Primal justifications for gun purchase and use are appeals to “freedom and rights” buttressed by reference to the Second Amendment. Stirred into the mix is the right of self-defense as we have heard in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. Yet, the primary clarion shout is the appeal to “FREEDOM and RIGHTS”. No one can deny that our Constitution and liberties allow for legitimate gun purchase and use. But for the Christian, a significant caveat arises.
The Book of Colossians shines a light on this ethical caveat. In his commentary, Professor Ralph Martin writes that Paul lifts up “the new humanity”, . . . . “people’s freedom in Christ in which what counts is not observance of human tradition or man-devised rules . . . .” “Freedom and rights” must be juxtaposed with Colossians. The ethical implications for the Christian are significant. Freedom and rights for the followers of Christ have a different aura.
The question then is: What is this freedom which Christ bestows and calls us to exemplify? Paul writes in Colossians 2:20, “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? . . . . So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above . . . .” (3:1) And what are these things? “Put to death, therefore , whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry) . . . . But now you must get rid of all such things – anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language.” (3:5, 8) Continuing, Paul admonishes “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts . . . . (3:12-15)
The Christian is chosen, freed and called to see freedom and rights through the glasses of Jesus Christ, letting these “glasses” focus faithful understanding and interpretation of freedom and rights in the world. Freedom in Christ guides our decision-making. Christians, followers of Jesus, “see” life, freedom and rights differently.
Therefore, the faithful in Christ, in obedience to Christ, are called to consider right and fair gun purchase and use, “freedom and rights”, not merely as individual freedoms and rights, but in the Light of Jesus’ ethics. Jesus was not an unabashed clarion of individualism! Jesus taught, lived, died and rose that we might all be ONE, in a comity of family. Too often, the wrong use of guns in the name of “freedom and rights” and the Second Amendment obliterates unity. The life and ethics of Jesus enlightens “freedom and rights” rightly.
Let us be faithful followers of Jesus.
Ron Letnes (Rev. Dr.)