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.
Would Jesus support gun rights?
He would say "Render unto Obama, that which is Obama's."...............
Concealed Carry Jesus. why not ?
Jesus on weapons: All who take the sword will perish by the sword
Jesus on victims of senseless violence or freak accidents: Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
Jesus on evildoers: For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes.
If Jesus had an assault rifle instead of a whip, we might have had our first temple shooting.
Isn't it time we dismiss the evangelicals as well?
The question that needs answering and fixing is this. And all you talk about guns miss. Any laws created and any limitations put forth only hurt the law abiding citizens, because they are the only ones that obey the law. Do you all think that all these laws affect the law breaking criminals? No they don't. You can ban guns completely and guess what! The criminals will still have them. Assault weapons and all! All you gun law happy people are ignorant to the fact that criminals will still have them and the laws you want put on the books and enforced will not touch all these criminals. When one of these criminals breaks into your house and takes you hostage with the use of their guns with hundred round clips and all you're allowed to have is a six shooter or ten, yea that's a fair fight! Yea you are adequately armed, you with your ten shooter and the criminal with his 100 round shooter. When the guns are completely taken away from the criminals then and only then will I vote to have my gun rights limited. Until this happens I will opposes any law that limits my rights to protect myself as I se fit. You all might like having the governmnet tell you how to live, control your lives, I don't like the government controling me any more than it should. I don't trust the government to look out for my best interest because it is corupted by self willed individuals who really don't care about you, they only care about their own pockets. So when I see that all the guns have been taken from the criminals then I will be open to this conveersation about gun laws.
the fundamental question is ; what kind of a society do we want to live in ?
do you want to live in an updated version of the Old West ? this is where the NRA is taking us.
NRA? This is happening on Obama's watch! I want a Bazooka to protect me from the Nazi Obama administration who's turning this nation into the Wild West. Gun sales didn't go up after the NRAs statements, they went up after Obama publically entertained the thought of more gun control.
1 Timothy 1:9
Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
The people that commit these crimes were law abiding citizens.
I would like to know if Santa carries a gun when he travels about. Also, the Easter Bunny must be nervous every time they enter a home unannounced. I understand that the Tooth Fairy has been warned by authorities not to enter homes in Red states.
Matthew 12:29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
Let's see here. After Darling and his ilk gets the Second Amendment struck, then what will We The People have to protect the First Amendment? You know, the Amendment that allows Darling to preach whatever he wants to.
REMEMBER: The Second Amendment protects all the rest.
Bingo! I want me some bazookas! Let's expand the 2nd amendment so we can actually defend ourselves against the assaults of the Obama administration!
why does this statement make so much sense?
Please don't ban me! Why are you racially profiling me just because a few of those like me were used in crimes? Do you realize how many there are like me out there that aren't used in crimes? Why, I bet you can't even define me in your blind racial bias. Go ahead, try to define how I differ from my cousins. I look more dangerous? You judge me on looks even though I don't operate any different than other guns? Shame on you gun racists!
It's because you're black, that's right. Moron.
Doofus Alert: Doofus spotted using the cliche spelling response to common typing errors on small smartphone screens because he thought he was the only one with the 4th grade education necessary to spell a word correctly. Be extremely cautious, as Doofuses that point out spelling errors have nothing to contribute to society and are, in fact, detrimental because they believe they are intelligent though they are not.
Effective immediatly, it is illegal for a U.S. citizen to own an assult rifle, becuase 1 out of 1,000,000 might use it to do harm. However, my administration will continue to sell assult rifles to Mexican drug gangs, where 1 out of 1 WILL use it to do harm...............but thats ok, because I said so. – Sincerely, Your President.
You know that's not true. The government does not sell weapons to drug cartels – well not since Reagan.
when pastor Darling says "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.", it sounds more like he is speaking for NRA than his mind
Should we ban Subways because two mentally unstable people have used them to kill people in NYC? According to your logic, yes. Or maybe people just need to be finger printed, have a background check, and pay for a license to be able to purchase a subway pass and use the subway. We also would need to put a 3 day waiting period on all Metro cards.
