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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 • Guns

soundoff (2,819 Responses)
  1. Common Sense

    Okay, so ban the civilian .223 semi-automatic rifles that look like fully automatic death flinging assault weapons. I don't really care. I prefer my 12 gauge shotgun that fires 15 .33 caliber projectiles EVERYTIME I pull the trigger. With two rounds I can put the equivalent of a full clip of "assault rifle" fire in the air.

    PLEASE EDUCATE YOURSELVES on firearms! And stop being media's sheeple....

    December 29, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • Leif

      Wow, good for you. You must be proud.

      December 29, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • rdeleys

      Wow! I guess that shotgun must make you a real man!

      December 29, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • Common Sense

      Ignorance is bliss....

      December 29, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • Leif

      Then you must be in Nirvana.

      December 29, 2012 at 7:54 am |
  2. Colin

    The problem with evangelicals is they view every issue through the prism of their religious superst.itions. They thus deny the obviuous like evolution and global warming.

    While not all evangelicals are stupid or ignorant of science and natural history, virtually all people who want to make public policy and who are very ignorant of science and natural history identify as evangelicals. Just like very few Muslims are terrorists but virtually all terrorists are Muslims.

    December 29, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • rdeleys

      Absolutely right!

      December 29, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • The Truth

      "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV

      December 29, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • toddrlockwood

      Such a clear and concise explanation!

      Since "virtually all terrorists are Muslims," how exactly do we categorize Timothy McVeigh?

      December 29, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • JJ

      Psalm 137:9 – Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

      December 29, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • Colin

      toddlockwood – did you miss the word "virtually"?

      December 29, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  3. bigfoot

    well said, I have not understood why main stream Republicans platform is against abortion but in favor of gun which are for all practical porposes are designed for killing. The New Testiment Christians in this group should be putting their trust in their God not weapons as demostrated by Jesus in his life.

    December 29, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • Common Sense

      Do you really want to compare over a million dead babies a year to firearm deaths in America? Really??

      December 29, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • horrified

      The 2nd Amendment isn't followed close enough. The organized militia = civilians need to own all weapons the government does!! And when a deranged person gets his hands on nuclear, then at least some of those super-powerful, super-selfsufficient, super manly boys and gals who collect bushmasters will get to feel the way those 6 years olds and their teachers have felt.

      December 29, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Well only a fundiot considers abortion "baby killing". Do you think 1,000,000 extra people per year are missing from the planet because of it? You do realize that women who were asked how many kids they would like to have went on to bear just that many children regardless of whether they had an abortion or not? So if abortion has a net zero effect on population then where are all these dead children you keep freaking out about? Every one of a woman's 400 eggs and all the millions of a man's sperm have the potential to create a child but you're not foaming at the mouth to protect those? Hypocrite much?

      December 29, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  4. Common Sense

    Most anti-"assault Rifle" evangelists are converted on the spot when they actually fire one at a target range. It is so sad that people don't go outside and have a life anymore...

    December 29, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • Jack Dawson

      Gotta love it. A Chicago area preacher with an agenda justifying it with his religious slant. This piece hits CNN because it echoes all the Feinsteinist claptrap that urban liberals love. Clearly the guy does not understand what SCOTUS ruled about the second amendment, nor does he get the concept of rights that are "endowed by their Creator" that go back to the core values of our Republic.

      BTW – does anyone else get tired of the pics used to head the gun control articles? Not particularly subtle or neutral, are they?

      December 29, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  5. TOMG

    DOG EAT CAT AND CAT EAT DOG WORLD FULL OF KARMA IN OUR DAILY DOG LIFESTYLE WAY OF HELL LIFE , AMEN .

    December 29, 2012 at 7:39 am |
  6. Andrew

    What about all the left handed white evalgelicals! !?? Are they being heard!?

    December 29, 2012 at 7:39 am |
  7. TOMG

    MOST OF US TENTED TO TURNING OUR BACK AWAY FROM GOD AND THAT WAHT THOSE KIND OF DEVIL KARMA ARE LIKE THE DAILY LIFE , AMEN

    December 29, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • rosethornne

      Stop shouting and turn on your spellchecker.
      And take your meds, you are incoherent.

