Gun control. Everyone has an idea of what they'd like it to be.
I'm a vet, a country boy, Southern and I love Jesus. The first three would make you think I would be absolutely in love with guns. Frankly, I do like them. I can't lie. I have fired a huge variety of shotguns, pistols, rifles, assault weapons and even several pieces of artillery. I've shot BB guns, slingshots, dart guns, bow and arrow, crossbows, paintball guns; I've shot spitballs out of straws... I've even shot the moon in Rook!
I don't like gore and I don't approve of war games.
I used to hunt, but I don't have (read: MAKE) time to do it anymore. There are a multitude of reasons I don't hunt, and none are relevant to this conversation, besides one...I just don't enjoy laying in wait to kill any longer. Hey, if you like that, cool. I am not condemning it; I'm testifying.
See this rifle to the left? It's one of my favorites. I don't own one. I am not shopping for one. However, I like it.
So...do I like guns? Yes. Have I enjoyed firing them in my life? Yes. Do I understand their purpose? On about 50 levels, yes. Do I understand the Second Amendment? Yes.
Do I support gun control? No.
Wait...hear me out.
My wife asked me once what I thought the greatest purpose of Americans owning so many guns might be. I explained my opinion to her in this way: that even if foreign armies thought they could whip-up on our military, and various law enforcement agencies combined, they'd have to face what I guess (super conservative estimate) to be about 200 million privately owned firearms in this country. Just pause and think about that...
That's a lot of firearms floating around in one country.
|Battle of Guilford Courthouse|
Even if our own armies and law enforcement agencies somehow turned on us, there'd be a serious store of weaponry for personal defense, and certainly enough to mount assaults of citizen militias against unjust attacks. Another shout out to the Second Amendment.
Hunting is valuable... .... .... TO PEOPLE WHO WANT TO EAT! This country has a lot of game. That's a lot of potential meals walking around in the fields and bushes. Sport hunters who kill and waste lives are not cool (in my humble opinion) and ought to take a strong gander at Genesis 9 and give some thought to the stewardship of the privilege of dominion. That being said, hunting can be helpful.
Do I support gun control? No.
Can shooting be a fun sport? Yes, and a positive sport (executed safely and sanely, of course).
Are owning historical weapons good for understanding our past? Sure. We have a violent past (mankind in general, and America in particular), and we'd do well to have many symbols to remind us of how many lives wars and disputes have cost us.
I could go on and on...I probably have 10 more sensible reasons to own and use guns.
Do I support gun control? Yes.
Yes, you heard that right, and yes, it is contradictory to my aforementioned confession that I am not an advocate of gun control.
More so than a supporter of gun control, I'd love for them all to vanish completely from the face of the planet. They won't, any time soon, that is.
See, here's where my constant confusion comes in about guns comes in: I love Jesus. See that? That simple statement musses up all my pro-gun arguments and fuels all my advocacy for peace. He said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9).
That. Just. Sticks. With. ME. and in me...
See, since I've been walking with Jesus, there is this growing desire inside of me that wants and loves peace. I just can't shake it. I try. I try to hearken to my soldierly thoughts and my redneckness and Southernability. I try to be hard (and, I am still too hard to be a good disciple), but those feelings aren't there any more. I want peace. I love love. I hate hate. Violence rarely delivers the peace it promises.
Yes, my logic is still intact. Didn't I demonstrate that? Sport, hunting, history, defense...I get it.
And here is my biggest thing: perhaps I just long for heaven. I long for this day: He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4 ESV, emphasis mine). I long for the day when man CHOOSES to beat their swords and 12 gauges into plowshares. I long for Jesus to return and bring peace to Earth. I long for the warrior to be jobless and the battlefields empty. I long for people to lay their contentions down. I long for the enemy to finally be defeated, and, yes, I mean that enemy that NO GUN can defeat.
I long for Jesus.
I know. Man, I know! Don't even comment back to me anything that sounds like any of these:
- If we took all the guns from the good people, only evil people would have them
- As long as we have people, they will do bad things, so somebody has to stand up to them
- As long as we live their will be wars and rumors of wars and we have to be ready
- America has to defend itself!
- If they take guns from law abiding citizens, only criminals will have them
- It's my right!
- Somebody has to protect the weak.
- It's not guns that kill; it's people!
Believers, we should love defending the weak. We should absolutely love it.
But, what happened to standing in the gap and turning the other cheek and loving our enemies and suffering for righteousness sake the scores of other things that ought to come to our minds and actions before we think of fighting and shooting and killing?
How do we forget that Jesus scolded Peter for cutting off a man's ear? How do we forget James 4? How do we forget Mark 9:50? And Luke 6:27 and Romans 12:17 and James 3:18 and Romans 8:16 and Colossians 3:15? Why doesn't Numbers 6:24-26 fall off our lips quicker than "right to keep and bear arms"?
I KNOW guns are not going away until the end of the Earth. I KNOW sinners are not going away until the end of Earth. I KNOW that evil is not going away until the end of Earth. I KNOW that war is not going away until the end of Earth. I KNOW that violence and murder and beatings are not going away until the end of the Earth.
I know, okay?
Still, brothers and sisters...shouldn't we long for peace? Shouldn't that desire beat in the heart of the believer like their very own pulse?
Shouldn't we desire to be armed with the sword of the Spirit more so than the guns of man? Good gracious, yes. Why are so many believers advocating for guns and so few simply acting as peacemakers?
Why is our impulse to be vindicated as Americans so much stronger than our impulse to live as disciples? Why aren't the commands of the Kingdom stronger than the rights of the nation in our hearts?
Why do we surrender to the lower rules of men instead of the higher calling of God?
Lord, help me...
I know all the realities and the arguments, and I'm tired and sick and worn out with all of them. I know all of the founding father quotes and am well versed in NRA talk. I know it. C'mon, man.
If you love Jesus, you can be realistic. You can even be disciplined in the art of war, but we OUGHT to desire that discipline goes unused. We OUGHT to serve and give and suffer.
Peace ought to be the conversation for believers, not guns. Peacemaking ought to be our practice, not war.
Let create some new discussions. Let's forge ahead with some fresh actions. Let's hear Christ's commands over culture's commotions. Let's heed His calls of peace over the world's calls for strife.
I confess that I am often torn over the argument about gun control and the Second Amendment. But, I'm more in love with peace than I am torn over any of our American hang-ups. Love has won my heart. I may one day have to fight. I may have to shoot. I may have to defend the weak. I just might. Still, even then, I'll grieve that it's come to that again.
I want to be called a son of God. I want to be a peacemaker.