The Gospel’s Remedy for Aging

 

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(This article was originally posted at TimeofGrace.org)

Cindy Crawford is arguably the most recognizable supermodel in the world. Or was. I’m not exactly sure how “supermodel” status works, but I think it’s lifelong, like SCOTUS. You never actually lose your super-modeling powers.

Anyway, what I do know is that Crawford turns 50 years old next year, which makes her like an antique in modeling years.

In fact, the most buzz surrounding Crawford in recent years was a viral photo leak of a purportedly untouched picture taken during a relatively recent photo shoot (which was later found out to be a hoax). The picture apparently indicated that Crawford had wrinkles, cellulite, stretch marks, and all of the other effects of aging that you would assume any normal human would/should encounter in this life.

But this was important to us as Americans. Seeing a fashion icon as less than perfect was perhaps refreshing to some, probably hurtful to Crawford herself, but strangely appealing to people nonetheless. We’re obsessed with appearances. We’re obsessed with getting old.

This isn’t merely a supermodel issue either. We all have an inner Cindy Crawford that is a little horrified at the thought of others laughing at our deterioration, our faults, our aging.

Maybe none of this should be surprising. After all, the signs of aging are not merely a blow to vanity, but they are subconscious pointers to a more grave reality—my clock is winding down. I will NOT stay here forever; in some respects, not even much longer.

One of the residual effects of the Western world’s paradigm shift from a supernaturalistic to naturalistic worldview is our idolization of “appearances” and our idolization of “the present.” Since, as a society, we believe that the only thing that matters is what we process through our senses and that this life is the only one we have so we’d better make it good (i.e., YOLO!), a higher premium has been placed on the way we look right now. Yes, humans have always liked physical attractiveness throughout history. But, humans haven’t often, for instance, been intentionally starving themselves in order to achieve “beauty” as an identity. Humans haven’t always been injecting proteins to paralyze facial muscles in hopes of avoiding wrinkles. Such behavior would seem to indicate a disproportionate cultural priority, more so than previous generations.

What could cure this?

Well, maybe we could find a Fountain of Youth? Ponce de León went looking for that. No luck. Since then a bunch of aging people have followed him to Florida, but that might be unrelated. The bottom line is that there seems to be no magic pill, magic diet, or magic fountain to address aging.

There have been movements in the past few decades that have promoted the “Big Is Beautiful” or “Wrinkles Are Beautiful” ideas. While these thoughts may be helpful for curbing our vanity, some health experts have cautioned against not taking the health risks of obesity or sun overexposure seriously. I’ve written about this before. Point being, suggesting that appearances don’t matter at all or that our bodies are ours to do with as we please is probably not the healthiest route either.

Last week outspoken presidential candidate Donald Trump was quoted in Rolling Stone as suggesting that fellow Republican candidate Carly Fiorina’s face makes her unelectable. Fiorina responded by suggesting that at 61 years old, she’s proud of every year and every wrinkle. Certainly Fiorina’s physical appearance, whatever you, me, or Trump thinks about it, would seemingly factor little into her ability to govern the nation and you’d like to think wouldn’t factor into her electability.

That said, I’m not sure if “proud of every wrinkle” isn’t a bit of hyperbole. Granted, some might very well be unbothered by wrinkles in contrast to those who obsess over such things. But proud? Again, do wrinkles, to some extent, not suggest that we are dying? Isn’t that something of a sobering realization?

My point is this—the world, experiencing some despair over the aging process, has attempted to address health, age, and impending death in a variety of ways: magic, defiance, pride, et al.

Allow me to propose what I believe is a better remedy though: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

According to the Bible, the reason we wrinkle, decay, age, and ultimately die is because of sin (Romans 6:23). Back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and were banished from the Garden, including access to the tree of life (see Genesis chapters 2 and 3). At first glance, some might see this merely as God punishing mankind in anger. That, however, would be an incomplete way to understand the situation. Certainly God was disappointed by their disobedience, but a loving God didn’t destroy them, didn’t give up on them, but instead devised a plan to rescue his fallen children (Genesis 3:15).

