In Guns We Trust

This is the second installment of recent efforts on my blog to engage the topic of guns in the United States (assault rifles, high-capacity magazines -or clips- and armor-piercing bullets in particular). The first one can be found here: If You Give A Man an Assault Rifle. Just in case anyone is uncertain about my own feelings on the matter, I believe that too many of us U.S. citizens have a bizarre and unhealthy fixation with firearms. Our addiction to guns is almost always defended by clinging to a particular interpretation of our Constitution’s 2nd Amendment, which safeguards citizens’ rights to “bear arms” in general. However, this amendment makes no provisions concerning the types of weapons which are safeguarded in particular, so for us to believe that the author’s meant that any type of weapon ought to be included in this right is questionable to say the least. As my friend David Manning has pointed out, when the 2nd Amendment is carried to the extreme it could even be (ab)used to justify private ownership of nuclear weapons. That no reasonable person on any side of this issue argues for nuclear ubiquity indicates that recognizing limits to the 2nd Amendment are both healthy and necessary. The argument has never been IF we are legally entitled to have “arms,” but rather “which kinds?”

I have no problem with the 2nd Amendment as it is written. Neither do I necessarily want all the guns to be taken away from my fellow USAmericans (though I have been accused of this). Even though the framers of the Constitution only had single-shot, front-loading muskets and cannons in mind, I admit that we should probably be allowed to retain a few types of hunting rifles and pistols that go beyond what they had in mind. However, it is also clear that citizens do not need more than a few rounds in any given firearm to accomplish the tasks that they can legally complete with such weapons (hunting and target practice).

In my other blog-post I said that as many as 5 or 6 rounds in any given firearm would probably be reasonable. However, I believe it is completely unreasonable to have magazines/ clips that hold more than this, can be fired at a semi-automatic or fully-automatic rate and/or contain armor-piercing bullets. As I have said time and again, the only thing these items are for… is killing people, and this is exactly what our history (of civilian violence) has demonstrated over and over again.

Despite the provocative drafting of Willy Wonka to push the agenda, in the present blog entry I would like to change the scene a little and focus the issue of firearms around the person of Jesus of Nazareth. After all, this is a blog dedicated to exploring faith in him (not the U.S. Constitution). If we focus on Jesus, the United States Constitution becomes secondary (at best) and cannot be the ultimate authority for what Jesus-followers should and should not engage in. I believe the Constitution is a good document and perhaps among the best that people can do. However, my faith is in Jesus, and I want to understand and follow him, not just the Constitution.

So I want to look at the two most common arguments for possessing guns (hunting and self-defense), and consider them in light of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Hunting can be a legitimate endeavor that, apart from trophy-hunting, poaching and killing threatened or endangered species and/ or killing in unethical ways (leg-traps and bear-baiting etc.), has limited ethical issues associated with it. I don’t think Jesus would have any problem with a deer rifle used to hunt deer. However, I also have to point out that guns are not absolutely necessary for hunting. Truly skilled hunters use bows, arrows, spears, nets, etc., and this engenders a secondary question: Is having guns for hunting worth the risk of using those same weapons to murder humans? I think the answer is “no,” but I can understand why some people might disagree with me (especially unskilled hunters) -wink-.

However, the question of self-defense is even more suspicious, for this itself is a tacit admission that guns kill people and that is precisely what gun owners intend when they   make use of this argument. This is a problem for people who follow Jesus, or at least it ought to be, for when we become willing to use violence, we have stopped following the Prince of Peace altogether. This is precisely why the first few generations of Christians refused to join armies and other instruments of violence and war. Christians are still called to trust in Jesus/ God, not in the ways of the world that are opposed to Christ and his message. It seems to me that when we take up the weapons of violence, we are trusting in them, not Jesus. To put in the form of a question, “Can we shoot and kill someone in some sort of civilian/ vigilante justice and still be ‘following/ trusting Jesus?’” I don’t think so.

So the key question for my purposes here is: “Would Jesus own guns, and why?” A non-anachronistic substitute might easily be a “sword,” so we can ask that question if it helps move the conversation forward.

Would Jesus own guns (or swords)? Why?

Please tell me what you think.

Welcome to the discussion.

-CL

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About C_Lambeth

I currently live in the Pacific Northwest. I graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor's of Science and from George Fox Seminary (now Portland Seminary) with a Master's of Divinity. In addition to knowing Christ and helping others know him, I am passionate about peace, the environment, Christian feminism, justice for all (not just the wealthy) and being a lifelong learner. Please feel free to comment on any of the posts here or to suggest new posts altogether. Thank you for reading me! -CL
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61 Responses to In Guns We Trust

  1. Bradley W. says:

    No. He would be too busy hanging out in the slums trying to lead the lost to his Father and finding simple and sometimes evil people to follow him and be fishers of men.

  2. Adrian B. says:

    Would he own a car? Or boat? or microwave? Being a carpenter he probably would own a nail gun.

  3. Ben J. says:

    i would say no, though i don’t think he would be against them. being the perfect, divine being he was, he wouldn’t need a gun for self-defense, for example. perhaps to hunt with, but he sounds more like a gatherer. i say he wouldn’t oppose them because of texts that indicate his disciples carried weapons. he seems to be okay with weaponry when used appropriately, though it doesn’t sound like he had any himself.

  4. Joanna P. says:

    You’re asking the wrong question. The question is, “Would have a problem with other people owning guns?”

    • C_Lambeth says:

      The gun/ car parallel is a broken one… to say little of microwaves. Yes, apparently at least one disciple carried a weapon, but I have to ask what was Jesus’ response the one time that disciple used his sword? As for “asking the wrong question,” if we are called to be like Jesus, then mine seems to be an appropriate one indeed.

  5. Ben J. says:

    like i said, i don’t think jesus would have a problem with weapons if used appropriately. peter acted in a very sinful way when he cut the dude’s ear off. i believe it was primarily his motives that jesus admonished, not just the act itself, as it was only a reflection of his heart. would you agree?

    • C_Lambeth says:

      Ben, Jesus (in that same story) says that those “who draw the sword will die by the sword.” He makes no distinctions about motives or “reflections of the heart,” and we must consider that the disciple drew the sword to defend an innocent man… and Jesus still shut him down. Jesus’ message was/ is pretty clear: Trust in God, not swords (or weapons in general).

  6. Ben J. says:

    i disagree with your interpretation a bit, but that’s the beauty of it – we can understand it differently. i still think he was referring to motives throughout. either way, you have interesting points. i’m just not sure i agree.

