By Paul McCain
Over the past few months I’ve noticed a sort of pattern. TTAG finds and quotes a guy or gal wearing preacher-duds and inevitably it’s some left-winger spouting off on gun control, demonizing firearms and firearm owners, and excoriating the right to keep and bear arms. Worst of all recently was a so-called “Lutheran” bishop honking off about how churches should be places where guns aren’t necessary, they are bad, bad, bad and blah, blah, blah. At that point I decided I’ve had enough and decided to write up this little piece . . .
Allow me to respond not as simply a firearms enthusiast but a man who also happens to be a Lutheran pastor. I’ve been one coming up on twenty-five years now. I can stomach all the anti-Christian rants that these kinds of posts engender in the comments, but for the record and in the interest of fair play, I’d like to offer a different perspective from the clergy-persons highlighted by TTAG.
I won’t try to go into all the theology and interpretation involved in discussing particular texts in the Bible regarding self-defense and turning the other cheek. Needless to say, there are horrendous distortions of the meaning and intention of various Bible passages commonly quoted and while I could sustain a long, detailed conversation on these points, it would only bore most to tears. Let’s just put it this way: there is no valid argument on the basis of the Biblical text — either Old or New Testament — to justify a pacifist opposition to self-defense and consequently the use of firearms to defend oneself and one’s family, neighbors or community.
I’ll simply reflect my own particular faith-tradition, that of conservative orthodox Lutheranism and cite our core text for explaining the whole Bible: Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. In the Small Catechism, Luther has beautiful, short, memorable explanations for each of the Ten Commandments.
And here is where I take my stand.
Luther explains the meaning of the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” this way, “We should fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every need and danger of life and body.”
So, let’s keep this simple. If this is what “Thou Shalt Not Kill” entails — and note that in the original Hebrew of the Old Testament, the word here for “kill” is “murder” — then it’s very plain that if in fact I am to do what I can, not merely to avoid hurting or harming my neighbor, but to act to help him in every need and danger of life and body. This means that yes, as a Christian, it’s not merely a right but a duty to protect and defend those whom I love, and even those in my community, if and when their life and body is being threatened with harm. A firearm is one tool that can be used to accomplish this.
Clear? Simple? You bet it is.
But let’s also take a look at how Luther explains the commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.” Here he says, “We should fear and love God that we may not take our neighbor’s money or property, nor get them by false ware or dealing, but help him to improve and protect his property and business, so that his means are preserved and his condition is improved.” Again, quite simple. A firearm may be used to help my neighbor to preserve his condition and protect his property.
So, when you see or hear a cleric spouting off on social issues with a leftie bent, please be aware that there are a lot of conservative, more orthodox Christians, like me and others, who quite thoroughly disagree with them. People who thoroughly reject the “theological” arguments underlying their positions. Carry on.