding citizens just because some people are scared of guns). I do not use my faith as a hammer to make other people toe the line. I do not use my faith as an excuse to persecute those who don't believe in the same things I do. I do not use my faith as an excuse to do anything in the name of my faith. I use my faith to guide MY life. That's what faith is for. If more of my fellow "evangelicals" would do the same and stop using the label as an excuse for hatemongering and fearmongering, maybe this country would be a better place.
Ban guns? Never going to happen. Now Banning "evangelical" political activism is a worthy goal.
'Scared of guns" ? people are dying from guns and nuts with guns.
"Ban guns? Never going to happen." The fact is it has already happened, there are many "guns" that you are not allowed to buy or own in the US. Heck, switchblade knives are still illegal. This discussion should be about expanding that ban to include other "assault" type weapons and weapons of war and has nothing to do with every fundiots fear of having their rifle taken away. If you think the "gubmint" is out to get you and you need to arm yourself against it then you have some serious mental illness problems and shouldn't be let within 100 yards of a gun.
Again, this is not a discussion about whether to ban "guns" or not, we already ban some gun's, this is just discussing which other weapons designed to hunt humans should we add to that list.
Agreed! Come get em! HAHAHAHA! Pry it out of my dead hand!
No competi-tion between man beginning with the children, and mankind will have more peace.
"The Bible also gives high priority to the welfare of children.", Mr.Darling said.
How could that be practized?
The general issue is that we have not yet overcome the theory of evolution whichs supports the survival of the fittest. The Western World has developed a certain range of of features of performance which someone must have in order to get the recognition of the society. Simply said, today you can get recognition when you are either a good technician or a good lawyer or economist.
In contrast the divine order is completely different from this Antichristian system. According to the will of our Creator everybody has one or even more talents or gifts which he should discover. One may be a taylor, the next one a carpenter, the third one a baker, there may be even scientists, engineers and lawyers. The range of acceptable professions in God's sight is much broader than ours. Even a cleaner or a gardener or a watchman get fully acknowledged by the Most High. It is only that they should try to develop their gift or talent according to their personal power which God has given them.
The whole mankind is like a big body, and all people are organs which have certain tasks. All organs serve each other, AND depend on each other. Their should be no compet-ition which organ would be the best one. It only matters that every organ fulfills its task, and that was it. The organs of our biological body don't compete. If they would do that we would die.
We are like a man who has become mad, and only appreciates his own head or brain. All nutrients he gives his head. Imagine such a man with a very big head and very small arms and legs. Will he be able to survive? Never! There must be a balance between the size of the head and the other limbs.
Hence, let us return to the great love of our Creator and his divine Son Jesus Christ. Everybody is welcome one earth by the Deity. Nobody is supposed to become greater or stronger or more powerful than his human brothers and sisters. Let us simply focus on doing our current job well, and every thing is good. Let us serve each other by ore God-given talents, and we all will survive, and even reach some wealth.
Jesus Christ, a person of the Holy Trinity, was not ashamed to be a simple carpenter. How much more should we as descendants of the fallen Adam be able to accept a simple job (that does not mean that some of us could not do higher jobs; certainly some of us may have higher gifts for doing special jobs which are very challenging).
Follower of a cult sect of lutherans
From Pennsyltucky, no doubt.
I am a Lutheran but more from the Bonhoeffer-side.
A heretic and agitator.
I noticed that the so called religious man commenting here is from Chicago...Obumas home turf. Yea....thought so. Dems and libs are legalizing gays to marry, destroying the traditional family unit and promoting a "anything goes" society. He also is trying to disarm us so we can not do anything about it. Whats next....barcoding? If you cant see the beast for who he REALLY is, then you are NOT Christian, and you are fooling yourself. Would the stuff that the govt is pulling here gone over well with our grandparents? Heck no! How about their parents, and their parents? No. Obuma has made this country into a weak, godless laughing stock. The rest of the world is cracking up right now. You fools want my guns and the guns of MILLIONS just like me? Come to my F ing door and get them! I just bought another one LAST NIGHT! And guess what crybabies...the place was FULL of people just like me who feel the same way! Take that! You and your godless leader can't do anything about it either!! Pass laws all day! Don't care! Wake up sheeple....