Connecticut has some of the strongest gun regulations in the Nation..........so use YOUR "mind" and ponder that one for a bit.
People drown in water every summer......maybe we need to start regulating the water. More people die in car accidents every single day, then those who die from assult weapons annually in the U.S. Why is the government issuing driver's licenses to bad drivers?............Why doesn't the government FIX this?!?!?!...............(sarcasm)
This is our problem. Everytime we are "outraged" over a news story, we suddenlt expect the government to step-in and fix a problem that the government is wholey inept at fixing! Meanwhile, practical issues that the government CAN fix (like Medicare, SS, taxes, wasteful spending, etc.) are kicked down the road and never get repaired.
Water, cars, etc. have other purposes and infrequently cause a death; the sole purpose of guns is to injure or kill. Huge difference.
the last subway incident was a hate crime, guns are here and they are not going anywhere, I support stricter gun control laws, ban all assault weapons, and sever punishment for the crimes committed with firearms, no insanity plea accepted, just hang them
The real question to ask is: Why do most Christians support gun rights? Most Christians are aware that governments have been the cause of more genocide and mass murder then any other organized body. Christians are also told in Revelations (last book of the Bible) that they will be persecuted in the end times. Most Christians assume this will happen at the hands of some form of government, be it our U.S. government or some other form in the future. Christians see God taken out of our schools, television, and daily life..........why WOULDN'T Christians support gun rights? Guns are the great equalizer in the world. Weapons, like the AR-15, empower the masses against oppressive governments. Governments have killed more people in hours (if not minutes), then all the "crazies" in the news, like the Sandyhook shooter, combined.
A historical fact: during the 1930s, the Nazis in Germany seized weapons from Jews (see: Regulations Against Jews' Possession of Weapons; November 11, 1938) ..........we all know how that turned out. We need to think very, very carefully about where we go from here. Many things begin with the "best intentions", but are later used for great evil.
It's Revelation. No "s."
"Weapons, like the AR-15, empower the masses against oppressive governments."
right, what society needs is more socially empowered "citizens" like this with AR-15s.
this is exactly the kind of mentality that makes people start talking about regulations.
Eddie: Thanks for correcting my spelling.......would like to point out though, when most folks dont have a good rebuttal against an argument, they resort to pointing out the mundane, like spelling errors, in an effor to belittle the writer.........
Have you been watching the news? Look what is happening in Syria. What chance do people have against F-15s and tanks? Arming them with assult rifles is about the only thing that prevents Assad's government from rolling right over any opposition. We are not Syria......but look at the historical record. Today we are not, tomorrow we COULD be. What is wrong with reasonable and intelligent folks posessing weapons? (99.9% of lawful gun owners do not use their guns to go shoot people up 'cause....)
Syria is a valid point but changes the context entirely.
we are talking about a country, the USA, which long ago evolved out of the primordial swamp
but is now threatening to fall back in.... and the gun crowd is apparently oblivious or considers it inevitable.
the proliferation of guns is a self-fueling disease ( not unlike cancer ). the more people buy guns, the more the rest of us buy guns to protect ourselves against those already armed. it's a lose-lose scenario except for the gun manufacturers who play both sides of the fence. the end result is a very sad sick society armed to the teeth. time to revisit the sacred cow of the 2nd amendment. i for one would have no problem at all with it being repealed. good riddance even, considering what it has brought so far.
That's not the case at all. The more people who legally buy guns, the less need there is for us to own one personally. We don't buy guns because we're scared of everyone else having them. The only people we're scared of are the criminals with the illegal guns, and their numbers are not affected by the number of legal guns being bought and sold.
Well, good luck to you, then, when our country devolves into civil war. It sure seems closer than ever given the hostile atmosphere that Obama, Reid, and Pelosi have intentionally created. You're either for them, or you're against them. At least Bush was talking about geopolitical foes when he said it. They've alienated half the country.
I also love how these gun control idiots don't seem to notice that every time they start harping on the issue, gun sales skyrocket! They're causing the very thing they say they want to prevent! Blind morons.