    • C_Lambeth says:

      Ben, are you suggesting that we should trust in guns/ weapons? Why do you say it is about “intention” and the “heart”? Is not the disciple’s intent to handle things that Jesus/ God can’t get done on his own? You don’t have to agree, but I’d like to know why you think what you do.

  7. Matt K. says:

    I believe that God would look at both you and me and refer to us directly as both full of nonsense. No, the true Jesus would not own a gun, he could walk on water, catch fish where there were none, feed the masses with one loaf and one fish. Which, by the way, required the fish be killed. Now we are back to Ecclesiastes 3:3.

    • C_Lambeth says:

      Surely I AM full of nonsense now and again. And I CAN walk on water (when it’s frozen), but of all the issues you mentioned, I only think it fair to point out that (not) owning a gun was the only one that did not require a miracle and is easily within the regular ol’ human’s ability.

  8. Matt K. says:

    If the answer is yes (“Would Jesus own a gun?”), would you require Him to submit to a background check? Would you admonish Him as an unreasonable “gun nut?” Would you accept His cash payment, or accept payment had already been tendered? Would you demand an explanation at all? My answer is, I don’t know. Remember the question “can God make a rock so big that He can not move it?” Isn’t the answer “yes” and we should accept that we will never out smart God?

    • C_Lambeth says:

      That’s a pretty big, “If,” Matt. I suspect that Jesus would want nothing to do with weapons, and that suspicion is consistent with the portrait of Jesus we find throughout the New Testament. As for your second question and intended parallel, I reject the notion it relies on. Adding “God could” doesn’t render nonsense as sensible.

  9. Matt K. says:

    And I think it fair to point out the method of killing the fish was never called into question or fully explained. It was accepted the fish was provided by God, killed, broken down and used so that the masses may be built up and nourished (healed).

  10. Matt K. says:

    Glad you asked… if I were to ever to determine what tool and method Jesus used to kill that fish, or the thousands of other fish He killed so that He and others may live; and I used that same tool and method to kill a human being or any living thing for evil, your argument seems to suggest any who used that tool or method are/were evil, including Jesus.

  11. Johnathan C. says:

    Take away the disciples and you still have a Jesus that was so non-violent he was against SELF-defense, going to die on the cross for us. He asked us to follow him and promised us pain and suffering if we did. He told us if we are slapped to offer the other cheek to our enemy so that they might be ashamed. To me this doesn’t mean carrying around a weapon as a “violence deterrent.” Should we really be trying to hold back the evil in this world with an instrument of death?

  12. C_Lambeth says:

    Well done, Johnathan. This is the crux of the problem. Inevitably the pro-gun side will ask if we should have just held hands with Hitler types and prayed with them instead of standing up to them. That’s on the macro-level. On the micro-level, well intentioned Christians will say the same thing of an evil person who tries to force their way in and harm children etc. What are Christians to do? I cannot answer that for others, they have to work out what it means “to follow Jesus” for themselves. However, I suggest that too many of us are far too willing to trust in money or guns or power or whatever rather than trusting in Jesus. As for me, I tend to take Jesus’ self-sacrificing nature pretty seriously (or at least try to) and don’t think he was merely being figurative or ironical when he asked us to do what he did and be like he was (peaceful and loving at all costs).

  13. Bradley W. says:

    There is no right answer. Some use weapons to destroy, others use words. And if a weapon gets the blame then so does the “pen.” Since that is true, every thought you had and idea that has brought you to where you are had nothing to do with you. The credit goes to your pen and paper.

    • C_Lambeth says:

      Brad? The notion that words “destroy” like assault rifles do is… well, I think you can do better. You might as well have said that, “cancer doesn’t kill people; people kill people.”

  14. Bradley W. says:

    Is destruction not destruction? Words cannot kill a room full of people but they can influence an artist to take over a nation and murder millions of people. But according to you it was the weapons that killed.

    • C_Lambeth says:

      Brad, you are mischaracterizing my argument and creating a ridiculous one known as a “straw-man fallacy,” which sets up an easily defeated “argument” only to destroy it and pretend like that settled something. On my blogpost, which I thought you had read, I stated that it is the people who fail to correlate the connection between guns and body counts who are perhaps the most delusional of all. It seems that you are going down that road, so I ask you to reconsider your argument before you invest too heavily in it. Additionally, given the so-called “artists” I have known, I don’t think any of them could “kill” a person without a gun (or two).

  15. Bradley W. says:

    No, I’m just trying to understand how you only take the position on this when it is convenient or will make sense to your argument. You are blaming the weapons for death and destruction. Would it not be fair then to say man is not responsible for any of his actions, good or bad , but only the tools or instruments he uses that are responsible ? Or is that me stretching it out too far and that it only applies to weapons…because THAT WILL make your opinion make sense.

    • C_Lambeth says:

      No Brad. You misunderstand. Never have I said it is “only” guns that kill people.

      • Bradley W. says:

        I know, but the person is not responsible, right?

        • C_Lambeth says:

          No. Never have I said that people are not responsible for their actions either. In fact, the entire trajectory of my writing on the issue is that: 1) we might well be accessories to murder if WE continue to pretend that there is no correlation between guns and body-bags, and 2) That Christians are to trust in Jesus, not Smith and Wesson.

  16. Matt Koch says:

    Body count …. now you are headed toward looking into Lt. Col. Grossman’s studies on gun violence across the US and the world. This is what I was referring to when I asked when you would look deeper into the issue. High capacity magazines and military weaponry need to be addressed. But, so do other factors that contribute significantly to the occurrences of mass casualty gun events. We are unwitting accessories to this problem. Sorry, my [other obligations] prevent me from explain further right now.

    • C_Lambeth says:

      Matt, if that is all you are saying, then it appears we don’t have much to disagree on concerning the issue. Well, maybe on how certain weapons are to “be addressed.” But hey, let’s celebrate what we can.

  17. Bradley S. says:

    CL, do you “trust” in your helmet when you go riding a bicycle or climbing? Perhaps you should no longer wear one when you do those things. I only ask this because I feel that you are taking that concept way too far through this thread. I haven’t understood anyone to say or even imply that they trust in a weapon more than they trust in God/Jesus. I understand the basic concept of what your are saying but I think that you are stretching it a bit too far to make it fit your argument. I too own guns, I own them to hunt and for home defense. I do not carry outside the home. I trust that God is in full control of my life. I trust that he has plans that are far beyond my understanding. I also trust that he has enabled me with the intellect, tools, and discernment to make a right decision should the life of my family become endangered. I do trust that the weapons will work as designed when needed (hunting or otherwise), however, I do not trust in them more than God/Jesus.

