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.
Religion is the root of all evil..must be the Christians invented the devil
The human ego displays all the characteristics of Satan.
I'm sure people wouldn't exploit others for money if not for their religion. Atheists would never dehumanize someone for power or finances.
Did you ever notice how predators have their eyes on the front of their heads?
So man is a hunter....
The agrarian Cain killed his hunter brother Able.
Lott slept with his own daughter's the very night Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God for being too wicked ....
and had two sons from that night..which he was both father and grandfather too...weird....
What is that Bible story suppose to teach us..what does it mean???...We have laws against that sort of thing....
dreamer- Do you think the shooter was in love with step mom?
Wahahahaha: "The Bible doesn't clearly express an opinion on the possession of guns." Really? I'm shocked since guns did not exist during Biblical times - or in fact for over a 1000 years.
But they had sling shots....
Only manual sling shots were allowed. Semi-automatic and automatic sling shots were banned.
Schools, colleges, and gun control advocates create these situations of mass murder...
They take locks off the doors, make windows you cannot break out of, to possibly escape, then advertise themselves as "gun free zones."
"Gun free zone," translated to a homicidal maniac, means "Nobody here will shoot you back."
Don't know where you live, but our schools have locks on the doors, and our windows open...and most schools are gun-free without a dumb sign. If you're going to shoot up a school, you're going to find a way...Adam Lanza did.
People seem to be missing the point. Assault weapons have no purpose other than killing people. Those who think it is OK to pack AKs, and AR 15s, and the big magazines probably need to see film of the bodies of the children and teachers killed in Connecticut to see how cool it is to use those weapons. Or view the bodies of our troops coming back from the middle east that have been shot. I recall the safe driving films in high school that made kids think a little more when driving. If this great country of ours (as the politicos describe it) requires packing that type of weaponry then we all ought to be moving to Canada or someplace else.
Good post !
Try England or Australia, there, with severe gun restrictions on law abiding folks, violence against innocent people has soared.
Maybe assault weapons should bear the same pics that cigarette packs have: "Guns Kill" and then have a set of brutal uncensored shots of civilian bodies shot up by these weapons.
N & W 1000
When was the last time you heard about school kids, college students, movies theaters, shopping malls, etc., being shot up by some mad man. Last time I recall is in Scotland about 20 years ago. It is almost a monthly event here.
N&W, I would suggest that you check the Australian Bureau of Statistics (http://www.abs.gov.au/) before suggesting a conclusion like that :)
You know, you are right, it is a monthly event, largely because not enough good folks have guns to shoot back.
N&W, Not death by gun. What are you referring to?
az fatcat – i agree – people are missing the point.. including yourself.
the culprit in connecticut was mental illness,
also – a mother who was either in denial or did not notice the warning signs – that failed to secure her weapons.
N&W, What FOX News nonsense have you been swallowing. Try actually looking up the murder rates in the countries you list.
First of all, there ain't no such thing as an assault weapon. I challenge you to define it legally. They tried with arbitrary thoughts in 1994, but the same guns were produced with minor variations. "Assault weapons" is just a liberal phrase meant to conjur up images of military machine guns. Similarly, liberals always use semi-automatic when referring to AR-15s. This is meant to conjur up the same image of military machine guns mowing people down. The fact is that almost every gun today is a semi-automatic, one shot per pull of the trigger gun. Liberals are either dishonest or don't know a dang thing about guns. Ban an AR-15 that people use for target shooting because of its accuracy and lunatics will just pick some other high powered semi-automatic hunting rifle. City liberals have an irrational fear of guns that could be cured with a little education in the country. Come on out to the farm and we'll have a blast. You'll never understand how you could've hated guns so much.
We are on CNN, not Fox, and besides, Fox has more liberals on than CNN. Perhaps it is you who needs to check your figures...
N&W, So for example, the Aurora shooting. How exactly would multiple citizen responders have helped? Shots from all angles in the dark (and not all gun owners are trained to use them) would have caused even more injury. In fact that shooter had full body armor so was well protected.
In a recent shooting in NYC, the trained police officers caused all of the collateral damage – imagine what untrained gun owners would do in a public shooting.