Consistent with that same love, God didn’t want Adam and Eve or any subsequent children to have to live forever in a world that was less than the paradise he’d intended. Consequently, in love, he allows death. Certainly the process is generally a misery and the uncertainty of the unknown makes us a bit uneasy, but death itself—separation from a sinful world and a sinful nature—is a loving gift from God.

Not only that, but the grace God showed in taking the sting out of death for us is beyond comprehension. In the person of Jesus, God entered into human time and space and skin. He didn’t start out beautiful in this life (Isaiah 53:2), and it only got worse. He died full of ugly wounds and blemishes, scars of love.

Because the one beautiful person in history died for the ugliness of our sin, we who are increasingly accumulating blemishes, both physically and spiritually, will one day share in his glory (Romans 8:17).

And that glory won’t just be a little better. In his great resurrection chapter, the apostle Paul compares our current bodies with the ones to come by saying, “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power” (1 Corinthians 15:42,43). In other words, whatever our bodies/appearances may be in their current state, no matter how good or bad, they simply do not compare to what we will one day be in our resurrected selves. Paul makes the analogy of an unimpressive seed from a dead plant, which gets placed under the earth and then eventually blooms into beauty and usefulness (1 Corinthians 15:36-38). Similarly, our bodies, when dead and placed in the earth, will be raised to a glory not yet fathomed (1 Corinthians 2:9).

What a tremendous resource! This is the reason Paul was also able to virtually laugh at the problems his mortal body faced, because “though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Paul knew that what we one day will be is so much more beautiful and breathtaking that, by comparison, what we are now is hardly worth fussing too much about.

There is no miracle cream per se. Only the blood of Jesus Christ. This alone is the antidote to aging that makes us forever young and perpetually beautiful . . . that we may share in his glory.

 

Are All The Smartest People Really Atheists?

(image credit to the guardian.com)

(image credit to the guardian.com)

(Article originally posted at TimeofGrace.org)

As a Christian pastor, I do as best I can to stay on top of Christian apologetics (reasoned defense against objections to Christianity). This requires reading literature not only by Christian apologists but also some reading surrounding cultural thoughts and leading thinkers that are currently attacking the Christian faith.

This literature is dominated by guys like cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, philosopher Daniel Dennett, neuroscientist Sam Harris, physicists Victor Stenger and Steven Weinberg and Stephen Hawking, science historian Michael Shermer, literary and social critic Christopher Hitchens, and biologist Richard Dawkins.

These men stand on the shoulders of other tremendously influential, mostly nonbelieving individuals like philosophers Immanuel Kant, David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, and Karl Marx; astronomer Carl Sagan; evolution founder Charles Darwin; and psychologist Sigmund Freud. These are the giant thinkers that largely shaped the way people have come to view the world in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Of atheists today, the most prominent figure is likely Richard Dawkins, whose The God Delusion serves as something of a modern atheist manifesto. In it, Dawkins makes the following claim:

On the subject of religion and IQ, the only meta-analysis known to me was published by Paul Bell in Mensa Magazine in 2002 [Mensa is the society of individuals with a high IQ, and their journal not surprisingly includes articles on the one thing that draws them together.] Bell concluded: “Of 43 studies carried out since 1927 on the relationship between religious belief and one’s intelligence and/or educational level, all but four found an inverse connection. That is, the higher one’s intelligence or education level, the less one is likely to be religious or hold ‘beliefs’ of any kind.” (The God Delusion, page 103)

Dawkins actually doesn’t like the idea of being called an atheist, since he finds it silly to be defined in terms of something in which he doesn’t believe. Rather, he goes so far as to suggest that he and similar thinkers be called The Brights. I kid you not.

Whether Dawkins’ low opinion of believers offends us or not really isn’t the point. Whether or not his statement has any merit is a more worthwhile pursuit.

Are all the smartest people really atheists?

There are a couple of ways to answer this. First, since so many of the influential atheist thinkers appear to pop up in the realm of science, we ask, have there been any famous scientists who believed in God?

The answer is not only YES but arguably the majority of influential scientists throughout history have been not only theists, but Christians—Copernicus, Sir Francis Bacon, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Pascal, Newton, Boyle, and Faraday all had very clear theological convictions. Obviously these are some of the smartest, most revolutionary scientists to ever walk the planet. If they were believers, then it clearly wouldn’t hold that ALL the smartest people would be atheist. Even numerous modern world-changing scientists have professed Christian faith (Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, and Raymond Damadian, inventor of the MRI, come to mind).

