Should a Good Christian Own a Gun?

According to the startling results of a survey released last week by the Public Religion Research Institute, 57 percent of white evangelicals live in homes where someone owns a gun (compared, for example, with 31 percent of Catholics.) And more startling, even after 20 first-graders were slaughtered in Connecticut at the hands of a madman with an assault rifle, 59 percent of white evangelicals continue to oppose tighter restrictions on gun laws.

An obvious question occurs in light of these results: How do such Christians reconcile their stalwart commitment to the Second Amendment with their belief in a gospel that preaches nonviolence? The Christian Lord allowed himself to be crucified rather than fight the injustice of the death sentence imposed on him. "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also," he says, in the Gospel of Matthew. The Bible is mute on the matter of guns, of course, but it is impossible to imagine that Jesus would find anything good to say about them.

With the Newtown tragedy so fresh and its victims so innocent, conservative Christian leaders are not falling over themselves to proclaim in public their pro-gun theologies. Neverthless, such arguments do exist. I will address some of them, moving generally from unpersuasive credos to more-convincing assertions of individual rights and responsibilities.

The Second Amendment is approved by God. This, at least, appears to be the argument on the home page of the Christian Gun Owner Web site. It goes like this: The authors of the Constitution were acting under the guidance of God, therefore the Constitution is itself inspired by God. This argument is a subset of the bigger "American exceptionalism" worldview. God has special things in store for this country, and its founding documents bear the imprint of that specialness.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post
Lisa Miller
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