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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 • Evangelical • Guns

soundoff (2,819 Responses)
  1. gary

    What people seam to forget or maybe they never knew
    The reason the forefathers gave Americans the right to bare arms
    It's not to defend there homes against a robber or to wage war on the person down the street
    It's when the time comes and a tyrannical government comes into power
    they have the ability to overthrow that government
    People need to wake up and see how the government is playing everyone
    You should start asking who trained all these terrorist organizations around the world
    The CIA did
    That is our own government is the ones who created this situation
    This is there sneaky way of taking your freedoms away
    And make you think it was your choice

    December 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • midwest rail

      No bare arms ! Sleeves for everyone !

      December 29, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • dreamer96

      I thought is was because we were a small, new country, without much of a full time military..
      and with the British to the North...
      the French to the West..
      and the Spanish to the South...
      and a long sea coast to the East....

      December 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Rational Thinker

      I have seen this error so many times, even in journalists' articles!! Come on, people! Think! Bare arms?! Seriously?! Please tell me it has to do with computer auto-correction and that are nation is not filled with dummies.

      December 29, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Marc L from NY

      The English would not allow the Irish to own firearms in Medieval times for that reason exactly.

      December 29, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  2. Mohammad A Dar

    if you read between lines, article sounds like a desperate cry of NRA, first sent some stupid with crazy idea of beefing up schools with guns, and now retaining some cheap bible preaching goon as spoke person

    December 29, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  3. historygeek6

    ...manna from heaven...

    ...give unto Caesar...

    ...birds of the air...

    December 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • the AnViL

      ...batman smells...
      ...two in the bush...
      ...orange you glad i did not say banana...

      December 29, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • dreamer96

      And do not forget ..

      Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

      That one is thrown out buy the makers of airplanes ...but is why we have safety inspections...

      December 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • historygeek6

      Thank you dreamer96.

      December 29, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  4. Sam Yaza

    well I'm against prohibition that will always be the "devils" stance i guess we could have a licensing thing for guns,.. you know take gun classes then get a get a owner ship licenses how ever that would violate the second amendments. lets face it we need to consider the mentally ill the same way we count children under 18, what we need is to fight the culture of fear in America, and help the Mentally ill better. all gun control is gong to do is give government more power to oppress.

    December 29, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  5. Lord Toronaga

    What ever happened to "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition".

    December 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • dreamer96

      Sounds like a World War I saying....Like ...There are no atheists in foxholes

      December 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  6. dreamer96

    Hmm... Does Jesus allow guns in Heaven???

    December 29, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Yes... but only to shoot Islamists and Hindus.

      December 29, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • dreamer96

      Just call me Lucifer

      Hindus believe in reincarnation..

      they believe they will just keep coming back..over and over again....

      December 29, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  7. craig

    Actually, assuming that the bulk of the Christian Fundamentalists support every word in the Bible, there IS a pretty strong "Christian position" regarding gun control. It's there in that commandment that says "Thou shalt not kill." While Jesus might have differed with some of the traditional Jewish teachings, I suspect he was pretty okay with that one.

    December 29, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Chad

      Thou shalt not murder Exodus 20

      It's important to get the correct word, which is "murder" not "kill". The intent behind the act is the subject of the Old Testament prohibition.

      While I support reasonable restrictions on magazine sizes, assault weapons and handguns, no where does the bible reject defending oneself from violence.

      December 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      craig that god command the death of others all the time he actually says tho shall not murder, and murder is only defined as Jew on Jew killing

      Chad

      But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
      Matthew 5:39\

      the fact is that god is a tyrant and tyrants love gun control

      December 29, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • The Truth

      " no where does the bible reject defending oneself from violence."

      "Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" Matt 26:50-53

      "4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Isaiah 2:4

      "38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." Matt 5:38-42

      December 29, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Chad

      @The Truth,
      1. Matt 26, Matt 5: dont prohibit protecting oneself, as evidenced by the fact that Jesus didnt command John to destroy his sword, just to sheath it at the time.
      2. Isaiah refers to the second coming.

      December 29, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • The Truth

      Thanks for pointing out how hypocritical you and so many so-called Christians are chad. Excuses excuses, anything to keep from giving up your weapons of death.