      December 29, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  8. EagleInGA

    The flaw of this article is the mistaken belief that guns are the problem. There is no Christian argument against guns, only one man's opinion. As a Christian gun owner I think this man's opinion is foolish (as I am sure many think mine). Just another bleeding heart without a clue.

    December 29, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Your opinion is foolish

      December 29, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • Leif

      There are a lot of pseudo-Christians in this country, and they say things that sound much like what you are saying.

      December 29, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • Lsteel

      What is the Christian argument FOR guns?

      December 29, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • glock4k

      hey "Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear " do you make any other post other than your "post is foolish'? Your post doesn't have any facts and it seems biased and based on your opinion.

      December 29, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  9. Frank

    Obama comes on national TV and say "The MAJORITY of Americans" want more gun control.

    And no one says a word about that ridiculous statement. Just how in the he11 did he come to that conclusion? How many millions of dollars and thousands of people did it take during the census count a few years ago just to find out who lives in the country. And KING OBAMA comes out on national television telling us the MAJORITY of Americans want GUN CONTROL!

    Where did he find that out? How did he find out what the OPINION of 310 million people is "OVERNIGHT"?

    December 29, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • rdeleys

      I guess you don't understand how polls work. I guess I'm not surprised either. You don't seem to understand much of anything.

      December 29, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • Rose

      And please do tell when he said this. What I remember what was said was, the polls said 64% was for gun control. I would to see him saying this from his mouth, because I do not believe you.

      December 29, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • glock4k

      Of course. This is why the mag companys have sold more mags in 3 days currently than than they have in 4 years. It's also the reason why there are no AR's to be purchased anywhere! Because the majority of the people want gun control. I think the "jajority" of the people have spoken for themselves on this one.

      December 29, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  10. Jokesterer

    Another clown claiming to speak for God. Why doesn't God speak for himself for once? Omnisilent.

    December 29, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Leif

      Where does he claim that?

      December 29, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • Jokesterer

      "There are many things about which Christians should be unyielding; the right to own a killing machine should not be one of them."
      Don't you think God should tell us what Christians should have and shouldn't have?

      December 29, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • Leif

      So, you are saying that God does or should speak directly to some? If God speaks to me, I will voluntarily commit myself.

      December 29, 2012 at 8:00 am |
    • Leif

      Your quote, by the way, makes no claim with regard to communication with God. The author at no point makes such a claim.

      December 29, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • Jokesterer

      That's just it. He doesn't have any direct communication with God but yet he claims to know what God thinks.

      December 29, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • Leif

      Again, I don't see any statement to that effect in this story. You continue to put words in his mouth.

      December 29, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • Jokesterer

      You continue to be obtuse.

      December 29, 2012 at 8:23 am |
  11. Melanie Bush

    Why is this the lead story? An opinion about gun control?

    December 29, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Leif

      Because of recent events. Perhaps you didn't hear about the massacre of 26 people in Connecticut. It is time for Christians to stand up for what their faith represents.

      December 29, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • Melanie Bush

      Are you joking? Why does anyone care about what one evangelical preacher thinks about gun control? Is there really no other news out there that is more important than this?

      December 29, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Leif

      In my opinion, there is no story out there more important than what happened in Connecticut. We should not brush it under the rug, so to speak. If you don't like to spend your valuable time on a moral issue of this magnitude, then you are free to spend it playing a game of tiddlywinks.

      December 29, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • glock4k

      The prius kills 21 people due to recalls and in sandy 26 people die. Where is the prius ban? Why is the prius issue not as important as the sandy issue?

      December 29, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • ladyofthelake

      Sorry Melanie. I have grandchildren in school. I think gun control is a vital issue now because there will be more school shootings and, as far as I am concerned, no one else should have to put a little kid in the ground because our leaders will not stand up to the NRA. Also – I am a teacher and I do not remember having to think about getting murdered while protecting my students when I signed on to teach. So I thing gun control should be a number one topic.

      December 29, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • Melanie Bush

      There are way more important things going on everywhere than what some person's who I have never heard of opinion about gun control. You all act like no one ever got shot before these school kids got shot. Honestly, I have to wonder if it would have been as much news if it had happened somewhere else. This is just not the story. It certainly not headline news.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I call Poe on Melanie.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Saraswati

      Melanie, the story isn't the shooting, but changing and strengthening oppinions about gun control. Whatever side your on, this will have a big impact on our society and be in the news for a long time to come. News isn't just about how many people got killed today.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  12. Bill Stapp

    Minor thoughts on violence in America: Remember when every classroom posted the 10 Commandments in the front of the room? Every day, students would see, "Thou shalt not kill."

