Over the coming weeks, I do want to share a couple of nice articles I've run across.
The first has to do with gun ownership in America.
Now I should say first off that, like many of the people in my context (Louisiana), I am a gun owner. And I strive to be a responsible one. I have taken a couple of gun safety & training courses over the years and regularly practice in order to be proficient (rather than clumsy and dangerous) with my firearms. I keep them for sporting and - God forbid that it should ever be necessary - legally authorized defense of my person and family. So, I am by no means "anti-gun." In fact, I do agree with the argument that having significantly more well-trained (and I emphasize that qualifier) concealed weapon carriers in this country could limit the impact of (though not actually prevent) San Bernardino or Paris-style mass shootings by Islamists and other terrorists. I think of armed citizens (duly authorized, trained, and licensed by the authorities) as an extension of the legitimate role of coercive force as it is described in Romans 13.
I know some Christian pacifists will disagree with the traditional reading of Romans 13, and I appreciate their valuable witness, but (beyond the obvious arguments about the Nazis) I've always wondered if they really want to assert that only non-believers who do NOT believe in Christ or his teachings should be law-enforcement officers or members of the military. That doesn't seem to ring true for me if we believers are to be "salt and light" in every corner of society (nor is it consistent with John the Baptist's message to the soldiers).
However, I do support any common-sense improvements that can be made in back-ground checks and gun-sales screenings to keep weapons away from criminals, the mentally ill, and terrorists. I don't really understand the logic of opposing such measures.
But more important than any of that is this: as a pastor I am keenly aware of the many Biblical passages that urge us not to trust in or rely upon weapons for our future security. The Psalms repeatedly affirm, and Christ himself embodies that our trust is not in our own ability to do violence to our enemies, but in God's power to work wonders - even raise the dead (Psalm 20, is one typical example from the Psalter).
So my own position (which I accept is fraught with ambiguity and tension) follows thus: While the coercive power of the government (and by extension, that of the individual gun-owner) does have a legitimate place in diminishing the impact of evil in a fallen world, such use of violence is "by way of concession" and it can never be our true and final hope ("Don't put your trust in princes" say the Psalms). Even in the midst of a fallen world, Christians should work creatively and deliberately to transcend violence and retaliation with non-violence and with the Gospel of Christ, that the violent and fallen world may be transformed by the leaven of the Kingdom.
I recently saw an article on some Christian website critiquing American gun-culture called "In Guns We Trust." That title might feel like a slap in the face to some Christian gun-owners, but perhaps it is a "wake up" slap. If you take seriously what is said on some online message boards and YouTube videos, a lot of people go to church and profess to trust in God, but actually trust in their ability to out-gun others. It begins to sound like what some "gun guys" really believe in is the me-first "law of the jungle" which, morally, falls far short of even human chivalry and gallantry, to say nothing of the inspired teachings of Christ and the Bible.
SO HERE is an interesting article exploring Gun ownership and following Jesus, entitled "Jesus may not care if you own a gun..." It really asks what "rights" we have when we (in that great evangelical expression) "surrender our lives to Christ," and it asks (like 1 Tim. 6:17 in relation to wealth) what we are ultimately putting our trust in. I recommend it.