    • C_Lambeth says:

      Fair enough, Bradley, but your analogy is different in a very important way. I wear a helmet to protect my brain-pan, not to destroy the rocks that might bounce off of it. Unlike helmets, guns are designed only to kill. Furthermore, when we try to say that guns are for self-defense, we are not thinking like Jesus. Rather, we are acting like Peter in the garden, quick to draw our weapon and “prove” that we can get it done on our own, no help needed from God, thank you. Peter tried to trust in his weapon, and Christ responded by saying those who draw their (weapon) will die by it. Perhaps another way to say it is that violence begets violence? I am just trying to understand what the Prince of Peace meant. Surely you wouldn’t have me believe that what Jesus really meant is that we should look to weapons and earthly power when we feel threatened, would you?

  18. Amanda Hesterly-Barr says:

    To be perfectly honest I am not sure God really cares one way or another if we OWN a gun. He is probably more concerned with what we DO with the gun. We own guns and I feel absolutely no guilt at all about doing so…and Jesus and I are pretty tight. Just sayin’.

  19. Amanda H-B says:

    to answer ur question… hunting and home protection which I am guessing arent good reasons for you. However I have no problem with hunting and as much as I hope I never have to be in the situation….but I would not hesitate to use my gun if someone were to break into MY house and try to do harm to my kids. Those three kids’ safety will come before the safety of an intruder going after my kids every time. And just to clarify…i am not a hunter but the husband does some every once in awhile. . I dont stay quiet enough in the woods to be a hunter!

    • C_Lambeth says:

      Amanda, I have no real problem with hunting, but I would like to point out that guns are not technically required to hunt, certainly not assault rifles, high-capicity magazines or armor piercing bullets. Also, the hunting argument reinforces the point that guns are only for killing. Nevertheless, it is the “home protection” that I question. Do we need assault rifles, armor piercers and high-cap clips to do so? Really? Could it be said that you trust in guns in this respect? Are you aware of how many family members who are shot, are shot with guns FROM the very house they live in?

  20. Amanda H-B says:

    Thank you for the lecture on assault rifles and home gun statistics…I was under the impression from your original status update that we were discussing guns and Jesus. However, to ease your mind, we do not use an assault rifle for home protection, and we are well aware of stats which is why we have secured our gun in such a way that it is completely inaccessible to our children. Now that that is out of the way, if your implication is somehow that I trust in guns more than God…wow, that is ballsy. So I guess you don’t go to doctors or use medicine right? Oh wait, you spent some time in a hospital receiving medical care and medication after an accident didn’t you? If by owning a gun, my trust in God is somehow voided out, then by the same argument, you receiving medical care somehow voids out your trust in God. If someone broke into your house you wouldn’t call the police right? I mean, that would be putting your trust in earthly forces….earthly forces with GUNS no less! I’m sure these examples are “flawed” in your opinion just as the helmet argument above. I find it very amusing that you think there is any difference. Oh, but medicine and police aren’t inherently bad like guns are right? Doesn’t matter….if your argument that by simply owning a gun and being willing to use it to protect my kids is indicative of a trust issue than the same must be said about seeking any kind of intervention ever. If you don’t like guns…don’t own guns….even want to go to the little ban guns rallies…great. Everyone has their opinons and everyone is free to protest or support whatever cause they want. Be very careful though when you question a brother or sister’s relationship/level of trust based off of their ownership of a gun and their willingness to use it if it were to mean protecting my three kids. Do I trust God with my kids? Absolutely…there is not a day that goes by that I am fully aware and mindful that God entrusted these precious kids to me to raise and nurture for however long they or I have on this earth. That being said, will I bring my kids to the doctor when they are sick? Yes…and still trust God. Will I call the police if one were to go missing? Yes….and still trust God. Will I use a gun if that gun is the only thing between my babies and a person who wants to harm them in some way? Yes….and wait for it….still trust God.

  21. C_Lambeth says:

    Speaking of “lectures,” Amanda, congratulations on posting the longest one here… so far. I think I can beat it. I would like to remind you that my original post took no stance whatsoever. It merely asked 2 questions. As usual, some of my Conservative fundamentalist “friends” just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to start an argument with someone with whom they disagree and try to shut me down on my own FB page in the process.

    Of all the posts here, there is only one other person who made only 1 post who seems to agree with me. Everyone else wants to argue. That’s fine, and I can handle them all, but I find it exceptionally hypocritical that you would tell me I am free to express myself, and in the same breath, tell me that I better not really express how I feel. Like it or not, the fact remains that when we choose violence, we are choosing not to follow Jesus. When we seek to “love” our enemies by killing them, something is seriously amiss and we have totally missed the message of Christ.

    Nevertheless, I don’t fault you (or Bradly Steinman) for your reactions. Most Christians do not like it when someone points out that they are not acting like/ trusting in Jesus. I certainly don’t. Be that as it may, the only biblical parallel I know of that corresponds with our culture’s obsession with weapons, rampant fear of assailants unknown and crippling delusions of self-salvation is the story of Jesus in the garden on the night of his betrayal. You know the story: Peter doesn’t trust God, so he grabs a weapon to defend who he loves. It was precisely the wrong move and Jesus shut him down, even healing the original attacker. Your previous post indicates that you believe Peter was “trusting in God” when he drew his weapon. I think you are mistaken, and I see nothing different in any of my well-meaning Christian friends who have convinced themselves that guns are their birth-right and live in fear that some godless murdering savage might storm their castle at any moment, and that the only thing they can trust to prevent this is a gun. If we lived in the post-apocalypse world of Mad Max or armageddon, then I might see your point. As it stands, most of the pro-gun types in America are deceiving themselves and only seem to use the self-defense argument to perpetuate their obsession and worship of the 2nd Amendment. If that’s not you, then awesome.

    Finally, I had hoped that readers of this thread would see the inappropriate comparison between Bradley Steinman’s helmets and guns. One is designed only to preserve and the other is designed only to destroy. I thought this would be sufficient, but your piling on about doctors and cops indicates that you do not understand the underlying principle. So let me try again. Let’s assume that my helmet WAS designed not just to defend my brain from rocks but ALSO to kill/ destroy those rocks before they got to my head. Is it unethical, wrong or immoral to destroy such rocks? I hope we can agree that the answer is “no.” Can you now more clearly see why the helmet parallel totally fails?