Therapy my friend, therapy is what you need before you kill someone .or your self .
Pay no attention to the soft liberals that will comment towards you. They are week minded and believe that their thought process is going to lead us to the Utopia that they already live in their own mind. It is time we stand up and fight these liberals! Liberals are the domestic terrorist that we are suppose to fight against. Hey liberals, if you want to live in a communist ran government, then move to China. China and Russia have already stated that if the US signs the UN treaty, they will help to remove all guns from Americans. Can no one else see that this is the first step towards an invasion? Hey liberals, I almost want to see your reaction when we are saluting the China flag or showing papers to a foreign soldier just to go to the store to buy eggs! I and millions of other Americans will fight for our American rights, while you liberals are slaughtered! Lock and load IcemanN4! We don't need therapy, we need accuracy! Stand up and fight Americans! Don't give in to this liberal agenda! Remember what our forefathers did in regards to the liberals? They left that country and fought them in the Revolution. It's our turn now to stand up for our rights and not give in! Don't give up the ship! Semper Fi to the true Americans in the USA!
Given separation of Church and state, why should I care what an evangelical thinks about gun laws, especially if he's trying to make a Bible-based argument for it?
I don't think the question should be "why should I care?" it should be "why do I care?" Think about it, you're the one who read the article. Believe it or not, whether people discuss a subject is not determined by whether David cares about it or not.
What gun would Jesus pack?
The one between his legs.
Are you kidding me? Everyone knows he was a ninja without need of a gun.
You know one of the people killed working at that school in CT was a karate expert...she never got close to him....sad story...
Come on what would Jesus need a gun for – he's always had the ability to shoot bolts of deadly lightning from his finger tips. Present from his Dad
Some religious people actually think Judas turned Jesus in, just to force a Miracle out of Jesus..to stop his own death....
If you are a conservative Christian who believes the Bible is the word of god and you also are pro-gun, pro-tax cuts for the wealthy, pro-death penalty, pro-war, pro-torture, anti-poor people (aka the "moocher class"), anti-immigrant, anti-marriage (straight or otherwise), pro-judging others.... then you're not an evangelical. You're an idiot.
Don't confuse them with the facts.
Agreed. But don't forget about all the liberal lazy, laiize faire dem worshippers that think the government owes them something.
Thus speaketh the m0r0n
TC, what makes you think that all liberals and Democrats are lazy and on government support? Talk about asinine generalizations. Does it make you feel better about yourself to put all those who voted for the President we now have into YOUR 'neat little box'?
Piper – read the post I was responding too. Snarky? Does it strike you that everyone here is always labeling everyone? Ever heard of reflecting or mirroring comments? You may get there, you just need more education and experience.
Look, bubba TC, I already outclass you in education and experience. That you're too dumb to see it isn't my problem.
Pay no attention to the lesbian behind the curtain. I have very little education or experience, but I make up for that with insults and profanity, troll that I am. Love me for what I am?
Before 1990 there were 3 cases of Autism per 10,000 children...in 1996 it was 34 cases per 10,000 children...
Today it is 1 in every 88 children..... Our Modern High Technology life style is killing the minds of our children...
Heretic alert! This guy belongs to a cult – ignore.
Everything you do, say, post, comment, and think positively or negatively affects the people and creates the world around you. If you don't like the way the world is, change yourself and it.
Keep your d@mn Bible out of politics. We don't want it, we don't need it, and we're not going to stand for it.
Your name is just right. Keep your anarchic relative morality out of America.
Since when were you elected spokesman for America?
Dorkus your name fits. Since when were you elected spokesman for America?
It is impossible to keep one's worldview as a separate box and politics (or any other aspect of life) as another. As a Christian I do not try to impose my worldview on others. I do not expect or demand that they live by that worldview. But I myself must. It is almost a given.
As a Christian I believe that following God's rules for living is the best for a society. For example, I believe that human life is sacred. Taking a life, either of an unborn child or an aged person, violates a fundamental principle and will in the end be harmful to society. Life – all life – should be protected. So as a citizen I vote for those who uphold that principle.
The only way then to keep the Bible out of politics is to is to take away my right to vote. That is totalitarianism. Are you advocating that?