      December 29, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Chad

      I never could understand how it is "hypocritical" to provide the full context to atheists cherry picking the bible.

      December 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • The Truth

      If you were a real Christian you would know Christs words speak for themselves and the fact that he didn't take the sword away and turn it into a pruning shear right then and there does not mean he was saying "I mean all this stuff is for later after I come back and kill all the evil people and those who haven't accepted me as their savior so you won't have to fear anyone so you can finally give up your guns and weapons of war..." You disgust me chad. You are dishonest not only to everyone on these blogs by your lying and misrepresenting the bible, but also to yourself because only a self-deluded psychotic religious fanatic could make the statements that you do. And the biggest lie you keep telling yourself is that atheists just haven't read the bible so they just "don't understand" which has been proven false not only by a majority of atheists but by actual data that shows we know more about your own book than most Christians do.

      December 29, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Chad

      again, I never could understand how it is "hypocritical" to provide the full context to atheists cherry picking the bible.

      you'll simply never understand Christianity if your exposure to it remains limited to cutting and pasting cherry picked quotes from infidels.org. That is just reality.

      You are lashing out at me for pointing out that your "interpretation" is not consistent with scripture.

      Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

      “Nothing,” they answered.

      36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’[b]; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

      38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

      “That’s enough!” he replied. Luke 22

      December 29, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • The Truth

      oh dishonest Chad, you know as well as I do that Christ had them bring a sword just for the purpose of teaching them that lessen, that it was not a lack of arms that had allowed him to be captured but Christs peaceful nature which is also why he then healed the soldiers ear. To have read the bible and believe that Christ telling them to uby a sword was in any way an advocacy for weapons is sheer lunacy.

      December 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  8. 21k

    we need to remove the taxes on cigarettes in the red states. it may take 20 years, but think of it as in investment in our future as a nation.

    December 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • dreamer96

      George Burns said his doctor told him to stop smoking....Then his doctor died...So George stopped listening to him.....

      December 29, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  9. misquote

    Sorry but when someone who is a "pastor" takes a bible verse so out of context as he does with 1 John 3:15 I am forced to believe he does not know the bible. 1 John 3:15 says nothing about being made in God's image. He talks about hating your brother makes you a murder and no murderer has eternal life in them. I paraphrased but am much close to the wording then what he is.

    December 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  10. chris

    The second amendment was designed to protect against the tyranny of the Nazis (way back they were called ashkeNAZIs, Bolsheviks, jew$, etc.) They knew that when they wrote it that there are those Nazis who will try to take over the world from the defenseless... EXACTLY what is happening right now. The Nazis and their ilk were well-known hundreds of years ago. It's why they have always been kicked out of their host countries for thousands of years – they're the predatory parasites of mankind – unethical, immoral gyp$ies with bank accounts. They own the world's banks and print the world's money and have depressed the world's economy so badly that people will now sell their mothers just to have a decent life.

    And here we are; defending our country from a take-over by the tyrannical, manipulative, children of $atan – the ashkeNazis and their apologi$ts – the anti-Christ.

    But they know that they can't take over with so many guns out there.
    And Guam is about ready to tip over.

    December 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • 21k

      hey, what level of the game are you on?

      December 29, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • 3vilmonkey

      Oh wow.. this one's not been taking his pills. Ever.

      December 29, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Juana

      Please increase your meds and turn in your guns. You're a scary bugger.

      December 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Joalni

      And this person owns guns!

      December 29, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • The Truth

      "But they know that they can't take over with so many guns out there." This made me laugh out loud :)

      Apparently the fact that 300 million guns can't do dick against a single nuclear submarine or most of the rest of our advanced military seems to have eluded this nutter...

      December 29, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  11. Rainer Braendlein

    @RichardSRussell

    Aslan may be fictional but Jesus is real. Nothing depends on mere names. The wardrobe is the sacramental baptism accepted through faith.

    December 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  12. Rainer Braendlein

    December 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  13. lionlylamb

    John P. Tarver wrote on December 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm, "Aside from Federalism, we must also conclude that the Forteenth Amendment, that applied the First Amendment to the State religions, does also apply the Second Amendment to the States. This is why SCOTUS has repeatedly refused to hear such a case."

