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The initial response is to mourn. You grieve for the victims of the hate. You grieve for the families and friends of those who lost loved ones. You weep for a twisted individual who exchanged the truth of God for a lie. You also mourn because the noisemakers do not talk about God’s solution. The Lord is the only one who can reverse the curse of the evil one who scored another victory with another mass shooting.
When it happens, every channel’s news is a steady stream from nearly every possible story line, which is the perfect opportunity for the cultural evangelists to move the discussion. Why not? It’s a senseless tragedy that provides the pundits the platform they need to preach their gospel.
Like any good cultural evangelist, they want to seize the moment. They are looking for converts. I do the same thing. When I write, I hope to grip you to take you where I want you to go. I aim to show you Jesus—the purpose of all my writings. The cultural evangelists’ plan is different. The Bible is not their presupposition or their hermeneutic.
They begin with a heart-wrentching story and then launch into their politicized agenda. Gun control is one of those agendas, and every mass shooting presents the platform for them to pontificate. What strikes me about the gun control argument is how the story line moves from human responsibility to guns’ fault. If I didn’t know what guns were, it would be easy to think they were free moral agents who exercised their will over humans. There are three reasons for this:
The cultural evangelists give an inanimate object life. The first shift in the argument is when the evangelist uses the term gun violence. This labeling is a subtle but astute change if you want to move the discussion from human responsibility to inanimate objects. The way you do this is by giving life to guns.
Make them animated, which is a worldview difference between gun violence and human violence. This maneuver happens when the weapon is violent rather than the human. You can do the same thing with sticks and stones.
This shift moves the potential cultural convert from thinking less about people and more about sticks, stones, and guns, which is more than semantics. It is an agenda. It’s a cultural worldview designed to shape policy. Once we put the accent mark on the gun rather than the sinner wielding the weapon, we’ve set ourselves up as secondary actors, not culprits.
The evangelist’s argument is about guns as though the person who slaughtered the people was not culpable for “his” actions. If you follow the logic, the solution is to incarcerate the gun (gun control) rather than the gunman. (The progressive left does want to release more convicts.) The assumption is if you managed all inanimate objects capable of being used to hurt someone, you would solve the problem.
Get rid of the cause of the violence. In this case, the “cause” is guns because we’re talking about gun violence rather than human violence. This argument does not take into consideration the doctrine of sin. I do not fault unbelievers for pushing this kind of agenda or expect an unbelieving media culture to put forth Christian values. What they can’t understand is how violence comes from a sinful heart, not a gun.
The gun is an instrument that a violent person uses to carry out his violent actions. An inanimate object has no ability or power to harm anyone if a depraved soul chooses not to hurt someone. From this perspective, a mass shooting is no different from the first recorded murder. If the cultural evangelist were arguing the case back in Cain and Abel’s day, he would push for rock control or stick control or whatever object Cain chose to kill his brother.
Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him (Genesis 4:8).
The cultural evangelists give an inanimate object morality. Many of the evangelists talk about how the possession of guns is the problem. Though I agree with them in part, I reject how they position the argument and the word choices to disguise the real issue. For example, if the assailant did not own guns, the victims would be alive today. That is probably true.
I would never dismiss that kind of reasoning as though it is ludicrous or carries no validity. The problem I have is where the “gun controllers” place the weight of the argument. It’s the shift they make. They move the issue to the gun with hardly any mention of the real culprit. If the assailant survives, he will stand trial for this hate crime. His weapons would not.
There is only one culprit in this morality play: the assailant. He is the free moral agent who chooses to pick up an inanimate object and kill human beings. I could just as quickly say if he did not have a gun, he could have picked up any deadly weapon to kill someone. If they want to make a hypothetical argument by saying the assailant would not have killed if he had no gun, I could make an opposite argument, saying he would have killed them with something else.
