What is a Biblical ethic for gun violence prevention (GVP)? We may begin in Genesis 1-2 with the two creation accounts. God created the earth and all life, and it was “good”. “Good” is the Will of God, meaning the Garden of Eden in harmony, in balance, in peace, in nonviolence, in SHALOM. Similarly, humankind was created in God’s Image, to reflect the character of God’s “Goodness” in life. Contrary to the Will of God was humankind’s choosing to sin, choosing to disobey God’s will, instead, choosing to kill and do harm. Will of God/Image of God are linked.
The Will of God/Image of God are further clarified in the Ten Commandments, each of which is a call to the nonviolent life. But you might ask, “What about the OT war stories?” We may consider these as theological justifications for state violence which nations have consistently used to justify state actions throughout history. In all, it is proper to think of this violence as the embodiment of human brokenness, not God’s Will. Significantly, individual violence is not justified other than for possible defense. The centrality of God’s Will is stamped upon the faithful in Hebrews 10:7: “Then I said, ‘See, God, I have come to do your will, O God . . . .'”
If the Will of God is so central in OT theology, why was Jesus Christ necessary?” Jesus Christ was necessary to remind us what it means to be created in the Image of God, that we may daily reflect God’s original intention for us to do the Will of God in the world. God’s created intention was and is that human beings live nonviolently. The Image of God is linked with the Will of God in Jesus Christ. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus enjoins all followers, “Blessed are the peacemakers”. Then later, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and might. And your neighbor as yourself.” The foundational ethic of Jesus Christ is nonviolence which is consistent with the Will of God/Image of God. In Galatians 5:22-23. the Apostle Paul carries through this Truth when he writes of the Fruits of the Spirit: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” The “Fruits” are nonviolent. It is only in Romans 13 where Paul seems to justify violence, but even there it is state violence to maintain order and ensure peace and justice. Individual violence is counter to Jesus and Paul.
We must conclude, therefore, that gun violence prevention is consistent with a Biblical ethic of nonviolence, justifying personal and public actions and laws to limit and prevent gun violence.

Blessings and Peace!

Ron Letnes (Rev. Dr.)