Your argument is completely wrong! 2 points: 1. Without a gun, how would a small woman defend herself from a predator? 2. If every single person in the U.S. carried a sidearm.........you would be more polite would you not?!?
Just where the hell do you think criminals get their guns from? Thieves enter a gun owners home and steal them!
And Bush alienated the other half, alsong with a goodly portion of the world. That's probably why him and Cheney have international arrest warrants out for their arrest for war crimes, and they can't leave the US.
The days of the wild west, I thought were over and cowboys and indians shooting at each other were in the history books! Now it's good-guys vs bad guys! Paranoidal freaks of weaponry mongers wanting to promote gun sales and make the arm's dealers ever more money! Like they aren't rich enough already!
False assumption. The more we git rid of guns, the more criminals use them to attack the innocent, law-abiding folks. Look at Chicago – still has a gun ban for the most part, yet killings are happening all over, and not by LEGAL gun owners. They are happening by THUGS who break the gun laws IN ADDITION to others. I know, hard for you to understand, but CRIMINALS will not obey the gun laws either.
Tom, you're predicting civil war? Ahahhhahhhahha!
As Bugs Bunny says: What a maroon!
No individuals who live in civil societies require weapons designed to hunt and kill other human beings...even if the target is a Christian evangelical (but then again). I have an American made hand gun for protection within the boundary of my property, and neighbors own shot guns, and other "hunting" rifles in the Black Hills of S. Dakota (it's that state under North Dakota) where deer don't wear gang colors so there is no confusion of species and their affiliations to under ground criminal syndicates posted by militant wildlife. No machine guns, bazookas, grenades, RPG's, or other weapons of war.
If we were at battle in the streets of the USA by foreign military forces, the rules change, but this is not the case.
Seriously!?!?! When was the last time your saw somebody shooting an RPG or bazooka anywhere?! Get real.......
Hey, if liberals can sneak pot in under medicinal medicine, why can't we use hunting and target practice to pull in bazookas and rocket launchers? Man, I'd love to take one of those to the gun range!
Tom, please research the benefits that medicinal marijuana provides. Do you think that the medicinal cards are held soley by people with a (D) on their voting card? Really?
Medicinal mj is a ruse! No doctor in their right mind has a patient smoke any other medication. Turn it into a real medicine with apprpriate warning labels and not have medicine called mindnumbing color swirl. Gotta hand it to pothead liberals, though. It worked. Time for conservatives to get sneaky like that.
If the level of discourse here is any indication, you morons couldn't sneak a piece of cheese past a dead cat.
Anybody find the part in the Bible where the jewish egyptian slave mamas were screaming for birth control?
You are completely odious, and do nothing to further the Christian cause. You really need to shut up.
Wow, someone of faith who is capable of wielding well his God given powers of reason.
Since there was some mix up the last few days (more than usual), Please view an actual official picure of me, Apple Bush. Plus I am on Word Press now. As for the subject at hand, guns were invented as an as accident and it is an evil shame. The world would be a better place without guns.
Meet Apple Bush:
OMG, it was exactly as I pictured you!!
good to see you back AB, like a fresh apple, the world could have been a better place without guns indeed, but since they are already here, how do we make the world a better place to live with guns?
MAD, A scientific study of non-vioient cultures wold b a good start. Or we can all move. I am lieaning on that. Really.
This thing about arming the population is ridiculous and really is just magical thinking. Any skilled gunman with a semi-automatic could pump bullets into at least 5 people before an armed citizen could get their gun out and aim. By that time, there will be chaos with some people running for it that an armed citizen will probably hesitate so as to not kill an innocent child. But the gunman will not hesitate. Arming citizens will not make much difference because the damage will have already been done by the gunman/gunmen. It's called the element of surprise and you'd be surprised how much of an advantage that is.
Besides, arming citizens leads to more death than protection and doesn't solve the problem that there is an insane gunman out shooting. Look at the example of the Black Friday deaths where two guys shot each other to death at point blank range over some stupid merchandise. I've heard more stories like this than stories where an armed citizen saved the day by killing the gunman before he could get a shot out.
