Firearms, theology, and fantasy

Posted by Bob Mattes

Lane asked Are Guns Inherently Against Life? in response to Lance Lewis’ post Pro Life and Pro Glock? Lane did an excellent job in his post, as did many of the commenters under it. My purpose here is to address specific statements by Lewis in his post in which I have particular insight. [As I got about half-way through this post, I realized that to answer all of Lewis’ nonsense would take too long. So, I’ve been somewhat selective in what I address. Commenters to Lane’s post have done a nice job with other issues.] Let’s start by laying out the players.

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Are Guns Inherently Against Life?

Rev. Lance Lewis of Philadelphia (ordained in the PCA) has written an interesting post here about the subject. His conclusion is that “it is time for us to realize that we cannot be both pro-life and pro-gun.” However, there is an inherent ambiguity in his target (if you’ll pardon the pun). Is he talking only about handguns, or about guns in general? In most of the article, he seems to have handguns as his target, but then at the end of the article, he seems to include all guns. This is problematic, as rifles and shotguns are usually used for hunting animals these days. In fact, contrary to Rev. Lewis’s assertion (“The handguns manufactured and sold in this country today are designed and built for one purpose and one purpose only; namely the destruction of human life”), handguns are used for hunting animals, and are also used for recreational target-practice (i.e., simply for fun).

The next problematic assertion that Rev. Lewis makes is, in effect, that the second amendment has to do only with resisting government. Having artificially limited the scope of the second amendment to that, he uses a reductio ad absurdam to prove that citizens could not possibly defend themselves against the government. Therefore we should not have handguns. This does not follow. The second amendment cannot be limited to defense against the government. It also includes the right of a person to defend himself against attacks against his family. How many people today are even thinking consciously about defense against their government? The argument does not fit today’s situation.

The argument (not made by Rev. Lewis, but seemingly implied, and certainly used today all over the place by people wanting to restrict the use of handguns) that keeping people from guns will reduce crime is absolutely ludicrous. For one thing, criminals will always be able to get guns. Disarming the citizens will not prevent violence in the slightest. If anything, it will increase violence. If this argument were valid, then Switzerland, which requires its people to own guns, would have the highest crime rate in the world. Instead, it has one of the lowest. The same thing is true of Kennesaw, Georgia. Why does gun ownership decrease violent crime? One simple word: deterrence. I remember vividly one cartoon in World magazine where two criminals were high-tailing it away from a house, with the owner of the house firing a gun after them. The one criminal says to the other criminal, “Doesn’t he know how dangerous it is to own a gun?” The same thing was true of the Cold War. Having a nuclear arsenal, implementing MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) was an effective way to prevent a nuclear strike from the Russians.  Honestly, how many burglars would be willing to seek to burgle a house where he knew the owner not only kept a gun, but had training in how to use it? If I were a criminal, I would keep away from such houses, and instead prey on houses where I knew there would likely be no guns and no experience. You know, places like Philadelphia, Washington D.C, New York City.

So, completely contrary to Rev. Lewis’s assertion, pro-gun can actually be more pro-life than anti-life. And I personally resent the suggestion (I own three guns) that I am one iota less pro-life than Rev. Lewis is. Guns are not, and have never been, the problem. The problem is people and their sinful hearts. Gun control laws are a government-sponsored tyranny that simply cannot be messianic in its effect, since criminals get their guns from the black market anyway, so as to avoid the tracing. In short, there is very little logic in Rev. Lewis’s post.

Sarah Palin and the Media: Methinks Thou Dost Protest Too Much

I am astounded at the media frenzy attacking the Vice-Presidential candidate, Alaska governor Sarah Palin, but not for the reason that most people are. Most conservatives seem to be thinking that this is an unprecedented attack on the privacy of a candidate’s life. That’s not why I am surprised. I am surprised at the media’s idiocy. Normally, they are much more image-savvy than this, and much more politically calculating.

