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.
In many countries, the gov't is corrupt even in america, a citizen must take the law into their hands. a gun gives the power into their hands. there is no police to protect citizens rights. the gun keeps everyone honest.
In what countries guns keep everyone honest? In what countries people are rising against government, except Syria? You do understand that you are talking about civil war? If US government would somehow, magically, turn to tyranny over night they would be using tanks, fighters and helicopters.
Funny how our rights are being systematically taken away by people with guns who can kill anyone and get away with it.
Strange how none of those people are acting in anyone's interest but their own despite swearing oaths to do otherwise.
Odd how the SCOTUS has ruled that law enforcement has no duty to enforce the law.
I guess having guns doesn't mean squat when the rich can do whatever they want. Criminals run this country. Criminals no one ever elected. Criminals who will never run for office control every vote in Congress. Bribes are now considered "free speech" instead of being considered a crime.
Insane greed causes these people to force laws to be written that let them commit any crime they want in the name of "free market" "free enterprise" which just means "no laws to stop them" and they've been doing it for decades.
how can a populace overthrow and tyrannical gov't without guns are protest when gov't takes their freedoms and rights away with legisliation?
So, you are set and ready to fight our tyrannical government with guns... what are you going to do, shoot a congressman?
it's every american duty to overthrow the gov't if the gov't becomes tyrannical and corrupt..yeah it means shooting. or war. since you wussies are too scared about guns....and protest about the army yet want freedoms...how do you think your freedoms are protected. the ultimate power isn't in politicians or in police it's in the people.
the country prior to hitler or nazi was free country and then came the nazis and his police started arresting and killing it's own citizens same with many monarchs..some new gov't takes over and start shooting and killing it's own citizens like syria..now how do you defend or overthrow and tyrannical gov't without guns. you'll be arrested by the police state and killed.
It takes people with guts to fight corruption. Virtually nobody has it within the Beltway. Obama is a weenie about corruption along with most everyone else in DC.
Ethics? Every ethics committee has been gutted. Nothing is done to stop corruption no matter how blatant or disgusting or damaging to America.
Nothing is done by those with the power to actually do something. They are worthless, slaves to greed, servants of evil people. Virtually no one who has sworn an oath to protect the Const.tution does a damn thing.
This is because our government has been infiltrated by traitors. They now control the whole government.
We are Syria without the bombs. Iran without the Ayatollah. We were taken over by traitors decades ago.
Every year we lose a little more, like a frog in a pan of boiling water. Our votes mean nothing.
the right for the citizen to bear arms gives the citizen real 'power'.....politicians don't have any power. the power is in the citizens. and a gun is 'real' power. how can a populace overthrow a corrupt or tyrannical militant corrupt with guns? Just look at the corruption of police and mlitary in 'democratic' countries. look at mexico, it's police and gov't is corrupt and the citizens are powerless and criminals have more guns than police yet guns are banned. in peace you don't need guns...but guns for defense and about power who has the real power...citizens army and citizens police force.
there was a time, when everybody had to 10% of their income to the church. the church had more power than the gov't or state.
freedom. if let these religious freaks dictate laws,,,americans would back to the middle ages and dark ages. before the separation of church and state...and individual freedom. don't need gov't.
anti-gun nuts think right to bear arms means the right to use guns for hunting. that is how ignorant a person becomes with brainwashed ideology. the right to defend oneself is the reason their is right to bear arms and don't need to relyon gov't-that is freedom american's seem to forget and main difference america and many military states and dictatorship gov't in many countries. The right to bear arms earned with blood and tears. only americans is the average citizen has the right to bear arms. In many countries it's illegal because the populace would be too powerful and overthrow their tryannical and military dictatorship gov't.
We already have an assault weapons ban since the thirties. The semi automatic weapons that have a few cosmetics added on to them are not assault weapons. Chicago has the harshest weapons ban with more illegal guns on the street being used by gangs murdering more people everyday. Laws are for law abiding citizens. It is not the law abiding citizen who are killers. The criminals will get their guns illegally. There is supposed to be a separation of church and state for a reason. These evangelical preachers need to keep their opinions in their churches and out of the government. The ten commandments already cover, "Thou shalt not Kill". Criminals care nothing for laws or boundaries of any kind. Another gun law won't change a thing.
As long as you feel the same way about Evangelical who anti-abortionist, we're all good.
Y kant Jonny Evolv?...
Every police officer knows that criminal acts could happen iff these three factors exists: criminal mind, means to perform it and an opportunity.
By similar observation, killing actions need three factors to exist: murderer mind, means to perform it and the opportunity!
Atheists believe that murderer could not be changed; it is the business of God (which they don't believe in).
Opportunity is always there!
The rest is controllable: the weapons. So control the weapons tightly, America!
