home
RSS
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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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. N&W 1000

    Gun control advocates help and enable these homicidal maniac killers, because they take the guns away from the good, law

    abiding people who could shoot back, and defend the children, helpless, innocent, etc...

    January 1, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  2. david

    "The Bible doesn’t clearly express an opinion on the possession of guns,..." Pretty sure there weren't guns when the Bible was written, so the word "clearly" in the previous quote doesn't play; at least until the NRA starts publishing their own edition of the Bible.

    January 1, 2013 at 7:20 am |
  3. Phillip Rinaca

    Honestly Mr. Darling, I could have written a much better article as you seem to have no knowledge at all of the firearms you ramble on about. Much more damage could have been inflicted with an autoloading, sporting ten or twelve guage shotgun that the "assult rifles" you ramble on about. We simply must make firearm owners responsible for firearms owned by them. Mine are locked down in a very good safe under an alarm system. Mr. Darling should perhaps stick to saving sinners rather than produching the banter he did with this article.

    January 1, 2013 at 5:48 am |
  4. DC

    In related libtard news, gay rights advocates are against abortion....abortion rights activists are against gun control....gun control advocates are against universal healthcare....universal healthcare advocates are against gay rights...divide and conquer....divide and conquer

    January 1, 2013 at 4:19 am |
  5. lulz

    What did we learn? That the evangelical right is full of hypocrisy. Anti gun regulation but so called "pro life." The bloody tools can not even properly read their own fairy tale book.

    January 1, 2013 at 3:33 am |
  6. Witness

    Here's an idea that would likely win God's approval – and build the number of faithful. Christians could be pro-life! No, REALLY pro-life, eschewing abortion (in part by advocating contraception), executions, non-defensive wars, torture, pollution, violence, poverty. In other words, they could ACT Christian and renounce barbarianism.

    What a concept!

    January 1, 2013 at 2:59 am |
  7. tyson

    So now they not only want to tell what IF ANY firearms I can own as a law abiding citizen, but they also want to tell me how to practice my religion? CNN has gone way to far. Never give up your freedoms!

    January 1, 2013 at 2:48 am |
    • Witness

      Some gun advocates seem oblivious to American law and culture. ALL rights have limits. No biggie.

      January 1, 2013 at 3:02 am |
  8. Daniel

    "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
    The 2nd amendment was pretty clear that the Federal government has no role whatsoever in regulating the arms of the citizens. If we had a bazooka or a tank, whatever a citizen required to protect themselves and their "sovereign state", in no shape or form could the Federal government limit it. Its a basic protection. What seems to get lost in most of the conversations that turn into personal protection and what weapons are necessary to defend oneself from perhaps a burglar, is that the burglar the Founding Fathers had in mind was the Federal Government. Period. End of discussion, it is a Right granted and cannot be overturned by the Feds.

    January 1, 2013 at 1:01 am |
    • Terencio

      Sure it can. We overrode the 18th amendment. Why would you lie so blatantly? Are you TRYING to spread misinformation? Are you going to argue that what I've said isn't ABSOLUTELY correct? Don't be such a tool.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:38 am |
    • Witness

      Honestly, it's hard to believe that the FF, who were generally leery of the rabble, sanctioned putting guns beyond the regulation of the state. The Second Amendment was created at a time when there was no standing army. The fetishists need to get a grip. Guns aren't godly. They are inanimate objects of little utility. Their veneration now borders on idolatry.

      Judging by the dearth of military victories in the last 65 years, the decline in hunting, and the growth in population, it seems more and more that they are anachronisms.

      January 1, 2013 at 3:11 am |
  9. christian_knight

    its no argue that "responsibility" always comes second to "rights".... in fact its just an outgrowth of the "last contemplation"... when no other "next in line" in the blame game queue....

    i just wonder why there no scientific study when is this definite something which is more than enough... when 47 guns ain't enough.... well we want more than a 100% enforcement of our rights..... never mind the "responsibility clause" its just an afterthought....

    "guns don't kill people.. people kill people..." i see.... so that is why that lunatic just killed 20. he was barehanded. so that is why.

    if you can't be on guard to your gun or with your many guns as always the case.... then it should be out of the question why we are always clueless on this senseless killings...

    January 1, 2013 at 12:24 am |
  10. RL

    You cannot have a society like America's: multiethnic, with fractured families, dog eat dog, win or lose, limited healthcare, and a history of violence – and then let people buy guns easily. It would be ok somewhere like Sweden or Switzerland. American culture teaches young men they will win. But the reality of US society means many will lose (though not relevant in this case, social mobility aka The American Dream is actually weaker than in some other developed countries). This creates cognitive dissonance. And finally Americans have been taught that drastic or even violent solutions are OK to solve problems. Boom.

    December 31, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • tyson

      What a terrible interpetation of America. Everything you said is plain wrong. Try peeling yourself away from the liberal machine media news where your from. Obviously your country has become subjects not citizens already. We will keep our freedoms thanks but no thanks.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:53 am |
  11. Lindsay

    "Thou shall not kill." Seems pretty clear to me.