Here is a candidate that has the potential (and is certainly off to a good start) to fire up the conservative base of the Republican Party, and who has already upstaged Barack Obama in a major way. And she’s a woman. A conservative woman. The announcement of her as a running mate for McCain could not have come at a better time for the GOP. As many have already noted, Republicans have only wanted to prevent Obama from winning. Now many are excited that McCain could win. It came immediately after the DNC, insuring that the news from that convention would be old news just a day afterwards. Any kick that Obama might have gotten in the polls would be completely eliminated because of this impeccable timing. And now, McCain has the RNC to give him a kick.

The liberal media knows that they have to do something to win back the momentum, or at least slow McCain down, so they attack her. This is political suicide, if you ask me. It will not help the Democrats for Barack Obama and Joe Biden to distance themselves passively from such attacks. While that is laudable, it seems evident to me that a two-step is going on here. If Obama wants to convince the people that he is not in favor of attacking Sarah Palin, then he needs to attack the media attack. He needs to denounce the two-faced hypocritical media assassination attempt.

If the DNC wanted to eliminate the influence that Sarah Palin could have on this election (which I predict will be by far the most influence a VP candidate has EVER exercised on an election), they should have simply ignored her. There is a lot of time between now and November. Sarah Palin would eventually become old news. But what the media has done wil backfire in an enormous way. This, combined with Obama’s foot-in-mouth statements of late practically guarantee that this race is McCain’s to lose.

Response to Jason

I appreciate Jason’s thoughts (as always). He is always very thoughtful and thought-provoking. I think some clarifications on my part will (hopefully!) result in showing that we have more common ground in politics than is currently visible.

First of all, what did I mean when I said “cut spending?” First of all, what I meant was pork-barrel spending. Special projects that the government really shouldn’t be involved in, like all of these earmarked for 2008.
That’s a lot of money to be spending in a bad economy that has no relevance to the government of this country and the necessary infrastructures.

As to programs that benefit the poor, now is not really the time to address such issues, in my opinion. They should rather be addressed when the economy is on sounder footing.

That being said, it is very questionable whether such programs benefit the poor in the long run. Everyone should be able to admit that Social Security and welfare benefit the poor in the short run. However, welfare comes with the inherent temptation to avoid seeking work, and simply to filch off the rest of the incomes of America. This kind of thing is far better done by the churches (which have really dropped the ball on this one, in my opinion), which can also keep welfare recipients accountable to turn them around (when possible) to becoming profitable members of society. At the present rate, it is quite easy simply to live on welfare one’s whole life while being perfectly able-bodied. This should not be the case.

That being said, I do not think that the military should be in Iraq. I used to think that Bush had done a good thing, but now I am on the other side of the issue. The reason is that America simply cannot be the world’s police force. We need rather to concentrate on our own borders, which will be just as effective at keeping out terrorism, and much cheaper as well. If we don’t have to be the world’s police force, then the military will not need so much money either, while still being able to be the best of the best (which is still the best deterrent to invasion).

When I say that the church needs to speak prophetically, I admit that I was not clear as what aspects of the government need to be clearly critiqued. However, over-taxation is a no-brainer. The government currently requires more of our income than a tithe. Is the government more important than God? I have a hard time believing that, for some strange reason. God requires no set amount (not even 10%, although I think that is a good goal, or even starting point), although He did in the Old Testament. However, 10% is a generally recognized amount as corresponding to good stewardship. If the government needs more than that, then they are simply doing too much. The government is not the salvation of people. Neither is it the answer to our societal ills.

My question for Jason is this: when we see government not only allowing, but encouraging the murder of millions of innocent lives in abortion, are we supposed to retreat behind our Word and Sacrament, and not excoriate the government for such tyranny? What would Isaiah have said? What would Jeremiah have said? Of course, I realize that our government is secular. However, all the Old Testament prophets railed against secular governments almost as much as against their own governments. I think Jason is more than competent to speak out against the murder of the unborn.

How to Avoid a Recession

Compare this as an analogy. You are sitting in your agrarian home with a stockpile of wheat. This is your food. You know that a famine is coming. What do you do? Do you say, “Well, let’s eat all our wheat now, because there won’t be any more later”? This is idiotic. What you do is tighten your belt, ration the wheat, eat less, and grit your teeth while plowing on (literally). 

