Monday, January 7, 2013


So read the large letters of the red, white and blue bumper sticker on a co-worker's pickup truck.  There were other, smaller words beneath them, making them a complete sentence, though I can't remember exactly what they said.  Something to do with America's greatness, of course.  I think they said "make America great" or "keep America great."  But this was years ago and my memory fails me.

The sad thing to me is that this guy really believed what the bumper sticker said.  And in office discussions provoked by the sticker I found that this was the prevailing opinion -- at least of those who put forth an opinion.

Is it true?

Every time there is a mass shooting in America the discussion of guns comes up.  It begins in the news media, continues in Washington and other centers of government and I suppose, in work places around the country.

Unfortunately, like those other two great areas of disagreement, religion and politics, it soon degenerates from a genuine dialog to a heated battle of slogans, clichés and propaganda.

We hear and see the talking heads pontificating on TV, radio and the internet.  And soon I find myself receiving e-mails and reading on facebook, a series of arguments in favor of guns and gun ownership, most of them irrational, many in long lists.

-- "Timothy McVeigh didn't use a gun.  We don't outlaw fertilizer!"
-- "More people are murdered with baseball bats than guns.  We don't outlaw baseball bats!"
-- "It's our Second Amendment Right."
-- "I have a responsibility to protect my family."

And of course the old favorite, "Guns don't kill people; people kill people."

Then there are some really scary ones:
-- "If everyone in the theatre was armed, that guy could have been stopped quicker."
-- "Teachers should be allowed (or required) to carry guns in the classroom."

I'm not going to attempt to refute these arguments.  Though most of them could be and have been refuted pretty easily, those who make them aren't listening.  These slogans and clichés seem to be used in the same way that many religious people use Bible verses as "proof texts."  If I can just hit you with enough data (at least more than you have), I have won, whether or not you are convinced.

What really bothers me is that many who hold their pro-gun positions claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.  How can this be?  How can one follow the One known as the Prince of Peace and at the same time be an advocate of violence?

How can we claim to follow the One who told us to turn the other cheek while we're holding an assault weapon in our hand?

How can we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ as the answer to America's needs and at the same time proclaim a gospel of violence?

How can we claim to serve God rather than Mammon, while repeating without reservation the propaganda of one of Mammon's minions -- the arms industry?

I'm not anti-gun.  I'm not advocating we take away people's hunting rifles or sports pieces.  Nor am I saying that people shouldn't own guns for protection.

American is a violent nation, filled with violent people.  We always have been.  We are all sinners and as I understand the Scriptures, we are all capable of violence.  And we are armed to the teeth.

And I believe we who claim to follow Jesus should not be advocating more of the same.  We should be saying, "Enough!"  The solution to violence is not "Mutually Assured Destruction"; it is peace!  Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers" and He wasn't talking about the Colt 45!

I know that there will be no complete peace in America or anywhere on this earth until Jesus returns.  But paradoxically He has left us here with the task of bringing about His peace, first of all by being people of peace and secondly by preaching the gospel of peace to others.

So is the bumper sticker true?  I suppose it depends on how we define greatness.


Ron said...

AMEN to this! When "Turn the other cheek" becomes "An eye for an eye" or rather "I'll shoot out your eye before you shoot out mine!", then we have degenerated into not only something less than Christian, but something less than human.

Canadian Atheist said...

"What really bothers me is that many who hold their pro-gun positions claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. How can this be? How can one follow the One known as the Prince of Peace and at the same time be an advocate of violence?"

So very true, Bill. I agree with your entire article. Very well made points. Excellently written. I would even expand on your points because the whole thing really flabbergasts me, such as how the most religious states also have the death penalty. I'm not making a judgment on the death penalty (although I dont agree with it) but how can people saying they follow the Prince of Peace' support having the state put people to death?

Sherry said...

I find it ironic that the folks who claim that we're a Christian nation are promoting a culture that loves money & violence.

Trent said...

Hi Bill, You stated "What bothers me is men who hold their pro-gun positions claim to be followers of Christ" This seems judgmental, and also speaking where God does not. Our God Does advocate violence when appropriate.He told his disciples to buy a sword, made sure Peter had one handy (which he did) Old Testament is full of God commanding violence, much of it to protect his people from sin. Violence 4 the sake of pride? No! Violence 2 protect others? He was pretty violent in the temple if you remember. Do you think Jesus would have let his mom b raped & told her don't resist? Is self defense discouraged n the Bible. Remember in the law, if you struck someone in the night when they broke into your home, there was no life for life. It was considered justified. A gun allows the week to protect themselves from the strong IF they choose to.

Ron, I understand your being against preemptive violence.. like attacking a country because you think they are going to attack etc, but if a person is kicking down your door and you have your wife and children there, and you have told him you have a gun, and they don't stop, what would you do? God teaches personal responsibility as well as Faith. You trust him to supply your needs, but you still work.

Canadian, the Bible does teach the death penalty. It is the State's duty, not mine to punish, but the state has said it is not its job to protect here in the US.

Sherry, I have no disagreement with you.