When it comes to the gun control debate, there is little sunlight between the most ardent Marxist and politically liberal “Christians,” especially those of the so-called “Red-Letter” stripe.
So when a homicidal maniac shoots up a mall, a movie theater, a concert, or a school, as was tragically the case last week in Parkland Florida, both liberal Christians and run-of-the-mill Leftists bleated for the same unworkable solution - more gun control.
Run-of-the-mill Leftists, of course, are expected to trot out the disarmament song-and-dance. After all, how else do they expect to impose a totalitarian state on the populace? But how is it possible for even liberal-leaning followers of Christ to use the words attributed to him as justification to align themselves with the most godless, totalitarian regimes and belief systems? If self-defense is one of the most foundational, unalienable, God-given human rights, why are so many of His creatures hell-bent on taking it away from the rest of us?
The first installment of my series “Calling Good, Evil and Evil, Good: How 'Christian Liberals' Twist the Words of Jesus” dealt with Red Letter Christians (RLC) co-founder Shane Claiborne’s coming protest in Lynchburg, VA, the home of Jerry Falwell Jr.-led Liberty University, and the brutally-flawed “logic” these groups use to twist the words of Jesus to justify their Leftism.
The “logic” comes from the usual misinterpretation of Jesus’ words absent any context or attempt to line up with the rest of the Bible. For example, Clairborne’s “response” to the Parkland massacre? Why, beating “swords into plowshares,” of course, because that’s what Jesus would do. “If you want a concrete way to respond to the mass shooting in Florida,” Clairborne tweeted, “join us on March 21 as we beat an assault rifle into garden tools and #DemandTheBan.”
By #DemandTheBan, the gun controllers mean a ban on assault weapons, for now. It’s low-hanging fruit, naturally, because we all know it will never stop there. The ultimate goal has always been to brutally disarm the populace, so that only criminals, the super-rich, and the government have guns.
And they’re trying to co-opt the words of Christ to do the work of Satan.
In a post entitled, “What would Jesus say to the NRA,” Clairborne states his case for Christian pacifism based on the fact that Jesus came to earth to be a peaceful sacrifice, not a “butt-kicking” conqueror.
“Everything in Jesus’s world, just as in ours, contends that we must use violence to protect the innocent from violence,” writes the Red Letter Christians co-founder, “which is the very thing Jesus came to help us un-learn through his nonviolent life and death on the cross … The fact that Jesus carried a cross rather than a sword has something relevant and redemptive to offer our violent-possessed world. After all, the Bible has a lot to say about loving enemies, and ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ but doesn’t even mention the right to bear arms.”
Perhaps Clairborne doesn’t consider Exodus a part of the Bible, but most Christians still do. Exodus 22:2 says, “If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him.” Sure, they didn’t have guns then (he knows that, right?), but what is the homeowner striking the thief with, feathers?
Or how about Esther, when the Jews were allowed to “gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force” of attackers? Or the entire rest of the Bible, where weapons and self (and country) defense are never condemned and are a natural part of things except in context of the final, Christ-ruled Kingdom of God, where nobody will need them.
After all, in a land with no wolves, a plowshare will be much more useful than a sword.
But let’s go a bit deeper. There are many different nuances and beliefs on this issue within the Christian community, of course, but in general the key Biblical passages used to defend the concept of Christian pacifism and by extension, for some, Christian disarmament, are Romans 12:17-21, Matthew 5:38-39, and the famous “all who take the sword will perish by the sword” taken from Matthew 26:51-52, when Peter draws his sword in defense of Jesus and cuts off an assailant’s ear.
“Put your sword back into its place,” Jesus told Peter. “For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
“Repay no one evil for evil,” writes Paul in his letter to the Romans, “but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”
“But I say to you,” Jesus says in Matthew, “do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
Granted, if you strip all these passages from any context or understanding of the rest of the Bible, a Bible that both Jesus and Paul strongly affirmed, you might get the idea that Jesus wants Christians to submit themselves and those under their care to thieves, rapists, and even murderers. You might even get the idea that Christians have no business carrying a weapon for personal defense.
Except, “turn the other cheek” is merely a call to not return an insult for another insult (an insult was a ‘slap in the face,’ hence the cheek reference), not a commandment to allow an invader to burn your house down.
Regarding the Gethsemane incident, that Peter actually HAD a sword in the first place and had in fact been instructed to purchase one by Jesus is another problem passage for Christian pacifists. Granted, Peter was never meant to defend Jesus against those who were predestined to take him, but in dangerous times a weapon would have been a typical tool to defend against thieves and even wild animals. It is also worth noting that Jesus told him to put the sword “back into its place,” not to throw it away and never use it again.
As for the teachings of Paul, clearly there is a difference between personal vengeance and self-defense. The government is supposed to be our protection against evil (Romans 13), but what happens if the police are minutes away from a life-threatening attack that’s about to happen in seconds? And what happens if a government, as we’ve seen throughout history, turns evil and starts indiscriminately killing its citizens?
In truth, while Scripture clearly calls Christians to not engage in vengeance or vigilantism, the right to self-defense is as ingrained in the history of God’s people as it is in that of humanity.
From the Magna Carta to the American Revolution, from Nazi resistance to the revolts against Communism, if it weren’t for good people using arms (and other means) to defend themselves against evil people and especially evil governments, no freedom would exist on earth today.
Christian liberal pietists can argue that establishing freedom and peace is the responsibility of Christ alone, but here on earth, for now, Christ uses his people, and he gives them tools to do it.
If I Timothy 5:8 says a man who “does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household” has “denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever,” how much worse would that man be if he allowed his wife to be raped and his children to be slaughtered in front of him?
Finally, if the second commandment proscribed by Jesus is to love our neighbor as ourselves, is failing to do what we can to protect the innocent truly seeking to obey THOSE Red Letter words?