Where had gone the Wisdom, my evangelical brothers?
Many things can be used as a weapon, including words and ideas. Be very careful what you wish for!
This article did nothing to move the gun-control debate forrward in the least–too many contradictions. I like the comparison of security checks at the airport. Idiotic precautions that serve no purpose other than making the public feel better about themselves are the reason we still have tto take our shoes off at security. The one failed 'shoe bomber' served his purpose. His unsuccessful attempt affected travelers to this day. The same will happen, and has happened, with gun control. Mind you I am not advocating unrestricted access to guns. I am all for reasonable background checks and believe we can close the gunshow loophole to require background checks there as well. That along with reasonable restrictions only makes sense. However, to ban so-called 'military assault weapons' is an emotional response. Number one, AR-15s are semi-automatic just like handguns (fully automatic weapons are already illegal and should remain so). Perhaps more importantly, assault rifles have been banned before with absolutely no effect on violent crime. Finally, people seem to gain a false sense of security when, in the wake of tragedy, something is banned. Some law is passed and the politicians pat themselves on the back and people feel like they actually did something to keep the public safe. The sad fact is that madmen will find a way to carry out acts of terror regardless of what laws are on the books. To disarm those who may stop these madmen is counter productive. Believe it or not, criminals don't pay attention to the 'gun-free zone' signs.
So, what do we do to fix the problem of our babies getting murdered in our places of learning.
God doesn't merely 'allow suffering', He ordained it along with death, so that some of us would seek his help. It's all summed up in his curse, namely futility and corruption. Meaninglessness and decay are the essence of human frustration.
'For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the Creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.'
It's quite insane but incredibly interesting what you people will delude yourselves into believing from a book of bronze age bedtime stories.
If commodities shortages persist, we'll all be going back to the good old Age of Bronze. Brace yourself :)
All this becomes absurdly simpler once you realize there is no god.
Is morality an imperative?
Good try, but Mr. Darling fails to understand what narrow thinkers evangelicals are. They deliberately constrict their thinking, to the point of self-delusion. They just want to believe they are right about whatever they believe, even if it is false. In my 50 years of life, I have never seen a movement that has been a more destructive force in America and thinks it is morally superior to others. I do not think they are capable of self-examination on the level you recommend. This article states that there is a 92% to 8% ratio of pro/anti-gun sentiment...that shows their belief system is biasing their political views of a weapon that didn't exist during the time of Jesus. To me this is evidence that Evangelicals cannot see how flawed many of their views are.
Narrow thinkers? Guilty as charged.
Mt 7:14 Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Pr 14:12 ¶ There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Are you talking about evangelicals or liberals?
So if it didn't exist during the time of Jesus then evangelicals, or any other religious scholar, doesn't have the right to state their opinion on it? Well that takes away more than 90% of modern life and about all they can comment on is unleavened bread and well-water.
Let's just be clear about this: Evangelical Christians aren't very smart. That's all there is to it. Of course they think Jesus wants them to have guns. Evangelicals think killing unborn fetuses is a sin but killing adults by lethal injection is righteous.
Poor Mr. Darling doesn't seem to understand that logic cannot be applied to Evangelicals. If 99.9% of scientists can't convince Evangelicals that evolution is real, then how can one guy in Chicago convince a country full of low-IQ "Christians" to give up their guns?
Yeah, pretty much agree with that.
That pretty well sums up my thoughts as well.
a. You said we weren't very smart, then you claim we think. Which is it?
b. Christians say abortion is murder and capital punishment is okay? That's what The Bible says. So you're an evangelical?
I'm a Nuclear Engineering student, what do you do?
Holy Man–just another anti-religious guy who makes himself feel better by bringing other people down. Kind of sad, really.
Typical liberal. He responds to someone that calls evangelicals stupid because they don't believe in the fairy tale of evolution then announces he's a student smarter than 99% of mankind while calling others delusional. The depraved mind is subject to all kinds of deception. I believe an educated idiot is more dangerous than any gun made.
Assault weapon.....just another idiot talking. How can so many people know absolutely nothing of what they are talking about.
jetfuel4, forgive me but I am ignorant. Can ou explain you post?
People please read this first....and maybe think a little...
What do you think sn AK-15 IS? A nerf gun?
yeah, what an idiot for not being an expert of weaponry! Man, where I'm from in the sticks everyone grows up with a gun in their cradle. We're all experts, unlike them city folk!
Nance, that is AR-15.
I'm a jr national rifle champion, 7yr Marine Sniper with 3 tours of combat, and a tactical weapons intructor for LEO's. Ya, I know a little about weapons.
Whatever, but do you really need it?
Simple answer....yes. It is a weapon and only a weapon, no magic, no mystery.