Still, admittedly, there has been a paradigm shift. For instance, it does seem that the majority of scientists in the United States at this time are atheists. Only 40 percent, which is a fairly large minority, but a minority nonetheless, of scientists in our country believe in a personal God. Among members of the elite National Academy of Sciences, only 7 percent of scientists can be counted as believers (Larson & Witham, “Leading Scientists Still Reject God,” Nature 394 (1998), 313).

Why would this be?

If God so clearly evidences himself through the natural world (Psalm 19:1; Psalm 139:14) and even through human morality (Romans 2:15), then why would so many intelligent people resist the clear testimony before them?

The Bible has a very clear answer to this. The apostle Paul writes, “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians. 1:26,27) and then later, “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (1 Corinthians 3:18,19).

What Richard Dawkins fails to realize is that the correlation between the elite intelligentsia and unbelief is not simply because they’re smarter. The Bible seems to suggest that it’s because the elite of the world, including the academic elite, are more likely to be full of themselves. Dawkins, I believe, has made a faulty correlation. By way of comparison, a similar percentage of Hollywood stars, much like high-level scientists, are also outright God denouncers. While I’m a pretty strong supporter of Dr. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, let’s be honest, many of these Hollywood darlings don’t stack up academically against Dawkins’ Mensa buddies.

So, again, the correlation to not believing in God is NOT intelligence in itself, as though the brainy are somehow spiritually cursed, or, from their perspective, merely above such primitive thinking. The proper correlation to unbelief is probably in those whom the world tends to place on pedestals—the brightest, most beautiful, wealthiest, and most talented. In other words, the more people tend to treat you like a god, the harder it seems to find yourself dependent on the actual God.

I believe Jesus made this point when he said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). Again, the problem is not that the wealthy are inherently spiritually handicapped by God. The problem is that the tendency of sinful human nature is to cling to wealth as though it gives you true control over your life, thus making it proportionately more difficult to surrender control of your life to Jesus, i.e., have faith.

This also appears to be the reason that the apostle Paul cites the glory of his own personal weakness. God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So Paul concluded, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul recognized that his personal weaknesses, the things that likely frustrated him most in life, were actually ways that God was blessing him—precisely because these weaknesses drove Paul further into divine dependency, collapsing into the arms of a loving Savior.

So far as I can tell, there is only one person worth looking up to and boasting in—Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:14). He, as God, took on a human body and suffered, all so that I, a nobody, could consider myself somebody, by being welcomed into his body.

I look into the mirror and see death staring back at me. But God looks at me through the lens of Jesus’ cross and he sees a righteous child who will live forever with him. Forget this world’s opinion of me. Forget my opinion of myself. I’m opting for God’s grace-based opinion of me.

As a result, I, James, am unbothered by the fact that I am of mediocre intelligence, average sense of humor, haggard looks (I literally retouched two hours’ worth of crow’s-feet out of the picture below using iPhoto), above average dance moves (no sense in false modesty here), and all of the other ways that I am less than spectacular in the world’s eyes.

Dawkins can take his IQ. I’m cool with my weaknesses and with boasting in Jesus’ righteousness. I pray you’re good with that too.

 

Life Over Lamborghinis: The Reasons Young America is Trending Pro-Life

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(This article was originally published at TimeofGrace.org.)

My generation, the millennial generation, tends to take a lot of flak for moral relativism, sense of entitlement, and an “everybody gets a trophy” hypersensitivity. Fair enough. I’m not crazy about that either and as a pastor am regularly addressing such issues.

But I’d encourage Christian leaders (and Christians in general) who’ve been disheartened by this generation’s less-than-spectacular Sunday morning church attendance to not write them off too quickly. There’s reason to be optimistic.

Specifically, there is legitimate, renewed hope for Christians that Roe v. Wade, which has made abortion legal in our nation for the past 40-plus years, might eventually be overturned. If so, millennials will have played a large role in it.