Both arguments (mine and theirs) are speculative and miss the point: this is a moral issue more than a gun issue. When my children use an object to hurt one of their siblings, the thrust of my response to them is not about the thing used. I’m addressing the heart of the person who made a moral decision to hurt someone.
I know if God changes the heart of my child, the objects around our home will not be a problem. Banning every possible thing that someone can use to hurt someone does not make sense when evil has gripped the hearts of fallen people. Because this is a moral argument, we do have a solution.
But if the cultural evangelist gets his way by making it a gun argument, there is no solution, not until the government can control all possible objects that people can use to kill. Even if that were possible, there is still the matter of human depravity. If sinful people are not held accountable for their immoral actions, there is no possible way to control guns or any other weapon of choice.
The cultural evangelists give an inanimate object power. Initially, the evangelists talk about the violence of the gun, not the man wielding it. Then they placed morality on the gun rather than the man. Lastly, they give the weapon the ability to tempt a human being. Notice the word choices in the argument—exacerbate, tempt, and bait.
Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it. —Jason Whitlock
Do you see what is happening here? Guns can cause us to sin by exacerbating, tempting, and baiting us to pick them up and shoot someone. James debunked this argument a long time ago when he addressed the source of our anger. Note how the biblical record tackles Whitlock’s view.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel (James 4:1-2).
These two verses read as they came out of today’s newspaper. Whitlock would have had a stronger and more compelling argument if he had copied and pasted James rather than trying to shift the discussion from the murderer to the gun. According to James, the gun did not exacerbate, tempt, or bait the killer to kill. He killed because there was something he wanted but could not get, so he chose to murder.
You desire and do not have, so you murder (James 4:2).
The gun has no power unless a moral person chooses to give it power. Whitlock loses his argument at this point. His mistake is common. We all have done this. How many times have you gotten angry and then justified your anger by blaming something outside of yourself for the offense? Anytime we look beyond ourselves to explain the cause of our anger, we are no longer walking in the truth.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers (James 1:14-16).
I appreciate a person’s desire to curb violence and make our culture a safer place to live. Still, if we try to bring in social change while being dismissive of God’s Word, we are deceiving ourselves, and the excellent desire we may want for society will never happen.
Moving the story line from appropriate mourning over the senseless deaths of people made in the image of God to the primary cause of those murders being something other than human responsibility is misguided and nonproductive. Guns have no life, morality, or power, but people do.
If the culture ever turns the argument back to the people behind the weapons, they would be in a better place for resolution. The issue for me is that the human vs. gun argument should not be an either/or debate. There is truth on both sides. The cultural evangelist is making it a one-sided view—the problem is with the gun. I gave a counter-argument—the problem is not with the gun.
But I would not want to leave you thinking there is not a problem with guns. There is. If my child abused his sibling with an inanimate object, I would deal with his heart first. Then I would make sure there were rules in place to mitigate the possibility of it happening again. For example, it would be unwise for me to put boxes of BB’s on the kitchen counter for my son to act out his evil heart perchance he wanted to hurt someone.
That type of misguidedness would be foolish parenting because I would not be thinking through the doctrine of sin present in my son’s heart. The answer is not legalism (absolutely no guns) or licentiousness (total gun freedom). I believe the murder rate could go down if there were stricter practices and policies regarding firearms, especially those with criminal records.
My point is not to say enacting policies won’t work. God gave us “policies” because of our hard hearts (Matthew 19:8). Policies can work to a degree, but the real issue will always be human responsibility. We should have a more productive dialogue regarding the main problem rather than shifting the discussion to lesser or specious arguments.
It would be more effective if our cultural evangelists wrote about moral issues like parenting, fatherless homes, firearm responsibility, and statistical demographics that are more likely to kill someone.
I hear you, cultural evangelists. I’m not going to leave a gun readily available for my immature child to pick up and use willy-nilly. I’m willing to embrace your worldview to a point. Let’s talk about being responsible with guns. But do you hear me? Will you embrace my worldview that this is primarily a moral problem?
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