The internet is blowing up Christians and their love for guns and the 2nd Amendment. How in the world did American Evangelicalism get to be so associated with Gun rights? I think the answer has less to do with actual guns and the enormous cultural divide that we find ourselves in.
We are in the middle of a civil war that is happening between cultures and worldviews. Thankfully we haven't taken up weapons against each other, but the lines are being drawn. One of the ways we can determine who is on our team is by virtue signaling. (This is the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one's good character or the moral correctness of one's position on a particular issue.)
You see people virtue signaling all the time, and on both sides of the cultural debate. Think about why you post what you post on Facebook when it comes to politics. You have very little political clout and you are not trying to change hearts and minds, rather, if you are like most people, you are trying to prove to your side that you are a loyal member to your tribe. This happens all the time around issues like Climate Change, Black Lives Matter, Trump, Abortion, Income Inequality.
This gets us to the latest debate about Guns and all of the weeping and gnashing teeth surrounding this issue.
What I have found to be most fascinating is the browbeating Evangelicals have gotten over the last couple of years for where they end up politically. How could Evangelicals, people who claim to know and love Jesus support Trump, Roy Moore, the 2nd Amendment? For the most part, this is an unfair and narrow wedge used to divide and conquer.
On an individual issue, case by case, policy by policy you will find that there is wide agreement among most people. But the larger, generic issue, says more about who you associate with and what tribe you are identifying with. On the left side of the aisle, it goes the other way too. Many Evangelicals cannot believe that good-hearted people of faith support late-term abortion. The truth is that most people, not just Evangelicals want there to be limitations on late-term abortions. But there is no movement on this issue because it is more of an identifier of tribe rather than issue that is informed by faith and conviction.
This is where we find ourselves with the issue of Guns.
Evangelical support for the 2nd amendment is less about Guns and more about the overall pond in which most Evangelicals swim. Evangelicals are Evangelicals because they believe in personal responsibility. (A personal decision to follow Jesus, not faith based on family or culture, but must be a decision made by each individual person.) This worldview puts many Evangelicals on the right side of the aisle as they want more personal responsibility and more freedoms combined with virtue. The gun debate is more about a worldview around personal responsibility and the role of government.
As our culture changes, and even as the Evangelicals understand government and culture has changed, there must be a healthy and robust debate about these issues. Instead of crushing each other by demonizing those with whom you disagree, consider awarding good motives to them and seek to understand their policy solutions. Who knows, you may even get a chance to share your thoughts and ideas, and as the exchange of ideas happens, hearts and minds might actually change.
On a spiritual level . . .
We (the church, specifically the Evangelical Church) have moved away from being prophetic voices to our culture and to people and institutions of power. Instead, we have drunk the tribalism cool aid and are defending the indefensible, turning blind eyes to the consequences of our tribalism as we virtue signal our righteousness, all the while abandoning the poorest and weakest among us.
May we slowly encourage each other to move towards Christ, expand the Kingdom of God and be the prophets and priests that God has called his people to be. Political tribes, on the left and right, are the not the appropriate home for the people of God. We are citizens of Heaven and the fragrance of Christ. Let us speak the truth in love and never dehumanize or demonize people who see the world differently than we do.
And may the only guns we show be in tank tops! #sunsoutgunsout