What is a Biblical case for gun violence prevention (GVP)? Actions for GVP must be grounded in the Word. Here is my take on a Biblical foundation.
PRESUPPOSITIONS: 1) The will of God is nonviolent love; 2) People activate the weapon. The weapon does the killing; 3) By the grace of God we are free to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we may discern the will of God.
1. The Word begins with Creation. The place is Eden. The culture is one of SHALOM: harmony, balance, peace and nonviolence.
2. Violence happens through humankind’s sinful choice. Cain chose to kill Abel.
3. The Ten Commandments are nonviolent laws for community and connection with God and each other.
4. Personal acts of murder and suicide are not justified.
5. Violence in conflicts between tribes and cultures are political decisions with frequent theological justification. We must ask: Is God justifying or national leadership justifying these violent actions in the name of God?
6. Scripture validates legal, societal and moral permissions for hunting, sport and defense of home/tribe and nation.
7. Isaiah speaks of the coming Messiah as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.” Strong tones of gentleness and strength balance.
8. The Peaceable Kingdom in Isaiah speaks of the “Wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid,” all nonviolent images. 9. It is proper to ask: If OT images and stories of war anda violence were so consistent with God’s will, why was Jesus Christ necessary?
10. The foundational ethic of Jesus was nonviolence. There is no account of Jesus using a weapon.
11. Jesus’ strongest words regarding weapons are: “Blessed are the peacemakers….”, “Those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword”, ” Enough!”, and “No more of this!”
12. Strangely, it appears that some of Jesus’ disciples carried swords. Yet, Jesus’ above words tempered the use of these swords.
13. Paul says the duty of government is to “ensure good conduct”, implying it may be necessary for the government to use weapons or force to maintain peace. Significantly, this exhortation is preceded and followed by the command to love. Weapon use is tempered by nonviolent love. Furthermore, what does it mean that there were no Christians in leadership roles? Was Paul being a practical realist? 14. Sinfulness and repentance are always part of weapons reality. In the words of Paul, “The good I want to do, that I do not do. The evil I do not want to do, that I do.” 15. Paul tells the followers of Jesus to prepare for difficult times in spreading and living the Gospel. So, “Put on the Armor of God: helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, belt of truth, shoes of peace and sword of the Spirit”, all nonviolent pieces of armor.
16. Paul presents the fruits of the Spirit (expressions of Christ) as: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, faithfulness and self control.” All are nonviolent expressions of Jesus Christ which the followers of Jesus are given.
17. Revelation concludes with nonviolent promises of a “new heaven and a new earth where death will be no more, mourning and crying and pain will be no more.” The Word opens and closes with God’s will to love and nonviolence.
The Word is our foundation for GVP.
Rev. Ron Letnes