How A Progressive Christian Pastor Made His Peace With Guns (Kinda Sorta)

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23 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Do you still live in Flint, Dennis? I have family there.Report

  2. Avatar Shazbot5 says:

    “what do you do if someone is harming someone you love?”

    You mean anyone who buys a gun, especially a handgun, right? Because statistically the mere act of buying the gun is more likely to harm or kill someone. People you know and love who buy guns are harming the people around them that we know and love in the same way that drunk driving is harmful.

    “What happens if someone comes into our homes? Are we saying that we should just let a burglar or what-have-you do whatever they want?”

    What happens if my daughters boy friend buys a gun for self-defense and he goes nuts one day and kills her with it? This is the more likely thing to worry about.Report

  3. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    For some reason when I read this post I keep thinking of Army chaplains and the moral hurdles they have to contend with.Report

  4. Avatar Shazbot5 says:

    IMO, the drunk driving and gun buying analogy is true in another way. A lot of people I knew grewing up thought it was okay for safe for them to drink and drive because they were good drivers. That is, they believed the problem wasn’t drunk driving per se, but bad drunk drivers. (They belived that a good driver who could hold his booze was not more likely to get in an accident.) We have an analogous position on guns here that the problem isn’t gun ownership but bad gun owners.Report

    • Avatar Dan Miller says:

      This is a very good point.Report

    • I think this is a strong analogy, especially when examing gun-laws/gun-culture/gun-violence/gun-whatever from a Christian perspective. The New Testament teaches – somewhere, I don’t know the book, chapter or verse – that not only must we try to refrain from sinning, but that we shouldn’t, basically, set an example that if others follow will lead them to sin (sorry, really badly paraphrasing here).

      In a gun context, if a proliferation of gun ownership or gun culture (or whatever) leads to guns falling into the wrong hands (be they criminal or incompetent), it may not matter that you were a responsible gun owner.

      I’m not saying this analysis necessarily leads to a specific conclusion, but I question whether those with views like Rev. Land have given it sufficient thought.Report

  5. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    The Bible can be used to justify an amazing diversity of opinions. I’m disgusted by every attempt to square the Sermon on the Mount with Deus Vult. Onward Christian soldiers. Maybe Jesus told you something he didn’t tell me but I seem to remember something about those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.Report

    • I’m more comfortable with Blaise’s comment than the OP or the quotes from Rev. Land.

      I don’t think I’ll be making any sweeping gun ban proposals in the near future (well, that may depend on one’s definition of “sweeping”), but it’ll be quite a long time – if ever – that I’ll be able to make peace with guns.Report

    • I’m not advocating that the Bible is telling us to go and get guns. What I was trying to say is that I think Land was at least willing to realize that life doesn’t always square so easily to Biblical ideals. And I would add that the Bible is not a rule book telling us what and what not to do, but is more of a book about God’s relationship with humanity. We can infer some ideals, but the God in Jesus that talked about living and dying by the sword is the same one that advocated genocide in the Old Testament.

      The Bible is not so easy to fit into our modern world. That doesn’t mean we ignore it, but we can’t hide behind it to justify whatever idea we believe in.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I wonder what the overlap is between people who take this view of scripture and an originalist view of the Constitution is.Report

      • Avatar M.A. says:

        And I would add that the Bible is not a rule book telling us what and what not to do, but is more of a book about God’s relationship with humanity.

        If only more christians held this view. Far too many think the Bible is a rulebook itself, and think that it should somehow create an immutable set of rules or laws. The fact that it’s self-contradictory doesn’t register with them, either.

        For instance.Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          He probably should have had that tattoo text reversed, so that he could use a mirror to read it as a reminder whenever he looks at the clock and realizes he’s been watching Bravo TV for seven consecutive hours now.Report

  6. Avatar SpeleoFool says:

    Dennis, thanks for sharing this article. I appreciate the story of your transformed relationship with guns because my own relationship has transformed in a similar way with one key exception: I now own several firearms.

    My purpose for owning them is simply for target practice / recreational shooting. It’s fun, end of story. Contrary to certain stereotypes, I don’t fantasize about being an action hero or shooting an armed intruder or surviving the apocalypse or whatever. I really don’t like to think about such things. Yet I also can’t ignore the fact that owning firearms places me in a position where I might be forced someday to answer the question of what to do if someone is harming someone I love. I could guess and surmise, I suppose, but in truth I don’t think I really can know unless that moment ever arrives, much like I couldn’t tell you which way I’d steer or how I’d manipulate brakes and gas if subject to a life-or-death moment on the road. I’d try to act selflessly.

    I do find that having grown up in a household that did not own or approve of guns and coming to own them myself has given me a unique and odd perspective where I feel like I can identify with both sides of the discussion. Yet, ironically perhaps, my interest in military style firearms has placed me in a position where I’m easily marginalized by both halves of the discussion.Report