N&W 1000 – in the ten years following the new gun control laws in Australia the homicide rates by gunfire dropped 59%. Are you purposely ignoring facts or just too lazy to look them up. They also had 12 massacres by assault weapons prior to the ban and not a single one since. The UK has also seen a tremendous drop and the gangs have resorted to making their own ammo which does not work well.
Look at photos of victims of shootings with AR15s and AKs and that will show you what an assault weapon does to humans. Dork.
The AnVil, you are correct it is mental illness the causes many of the mass murders. I heard last night that his mother was trying to get him admitted in a facility and that is what set him off. On the other hand I toted an M16 for 6 years and understand what it can do whether on semi automatic or full automatic. There are regular .22 cal rifles one can buy for target shooting. Regardless of what others may say, there is no reason civilians need a weapon whose SOLE purpose is killing humans, Christian or otherwise.
Gal 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.".....................The law isn't for killer mommies to rule over da hubby and train gang bangers from the Beast fadder.
You are such a wierdo. Please tell me you don't own any guns.
If you're an example of Chistian, no wonder Chistianity in on the decline. You are mentally ill.
Evangelicals, speak the truth: Speak FOR guns; they are used millions of times by law abiding citizens and save thousands of lives each year.
Find me one example in the New Testament of Jesus, Paul, or any others encouraging violence in any form. I can show you many examples of it being forbidden.
This man is either an utter fool or he has a devious plan to use his position as an evangelical pastor to erode the second amendment. The sword was the "assault weapon" of biblical times and Jesus apparently had no problem with Peter carrying one. A weapon is a tool that can be used for good or bad and if the good guys give up theirs the bad guys will be free to victimize us all. A gun is an insurance policy against evil. They can be misused just like any other insurance policy(i.e. insurance fraud) but are still very necessary.
I've never owned one, and I'm fine. It's a proven fact that in all gun related shootings, there was a gun involved. hehhehe
The "bad guys" aren't whipping up guns in their garages like meth. They are out there because one man can buy an ars'enal, checks are a joke, and idiot collectors have so many guns that once stolen a whole gang is armed. Tweak just a few areas and the supply is diminished.
aklogic, you're the fool if you don't know that the sword of the Lord's is his truth. That's why Jesus healed the man's ear. He wasn't into physical violence but to teach his spiritual truth.
The "sword" that Jesus actually a traveling dagger used for many daily tasks. It really didn't serve the purpose of being a weapon, although it could be used for that. There's a big difference between carrying a gun, which serves the sole purpose of killing, and a dagger, which has many practical uses.
I'm sorry, "Jeff", but the "Lord" is an element of mythology, therefore the assertion that there is "truth" via its "sword" is unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent true statements is: "TOTAL FAIL".
I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:
I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
edweird and saraswati- This pastor is from Chicago where good people have been disarmed and the murder rate is through the roof. Does that tell you anything? Criminals will always find away to arm themselves. Ever heard of the black market? You guys need to study history a little more to find out what happens when governments disarm their citizenry.
Dan, that's baloney. They were about to go on the road. Highway robbers were common in those days, as is evident from the story of the Good Samaritan. Roman swords were shorter than most people realize as well, but these swords were most definitely intended for self defense during travels.
aklogic, Once again, no one in this conversation, including the author, is recommending banning guns, that's the first thing you're making up. Second you're cherry picking stats from other countries that have nothing to do with assault weapon restrictions or tightening background checks. Third people in countries where these laws are in place have had a very difficult time getting weapons, excpt in the case of countries like Mexico whose idiot neighbors have been supplying their criminals.
Who Would Jesus Shoot?
Probably Bill Maher.
Jesus did not come to earth to shoot anyone, he came to die for the sins of mankind.
We however, are here, and must protect the innocent children from violent, homicidal maniacs.
I am going to begin a campaign, immediately, and I want to enlist the help of this blessed pastor, to have laws against drunk
driving passed, and, if that doesn't stop drunk driving, to make people have a license to drive a car, or, ban them altogether.
Jesus came to redeem Adam's birth right of life. There was never any salvation in the Law.