    Your attempted doctor parallel is equally flawed, for when doctors save, they are acting as partners WITH God, not as adversaries who seek to destroy what he has created. When people (doctors or otherwise) follow Jesus, we trust in Jesus when we trust in them. The same could be said of (good) police officers, especially in light of Romans 13. And lest we forget, there is a fundamental difference between authorities acting in the heat of battle and vigilante citizens who want to take justice into their own hands. Which category do gun-toting civilians fit into? Your cop argument fails. Nevertheless, the more I think about it, your doctor analogy has some potential. If you are going to try and use doctors to make a point with guns and the idea of “preventing evil,” a better analogy can be found in abortion. By your rationale, abortion can be either good or bad, so long as we only murder the babies who will grow up to be evil.

  22. Ben J. says:

    i’m not sure i would say jesus wasn’t anti-self-defense. there are plenty of instances where folks were about to kill him, but he more or less fled the scene. John 10:22-39 shows how people wanted to stone him, yet he escaped because it wasn’t yet the appointed time, for example. a bit of a different reason for self-defense (fleeing) than you or i would have, but i think that qualifies.

    • C_Lambeth says:

      Agreed, Ben. Being the skinny kid, I always found it to my advantage to run away, rather than fight! Self-defense does NOT mean that we try to kill our attackers. Well said. My problem back in the day was mouthing off to the dumb kids. Perhaps I would have had to run less if I’d been less of a (edit) wise-guy.

  23. Ben J. says:

    i agree that peter was quick to act on his own, rather than on God’s accord. that’s basically what i was saying before – that Jesus was admonishing this motive, not just the action itself of cutting off the guy’s ear. i also agree that violence tends to bring on more violence. but that all goes back to the motive. i own a .22 rifle, but it sits in my closet. i like to target shoot for fun occasionally. i have been hunting with carol and bruce, and we ate what we shot (which sadly wasn’t much). while a rifle wasn’t necessary to shoot the squirrels, it sure was easier! overall, i think we’ve gotten off-track in the discussion. we shouldn’t ONLY focus on whether or not people own guns. instead, we should try to get people to stop murdering each other, for example. we need to get to the root issue – the heart, the motivations. it’s the idea of “from the inside out” that we see through the bible – if we change our heart, thoughts, and motivations, actions will follow. if i don’t want to kill people (which happens to be the case), i won’t have a NEED for assault rifles (which is also the case). all that being said, there’s also the bit about free will and liberties here in the USA that we’re so fond of. so my stance is this: you should be able to own guns, but you necessarily shouldn’t. in other words, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. i don’t really have a need for a gun, but i like to target shoot. i think you could also argue that no one has a need for a bazooka, so probably no one needs to ever buy/own one. but if you have lots of land and like to blow stuff up, is that wrong? i can’t say it is. if you take your bazooka and go blow up cars on the highway, that is a problem. but again, it’s the motivations that drive the actions. i have to keep going back to that. and, wow, sorry for making that so long!

    • C_Lambeth says:

      Awesome, Ben. There is nothing that I could really disagree with in your post. No need to apologize for the length. We could still probably find some points of disagreement over what Peter’s actions were all about in the Garden, but as a person who generally has no problem with the U.S. Constitution, I don’t want to strike the 2nd Amendment from the document. I really hope all the pro-gun nuts heard that. I just want to point out that we don’t need ARs, high-cap magazines, armor-piercers (or bazookas) for target practice or hunting, and that if we insist on making these available, it is inevitable that they will fall into evil hands (clearly not yours) and be used to murder people. I just don’t understand why Christians would want such implements of death made available to the public. Are we really willing to allow for mass murders of children with assault rifles, just so we can have some fun in (non-human) target practice? It seems to be a poor and unworthy trade off.

  24. Bradley S. says:

    I just want to point out my reaction was simply in regards to trust in God vs. something else and that I felt that you were stretching it to make it fit your argument. It is not untrue that I disagree on many (but not all) points you have made on gun control.

    I entered the conversation to call into question your willingness to say that a person’s ownwership of a gun makes them to trust God less than said item.

    I think a great conversation would be what the Bible says about self defense as it is not nearly as cut and dry as you seem to want to make it. The law of the old testament states if a man is struck when attempting to steal by night and happens to die from the blow, then there is no blame for the “defender”. As has been pointed out, Jesus never said that his followers should lay down their weapons. Swords have the same intended purpose that you define for guns yet they aren’t demonized by Jesus.

    Can a Christian love others and also protect themselves and/or their family with weapons? Good question.

    Owning a gun means you trust it more than God, or perhaps don’t trust God at all. Poor choice of statement in an attempt to win the hearts and minds of many that disagree with you.

    Perhaps rethinking your route of discussion would lead more to a true discussion than the obvious hurt you placed on a sister of yours. As I have said before I love having a discusson of issues that are not so clear to us. I am not the “conservative fundamentalist” that just comes in with reactions as you have purported me to be, rather someone who disagrees and has a different understanding of certain things than you do.

    I also wonder why you would call those that disagree “friends” ratther than just friends. I have always thought of you as an old friend. If the feeling is not mutual and you feel I am more a “conservative fundamentalist ‘friend'” rather than someone whose input you value I can keep my thoughts to myself

    • C_Lambeth says:

      Brad, I too consider you a legitimate friend and appreciate your non-hostile disagreements with me. I would like to point out that I used the qualifier “some” in reference to FB “friends.” This doesn’t mean everyone in this discussion. Don’t assume that I meant you. I appreciate your friendship and hope we can go climb something again sometime. I think you have also misunderstood my argument in general. That’s actually good because it means you have no reason to be offended, for I have never once said that merely “owning” a gun means that a person trusts it more than God. However, I tend to favor that understanding when a private citizen’s attempted justification for a firearm is merely self-defense, for it suggests that their intention is to kill someone with it, and at that point, they have stopped following Christ. Or so it seems to me.

  25. Amanda H-B says:

    After a quick read through that…I am going to spend just a second responding and then I am out…I have a one year old to chase through the house. We haven’t debated anything in a long time…and now I remember why—because you seem to think that you know exactly how Jesus would think/act and that you are the only one whose interpretation and understanding of things is correct. I will be your facebook “friend”…why you felt the need to put that word in quotes in regards to those of us you disagree with, I don’t know….but I won’t be engaging in anymore debates with you. I am glad you have it all figured out….and glad you have it all figured out on how all of the “hot topic” issues affect not only your relationship with Jesus…but all of your facebook “friends'” relationship with him as well. I hope nothing but the best for you, and I mean that sincerely. We just are going to have to agree to disagree on most things beyond our love for Jesus. See you around on facebook!

