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Another week, another tragedy. There is no doubt that “something is wrong” in America right now when it comes to the increasingly frequent and horrific occurrence of deadly school shootings. According to the Washington Post, “there have been 376 school shootings since Columbine” (which occurred in April 1999). Their data also shows that 2022 was the worst year since 1999 for school shootings, with 46 incidents.
Despite the Washington Post’s mostly liberal leanings, this data appears to be reliably sourced. Furthermore, it simply proves what we all feel in our bones — that there is a great sickness settling across America. We feel it in our hearts every time that headline pops up again, “Breaking: School shooting at [fill in the blank], developing situation.” We feel it as our stomachs turn when we read the names of the victims, often young children.
Amid the madness, we find ourselves seeking solutions, longing for answers. “Never again!” the activists cry. That’s our natural human tendency, arguably an echo of the imprint of God in man. We yearn to make wrongs right. We desire justice for the slain, accountability for the guilty, and mitigation of the root issue.
And that’s when things get tricky. That’s when Christians must be careful. That is exactly when we must patiently bring to bear a comprehensive biblical worldview to the issue of gun violence in America and the Second Amendment.
Because if we want to “fix a problem” we must first know what the true problem is. Addressing the wrong issue makes a two-fold mess: First, the real problem remains unaddressed, and second, you’ve now caused a new problem by “fixing” what wasn’t broken.
In the aftermath of national-level incidents of gun violence in America (as opposed to the gun violence that plagues our cities on a daily basis and is ignored by the media), the loudest voices within the mainstream media and the liberal activist class rush in to solve what isn’t the problem — guns. They say they want to ban “assault weapons,” but every weapon is an “assault” weapon. They say they want to restrict gun ownership, but that infringes upon the Second Amendment. And again, guns aren’t the real issue.
So, what is the issue from a Christian worldview perspective?
The root of the problem is evil human hearts. And this perpetual reality, the wickedness of fallen man, has been particularly exacerbated by a few other issues in America right now that are far more significant factors than the availability of guns and personal firearm ownership.
Christian pastor Chase Davis addressed some of these other factors in a recent Twitter thread. He wrote, in part:
“America has experienced a sudden and shocking rise in school shootings in the last 25 years. How are we to understand this rise? Gun ownership in America per capita was actually higher before these heinous acts began to be more common, so how are we to explain it? From adultery to no-fault divorce to reliance on government for provision, the family has been relegated to the sidelines. Healthy, strong families make for a strong and coherent social fabric which counteracts the incredible loneliness many feel today. Fathers were designed to provide for their families. Masculinity has been denigrated and labeled as toxic. Strength, courage, and hope as virtues have been traded for the vices of laziness, passivity, and despair…This is directly connected to the sexual revolution which seeks to be liberated from any form of masculine leadership and unchosen bonds. Much of what we’re seeing is the fruit of sexual perversion which gained a foothold in America through the sexual revolution…
We are an extremely anxious and depressed people. We are taught that if we just take a pill, our life will be better but that doesn’t seem to be working. The pharmaceutical industry preys on our desire to be free from our anxiety and depression…Furthermore, the legalization of marijuana cannot be said to be a net good for society as it often preys on people’s desire to escape reality.
More and more people are told they just need a good therapist. They are taught that everyone needs a counselor. The assumption is that with the skills of modern psychology, they can find mental health and peace from their own sin and personal disintegration without Christ.
This is all kindling on the fire of a lack of the worship of the living God in our churches, families, and nation. We must turn to God in repentance. Repentance from worshipping anything and everything other than him.”
I share this quote because it touches on so many factors that directly contribute to rising gun violence — none of which are guns. Pastor Davis rightly points out fatherlessness, the destruction of the family, the sexual revolution, pornography use, the rise of the widespread over-prescription of anti-depressants, increased drug use, etc.
And what’s missing? What’s been taken away? Religion. Faith. Particularly, faith in the one true God and His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
This is the disastrous recipe for untethered, faithless humanity that has resulted in the increase of school shootings we see across our nation today. It’s not the presence of guns — it’s the absence of faith in the Lord.
And we know this, as Christians, because the Bible teaches that weapons aren’t evil, but people are. While the world is confused about the nature and source of evil, Christians are not. We know that evil doesn’t reside inside the cold chamber of a gun, but rather in the beating hearts of mankind. Jesus makes this very clear in Matthew 15:19 when He says,
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”
Evil comes from our hearts, not from what we hold in our hands — whether that is a fork, a knife, a rock, or a gun. We read in Genesis 3 that since sin came into the world (and with it, death), mankind has been capable of committing acts of evil and harm. The very first man ever born, Cain, killed his brother. The issue wasn’t about the instrument Cain used, but rather the sin he allowed to control him.
A gun is simply an inanimate instrument. It is a weapon, yes, but what matters is how it is wielded — and who wields it. A gun can be used for good or evil. When American soldiers used their guns to liberate the prisoners from Nazi death camps, they were doing good. Christians must understand this. The media displays the gun itself as “scary” and “always bad,” but this is obviously false. In fact, law-abiding, virtuous citizens regularly use guns to rightly defend life and property.
It might sound cliché, but it’s true: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. This is a deeply Christian statement that stands the test of time and the scrutiny of a biblical worldview.
While increasingly controversial in the age of mass shootings, the right to bear arms is something that Christians should continue to support wholeheartedly. Why? Because we know that the real problem is never found in inanimate objects, but in depraved hearts: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).
As noted previously, Jesus Himself taught that it isn’t what is external to a man that is the cause of sin, whether that be an unclean food or an AR-15; rather, evil comes from what is internal to us, our hearts (Mark 7:20). To put it bluntly, Christians of all people should know that if guns are banned, only the bad guys will have guns. Why? Because most law-abiding citizens will honor the law, even if it is unconstitutional.
Christians can confidently defend the Second Amendment in America because we know that the values and morals which lie beneath the right to keep and bear arms are biblical — the value of human life, the right to defend it, and the goodness of protecting our family and freedoms.
Therefore, Christians should advocate for the Second Amendment and, whenever possible, vote to preserve our right to bear arms. In doing so, we are raising our children in safety and security and fully embracing both the risks and responsibilities that come with the freedoms found in a self-governing nation that still claims, for the time being, to be under God.
Follow William on Twitter! @William_E_Wolfe
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.