    John P. Tarver,

    Reconstruction Amendments such as the XIV Amendment are issues that make manifest a churning of sanctimonies bequeathing upon the general charge issuances of societal protectionisms due processes upon civil lawfulness propaganda. The currencies of laboring fundaments revolving around systemic issuances of the civil and even the moral duties may one day dry out and we here in the USA will find the ends means of welfare capitalisms to be as a blockage within status quo partisanships giving rises to and toward just the opposite of long nurtured agendas within passive welfare issues long held holdings.

    December 29, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  14. Rainer Braendlein

    December 29, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  15. dreamer96

    Is it legal to send your children to school wearing full bullet proof body armor??? Including a bullet proof helmet???

    December 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Probably, if you don't mind your kid being ridiculed by all of her or his classmates and nobody sitting anywhere near you at the next PTA meeting.

      December 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • dreamer96

      RichardSRussell

      LOL....So true...

      but talking about gun control after another school shooting gets you nowhere....

      December 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  16. Mary

    How badly the author has interpreted the Bible. The Bible does not teach any man or any government how to rule this world. Never!! It teaches about affaris above, not civil. This world governed by man is corrupt and decaying by the second. How are we then surprised by all the world's problems created directly or indirectly by our defective souls? The Bible teaches how to be a child of God, a citizen of heaven, if you want to be there in the end. "For our citizenship is in heaven.." Philipians 3:20. Next time anyone wants to quote or interprete the Bible again, please read it in its entirety AND understand it. Please!!

    December 29, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • niknak

      Which version?
      Or does the babble 2.0 supercede the babble 1.0?

      December 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • TommyTT

      Mary, sorry to disagree but your argument is baloney. The Bible has a great deal to say about how we behave toward one another on earth.

      December 29, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • dreamer96

      The King James Bible version leaves a lot out.....
      The Mormon Bible Version does not include Joseph Smith saying the Garden of Eden was in Missouri....hmmm

      December 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Steve

      So what are you saying then? I can't see your point.

      Even if Christians are citicens of heaven they are still living in this world and seek guidance from the Bible on issues of their daily life. I can't see anything in your comment that would be more helpful then DD's attempt.

      Personally I cannot see how Christians can support gun ownership but opposing abortion.
      It is not right to take someone else's life.

      December 29, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • BrainL

      A perfect example of why so many so-called (and I DO MEAN so-called) "christians" (as opposed to Christians) don't have a clue about what they believe or why.
      Hey Mary, have you ever heard of the 10 Commandments????? Most of those have EVERYTHING to do with how you live on Earth, and how you treat others. Check it out....it's in the Old Testament, or you can just do a google search.
      That's right, it's called the 10 Commandments. Never mind about the rest of the Bible, as you obviously never read it.

      December 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  17. 21k

    most assault weapon owners want that gun because it's a cool toy. maybe they didn't get to play army enough as kids, who knows. they know they will likely never need it to defend their homes or themselves. and they know there will never be some red-dawn fight against their fellow citizens in the military. they know they are completely unqualified to guard schools. they just like to shoot auto weapons. so all this talk about freedom, 2nd ammend, and homes as fortresses is all bs. they just want their toys. deadly ones, unfortunately.

    December 29, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • pagar1000

      It’s not guns that kill people, it’s Armed crazy gun-lover people with bushamster assault rifle that kill people
      See latest killing of firefighters

      December 29, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  18. coalmen

    Right. Let's go back to stones instead, because religion certainly has not been an instrument of genocide or anything past to present. Besides,"God giveth and God taketh away", thereby killing people by "calling them home by his grace and in his good time", so why does it matter how they get there.

    December 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  19. Didier

    You people have a Gun Addiction/Idolatry that unfortunately you will deny it to your grave. You hypocrites you took out God out of your schools but found biblical scripture to back up your weapon idolatry... when will you learn? when one of your own dies?? wake up people it's not the wild wild west the less guns you have the less of a chance there's for someone to wrongly use them/.

    December 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • The Truth

      " the less guns you have the less of a chance there's for someone to wrongly use them."

      Fact: Owning a gun doubles a persons risk of dying by a gun in their lifetime.

      December 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  20. t3chn0ph0b3

    Now if we could only get them to come out in favor of abortion, evangelicals would be liberals again.

    December 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.