In the wake of the Aurora theater shooting, I was asked this question: “How do Christians reconcile their assault weapon ownership stance with the ‘Thou shalt not kill’ command and Jesus’ teachings? For instance, what would Jesus do about assault weapons?”
First, it strikes me as presumptuous that my pacifist (an assumption on my part) friend—whom I’ll call Pat for short—would insinuate that assault weapons are the defense of choice of Christians or only by Christians. My first question of him is why make that connection?
His question makes me think of the Pharisees who asked Jesus if they should pay taxes to Caesar. His answer blew them all away, as he exposed the hostility and the hypocrisy of His interrogators … The coin of the Tribute Episode is a fine specimen of Roman propaganda. It imposes the cult of emperor worship and asserts Caesar’s sovereignty upon all who transact with it.
With one straightforward counter-question, Jesus skillfully points out that the claims of God and Caesar are mutually exclusive. If one’s faith is in God, then God is owed everything; Caesar’s claims are necessarily illegitimate, and he is therefore owed nothing. If, on the other hand, one’s faith is in Caesar, God’s claims are illegitimate, and Caesar is owed, at the very least, the coin which bears his image.
Jesus’ counter-question simply invites His listeners to choose allegiances.
All that to say, there is more to Pat’s question than first meets the eye. I am not a scholar, but I will attempt to shed some light.
Pat predicates his question on the less exact term word “kill” as used in the King James Version. The Sixth Commandment is properly rendered “You shall not murder.” The Hebrew word means “to dash to pieces … murder … slay.” Likewise, Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, referred to the prohibition against murder (not against killing). Then he took the commandment further to say that “anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” And yes, the Greek is more exact than English, as this anger of which Jesus speaks is an “uncontrolled rage,” certainly different than God’s anger.
According to the Bible all killing is not murder. Research into Hebrew and Greek dictionaries shows numerous words referring to the taking of human life. God allowed the Israelites to kill other humans under very special circumstances such as punishment for certain sins, for example, murder. God also allowed the Israelites to engage in warfare and even gave them instructions about waging war.
All right, I hope I haven’t confused anyone too much. Let’s move on to matters close to the hearts of citizens who choose to have a firearm in their home or in their possession—Christians or otherwise. I haven’t done a poll (nor have I looked at the NRA website) but I’d wager that most keep a gun handy because of our increasingly unsafe neighborhoods and/or for they sometimes go hunting or target-shooting.
But we’re talking about all this because of the recent Aurora theater shooting, which raised safety concerns across the country.
I agree with the view that this conversation is not about gun control; it’s about people control. Chicago has one of the strictest gun laws in the country–so severe, the laws were deemed as unconstitutional awhile back. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, over Memorial Day weekend 12 people were killed by gunfire and 45 were shot and wounded. In the time it takes to play a major league soccer match (90 minutes), 13 people were shot. By mid-June, murder was up 35 percent from last year with 228 people killed. Statistically speaking, our troops are safer in Kabul than in Chicago.
Less might be more when it comes to gun regulation. According to the Washington Times, violent crime peaked 25 years ago when just “a handful of states” had conceal-carry laws. Gun sales have increased over the past four years, and currently 41 states have gun-carrying laws, yet violent crime has decreased according to the FBI in June. According to PJ Media, “States with the highest gun ownership have the lowest firearms homicide rates” and “States with the lowest firearms ownership average the highest firearm and non-firearm homicide rates.”
This leads me to ask this question of Questioner Pat: Since you seem to have an aversion to guns, what measures would you employ to protect your family if the bad guys were breaking into your house, screaming what they were going to do to your family?
Before you answer, consider this: In a recent neighborhood meeting after burglars had cleaned out the good stuff from my neighbor’s house during his 25-minute absence, the deputy sheriff told us that our rural neighborhood had 2.5 (that’s two point five) law enforcement officers available to cover 64 square miles—leading one to suspect that a 9-1-1 call might not get help to your house very quickly.
Now, to consider what Jesus would do about assault weapons: I daresay he would do exactly what he did about the Roman legions.
Folks, what would you do in these circumstances? Do you believe guns or no guns or non-religious people or Christians are at the root of our unsafe neighborhoods?