    • C_Lambeth says:

      Okay, Amanda, but I might say the same to you. I try to understand Scripture. You rely on broken analogies. I freely admit that I do not know it all, but if you want to engage with me in a legitimate and fair discussion, you’ll have to do better than offer half-baked arguments along with a dose of vinegar and vitriol. I don’t prowl around your Facebook page looking for a debate. You came here to argue and I merely responded. If you can’t handle a discussion with those who see things differently, then you probably shouldn’t pick fights with them. You are my friend, but I can’t help but notice that the only time you say anything to me in public is when you have a criticism and argument. That falls into the category of a FB “friend,” in my book, but not someone who legitimately appreciates me.

  26. Bradley S. says:

    That’s a fair explanation. Appreciated. I think you are very intelligent, passionate, and eager to find truth. However, don’t discount all of what Amanda Barr said. She may be reacting out of hurt but when I read her words to you, I hear an admonishment for you to have grace, tact, and love in your words to brothers and sisters. Just as you propose that she came here to argue, you asked a question knowing it would draw an argument. As the host you should do your best to lend yourself towards love and grace ahead of pushing your argument.

    And I’m off. Work calls…

    • C_Lambeth says:

      That’s a fair criticism, Brad, but I find it a little UNfair when detractors like Amanda feel at liberty to call me names and cast aspersions my way only to cry “fowl” when I point out that their arguments are half-baked. There’s little doubt that I could do better at extending grace, but the old adage remains true: “Those who live in glass houses, shouldn’t throw stones.” I am human. I will make mistakes, and I will own them, but it would be nice if others would extend the same courtesy and grace to me.

  27. Ben says:

    Just read through your posts here Corb. I find ’em engaging. If I could add a couple cents in…

    I think at the core of your original question, we have to ask: at what point does our intervention in any situation (taking matters into our own hands) show a lack of faith in God? Let’s say someone is breaking into your house and you pick up a bat – does this show a lack of faith? If someone tried to punch your wife, would you punch him? Are you still resorting to a violence that God would not approve of? At the core of this particular question you’re asking, guns aren’t really the issue, but at the core is this idea that Jesus’ brand of pacifism extends all the way to not intervening when we see evil people doing evil and instead trusting that the Father will take care of it.

    Let me make it more personal. My wife was a victim of gun violence, pretty savagely assaulted. Her testimony put that guy in prison for 18 years. He’s out now on parole. He knows her name. He knows where we live. He has a long track record of vengeful, evil behavior. He has access to weapons. And he has a reason to come after her, and her family. And we had evidence at one time that he was planning on doing so.

    As a follower of Jesus, I believe that I’m called to forgive that man. And I have. If he breaks down our door to exact vengeance, I don’t believe there is a problem with me owning a gun to defend my wife or kids. As a matter of fact, I see Jesus in Scripture becoming pretty aggressive when he was defending other people. When confronting the Pharisees, he did it with his words. When clearing the temple, he did it with a whip (which he made with his own hands for that purpose). When people personally insulted Him, he accepted it with grace, patience, and an unbelievable tolerance. When people marginalized the poor, or religious teachers took advantage of their positions, he showed his temper. He actively defended the people who couldn’t defend themselves.

    So … where do we draw the line between personal responsibility (it is my responsibility to defend those around me while trusting in God) and a passive faith (me lifting a finger against a fellow man is a breach of trusting God)? I believe owning a gun for defense is within the boundaries of that. You may likely disagree. Either way I respect you and the conversation.

    Blessings bro.

  28. C_L says:

    Ben,
    Thank you for your comments. Your thoughts are always appreciated. I understand your argument (or at least I think I do), but it seems to me that you are trying to construct an argument that will lead to concluding that the most loving and ethical/ moral thing to do would be to kill a person. Philosophers (and their students) love to create hypothetical situations where morally questionable and otherwise “sinful” behaviors would be justified if the “right” circumstances emerged. Consider the lie. We teach our children that this is wrong, and yet, with only a little imagination, we can invent a hypothetical situation in which telling a purposeful mistruth could save a life. Think of Nazis looking for Jewish folks being hidden by their Polish friends for a particularly troubling example. It would seem that some ethics are indeed “situational.”

    However, it also seems where you and I may disagree regarding firearms is on the issue of killing an unwelcome intruder in your home. You are arguing that in some situations, you are justified to take matters into your own hands and act as judge, jury and executioner against your enemy by sending high velocity lead downrange. I have to admit, the human, defender-of-my-family side wants to agree with you. That potential rapist/ murderer/ child abuser accepted the consequences of my actions the moment he decided to climb in through the window, didn’t he? Therefore, I can blast him to Hell, legally, ethically, and as a committed follower… of Jesus? Clearly there is no objection to the human legal code of self defense. Regarding ethics, the situation could be argued the same way if we live in a kill or be killed, eye for eye, tooth for tooth paradigm. The problem comes when we introduce Jesus into the mix. I do not believe that we can be “following Jesus” when we kill people. Killing another person is not like a lie designed to mislead a murderer so that his victims might escape. In fact, it is condoning the same type of behavior that the murderer or Nazi soldier intends (killing). This is a problem.

    In his delivery on the mountainside, Jesus says to his audience in Matt. 5.38-39, “You have heard that it was said ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you do not resist an evil person… .” Turn the other cheek and all that. My point is that Jesus doesn’t seem to be in an exception-making mood here. In fact, in the next few sentences, he tells people to love their enemies (instead of hating them), and to pray for people who mistreat them. I find it more than a little dubious to suggest that we can “love” our enemies (like the one breaking into your house) by killing them. I just cannot accommodate that with what I know about Jesus.

    This is also where I take issue with your baseball bat and Jesus’ whip of cords parallel. You want to make the argument about “not intervening when we see evil people doing evil and instead trusting that the Father will take care of it.” I can see where you might get it, but this is not what I am arguing for. I don’t think either one of us needs to convince the other that we aren’t called to sit around and exert no effort under the misguided, apathetic and lazy notion that “God will take care of everything.” Clearly God expects us to exercise good judgment and be proactive in our pursuit of good and avoidance / prevention of evil. However, I am arguing that in our pursuits to “prevent” evil, we are not authorized to engage in evil. Lying to save an innocent is good. A citizen killing to prevent killing isn’t (and it solves nothing if our aim is truly to prevent killing). God asks that we trust him with judgment, salvation, avenging evil and ultimate justice. Gunning down an enemy would seem to overstep our boundaries on more than one of these issues. That’s where I tend to draw the line.

