Guns and More Guns
A’huntin we will go! Since the tragedy at Aurora, CO there seems to be this huge outcry about guns and gun control – an event that rises up every time we have a seemingly random act of violence. There is a lot of talk about being able to defend yourself (though I have to ask would that movie theater become a wild west shootout at the OK Corral theater? Or seriously would anyone been able to react in such a way as to really have stopped the premeditated actions of a crazy man?), that if we control guns only the bad guys get to have them, and such things.
I know the Christian stance has been that we are guaranteed the right to bear arms under the US Constitution. And I’m not going to go on arguing whether we do or we don’t, that’s for each of us to consider and choose – well maybe not all that much of an individual decision (see below). Reading some Martin Luther the other day and his views on what he called the two kingdoms – one on earth and one in Heaven.
I know I’m being a little too general, but in a nutshell, Luther forbade Christians from allowing temporal rulers to meddle with their hearts in matters of belief, declaring that “if you give into him and let him take away your faith and books, you have truly denied God”. However, in all temporal matters, subjects must obey and welcome true Christian suffering:
We are to be subject to governmental power and do what it bids, as long as it does not bind our conscience but legislates only concerning outward matters…But if it invades the spiritual domain and constrains the conscience, over which God only must preside and rule, we should not obey it at all but rather lose our necks. Temporal authority and government extend no further than to matters which are external and corporeal.
So what I’m getting from all of this are the claims, by Christians, by God we have been given the right to bear arms by the civil authorities, and no one can ever take that right away! But (isn’t there always a but?) look a little more closely at what Luther tells us. When there is a conflict between the civil authorities and Heaven’s authority, we need to be in all good conscience refusing to obey.
So what I’m getting at here, is as a believer, when I hear someone raise up the idea that we have the right to bear arms because the Constitution guarantees that right, I’m thinking, wait a minute, have we sort of tossed out faith as part of the equation to be examined? What happens to our thinking about all of this when we step back and talk about – not saying what we need to decide this way or that way – rather maybe being part of a faith community requires that this be something that gets talked about.
Maybe we can think about the two kingdoms isn’t so much about how much “freedom” and “rights” we get to have per the government, rather, maybe we need to be asking each other whether this “freedom” or “right” really gets submerged into being people of God and co-heirs with Christ. Maybe if we start that conversation, a lot of our freedoms and rights take on their true significance for our lives on this side of things.
What do you think?
Be blessed and be a blessing.