    December 31, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • Daniel

      "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
      The 2nd amendment was pretty clear that the Federal government has no role whatsoever in regulating the arms of the citizens. If we had a bazooka or a tank, whatever a citizen required to protect themselves and their "sovereign state", in no shape or form could the Federal government limit it. Its a basic protection. What seems to get lost in most of the conversations that turn into personal protection and what weapons are necessary to defend oneself from perhaps a burglar, is that the burglar the Founding Fathers had in mind was the Federal Government. Period. End of discussion, it is a Right granted and cannot be overturned by the Feds.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:00 am |
  12. Lindsay

    "Though shall not kill." Seems pretty clear to me.

    December 31, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • Ed

      Good thing criminals read and follow the bible. I feel better now...

      January 1, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  13. 2357

    In the same way fertilizer can be rigged into a bomb, high capacity magazines transform an ordinary firearm into a destructive device. If you carry on your person more ammo than a police squad, you've made yourself a primary threat to all of society.

    December 31, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  14. Wilhee

    Lets leave God out of this
    Those responsible are the same ones every time ,the Selfish,the Spiteful and those who put themselves first!
    The Scriptures remind us at every turn ,to love one another,
    Even though there given little credence

    December 31, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Dippy

      There?

      December 31, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      "Let's leave god out of this............the scriptures say......."

      December 31, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  15. GLENN

    youtube; discover Prophecy by David Assherick. mind blowing. also youtube mystery of music. by zeb H where did music come from

    December 31, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  16. GLENN

    youtube, Cosmic Conflict. The origin of evil

    December 31, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  17. GLENN

    youtube, hollywood unmasked..1&2 SEE THE REAL REASON BEHIND VIOLENT CRIMES. Also youtube open space in orion. by Louie Torrez. AMAZING STUFF.

    December 31, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  18. Ol' Yeller

    @Pravda- I'm a hunter and I hunt Whitetail deer and Wild Hogs, among other smaller game. In reading your posts, you seem to know a great deal about guns, but little about hunting. As a hunter, I would like to separate myself from people who would defend the need for rifles which (only) look like assault weapons and have large capacity magazines. My state does not allow you to hunt with these large capacity clips and for good reason... there are other people hunting and idiots with a lot of bullets, tend to shoot a lot of times, endangering sportsmen who are actually hunting and not playing soldier. It has been the rare case when I have needed to shoot at an animal more than once, and I have never been in the situation where I have had to intimidate a Buck by carrying a weapon which resembles a machine gun. I separate myself from people like you because you endanger my right to carry a gun. I am not a member of the NRA because they too endanger my right to carry a gun. With this stubborn and almost childlike refusal to talk about sensible and responsible gun regulations, you end up in a situation where these terrible shootings reach a critical mass and the people (which is the government in this country) make an about face and we end up with a knee jerk reaction where ALL guns are banned. I'm a responsible hunter and gun owner and don't won't that to happen. And all your shouting and insulting people does not help anything. These people do NOT care about your knowledge of clips and ballistics and gun laws... all they see is 20 little dead children on top of all the other shootings and the ONE thing they ALL had in common is these weapons with high capacity clips and these madmen with assualt rifles (if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, all your explanations are going to fall on deaf ears).
    PEACE.

    December 31, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Paul

      While the NRA can be extreme, they are a necessity. Without them an attempt would be made to ban all guns.

      December 31, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Air Lar

      Please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, learn the difference between "clips" and magazines (which is what you're actually referring to)

      December 31, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  19. Reality

    As noted previously:

    Thomas Jefferson did not know the meaning of 911, video cameras, dead bolt locks, home and car security systems, tasers, pepper sprays, silent alarms, and gps, We don't need assault weapons to keep us safe. And there is a reason we don't allow guns on airplanes.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    ==========================================================================

    December 31, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • fraximus

      Yeah, that's it. Make sure we know the difference between a clip and a magazine, because correct terminology is so important here. Way to make a really important point. And yes, we should all learn this "for the Love of God".
      For the love of God you should figure out a way to limit access to magazines that aid massive killing sprees like this and have no other justifiable use. Crikey, you people have your priorities out of joint. Give your heads a shake America. You are freaking out about gun control but your country has already been taken over in a bloodless coup by Wall Street.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:07 am |
    • tyson

      NO he didn't know about those things. That has nothing to do with the 2nd amendment. Read a history book! 2nd amendment is to protect us from GOVERNMENT and protect the rest of amendments in the Bill of Rights! The founders knew men at some point want to gather and centralize power. Thats why our ancestors came HERE! To get away from that. Citizens need arms to protect against Tyranny.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:58 am |
  20. Pravda

    True "Assault Weapons" were already banned in 1934. As a matter of fact, you need a Federal Class 3 firearms license to own one. Please liberal reader EDUCATE yourselves....

    December 31, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • fraximus

      Pravda. The point you make is technically correct, but does nothing to acknowledge or solve the real problem at hand. Ok it might be technically true that Assault Weapons have been banned, but there are obviously other types of weapons that provide way more killing power than should be in the hands of any joe public. But keep quoting your historical facts, and the bodies will keep piling up. Maybe next time it will be someone close to you, hopefully not. But your smug call for people to educate yourselves misses the point so badly that you'll never get a solution with that kind of thinking.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:13 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43
Advertisement
About this blog

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.