    I agree that Jesus sought to “defend” the sick and the weak, and those who insulted the sanctity of his Father’s house, but you’ll notice that nobody died in the incident you mentioned, AND that a whip was never designed or intended to kill anyone. As far as I know, Jesus never permitted the killing of another person, much less did so himself. In fact, he rebukes those who live by the sword and was frustratingly passive when it came to being abused by others.

    I am sorry that your family has experienced fear and violence at the hands of another person. I have no idea what that is like, but your reaction is still at the very core of this blog post’s title. God has let you down by letting this evil happen to a loved one, so now you feel that you must arm yourself to gun the perpetrator down if he ever shows up, because you know/ believe that God won’t protect you like your glock can. I don’t blame you. If I had experienced it, I may well feel the same way, but I have the luxury of not living in that fear. I would like to think that, even if I had experienced something similar, I would not let it change me or how I understand my role as a Christ follower, but who knows? I’ve not crossed that bridge, but what I will say is that people who make the self-defense (and other-defense) argument for carrying guns seem to be reacting to being let down by God in a way that limits faith rather than in a way that expands it. Or, for those who have not experienced such violence, it is an effort to prevent being let down by God in the first place. But if we are called to live truly radical lives for Christ, avoiding the pitfalls that the world throws our way, not playing by its rules or doing what it does for “security,” “power” and prestige, then it seems to me that Christians ought never pick up a weapon intending to kill another person. To do otherwise just feels like an egregious accommodation to the world’s games, and as I have stated elsewhere, the relative ubiquity of guns in the USA has not made us more safe, but more vulnerable as a society. Pacifism and even refusal to serve in the military is one thing (of many) that I find exceptionally radical about the early church. That is radical Jesus-followership, and I just feel like we’ve lost our way at times.

    your friend,
    -Corbin

  29. Ben says:

    I don’t mind you disagreeing with me (at all), but I get the sense that you are misunderstanding me. I don’t believe that God let us down in terms of my wife being attacked. We live in a broken, sinful world. And God does not rescue us from every evil situation in this life. If that were the case, Christians wouldn’t get cancer, endure hardship, or ever die. But the rain falls on all of us.

    Where you misunderstand me is when you say that owning a gun for self defense means that I trust more in my Glock than I do in the Lord. You couldn’t be further from the truth there. When I bought health insurance, it wasn’t because I don’t trust the Lord. I have it because I believe, as a steward of my resources of my life and family, it would be poor stewardship to not have it. Part of trusting God is knowing when responsibility falls on my lap and when it doesn’t.

    Knowing that there is a real present danger to my family, I believe I would be a poor steward not to have some way to defend my family if that evil approached. This is not a way of me compensating for a lack of faith, any more than you wearing a climbing helmet (as mentioned above) is a lack of faith in God’s ability to save you from accidents. I know that analogy was pretty quickly dismissed above, but it has more merit in this conversation than it was given.

    Maybe the crux here is that I don’t believe that true self-defense is murder. There was a distinction (both in command and in punishment) between the two in Levicital law. And I don’t believe those protecting their kids from rape/murder are guilty of murder. Self defense is different than “living by the sword”, in my opinion, and I’m guessing that’s where our opinions differ. You believe that act of defense is “engaging in evil” and I don’t. My real hope in owning that weapon is that it will serve as a deterrent and never need to be used.

  30. C_L says:

    Ben,
    Thanks for the follow up. I am interested in your claim that the helmet and hospital (insurance) analogy “has merit.” I don’t think it has any at all. Since this connection seems to be the core of your recent post, I will have to wait to evaluate your claim until you elaborate on the merits of the analogy. I am willing to hear a defense of it, but it will take more than has been offered thus far.

    Knowing that there is a “real and present danger” to such and such has been used as a pretext for all kinds of violence and war in human history. Once again I must confess that this kind of reasoning seems aligned more with worldly principles than those of the Kingdom. Hitler believed that the Jews were a threat to Germany (and civilization) and that he would have been a poor steward if he could not develop a “Final Solution” to deal with this “problem.” Human judgment is a poor substitute for God’s.

    Finally, I never said that self-defense was “murder.” I said that killing people is killing people. That can be inclusive of murder, but not necessarily so. The point remains however, that when Christ asks us to “love our enemies,” sometimes you interpret this to mean that we should kill them. I think that is a mistake and a capitulation to fallen, worldly thinking. You say that your “real hope” is that you never have to use your gun. If you are serious about that hope, you can take possession of it right now and get rid of your gun.

    -Corbin

    • Ben says:

      The helmet analogy works (in part, not in whole) as a response to the idea that us taking action negates us trusting God. I think it’s right there at face value. There are times where we take matters into our own hands in terms of protection, and this is not a breach of trusting God. It’s simple wisdom and stewardship. You dismiss it because it does not entirely envelop our conversation, but it does overlap your original argument and some of your followup posts. Simply taking matters into our own hands does not mean we don’t trust God. If we take the analogy further than that simple lesson, it breaks.

      Your assertion that someone who owns a gun for self defense has stopped following Christ is a problem to me. When God gave his people instructions on how to live in Leviticus, he addressed self defense. If someone kills a man while he’s breaking into his home during the day (presumably a thief), he is guilty of killing, and must be killed himself. If he kills an intruder at night (presumably someone coming to kill him or his family), he was not liable to punishment. I don’t believe Jesus’ instructions to love our enemies are in contradiction of God’s old covenant, even though it has been fulfilled. He is the same God, old covenant and new.

      You say in your last response that my attitude of self defense is a worldy position, but it is right there in terms of God’s instructions to His people on how to live. And He clearly believes that life is sacred, so why would he give that instruction to the Jews? This is why I believe I am not allowed to take a life unless it is out of necessity in defense of an innocent person. I’m not allowed (by my faith) to use a gun against someone trying to steal an xbox.

      Again – I’m quite sure you’ll disagree on that point, and you’re more than welcome to. The reason why I’m responding is that it took me a long time to develop where I stand on this issue. It wasn’t simply a reactionary response, nor something that Scripture has had no influence over.