We got a lot of snow here where I live. And snow makes me think about Alaska. And every time I think about Alaska, I think about Sarah Palin. And every time I think about Sarah Palin, I think about trailer trash. And every time I think about trailer trash, I think about the tea party. And every time I think abut the tea party, I think about nascar. And every time I think about nascar, I think about assault weapons. And every time I think about assault weapons, I think about Sarah Palin. And every time I think about Sarah Palin, I think about trailer trash. And every time I think about trailer trash, I think about the tea party. And every time I think about the tea party, I think about....
Psychotic obsessions, sir. You dismissed Trailer Park Avenue trash. That be in NY.
This makes me think NASCAR should let the drivers carry guns and shoot at the other cars and drivers...Just like a daily commute to work in Texas....
dreamer96, yup your chitown Big O and his Justice Dept lets the NY bullies do anything. That ends with death.
It is not just NY ...all cities have that problem ..either they come down hard on people or do nothing but carry out the bodies after the killings....We have a large city nearby that has been having a wave of shootings this year...The local police have not stopped it ....it just keeps going on..week after week....many kids have been caught in the cross fire for just being outside when the gangs or who ever start shooting...angry, out of work people, with guns, and no money, mean big problems..
Can someone explain to me why this story has to make a christian to assault weapon correlation? Who cares what ANY religion thinks about such an issue...? The very fact this writer is using Bible scripture to back up his case is ignorance at full. Why not form an opinion totally based on how you "feel" or your "emotions" and justify your argument on why you feel that way, rather than saying "for the bible tells me so"... That's why we can't move forward on issues in this country; people feel they can't express themselves without the safety of a group's opinion... Let's listen to ourselves for once instead of having your daddy's politics and religion handed down to you like a family asset.
Exactly. Just a way to get your article published. Theism or atheism is in no way connected to one's believe on the 2nd amendment or gun laws. JUst a way for a pastor to publish and athelist libs to bash religion. Welocme to CNN's opinion forums
I'm sorry, but this is a dumb question to be asking on a belief blog. "Why would someone try and talk about today's issues in the context of religion all while on a belief blog?" If you have to ask, you'll never know. Now, why would people try and find answers in a book written to provide divine guidance for peoples' lives? Gee, another tough one. We get it, you don't have to try and make your point in a passive aggressive way under the guise of "asking a question"
Anthony & TC, if you think a little, you'll see how this idea is ridiculous. You are committed to a course of living that is consistent with your worldview. I could not ask you to do otherwise. The only way to change your actions would be to change your worldview.
It is the same for the author and for me. So for those of us who are committed to a biblical worldview, what the Bible says on a subject is of great importance to us.
But the Bible is not a club to beat you or anyone up with (despite what some may do with it). It is a guide for my life. But as I live my life in the arena of America, I have the responsibility to contribute to the good of that society. I do that by voting what I believe, by participating in politics where I can, and by intentionally living what I believe.
As an American you have the same responsibility toward our society.
That does not mean we need to hate each other. Isn't it possible for us to find some common ground and work together for the good of America?
Every day I watch the news in America I thank God Canada dumped religion years ago.
It is sad to see people who are self professed Christians attacking a Pastor's/ fellow christians opinion. It almost feels that there is more hatred among those who profess to follow a kind, loving and merciful God than the rest of the world. In your quiet time with Him, seek if Guns (ban or not) is his biggest priority. We are known to the world for our strong and stubborn opinions on matters that are highly politicized, instead of mirroring the love of Christ. We are prone to raise our voice high to drown out any voice that has a different opinion. I was saddened to see many pastors and fellow Christians post ridiculing comments about President Obama during the election campaign. Where is the love? Can we show the world, His reflection, if we are in Him? Far from it!
It is past the time to realize that the world around us is changing for the worse! It is not the politicians or the issues that we should be fighting. Our efforts should be channelled to spread the love of Christ at a grass root level!
What does the Lord require of us? act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God. Love and Forgive!
While we have made the world know loud and clear on wher we stand on various issues, we are failing everyday on doing what is expected of us. I am not excluded!