For starters, the abortion debate is changing due to the fact that young pro-choice enthusiasts are waning. Since millennials have lived their entire lives with abortion as legal; it’s not really considered by them to be a “right” worth fighting for anymore. On the other hand, pro-life youth are as active and adamant as ever.

Nancy Keenan, former president of NARAL, the country’s oldest abortion-rights group, even knows this. This is the reason she stepped down several years back. She recognized that the face of pro-choice today is a postmenopausal baby boomer. This contrasts the continuously fresh face of the pro-life movement. Keenan herself, commenting on a recent March for Life campaign in D.C., suggested, “I just thought, my gosh, they are so young. There are so many of them, and they are so young.”

Second, millennials are inherently sensitive and, therefore, inclusive. Since the Columbine High School massacre in April 1999, beginning with Georgia, every single U.S. state has adopted anti-bullying legislation. This generation has been taught from day 1 to be inclusive of all, sympathetic to those in need, and go out of their way to protect the oppressed. This is the reason why millennials were the ones who made same-sex marriage the law of the land. Yes, I understand there are no millennials on the Supreme Court. Make no mistake though; this generation’s overwhelming support for same-sex marriage, due to their inclusive and influential disposition, was largely responsible for this.

Here’s the catch: the same impulse that led millennials to protect homosexuals, whom they perceived to be legislatively marginalized, is moving that same group to recognize that aborted children are the ULTIMATE in bully victims. They are the minority with literally no voice. Right or wrong, millennials carry a lot of guilt from the unjust treatment of previous generations, and they’re consequently trying very hard to counteract that.

Third, if we make any attempt to eliminate our biases, the science is suggesting that the tissue being aborted absolutely constitutes human life. Bernard Nathanson, one of the cofounders of NARAL, had a change of heart later in life. What caused his shift in attitude about abortion? The invention of the ultrasound. Advanced technology made it undeniably evident that the cells growing in pregnant mothers were, in fact, fully a human person.

Millennials are inclined to trust the best technology available. They’re smart enough to recognize that if we found the exact same living cell cluster on Mars, NASA would be proclaiming, “We’ve found extraterrestrial LIFE!” So it cuts both ways. If you put those cells in a human woman, you have to call that life too.

Finally, and perhaps most important, we’ve now seen the seventh video released by David Daleiden, the project leader at the Center for Medical Progress. The most recent video shows Holly O’Donnell, a former Planned Parenthood technician, recounting the horror of being asked to cut open a baby’s face in order to harvest its brain. This is the same fetus from which, moments earlier, Holly’s colleague had shown her the still-beating heart. Never mind the “technology.” This woman’s own natural senses told her this was a human.

This video has come on the heels of numerous recorded statements by Planned Parenthood doctors that most have characterized as fairly callous. The most infamous of these comments was made by Dr. Mary Getter, who haggled prices for baby parts over a casual lunch, joking, “I want a lamborghini.” Most generations probably disliked that. Millennials, however, are uniquely calibrated to be disgusted by such a thought of profiting off the weak.

Furthermore, millennials are also conditioned to think that people lie to them. Marketers have been lying to them from birth. That’s the reason these videos are so important. Videos don’t lie. Technology doesn’t lie. There’s no “out of context” argument here. We’re not going to forget all this anytime soon, because its graphic content is available on YouTube, hits counting.

I do want to offer a word of caution here for Christians though, not to stifle enthusiasm that the tide appears to be turning against abortion. If this occurs, many of us would consider it to be the greatest thing that’s happened socially in this generation.

But my encouragement would be to stifle self-righteousness.

It’s very easy to fall into “I can’t believe THOSE people did THAT” type of thinking and speaking. So let’s not forget that Scripture is clear that every single one of us is responsible for the murder of God’s innocent Son, Jesus. This was, in a sense, the quintessential abortion, the greatest injustice against a truly blameless child.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23,24).

We all caused Jesus’ death. And the debt for all of our sins was paid in full by the blood from that death. At this point then thoughts like “better” or “worse” or words like them or us are not only not helpful; they’re not accurate. We’re all guilty and all saved exclusively by grace. Only when we realize that will we be able to boldly yet humbly share the truth about both the sanctity of human life and the beauty of life in Christ with the world.