  31. C_L says:

    Ben,
    Where the helmet analogy fails is the crux of my argument. It is not that “taking action” negates trusting God, but rather that taking inappropriate action negates trusting God. The difference is doing what Jesus would do versus doing what Jesus would not do. The analogy could be fixed, however, if you argued for wearing bullet-proof body armor. There are no ethical considerations involved with wearing armor whatsoever. Like Jesus, insurance, helmets and body armor are designed to protect life, not take it.

    You quote Levitical Law as means of defending your eye-for-eye approach to ethics and justice and assert that Jesus changed nothing in the old covenant. I’d like to ask you what you think Jesus DID change, but that will inevitably lead the conversation in a different direction. For now, however, let me ask you if you keep the 400+ requirements of the rest of the Law found within the Pentateuch. How do you feel about bacon? Have you ever worn a garment made of different fabrics? I suspect that you may be inconsistent here, but I could be wrong. And don’t forget, Peter drew his sword to defend an innocent person, and Jesus shut him down. Was Jesus circumventing Levitical Law?

    As for the Xbox, are you really going to ask an intruder if he or she is just there for your game console (or your wife)? I appreciate your recognition that we can’t kill just anyone for any reason, but I don’t know how realistic your example is. What happens if they were just there for your XBox and you killed them mistakenly thinking that they intended something worse?

    I have no illusions that you decided on gun ownership casually or carelessly. I know that’s not how you govern yourself. Nevertheless, it seems to me that you are using the weapons of this world and have convinced yourself that killing someone can be “loving” them. I disagree and think the problem is somewhat obvious. I may be wrong, but you must come to terms with this part of my criticism.

    Thanks for the conversation, Ben!
    Good stuff.

    -CL

  32. Ben says:

    Hahaha – I do not keep all of Levitical law. At least I’m pretty sure I don’t. But I do believe we can go through each of those laws and ask what God’s heart was in giving them. The dietary laws let us know that what we eat matters. Even though I eat bacon (it’s hard to type with all this grease on my fingers), I can still get at understanding God’s heart by studying OT law. His hygiene laws let us know that He cares that we don’t suffer under unnecessary sickness.

    So … when I look at that Levitical law, it matters. God’s heart in giving that law was that life should not be taken except in extreme circumstances – as a matter of fact it cost you your own life if you did anything else but that. We can learn much about God’s heart through looking at this law, even if it is fulfilled. His morals don’t change like ours do. And therefore Jesus’ teachings are not inconsistent with the OT law.

    As for Jesus and Peter, that’s more difficult. There’s a lot we don’t know about that passage. Peter couldn’t defend Jesus because he would be breaching prophecy to do so, in effect undoing God’s plan in Jesus’ redemption. Jesus wasn’t keen on Peter undoing what God was doing. There is a lot more going on there than just the question of self defense … which leads one to question … why was Peter allowed to carry a sword? And why did Jesus tell the disciples to buy a couple of swords? Those are highly debated passages, and I’m not all that concerned about debating them. There is too much unknown there for us to make hasty application, which many people do.

    As far as the xbox scenario, I do think that expectation is realistic. I’m not allowed to start shooting someone when they cross the threshhold. And I wouldn’t shoot them unless they were advancing on or attacking a member of my family. Even in that situation, a bullet through the thigh would be pretty debilitating without having to kill. I think that would be a pretty clear delineation. As stated before, I do not believe I have the right to take a life unless it is out of absolute necessity and in defense of an innocent person.

  33. C_L says:

    Ben,
    Thanks for your honesty regarding Levitical Law, but this confirms my criticism that you are not being consistent in your approach to it. You have offered a fairly selective interpretation of what we find in the Pentateuch, and I just can’t help but wonder if you’ve gone on a quest to find Bible passages that reinforce the conclusions you came to apart from it. As a slightly related issue, what led you to the conclusion that bacon and clothes of different threads were not “safe” for the Israelites, but are for us today? Was it not Peter’s vision on the rooftop that affirmed that something had changed for what humans were to consider “clean” and “unclean?” Where does the Torah indicate that the Old Covenant Law is really about “God’s heart” and not strict obedience?

    Also, I hear you saying that Christ should be interpreted through the OT, and not the other way around. I think that is a mistake and again wonder if you are taking that track to justify your opinion on the issue. There is no way for me to know that, so I will have to trust whatever you say, but I think we have to admit that Christians have long (ab)used the OT to wage “holy” wars like the Crusades and genocide in general. Today many of our fellow believers quote the Old Testament to justify persecuting Muslims, gay people and really just about anyone else they don’t like. It makes me wonder: Is there no limit to the violence we can justify with the OT?

    I affirm that God’s character does not change, but has his posture and approach to humanity not changed between the Old Testament and New at all? Did Jesus change anything at all? You have still not answered my foundational question regarding the Sermon on the Mountain: Do you really think that when Jesus asks us to love our enemies, he means that we kill them?

    As for the Xbox hypothetical, the notion that you would only shoot someone in the thigh is functionally unbelievable. Under duress and a moving target (and probably poor lighting), the chances of you missing the leg or hitting a more critical area or a family member is far more likely. And that leads me to ask another question: Do you strap at all times? How is this not a fear response or an act of paranoia or false confidence? Is your gun at home easily accessible? How can it be within your reach, but not your children in case of an emergency or childish curiosity? If it is locked up and kept separate from its ammo, how will that help you when the mob storms your castle? Are you aware that most shootings within the home involve harming or killing a family member (not intruders). On a statistical level, having a gun at home puts a family at far greater risk than not. How do you know this won’t happen at your house? That’s a lot of questions, and I don’t expect you to answer every one of them, but I think they are all valid nonetheless.

    -CL

    • Ben says:

      Yes – not sure I can take the time to answer all of those. Let me start with the ones at the end. I do know the stats on gun safety in the home, and have taken steps to make sure my guns are not usable to anyone but myself. I don’t feel the need to go into details on that here, but anyone who owns a gun and does not read those stats/make changes according to them needs to do so. Whether or not you believe I would fire warning shots, try to wound instead of kill, etc isn’t important to me. The fact remains that I view it as an absolute last resort. I believe it’s possible for a gun to be a deterrent whether you agree or not.

      When having these discussions, I don’t find it helpful for you to keep drawing lines back to Hitler, mobs storming the castle, etc… The use of extreme exaggeration, while proving one point, often brings up many others that I’ve chosen to overlook. When you paint me as a doomsday preparer ready to shoot anyone who crosses an imaginary line around my house, it creates the perception that you’d rather be inflammatory than have an intelligent conversation. I know that’s not the case, but I also have seen this effect play out with some others on the thread.