Similarly, when the nation is facing a recession or worse, the government should not go on spending like there is no tomorrow. It has been far worse than this before. Our current economic woes are nothing compared to the Great Depression. The problems happened when government soared it to take control, slapped a wage-price freeze, and everything disappeared. More government control is a sure way to ensure that our economic woes last as long as possible, and are as bad as possible.

What the government should do is drastically cut spending (as in, all pork barrel spending, special projects, etc.), and then cut taxes. The government should cut spending by about 50%, and then cut taxes by about 30%. These are just round figures, of course. Everyone should be paid their wages, but all excess spending should be cut. Of course, in my opinion, that also means that government should get out of schooling, Social Security, and welfare. However, that doesn’t look very likely in the near future. What they can do is to halt excess spending in the short-term projects, thereby tightening their girths.

The problem here is that many people, seeing a recession coming, think that government should get bigger so as to solve all the problems of the people. Government becoming bigger is called tyranny. It will always result in more control and less accountability. Government does not have a good track record of solving economic problems by becoming larger. Every time that happens, the economy goes down the tubes. 

Whatever one thinks of R.J. Rushdoony (and I am no theonomist), he certainly got this one right: unbelievers hate freedom, because they do not want the responsibility that goes with it. They want the credit when things go right. However, they do not want the blame when things go wrong. So is it with government and with individuals. Freedom requires responsibility. It also requires constant vigilance, lest those freedoms gradually be eroded. I am not saying that our woes can all be solved by cutting taxes. The ultimate problem is human sin, to which the solution is the gospel. What I am saying is that there is a measure of wisdom that the government needs to exercise right now if the economy is not going to melt down completely.  

A Poem for America

This poem was originally written by Rudyard Kipling in Victorian England. He was poet laureate at the time. He was fired from that position for this poem. It is not difficult to see why.

Recessional

God of our fathers, known of old- Lord of our far-flung battle line-
Beneath whose awful hand we hold Dominion over palm and pine-
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget- lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies- The Captains and the Kings depart-
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice, An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of hosts, be wih us yet, Lest we forget- lest we forget!

Far-called our navies melt away- On dune and headland sinks the fire-
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday Is one with Ninevah and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet, Lest we forget- lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe-
Such boastings as the Gentiles use, Or lesser breeds without the Law-
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget- lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust In reeking tube and iron shard-
All valiant dust that builds on dust, And guarding calls not Thee to guard.
For frantic boast and foolish word, Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord! Amen

God’s Sovereignty, part 2

I think that it is important to remember that this election is a win-win situation for the church. Though the conservative political agenda did not win the day, the church will still triumph, by God’s grace. Here is what I mean: if conservatives won, then social change for the better would have been the result (which we would then have used, Lord-willing, as a spring-board for the Gospel). If the liberals won, then the church will start being persecuted in earnest. They did win. So now we can expect more purity in the church. Look at the Haggard scandal, and look at other scandals. The veil of hypocrisy is being ripped away from the church. The mainline evangelical shmevangelical churches that don’t preach the Gospel will be the first to fold under persecution, since they are based on health and wealth and the neo-conservative agenda. The true church will only benefit from all this. James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Let the era of persecution in America begin continue and increase!

God’s Sovereignty

Get out and vote, of course. God’s sovereignty never cancels out human responsibility. Therein lies the difference between a Calvinist and a hyper-Calvinist. The (very) old joke has the Calvinist getting up after falling down the stairs, and saying “I’m glad that’s over with!” I will be glad when this election is over with. However, I am more interested in the South Dakota vote on the ban of abortions than I am in many of the other elections. If passed, this measure will certainly be challenged and make its way to the Supreme Court. Something to follow closely!

President Bush

There are many today attacking President Bush from many angles. And there are policies with which I disagree. However, Wayne Grudem has put Bush’s presidency is just a bit of perspective. It makes me proud that Bush is our president, faults and all.

More on John Kerry

This is hilarious. Philologous has the same thing with better comments.

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