    Our nation.. our culture.. removed that message... and did not replace it with anything of equal value.

    Advertising pays. Otherwise companies would not do it.

    Start advertising in classrooms again. If the 10 Commandments are out, then install some new messages in every classroom.

    And one of those messages should be, "Don't kill."

    December 29, 2012 at 7:36 am |
  13. TOMG

    I LOVE HAMBURGER AND I LOVE HOTDOG AND I LOVE PIZZA , AMEN

    December 29, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • Wired3k

      Heart disease is the number one cause of death.
      http://www.businessinsider.com/leading-causes-of-death-from-1900-2010-2012-6?op=1

      Where is the ban on hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza?

      December 29, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  14. Common Sense

    Dear brainwashed liberal automatons. Please educate yourself about firearms! The "assault rifles" that liberal media is hounding on are fully automatic weapons that are ALREADY illegal to own int he US, unless you have a federal class 3 firearms weapon! A true assault weapon was NEVER used in a school shooting. Only the civilian sports rifle that LOOKS like an assault rifle. These guns are used for hunting all across the US.

    December 29, 2012 at 7:36 am |
  15. dmacker

    Stick to your day job of preaching and collecting God's dues from a willing sheep.
    Stop trying to preach the "Chicago Political Machine" belief that I don't want a gun and I don't want anybody else to have one.
    How has that worked for you in Chicago so far?
    You have some of the strictest gun laws and one of the highest murder rates in the country.
    Why do you keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results?
    Gun control hasn't worked for Chicago and it will not work for the Country.

    December 29, 2012 at 7:36 am |
  16. Wired3k

    When does the Toyota Prius ban start? Prius deaths 26 due to recall – sandy deaths 21.

    December 29, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • Kevin

      The last time I heard this line of reasoning I fell off my pet dinosaur.

      December 29, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • Wired3k

      Deaths related to guns is not even in the top 100 causes of deaths. That new baby recliner killed 5 babies. Where is the ban for this? These are the facts.

      December 29, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • PevanB

      wow kevin what are you in junior high. What kind of come back is that? grow a pair

      December 29, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • glock4k

      There are deaths related to fast cars for example. Are we going to ban all fast cars as well? Heart disease is the #1 killer – this is a fact. I think we should go ahead and ban hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza. Start a bill that requires everyone to become vegetarian... The irony of this is there's much larger issues killing a lot more people across the US, abortion is probobably up there as an example.

      December 29, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  17. TOMG

    KARMA ARE THE FULL BLAST OF WHAT GOING AROUND WILL BE COMING BACK AROUND IN ONESELF FULL BLAST KARMA WAY OD DOG THINKING LIFESTYLE , AMEN .

    December 29, 2012 at 7:35 am |
  18. asche

    My take – it's time for evangelicals to shut up about everything.

    December 29, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • PevanB

      My take it's time to have ASCHE stop being such an asche and let people express themselves the way they want. Lib and cons

      December 29, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • Seth

      So, you're not only against the 2nd amendment – you're against the 1st. Good for you. Canada is to the norht, Mexico to the South. Let me help you out further. If you look at a map, Canada is up and Mexico is down.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  19. TOMG

    CRAZY CIVILIZATION THAT CREATING FULL OF KARMA ARE ON IT WAY , AMEN HELL SOCIETY THAT LOVE TO KILL IN THIS HIGH TECH DOG FORM WORLD ON NOW DAILY , AMEN .

    December 29, 2012 at 7:34 am |
  20. Tony

    LOOK: If the Jews for the Protection of Firearm Ownership (jpfo.org) speak out on gun rights, and they don't even FOLLOW the Christian Bible as is implicated here, then there is no right for any group, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or otherwise to make a connection between the 2nd Amendment and the Bible or the Q'ruan, for example.

    That is WHY we have "separation between Church and State." One's religious beliefs have NOTHING to do with "the good book"–ANY of them, for that matter.

    December 29, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • Leif

      You have one an award for the most incoherent argument in this forum.

      December 29, 2012 at 8:35 am |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.