      When it comes to Levitical law, I think you’ve completely missed me. I am not suggesting that we follow it again. The purpose of the law is to make us aware of our sin – it helps us understand what God saw as ok, and what he did not. Jesus fulfilled that law, but he was very clear to say that it didn’t go away. (not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, right?) God’s moral code – what he saw in the OT as wrong – has not changed in the NT. The law is fulfilled. We don’t kill prophets who speak out of turn today, but we understand that speaking on behalf of God is a serious thing, and we can get that from looking at OT law. Even if the penalty is gone, we better take it seriously. If you think I want to return to the Law, you are mistaken, but if you think we cannot learn about God’s eternal, unchanging moral character by it, then I do disagree. And the passage in Leviticus is not me groping the Scriptures trying to find something relevant. It is God’s instructions to His people on how they were supposed to live. (And if His moral conviction is unchanged, that should mean something, right?)

      Jesus obviously changed a lot. He painted the law in a very new perspective, fulfilled it to usher in a period of grace. We aren’t justified by the law. But what it teaches about His nature is quite relevant to this conversation. I believe the NT and OT don’t stand apart from each other. Both should be interpreted in the context of the other.

      I know you really (really) want people to answer the question: can you love your enemy by killing him – but I think the question is flawed. Not all questions are good questions. Can you love your neighbor by beating him with a bat? Not really, but you would do that, right? You mentioned earlier you would lie to save a life. But that’s still a breach of our commands. I believe in living a non-violent life, as prescribed by Christ, and as he modeled. But I do believe (with Scriptural precedent) that self-defense of the innocent is not what Jesus was talking about. When someone forces you to choose between your son’s life and theirs, I believe that is a different conversation altogether than the one Jesus was having.

      I’ve appreciated your responses Corbin! I take no offense to any of it. I think we’re called to sharpen each other and have no problems with the differing perspectives. I’m happy to hear your response to this, but this will likely be my last. My process in trying to figure this out has shifted over the years as I’ve tried to piece together what I know of God and His character with what I think my actions would be. I know the same has been true of you, and so I can appreciate that we’re both on the journey together.

      Blessings bro. Genuinely look forward to seeing you in the future…

  34. C_L says:

    Ben,
    Thank you for extending me a little grace. I didn’t mean to be offensive and I am glad that you’ve called this to my attention in a friendly way. Well, that isn’t entirely true. I remain grateful for your grace, but what I should say is that I didn’t intend to indicate that you and Hitler are the same. That would be offensive and stupid and offend you for the wrong reasons (not to mention that it would be completely detached from reality). Similarly, as I was typing last, the Steve Miller song “Take the Money and Run” popped into my head, along with the movie “Shrek,” and I just kept thinking of the line, “Billy Joe shot a man while robbing his castle.” I meant to have a little fun, but tone is impossible in typed media and you don’t have a window into my imagination, so you have my apologies.

    That being said, I did intend to be shocking and offensive by drawing a parallel between your rationale and that of people (like Hitler) who use the violent sections of the OT and just-so interpretations of Levitical Law to “justify” behavior which disregards the teachings of Christ. You may protest the similarity, but there is no doubt that people have done this. Right or wrong, I tend to push a little harder the more entrenched and stubborn people become when I perceive that they are following the ways of the world instead of letting Jesus transform their hearts, minds and actions. A Christian who claims they keep guns around for self-defense falls into this category in my mind, and given the full weight of Scripture, I have no other way to see this.

    I don’t like it when other people tell me that what I think, say or do on an issue does not “follow Jesus.” Do any of us? The natural reaction is to take offense, and double-down on our efforts to defend our behavior and choices, and maybe even vilify the person who is questioning us. You have tactfully avoided the first and last of these (for which I am thankful), but from all appearances, it seems that you will not reconsider if your ultimate willingness to kill another person is in-line with what Jesus taught on the Sermon on the Mountain. Perhaps you will, but I maintain that your refusal to let my repeated question come to bear on your choice is telling. How do you know that you are trusting God on this issue and letting him guide you rather than acquiescing in the ways of the world? Again, I’m not trying to be offensive here (maybe it just happens naturally), but I am letting you know my thoughts on your protest.

    Furthermore, the only other 2 examples we’ve mentioned about Jesus (whipping up on the money changers at the Temple and Peter’s sword swipe in the garden) also call your willingness to kill people into question. There simply are no examples in the NT were Jesus used lethal force or encouraged/ allowed his followers to do so. As with a lie, a whip or baseball bat can be used as a deterrent for worse evils. Better to take a K.O. bat to the head than to kill (or be killed). Yes, I know you will protest that having a gun can function in the same way, but this is true only when it is used as a deterrent or a pistol-whip to the head (like a bat). The moment you use that gun to take a life to prevent a life being taken, the net gain is zero. You cannot “protect” life while taking “life.” We simply cannot “love” an enemy by killing him or her. Period.

    I would also like to point out a continued, gradual shifting I see in your argument. First, quoting Levitical Law, you said that you had the God-given right to kill another person in the right circumstances. Then you gravitated towards shooting a perp in the “thigh.” In your last post however, you moved it once again to “firing a warning shot.” I have to admit, as far as this last emendation goes, I completely agree with you. There is nothing immoral or even ethically uncertain about firing a warning shot over someone’s head or using a firearm in this way. Your trajectory is encouraging, not because it means I “win” (we are not in a competition or fight after all), but because it indicates that you inherently recognize that killing a person is bad (not loving) and you want to avoid this. I am merely suggesting that you absolutely can avoid this by ridding yourself of the weapon altogether (or using blanks or rubber bullets, etc.). Perhaps a taser? As it stands, I have difficulty believing, if your warning shot was not heeded, that you would not then orient the next bullet a little more directly. This is simply not something that Jesus would do.

    Finally, you stated that, “When someone forces you to choose between your son’s life and theirs, I believe that is a different conversation altogether than the one Jesus was having.” Ben, I love you man, and I understand why you would be tempted to say this, but it is completely wrong. This is the exact conversation Jesus was having. Because of God’s unrelenting and insane love for humans, he allowed us to force him to choose between his son’s life and our own. He chose to sacrifice the Son. That is shocking, radical love, completely at odds with the world and literally makes no sense to those who have not the Spirit. Which path are we to follow?

    Thanks for having this conversation with me.

    Affectionately,
    -Corbin

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