The evangelunatics would have us believe Jesus would shoot the gays, because they're obsessed with them being so stuck in the denial closet themselves.
Why shoot your enemies when you can torture them forever and ever and ever in a pit of fire made by your daddy?
So does Jesus allow guns in Heaven????
Some Religious groups believe there are no animals in Heaven..because animals have no souls...Their version of Heaven does not sound like a place I want to spend eternity in....no animals at all....
Excellent !!! :D
Good luck getting a ban on drinking in Church...the Catholic's drink like fish swim...
N&W1000: Cars actually have a function OTHER than killing.
@N&W, Are you really claiming you can't see a difference between the use to citizens of a car vs a gun?
Guns, in the hands of law abiding citizens, are WONDERFUL tools of self defense against rapists, murderers, terrorists, etc....
Like any tool, intent is the key.
Guns are used MILLIONS of times in self defense.
N&W, almost no one here is arguing for the extreme measure or taking away all personal firearms from law abiding citizens. The move is just to limit numer and type of weapons and tighten the rules for background checks...period.
Have you ever read such weak logic? I have seen this before when some guy thinks he is really smart and is going to use your belief system to change your mind on a subject. A couple frequent examples are: "You are a Christian so you should be a socialist, want higher taxes, or raise the minimum wage." "You are pro-death penalty so you should be pro-abortion". A perfect example why I hate liberals; they think they are smarter than you and will not let your life your life the way you want.
What a laugh! The same people who told gays they shouldn't be allowed to marry. Talk about people who tell other people how to run their lives!! You are one vicious, hypocritical, redneck.
Do not worry ..Texas controls the school books for the whole country...and Intelligent Design will dumb down all of our kids...
" Texas controls the school books for the whole country...and Intelligent Design will dumb down all of our kids..."
Yes... that is absolutely a serious problem.
Is General Curtis Lemay a hero to you?...He ordered the fire bombing of Tokyo....Had all the phones around US military Bases taped....entire cities were monitored....
"A perfect example why I hate liberals; they think they are smarter than you and will not let your life your life the way you want."
"A perfect example why I hate liberals; they are smarter than me and will not let me get away with the things I want."
ALL evangelical "logic" is weak including your white-trash version Mr.Baldwin.
He's simply saying that those who claim to follow Jesus should take his words seriously about refusing the path of violence. He's not telling you how to live. He's simply pointing out inconsistencies among those who claim to follow Jesus yet don't follow all his teachings.
The bible is the greatest study of human nature ever written and demonstrates repeatedly why the people need to be armed. We already have much gun control and it is not helping; but it does provide a revenue stream to Government.
Or it means we need to build robots like "Grot", from the Movie "The Day the Earth Stood Still", to enforce the laws...
So true! That book is so violent, I always feel like I need to protect myself. But how do you defend yourself against a blood thirsty god? Of all the gods out there, we end up with one blood-thirsty sob.
Since when have Christians been considered the peacemakers? hahaha. this must be a joke...
The Colt Peacemaker (Single Action Army) is a single action revolver. It was designed for the US cavalry by Colt and adopted in 1873, and it was perhaps the most prolific pistol in the Wild West...
It's all in their definition of "peace"...
The Truth, did you ever wonder where outlaws got their name? Could it be they are lawless, going outside the law?
Oh, how silly of me. I forgot that no Colt Peacemaker was ever used for anything but upholding the law... much like Christian peacemakers who always treat others as they would like to be treated and never shoot first and ask questions later...
I would caution you about using easily identifiable manufacturers items in your postings and pictures because it could be construed that you are bashing them using the Media as a defamation device. the weapon is identifiable as an AR, however the magazine is easily identifiable as a MAGPUL Industries magazine, NOT a USGI magazine which could have remained nameless. I would also remind you that Jesus said He who has no sword, should sell his cloak and go buy one. Jesus understood and preached forgiveness, what he DIDNT advocate was giving people license to walk all over you, even with deadly force. Even Jesus didnt trust the Government.
You Said: " Jesus understood and preached forgiveness, what he DIDNT advocate was giving people license to walk all over you, even with deadly force. "
And yet... Jesus did give license to being walked all over and killed.
