I wrote this article about a year ago, but in light of the bill to allow concealed weapons in churches being passed in the Arkansas Senate yesterday, I thought I’d share it again.
Why I don’t want guns in my church
Our church has several members who own guns. They are skilled in the use of firearms and exercise good judgment. They are loving, Christian, ethical people whom I trust completely. But I don’t want any of them bringing a gun to church.
We are a downtown church. There was a time in the not-too-distant past when members ceased to hold meetings and activities at night because they did not feel safe in the parking lot after dark. But nobody came to church packing. And now those days are gone. Argenta is home to artists and pink tulips. To great restaurants and locally-sourced produce. After-dark Argenta is the place to be, not the place to avoid. It seems odd to think about arming ourselves now.
Almost every week we have at least one new person walk in to worship. Sometimes a local resident, sometimes a traveler passing through and other times one of the neighborhood homeless. We welcome them all and hope that everyone who walks through our doors has an encounter with the living Lord Jesus Christ and is made to feel like they belong. We are not prepared to shoot them.
I have tried, and I cannot imagine the Jesus I have come to know ever, under any circumstances, firing a gun at anyone. Even if that person was pointing a gun at him. If Jesus answered violence with violence, I’m pretty sure there would have been no crucifixion.
When we bring guns to church we are making a very powerful confession about the limits of our trust in God. How can we authentically raise our voices to sing, “Our God is an awesome God” with a gun in our pockets to protect ourselves in case God fails us? How can we claim to believe in the promises of the Bible, but back up those promises with a Baretta? How can we claim allegiance to the Prince of Peace when we are ready to do violence in the house we built to share His word?
Whether we live in public housing or gated communities, we cannot completely control our surroudings. Whether we are at church or at work or at the movies, we cannot guarantee that we will be safe. The world is not a stable and secure place. That is why our hope is in something greater.
Every Sunday at our church we pray for those who live with the ever-present threat of violence—whether from terrorists or enemy troops or even people in their own homes. It is my prayer that violence never makes its way into our church building or our worship space. I certainly don’t want to invite it in.