Millennials are the generation that is criticized for getting everything they want. Well, as they’re getting older and their values are changing, they might actually now want something we, and the world, actually need—the defense of unprotected life. As our society seems to be moving in this direction, perhaps our hearts will beat more in rhythm with that of our God, who inspired the psalmist to say:

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well
 (Psalm 139:13,14).

One last thing—if you’ve had an abortion, or know someone who has, I’d encourage you to read this post.

 

Forfeiting Freedom Where Love Compels – Response to Gun Love

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Yikes.

So, I just posted something about the recent shootings in Virginia (the death of reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward). In light of this tragedy, of the one in Charleston, of Virginia Tech, of Sandy Hook, of Columbine and on and on and on, I SUGGESTED that Christians merely CONSIDER forfeiting their right to bear arms if it MIGHT mean the protection of other lives.

Cue the tidal wave of criticism from those who consider owning a gun their divinely mandated right, as taught, not in Scripture, but in the Bill of Rights (cf. 2nd Amendment).

I received such public comments as…

“How dare you…. I expect more from a thoughtful man such as yourself.”

“This “Pastor” has his head up an anatomical dark place.”

“How sad … this ill-conceived and poorly-written post.”

And it goes on from there.

I’ve never been an advocate for or against guns. Perhaps I’m too naive to understand the passion behind them. Or perhaps some who own them are too close to objectively evaluate this issue.

Here’s what I do know. As a Christian, my life is not my own. It’s been redeemed by the blood of Christ and everything I do, think, and say belongs to the man who purchased me. He has given me a tremendous amount of freedom, but the thing he repeatedly, simply commands of me is love. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) and  “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) This is not controversial. Every day should be consumed with considering and expressing the love of Christ and how it affects our lives. For me to merely raise the idea that, having seen as many lives taken too soon, should we perhaps consider foregoing guns, and for it to be met with such vitriol from many Christians, is disappointing. I NEVER said owning guns was wrong. In fact, I said we could do it with a clear conscience. I was merely encouraging Christians to consider where love moves us in this situation as we are to do in every situation.

I’m not sad that someone has a different opinion. I’m sad that, through their words and actions, many seem to be clutching their firearms so tightly that they would not even CONSIDER being compelled to forfeit a freedom in love. I’m sad that many don’t appear to see a line between their political leanings and Scripture. It’s as though hearing a theologically conservative pastor merely make mention of putting weapons down (ahem! something Christ himself said, btw), is so foreign that it is met with panic and anger, like an unwanted bug in the house that we immediately just want to squash.

Look, if I was convinced that my hair was harming someone, I’d HAVE to consider shaving my head – to those who know me, you understand the sacrifice this would be :). If I thought eating Peanut Butter was a stumbling block, I’d just do jelly. My goodness, if I thought my right foot touching the ground might inhibit someone from Christ, I’d hop on my left till I died. I’M SOLD OUT TO THIS FAITH. Literally, Christ bought me.

Consequently, if a gun is pointed at me, and it’s me or him, I might just receive the bullet. I don’t know how to understand Jesus’ “turn the other cheek” differently. I will not kill you. But I will die for you. I’m not afraid to die. Because Jesus died for me.

I’m awaiting an eternal life. The real life. I’m not afraid to lose this one. And if I am, then I’m of no heavenly good here. I’m not afraid to forfeit any freedoms if I CONSIDER that it might glorify God’s name and protect life.

I know that Jesus said, “You will be hated by everyone because of me” (Matt. 10:22) I certainly didn’t think it’d come over encouraging fellow “Christians” to CONSIDER doing the thing that Christ’s love compels us to do every day.

Is Carrying A Gun A Christian’s Right?

(image credit to tvline.com)

(image credit to tvline.com)

(Article was originally posted at TimeofGrace.org.)

It seems like we revisit this controversy on a monthly basis. That’s too much.

Last Wednesday, in shocking fashion, Americans were once again alerted to the regularity and accessibility of gun violence as disgruntled ex-WDJB employee Vester Lee Flanagan killed reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward ON LIVE TELEVISION in Virginia. Almost nothing alerts Americans to reality like putting it on TV. In the same way that last year’s TMZ footage of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his fiancé reintroduced the country to the problem of domestic violence, the footage of Flanagan adds another wrinkle to the gun control debate.