I'm curious... how do you explain this, or ... is it the basic Christian narrative, i.e... Jesus as savior/died for our sins, etc...?
And, by the way... Jesus is a real p isser when he comes back according to the book of Revelation, yes ?
therealpeace2all, just goes to prove man without spiritual truth, kills.
Darling, as a pastor, aren't you supposed to be watching sheep, not igniting gun debates?
As a pastor, his job is to encourage people to follow Jesus in every aspect of life. Jesus' teachings on violence have been long ignored by most Evangelical Christians.
Yes. Educate all those violent Christians! You're a hoot, Dan.
The bible is a compendium of stories carried by word of mouth, by men, and ultimately written down by men, with untold changes and interpretations many hundreds of years later. Simple stories by men. Many useful, many evil, just like men are.
And the Bible is the worlds best seller too...
Religions (for they are legion, past and present) rely on the mass of mass delusion for legitimacy, that one has a larger mass is certainly a hallmark of success in perpetuation of the myth, but in no way can be construed as an argument for "Our belief is more valid than others." The sheer numbers, diversity, and plurality or beliefs should be enough for a reasonable man to question the validity of any of them. They are drawn along cultural, historical, and geographical lines. How and or why would an all powerful and all knowing god select certain countries and peoples to perpetuate worship of himself? Is he a racist? The bible is so full of holes it couldn't float in jell-o....
CNN is quickly turning into CNNBC. No more objective coverage.
Jesus could have made a bigger impact on history if he had just gone back to the Roman Courts after he rose from the grave, and asked them to crucified him again..
Imagine the look on their faces..a walking dead man..and since he was dead already..he would have just hung around on the cross...
Imagine how many people would have come to hear him speak of peace then, a man that rose from the grave and could not die again..Just hanging around on the cross...
How long would they leave him up there,..before they would take him down....and changed their ways....
Just imagine if Jesus had just walked around town and visited the Jewish Temple and show the high Priest his scares....hmmm
Fantastic. Love the idea and the imagery.
I might have gotten the idea from the old Monty Python TV show...I remember one of guys sings on the cross.....
Correction Monty Python Life of Brian....they sing Always Look on the bright side....while Brian is hanging on the cross...
The video is on YouTube..Google It...
Apparently the hundreds of people who rose from the grave and wandered around town weren't enough to get the job done. Funny how the pastors skip over that part of the story.
"Even when Jesus famously told Peter to put down his sword..." Apparently, Peter was packing. The Boss apparently didn't have a problem with that.
Maybe you'd enjoy the teachings better if Jesus didn't restore the injured man's ear.
Martin Luther King Jr advocated concealed weapons, and had quite a few firearms himself. Tell me, pastor, how is pacifism working out for the world?
A LOT BETTER THAN GIVING A GUN A PSYCHO ...
DO YOU KNOW WHY KING HAD GUNS? BECAUSE HE KNEW SOMEONE WOULD ONE COME INTO HIS TO KILL HIM ,.. A WHITE GUY WITH A GUN
And yet he was assasinated.
BY THE WAY, TH WHITE WAS TO COWARD TO SHOT HIM LOOKING INTO HIS FACE SO HE DIE FROM FAR AWAY USING A RIFLE
BE PROUD WHITE AMERICA BE PROUD
I see... so everything that every white man did in the course of history speaks for every other white man? I guess that means you agree with everything every black guy did in the course of history as well? btw pbernasc, your grammar sucks.
Dr. Kng was a target of J Edgar Hoover and Bobbie Kennedy, he had reason to be paranoid.
Wanting reasonable restrictions on gun sales does not make one a pacifist by any means.
pbernasc, your post is ridiculous since MLK was a black preacher that believed in Jesus.
I wholeheartedly agree that the Christian values are completely at odds with being armed. Christianity was now founded by the forefathers, nor was Jesus our first president. Men of war are bad christians and there should be no shame in that. Embrace it.
Christians believe in God, and the Devil...Good and Evil....They read the Bible to study good...and carry a gun to protect themselves from Evil....
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.