Yes. We should ask the Lord if it right for people to own kitchen knives. They were originally designed only to kill. Knives are constantly used in convenience store robberies and other crimes. One was recently used to stab 10s of children in a school in China. Some in the Circus may use throwing knives for sport, but that is not necessary. Knives kill people and should not be used by anyone for any purpose. We need more knife control laws, and the Lord would want us to support that. Search your heart and you will know this truth that God has planted in your heart. Sticks and stones may break bones, but that is another debate.
Reasonable, your sarcasm is not helpful, nor is your flawed logic. As Christians we have a responsibility to our society. We are to be a blessing. The only real question on this issue for a Christian is how we can be a blessing. If that is as this author suggests revisiting our position on gun rights and controls, then let's do that. Without rancor.
Flawed logic? Where's the logic in banning a tool, Don? There is no point in revisiting this issue. I suspect you live in a city where there is little to no use for guns. I know LOTS of good, Christian people who own and regularly use guns both for shooting at targets for fun and for hunting. They are all as horrified as "non-gun-literate" city people by gun crimes, but they don't want you taking away their lawful right to own and use a tool because crazy people do crazy things with tools. I see no reason to revisit this issue. I see plenty of reason to revisit the loss of God in our society, the destruction of the family and family values, and the general decay of morality. I see plenty of reason to listen to people who undergo psychiatric and express dangerous thoughts and behavior. That is all.
Are you serious...lol...most of these so called evangelicals are racist and have no problems oppressing anyone who isn't given to their brand of belief, and even then, they believe in their fallback racist ideals. Nope, these are the same people who were preaching the holiness of Jim Crow, so don't expect much.
I am grieved over the fact that Christians at times do not act as Christians. So I can understand your anger. But racism is not a product of our Christian faith: It is a product of our fallen humanity and is contrary to the standard of God. God calls us to see all as equal in worth and dignity.
I can appreciate a lot of your views as expressed Don, but understand you come across a bit holier than thou.
Although I consider myself an evangelical, I do not share Pastor Dan's opinions on gun control. Where a Pastor SHOULD be speaking to answers on where God is during these tragic events, he considers his opinion designed to stir up emotion to take precedence over the message of Jesus Christ which teaches, love, comfort and faith in God in all things. Who are you serving Pastor Dan? I really take offense that he feels that by placing a box around evangelicals that it grants his words more power, or that he can establish legitimacy in his ideas. Only a moron would fall for that ploy. Satan talks through many voices. It seems Pastor Dan may have first hand experience with that...
I don't think there is any doubt how the God of the bible feels about assault weapons. I also don't think there is any doubt that most evangelicals, especially those who are also gun nuts, do not serve the God of the bible.
"The Bible doesn’t clearly express an opinion on the possession of guns..."
Duh. It doesn't 'clearly express an opinion on' power excavators, electric disposals, sport utility vehicles, or telephone poles either. However that won't slow the whackos down a bit; they'll extract some completely meaningless bit of doggerel to justify their religiofascism.
Well stated. Unfortunately, the right wing religious wing-nuts will not listen to these words. 'Many will come in the Last Days, and say Lord Lord I did this and that for you, and Jesus will say, I never knew you' has never been more evident in this current period of history... Ironic, Jesus' works on this Earth were quite liberal, cleaning the feet of a harlot, etc... Something a Mitt Romney. Pat Robertson, would not even fathom... Perhaps, the Progressive Movement needs to take back Jesus from Right Wingers – Jesus is not representative of their ilk...
Speaking as a progressive, I don't particularly want Jesus.
Richard, I understand your response – but sadly, the humanity of Jesus has been so distorted by the right-wing and their zealous blindness to the real Jesus, that sane people have tuned him out. Take time and merely read the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke or John to get a better picture of what Jesus was about. He cared about those in need, the clear opposite of what the Republican party represents... He remains a historic figure, for a reason... Thanks for responding...
I always wonder how the evangelical conservatives overlook the exact point you make here. It makes me shake my head to see them proudly wearing crosses, WWJD bracelets, etc., while screaming "Cut! Cut! Cut!", disparaging poor people, working so hard to make the rich richer, classifying women as chattel, or painting anyone who doesn't follow their narrow-minded moral strictures as sick and unworthy of Gods love.
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.