Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. – Romans 12: 17-21 (NLT) Twenty children were laid to rest in Newtown Connecticut. All under the age of ten years old, America was once again shocked into having to deal with the face of evil in this fallen world. The unthinkable resulted in the same old conversation politically. Same as after Aurora, Colorado. Same after Virginia Tech. Same after Columbine. This time there seems to be more of an appetite for the harder questions; probably because of the ages of the victims. The first topic usually on the agenda is guns and gun control. That is where the real fight starts and ends. Everyone can talk in semi agreement around other issues but once guns are put on the table, it seems we are more opposed than ever. Inevitably, the subject ends up in Christian circles as the body of Christ is so easily distracted in these end days. Before we get to the Word of God however, I would be remiss if I do not disclose my own personal opinion regarding this subject. I want to be very clear. Neither side has the whole truth going for them. Both sides are filled with talking points that border on the absurd to simply inaccurate. I can tell you this – gun control measures will not prevent the next Newtown. Evil is evil is evil. As we head further into the end times we see what has been prophesied coming true: Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.– Matthew 24: 12 - 13 (NIV) Can there be any doubt regarding the increase in wickedness? Cain did not need a gun to kill Abel. That being said, we are not talking about eliminating gun ownership. We are talking about what we can do as a society that fancies itself civilized to minimize the damage at the next Newtown. I am not for the elimination of the second amendment because I do not want to be in a country that calls itself free yet the government is the only ones holding the guns. I taught history; I know where that leads to. That said however, is it not reasonable to try and use common sense? Do hunters really need armor piercing bullets? Is there a new breed of deer wearing Kevlar that I am unaware of? I would like to think that reasonable people can disagree reasonably and find common ground. But our society has devolved into these two opposing camps where compromise is seen as weakness and not to be tolerated. Twenty kids beloved. Can’t we do better than to be petulantly adamant and refuse to move from our pre-formed positions? I hold no illusions however. These arguments of mine are carnal arguments – not Christian arguments. I read an article yesterday defending guns written by a Christian website yesterday. The entire piece seemed to be about setting up strawmen for the author to easily knock down. I am going to focus on this crux of their argument: “Obviously, the gun itself is amoral, an object that can be used for good or for evil. More important is the morality of the person wielding the gun, and that is too often the missing consideration in the gun control argument. The fact that some sinners use guns to commit sin does not mean guns are the problem. Sin is the problem, and that’s a moral and spiritual issue. Since the very beginning of humanity, people have been killing other people, with and without weapons (see Genesis 4). Taking a certain weapon out of circulation might make murder more difficult but by no means impossible.” I cry foul because the writer appears intelligent enough to realize how empty his position is. Yes, this problem is spiritual but to deny the carnal element of the gun is simply ludicrous. Yes, a gun sitting on a table is amoral but once someone picks it up and chooses to use it they are making a moral decision. I am not just speaking about Newtown. The writer seems to imply that some who choose to use guns are not sinners even though the Bible says we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Not everything is as black and white as Newtown. Look at the Trayvon Martin case. I am sure the shooter felt that he made a just and moral decision when he shot Trayvon but that doesn’t make him right, especially not in the eyes of God. The larger point is can’t we as a society find other ways to resolve our problems? The writer above finishes with the point that taking certain weapons out of circulation might make murder more difficult but not impossible. Exactly! That is the entire point! No one is foolish enough to say that banning assault weapons or semi-automatic weapons is going to prevent the next Newtown but maybe it will lessen the damage? Isn’t that the point? If we accept the fact that sin exists and Satan will keep up his pressure on this fallen world then isn’t the next responsible step to lessen the grief? Lessen the victims? Without the semi automatic capabilities and the high capacity magazines, how many children would have survived Newtown that were buried this month? The world sees Christians as being overly concerned with life prior to birth but not so caring once the child is born. How profoundly sad. As always, we should not base our opinions on carnal arguments – mine or anyone else’s. We are to base what we do and believe on the Word of God. Despite so many attempts to butch up Jesus – He remains the Prince of Peace. He believed in turning the other cheek. He believed that anger alone was on par with murder. Christians should not be so quick to deal in death; even if they feel it is justified somehow with more carnality. What do the key verses teach us? Never pay back evil with more evil. The nature of the crimes in Newtown do not trump Scripture – in fact it only confirms the Bible. Those of you have not read the Cross and the Switchblade; I challenge you to read it. While you are reading it ask yourself what would have happened if David Wilkerson had chosen to buy a handgun for protection after his first run in with Nicky Cruz? Certainly he would have been justified by society and probably the church as well. After all, Cruz had slapped him and threatened to kill him. Instead Pastor Dave prayed and continued to tell this warlord of a local gang that Jesus loved him. I am amazed when Christian writers correctly assess something as a spiritual battle and then argue for a carnal solution. We are supposed to be set apart beloved. The way the world thinks is not supposed to be how we think. If our enemy is hungry we are supposed to feed him, not buy a gun in case he comes back. If they are thirsty we are to give them a drink. David Wilkerson understood that and because of it, not only was Nicky Cruz saved but the entire gang was. Cruz went on to become a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I understand that some will read this and think that it is too naïve. I am ok with that. I serve a big God who solves big problems when we take them to Him. Guns sitting by themselves are neither good nor evil but man is always evil by nature. And it is man who eventually picks up a gun and determines on his own what is moral and not moral to do with that gun. Therein lies the rub. If you want to make arguments on either side of this debate I really do not have a problem with that as long as you recognize they are carnal arguments. Scripture reveals that blessed are the peacemakers – not the gun owners. Not the lobbyists. Not the gun control crowd either. They both have good arguments on their side mixed with nonsense. My hope is that the 20 dead children would make people want to find common ground instead of pointing fingers and yelling at each other. Whichever side you find your heart leaning though, leave Christ out of it. If only we would spend as much energy and passion reaching the lost. If only. Rev. Anthony.