Yesterday I wrote a letter about defending gun ownership to my fellow believers in Christ. I posted the letter here on my blog and on Medium. Several people have responded. One person on Medium took the time to write a thoughtful reply. What follows is my letter back to him. You can read his letter to me by clicking here.
Thank you for sharing your fears and thoughts with honesty and vulnerability. I share your fears, and I appreciate you identifying that this conversation is a conversation about faith.
You said, “ I see the good in people. I have faith in humanity — but not blind faith.” I wish I had the same optimism you do. While I love that people are beautifully creative, astoundingly innovative, designed for community, and capable of the unimaginable (as Genesis says, we are the image of our creator), I know that when I am making decisions from my gut, they are selfish and often destructive. I do not share your faith in humanity. We use our gifts to do terrible things to each other and ourselves. There are “sinister and twisted people out there.” Sadly, I far too often count myself among them.
So each night, after I’ve tucked my kids into bed, I lock all my windows and my doors, because, like you, I am afraid.
And each night, as I lock up, I laugh at myself, because I know I am putting my faith in something that can’t really protect me. Unless I were to make my home into a bank vault, if someone wants to come inside, they will find a way. So while the locks make me feel better by easing my fear, I understand that they are a no more than a mental game I am playing with myself.
I know in my heart that there is only one place where my faith belongs. As Psalm 59 says,
You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
you, God, are my fortress,
my God on whom I can rely.
When it comes to the easing of my fears and the protection of my family, as a Christ follower, I know my only true, reliable protection comes from God. Everything else is a crutch I use to make myself feel better, not deserving of the faith I put in it.
I’ve only been close to a gun once. I was in High School, and the gun was being held by a police officer, and being pointed at my head. But please believe me when I say that I understand your attachment to your guns. I understand how having them, putting faith in their presence, eases your fears.
At the same time I hope you will come to understand you guns like I understand my locks. They are a crutch, not worthy of your faith.
I often wonder what I would do if a sinister and twisted person were to enter my house late at night with the intention of doing my family harm. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego standing at the mouth of the fiery furnace, I hope my words in that moment would be, “I know that my God is able to save us from you, but if he chooses not to, please know that I will not regret putting my faith in Him.”
As a final note, in my original letter, I did not directly address gun ownership. My request was not for you to be gun free, because as I said above, I understand your need for them, and could defend their place in society under various circumstances. Rather, my request was for you to stop defending them, because the words of Christ demand his followers defend others with love, and the defense of guns is in the way of that holy mission. Yet still, you and many have once again come to the defense of you guns.
This has left me with a sincere question. Are there any circumstances which would compel you to do away with your guns?
I routinely ask myself this same question about different things in my life. I know I have found an idol — something besides God that I am putting my faith in — when I cannot immediately think of multiple circumstances in which I would do away with the thing or stop the activity. About once a year, this incredibly frustrating exercise leads me to give up coffee for a season.
If you cannot think of realistic things that would cause you to part with your guns, I recommend you fast for them for a season just to see how dependent you are.
With love and respect,