Nance, do you really want to get into whether one really needs something as the basis for owning something? Who gets to determine Need, the Govt? I certainly don't want that. Does anyone really need a 4000sqft house, a $35,000.00 car, a boat, a rolex, etc. etc.? I shot an AR-15 for the first time a couple of days ago (been hunting for 50yrs now). A real blast!! Great fun to shoot and seems likely to be pretty effective against feral hogs which are a real plague in these parts, damaging crops, pastures, water holes, fences, ad nauseum. Had never considered owning an AR, but now that it might soon be too late, am considering picking one up. Do I need one, well, maybe not, but dang fun to shoot and now kinda want one.
I'll give you the benefit of the doubt when you say "AK-15", but you clearly don't know what an assault weapon is. You are a pawn of the anti-gun movement that has convinced ignorant people everywhere that "assault weapons" are for sale in the U.S. An assault weapon can fire dozens of bullets with one pull of the trigger. The ATF and Treasury department have ensured, since 1932, that Assault Weapons have been essentially illegal. The weapons being discussed here merely look like military weapons, and are incapable of automatic fire. However the anti-gun movement has deceived people like you for their own purposes. You should be upset that Feinstein and Brady have used you like a patsy. Learn the facts first, then engage in the debate. If you do it the other way around, you end up saying stupid things like "AK-15"
The only people who should have assault weapons that are automatic or semi-automatic are military and police... No one else, especially not internet thugs... You can buy all the Sig Sauers you'd like... It's not gonna stop my RPG...
I'm trying to recall a tale from scripture where Jesus stood idly by and let some maniac, possessed or otherwise, proceed to murder children or anyone else.
He did it his whole life. It happened all around him all the time. He didn't do a damn thing about it, either.
The supposed Herod's massacre of the innocents. Jesus was a bit young at the time, but his all-powerful "Father" stood idly by.
When asked about a massacre, headline of the day, Jesus said 'those people were no worse than you, repent or you will all perish just like them'
Jesus was indifferent to death, yet compassionate towards suffering and exasperated towards unbelief.
"Jesus was... exasperated towards unbelief."
He wasn't too smart nor powerful then... or he could have/would have done a better job of providing evidence.
Faith is a gift of knowing without seeing, pre-evidence. Faith by definition is not contingent upon 'evidence'.
A comparable concept in science would be 'strongly held hypothesis'
No, faith is nothing like any hypothesis. The hypothesis exist so that it can be proved wrong or maybe proved right. Faith is "knowing" without any evidence and discounts any evidence that does not line up with the faith. The terms are COMPLETELY different. Your post was just silly.
The undeniable proof of God's full presence will come, upon your physical demise. You will get the evidence that you demand, whether you acknowledge it or not in temporal life.
I wish I could remember who originated this definition, but . . .
Faith is pretending to know something you don't.
know it all lefties....."Rom 10:17 So then faith [cometh ] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE.
Pity god allows so many miscarriages then. He must be the World's greatest abortionist.
Like obama is the worlds greatest gun salesman
And over 70% of abortions in the USA are had by believers. . .
These left versus right arguments crack me up.
The right thinks prohibition works for drugs but will not work for guns. The left will argue until they are blue in the face that prohibition does not work for drugs, but will work for guns (or more specifically 'assault weapons').
Prohibition did not work for alcohol, it has not worked for drugs, and it will not work guns. Just like alcohol and drugs an assault weapon ban will turn law abiding citizens into criminals. We saw this with alcohol and continue to see it with drugs. We will see it again when responsible gun owners choose not to report their ownership of their assault weapons (in Feinstein's proposal). The previous current bans empowered the "bad guys" like the cartels and the mobsters. The same thing will happen if we ban assault weapons. There will be big money in smuggling these illegal guns and the sales of these weapons will be almost exclusively to people who wish to commit crimes.
What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Eve was the first leftist.
So everything should be legal?
How about we make pot and non-assault guns legal, but keep meth and machine guns illegal?
The war on drugs was not a total failure. While I believe pot (not synthetic one) should be legalized, certain drugs, such as crystal meth and crack cocaine, should stay illegal. On the gun control issue. I believed that there should be stricter gun laws. I do not believe in a total ban on semi-automatic weapons but I do not want guns to be in the hands of the mentally unstable.
There are no factories making and selling illegal guns. All the guns the criminals have that scare the NRA members so much, started out as legal weapons.
The undeniable proof of God's full presence will come, upon your physical demise. You will get the evidence that you demand, whether you acknowledge it or not in temporal life.
Is the only way we'll ever see god is to die? Then what good is he?
'In Him was life'
God is the giver of life temporal and life eternal. He is God of the living not the dead.
Evolution is in fact the god of the dead and dying.
Who decides who is a trustworthy citizen Comrade pastor? You or the government? BTW, your faiths battle against "evil" has been an abysmal failure. I'll take my chance with a well armed populace.