The element of surprise is used by the sociopath/psychopath. That's how they continue to buffalo all others.
@Jeff: Yes, and because of this element of surprise, arming citizens will not do anything to solve the problem that there is a crazed gunman out there in the first place. Guns only make citizens FEEL safer – they are totally not safer. Like those bullet-proof backpacks. Those only make parents feel safer. In a tightly contained environment like a schoolbus, how many children will have time to raise their backpacks on top of their heads to protect themselves. And of course assuming that all children are wearing their backpacks on their fronts. I'd rather see society try to PREVENT disaster rather than manage it after it's already happening. It's like cancer. Wouldn't we want to prevent it rather than try to cure it once it's already taken hold?
Some crazy, deranged person could also push multiple people off the subway platform before someone could stop them. Should we ban subway travel?
Did I miss the story about someone pushing 27 people onto a subway track? All at the same time?
Well, Tom, it's two and counting now.
Were any of them kindergartners, you fvckwit?
I guess not, because you appear to have survived the incident.
So, Tom, you really are 12. No one else would think that the deaths of children was funny.
All the Wild West Gunfighter movies I've ever seen, the guy who fired second (using a gun as defense) got shot dead. And all the weapons were legal. I wonder if the NRA ever saw those?
tony, those wild west movies explain the lawful versus the lawless.
Tony, you do realise that was Hollywood, right? Real gun violence occurs in real life. It's different.
This is a case of Hollywood actually getting it right. I'm still trying to figure out how the second dending shooter (or anyone) defends against a bullet already fired.
And remember all guns were legal when manufactured. So the idea that only criminals have guns, if guns are banned, kinda a falls apart, since all the illegal weapons had to come from legal owners, (who didn't defend themselves?) somehow.
Since there's too much chaos and uneducated rhetoric as well as piles a assumptions bordering on lying, I personally can only assume the author truly has no intellectual understanding of the issue or issues surrounding gun control and has resorted to expressing a disconnected opinion without facts. That said, whatever you read here in the article isn't even legitimate enough to warrant guessing on a percentage of people that feel the same way.
considering the author is an evangelical preacher – it's not at all beyond reason to conclude that he's ignorant and delusional.
of course his rhetoric is useless and based on trash.
Right on. ANVIL shut up.
oh – i seem to have hit a nerve in one of the tourists...
truth hurts – eh bbeenn??
Even when the guns are in the hands of supposedly upstanding citizens:
"Mistaken identlty shootings – 5-7-2012
The story of a West Philadelphia teenager who was killed in a case of mistaken identlty last week has prompted this search of similar news reports. A woman in Washington was killed by a gunman who mistook her car for another. A Michigan mother is seeking answers in the mistaken identlty shooting of her 18-year-old son in 2009. A man and his two sons were killed when mistaken as gang members in San Francisco in 2008. A New Jersey man has plead to reduced charges after two mistaken-identlty shootings. Police are looking into mistaken identlty as a motive in the shooting death of an Army veteran outside of Los Angeles. A man was killed in a case of mistaken identlty on a California interstate in 2010. A woman was shot to death in a mistaken identlty case last summer in Kansas. A Georgia man survived after he was shot six times in a case of mistaken identlty last year. A man was murdered and his son wounded in a mistaken identlty shooting in Texas. A California man says police shot at him but were seeking his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend." – guncrisis.org/2012/05/07/mistaken-ident i ty-shootings
Mistaken shootings are simply bull malarky. People pull the trigger on accident or mistake because they are either too inept to own a weapon, OR they are simply murderers using the terms to get out of being punished for the crime. It's not difficult to weed out the people who shouldn't have guns. For example, anyone super excited about carrying around a gun just for the sake of carrying around a gun (because it enhances their ego and you losers know who you are), should NEVER EVER own a gun.
Where are the "upstanding citizens' doing the shooting in your examples, other than the the last one?
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.