"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." - Romans 12:19 KJV
Ehrmagard! They're Coming fer My Guns!
If there is one thing conservative Christians in the US love more than white Jesus, it's guns. You can't scroll through your Facebook feed or turn on the news without seeing some fanatical nut who thinks it necessary to parade through the streets and into businesses with an AR15 slung over his shoulder, claiming that somehow he has a "god-given" right to terrorize decent folks and their children. If ever there were people who stood as a logical reason to require a mental evaluation before handing out a permit to own a firearm, it is those people. Their grasp on constitutional freedoms is just as tenuous as their understanding of the concept of faith.
Now, some may have the wrong impression here and think me anti-gun but, as always, fact is stranger than fiction. I am actually a strong supporter of the 2nd amendment and the right to bear arms. Although I do see a need for more logical gun laws in this nation, I have no desire to see anyone stripped of their right to own firearms or to defend themselves against those who would do them harm. So you may be wondering what my gripe is. You see folks, this isn't about guns, but about faith, or rather a distinct lack thereof.
Render Unto Caesar
There is a very distinct message I see being portrayed by these conservative Christians and their obsession with guns and self defense. That message is that these people have no faith in their god. Furthermore, it shows me a distinct lack of faith in their position as Christians as being righteous and unwavering. You see, I do not believe that a man who is sure of his place in heaven would be one who would fear death, and the urge to defend oneself against death is most assuredly born of a fear of that death.
What is also telling is that these people lack faith that their god will protect them. If one truly had faith in such a notion he would have no need to defend himself and would simply trust that god will do for him because he is righteous. The problem is though, that god doesn't stop bullets and these people know this just as well as you or I do. This is the same reason good Christians build storm shelters to protect themselves from tornadoes. You see, given the option of faith and simple prayer or a tried and true method of self defense the vast majority of people will choose that method with true substance over faith time and again. Sure, they may pray their hearts out as well, but they aren't just going to leave it in gods hands. They know, just as I do, that no god is going to save them.
When the Chips are Down Substance Trumps Faith
What the Christian must ask themselves is if their faith is so strong that they are truly willing to leave it all in god's hands. The answer to this is painfully obvious and is a resounding no. But that is exactly what is asked of the Christian. You see, there seems to be this pervasive idea that the only faith a Christian need have is that god exists and the bible is true. This idea misses the mark by a country mile and any theologian worth his salt will tell you so. The faith which the bible asks of the Christian is not in god's existence as that is supposedly a proven fact according to the bible, but rather is faith in god's word and the inerrancy and infallibility of god himself. This faith which is asked of the believer is meant to have the believer trust without doubt in the will of god. That includes putting your life or death firmly and unquestioningly in the hands of god.
This level of faith is something nearly all Christians fall short of or are totally lacking in. The proof of this is in just how many people rely on guns to protect themselves and how many go to doctors rather than simply praying and letting the supposed will of god be done. In these acts the believer in essence tries to usurp the will of god and take their life and death into their own hands or put it in the hands of men rather than god. They do not understand that the commandment against murder is not given because murder is morally wrong, but rather because god has made it clear that life and death are his domain and he alone is allowed to decide who lives and dies. So even if you take a life in self defense you have broken the commandment against murder because you have taken someone else's life or death into your own hands rather than leave it in the hands of god. In the same respect, you've taken your own life or death into your own hands once again attempting to usurp god. The bible tells the Christian that this is an act of pride, and I think we all know how that god supposedly feels about pride.
Some Final Thoughts
What I argue here is not the musings of an atheist. This is strict foundational theology. I dare say even Thomas Aquinas would be hard pressed to differ with my assertion. He would likely also be dismayed in seeing the same lack of faith amongst those who claim to be the faithful that I have pointed out. If one truly understands theology and what Christian doctrine and dogma are built on, there is no escaping this simple truth.
With that being said however, I want to make it clear that I do not advocate for anyone to not defend themselves. I do not wish for Christians to choose faith over actual defense of their own lives. Indeed, I encourage all men and women to take whatever means necessary to defend themselves when violence is brought against them. But I am an atheist and as such I value human life above fealty to any doctrine or dogma and I urge all mankind to do the same. So my point here is not that Christians ought to lay down their arms, but rather that they ought to reevaluate their faith because if they are not willing to trust god fully with unquestioning faith, even so much as to put their own life in his hands regardless of the possible outcome... then maybe they don't have the faith they claim to have.
Photo Credit: Flickr/kwl - Kenny Louie