One of the things I find a bit surprising, maybe even disappointing, is where a majority of Christians seem to land on the controversy of gun ownership.

Many Christians, even beyond Midwestern hunters and Southern Fundamentalists, will point to the Second Amendment as the defense of gun ownership. But the thoughtful Christian needs to be shrewd enough to see a line between Constitutionally protected rights and the principles of Christian freedom. Yes, there is absolutely nothing inherently immoral about bearing firearms. Yes, there is nothing illegal about owning registered weapons. But when considering Christian freedom, grace moves us from what we could do in personal interest to what we likely should do for the sake of the greater good.

Let me draw a comparison. One of the most puzzled looks I ever get in Bible studies is when I ask people if we are free to say what we want. Many students, channeling their American spirit, will proudly tout, “Of course! This is our First Amendment Constitutional right! I have the right to speak my mind and express my opinion.” At this point, I’ll generally move the class to collaborate on God’s instructions regarding our speech. I’ll remind them what God’s words themselves do – build up, not tear down. Then I’ll redirect them back to the initial question about free speech. The class eventually comes to the conclusion that while our speech as Americans is largely unrestricted, our relationship with Jesus compels us to forfeit our national rights for the sake of glorifying God in our personal speech. We realize that we’re not really “free” to say anything we want, because that would be to violate a higher law, the law of love. (I’ve written about this at length before.)

The same logic would seem to hold true for the Second Amendment and our right, or lack thereof, to bear arms. I am well within my Constitutionally protected right to own a gun. However, by doing so, and advocating for all Americans to have those same rights, am I contributing to the good of society, or hurting it? Does this seem to build up or tear down civilization? Put differently, while I and 999 citizens can probably responsibly own a firearm, what if one in a thousand can’t? For the sake of that one, should the other 999 put their guns down? What if you asked the victim’s family? What if your family WAS the victim’s family? Would you feel differently?

With each passing month, I’m just less compelled by pro-gun advocacy. Consider the common arguments…

For instance, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” That’s ridiculously truncated logic. There’s a reason why it’s illegal for 3-year-olds to drive actual vehicles, but no law prohibiting them from driving Big Wheels. One is capable of causing significantly more damage than the other. With the “guns don’t kill people” logic, you could equally argue for every one of us possessing nuclear warheads, because “Nukes don’t kill people. People kill people.” The fact that such clichés are still in circulation leads me to believe that we haven’t thought this through carefully enough.

Or, some like to say, “I need to be able to protect my family.” Okay, so now you get a gun…but so do your home intruders. So you’re banking on your ability to out duel your attacker like a suburban Clint Eastwood? On the other hand, if you both were armed with only baseball bats, slingshots, or this thing, you might still do some harm, but death is considerably less likely.

God has given us plenty of wonderful freedoms, including, in our country, the right to bear arms. But there are also plenty of biblical exhortations to give up that right when love obliges us to do so. Consider what the Apostle Paul says to the believers in Rome, when in chapter 14 of his letter he addresses the willingness of Christians to not eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols for the sake of those who are negatively impacted by such behavior. In the midst of that instruction, he says, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Rom. 14:19) At this place and time in history, can a Christian confidently determine that private ownership of guns trends toward peace and mutual edification in our communities? I’m not suggesting that the Christian can’t possibly reach that conclusion with a clear conscience. I’m merely pointing out that the Christian’s thought process must sink deeper than “Well, it’s my Constitutional right!”

Even more, consider the example of Jesus, our Savior. Paul writes:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross! (Phil. 2:6-8)

Incredible. Jesus life here on earth, and even his very coming to this planet, was characterized by giving up his legitimate, undeniable, divinely protected rights. And by emptying himself of such rights, he didn’t just potentially become a victim, he was crucified unjustly. This all because he so loved us. And by doing so he rescued mankind.

Therefore, something remarkable is programmed into the DNA of Christianity that inspires us to forfeit some freedom if it may protect another.

So…guns…is this a right that we should give up? I’m willing to consider.