By Joel A. Hess –
Another shooting. More pontificating. Along with the hopeless, Christians scurry to draw lines in social media sands. Some hurriedly throw out the hypocrite label to anyone who disagrees with their version of gun control. Others feign fear that the Red Army is coming to burn churches whenever someone even mentions any sort of gun control (as if there is currently no gun control going on right now).
Reading some pastor’s posts, an innocent bystander might conclude that gun control/gun rights somehow belong to the essential doctrines of the Christian Church. Then there are the poor fellows who actually think they might be helpful to the mourning mother by pointing out there is really nothing anyone can do about such violence. It’s in our DNA. It’s incredibly unoriginal, yet original sin. This is true but not the best bedside manner. Are we to then conclude that because we will never perfect this world, we shouldn’t try to make it better? There should be no laws, police, etc.? Of course not.
Sadly, many pastors jump in on the arguments! They act as if there is any hint of advice in the Scriptures regarding gun control. Meanwhile the angry pastor spewing about gun rights or gun control leads outsiders to believe they and their views aren’t welcome.
How quickly pastors can fall into the Devil’s trap of getting our passions wrapped up in matters other than the Gospel. This is not to denigrate the importance of good policies and policy makers. God bless them and may they be encouraged to do their best. But their best on this issue may fall into quite a wide spectrum that has no specific encouragement in Scripture except to love our neighbor as our self and St. Paul’s, “God gave Government the right to bear the sword,” in Romans 13. St. Paul also encourages Christians to obey governing authorities. What was Rome’s view on bearing arms? Did they have a second amendment?
We have a responsibility in times like these. For sure we should stand beside people who are hurting. We should pray for justice and pray for peace and possible policies which will ensure these things. Most especially, though, we are to comfort those who mourn, to call people to repentance and hope in forgiveness and resurrection! We are called to point people to a day when there will be no more sin, violence, or death!