Yup. The Palestinians have been really successful at getting their country back by having an armed militia.
The reason people want to arm themselves is to protect themselves from nut-jobs like the one in Sandy Hook. You don't feel like protecting your kid then thats your problem. You want someone else to be responsible for your kid then it is your problem. Yes people who own guns are paranoid because there are mad people like the one in Sandy Hook.
Since you clearly don't know what you're talking about, I will just stick my tongue out at you and waggle my fingers to taunt you.
Continue with your idiotic ranting and I will taunt you a second time.
The second amendment...and I'm just guessing here, was written during a time of wilderness and frontier forging. Weapons were a necessity. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it was not written so that every nut with an IQ to match his shoe size could obtain an automatic weapon. As for "protecting" your kids, how many kids die in gun accidents every year? I can think of at least two in the national news in the past few weeks. For those parents, I hope it was worth having your precious weapon. Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD. I had to pass more tests and evaluations to work with money than the average Joe does to obtain a lethal weapon. Makes sense.
The good guys are the ones that only shoot back if shot at first. But in all the" Western" and most "real" gun fights, the first to shoot wins. Back then it was called being quicker on the draw. Now it's called being a bad guy.
Not getting the obvious is why the NRA and their supporters are total morons.
Most would not have noticed since there wasn't a high enough body count for the media to awe over, but there were two brutal public slaying this past week that were stopped by responsible gunowners. The San Antonio theater would have been another massacre on scale with Holmes' killings. But thankfully, this time a theater-goer was armed and proved that guns are a legitimate lifesaver.
@A, please explain to me which automatic weapons are readily available for sale in the U.S? Could it be that you don't actually know the facts surrounding the issue? Then again, I can't blame you, since the media rarely pauses to explain the difference between automatic weapons and the not-automatic weapons Americans can legally buy, and the anti-gun lobby actively tries to confuse the issue so that soccer moms think an AR-15 is the same as an M-16. The NRA does not advocate for fully-automatic weapons, despite what Feinstein tells you. You've been hoodwinked!
People do not need to arm themselves with rifles that can use 30-round magazines in order to defend themselves. Gun control does not mean elimination. It means using rational thought when it comes to second amendment policy. It is unfortunate that the NRA has lost touch with the meaning of the word "rational".
Those authorized to enforce the law (military, police, secret service, security guards, etc.) should have guns of whatever caliber necessary to do their job.
Hunter's at best ought to be the real sportsman they would claim to be and hunt if not with a bow and arrow, at best, a single shot rifle. Let's be honest. Any idiot can down a buck, rhino or whatever with a ouzzi or similar type weapon. I suspect there are very few "sportsman" in this country kill for food to survive. Perhaps, the hunter shoud be content with using a tranquilizer rifle to down the hunted animal, get their picture taken as having conquered their prey, let the animal recover and both go on their way. Anglers do it all the time; catch, proudly display the catch then release to catch another day.
Those who feel the need to arm themselves to defend against the "Ruskies are coming" should either join our military and move somewhere they would feel safer. That's got to be the most incredibly stupid excuse to own a weapon; paranoid hardly begins to describe those individuals.
Arm all our teachers? What a thought! Do I then have to arm my child so he/she can defend themselves against a some whacko teacher who loses it because my child won't stop talking during class?
We're going nuts in this country over this notion the the second amendment now 200+ years after it was written at a time we needed able bodied persons armed to to deal with "the British are coming".
Only in America!!!
2nd ammendment has nothing to do with hunting. So stop with the hunting-liberal nonsense.
A bottle of Ouzo can be used as a deadly weapon. FACT.
Birdie, catch and release deer? How about flyin' to any auto body shop and ask em where half their business comes. Deer vehicle collisions! BTW, you like starving deer?
lol??, do you really need an AK-15 to shoot a starving deer? Moron.
Nance, again, no such thing as an AK 15, I believe that one should know a bit more about a subject before expounding.
Flamingo, where do I start? Clearly you know nothing about hunting, wildlife management, or "tranquilizer guns" or tranquilizers. Shooting is not as simple as many seem to believe. Marksmanship takes practice and some innate ability. Uzzis shoot pistol ammunition and are not appropriate hunting weapons and I certainly wouldn't wish to go up against a rhino with one (likely to make him very angry). As to your take on the second amendment, I would suggest you do a bit more research. Justice Antonin Scalia (you've heard of him, he is on the supreme court) appears to hold with the folks that believe that one of the concerns that the founders had was that the citizenry might at some point need to be able to protect themselves from the government itself. You will probably argue that armed citizens have no chance against the organized military, but look at what is happening in Syria, and other nations where the citizens are throwing off oppressive regimes. That isn't the case in the US at this time, but the founders had reason to fear tyranny.
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.