As published in Time:
Here’s one thing all Evangelicals — and Christians of every stripe, actually — hold to be true: humans are sinful. They cannot stop being sinful. They will always be sinful. This is why, according to the Christian gospel, the Father deployed his Son and that Son died; to take the rap for sin. If any human could have found a way to live a perfect life, then that sacrifice would not have been necessary. The sinfulness of all humanity is one of Christianity’s foundational beliefs.
Given that, why do so many Christians, particularly those on the right, so steadfastly oppose any kind of meaningful gun control? It’s true that guns don’t kill people on their own. People kill people. But since Christians believe that people cannot be perfected this side of Glory, why not limit the harm we fallen people are able to do? We can only change one side of the equation, and that’s the gun side.
Compare the Christian attitude to guns to the Christian attitude to marriage. It is not in the nature of mammals to be monogamous, and yet churches support marriage, offer couples counseling, discourage the watching of pornography or the solicitation of prostitutes or the secret affair. Churches acknowledge people are not perfect, so they endorse the introduction of some guardrails to help them do less damage to those around them. They promote some limitations on freedom to stop people getting hurt. Yes, the Lord said go forth and multiply, but Christian people do not then take that to mean you have the right to have children with whomever you wish at any time, after a three-day waiting period.
Or let’s look at the Christian perspective on giving. Traditionally, Christians believe in the tithe. That is, they give up 10% of their income to the church or some godly purpose. The thinking behind this is that since everything humans have comes from God, they are merely returning to God what is God’s. To hoard money is to rely on something other than God. To give it away is to acknowledge that God is the ultimate provider. So why do Christians rely on guns for protection at all times? Do Christians believe guns are stronger than God?
Why not then give up even 10% of the access to guns — say, just the semi-automatics?
“I would call it the libertine loophole,” says Rev. Rob Schenck, a Washington D.C. -based evangelical pastor. “You get to do anything you want when it comes to a lethal weapon. Everything else you restrain. You watch what you drink, what amusements you go after, what relationships you pursue, even what you do with your money, your time, the words you employ and don’t employ. There are all kinds of restraints and constraints. But [owning guns] is an exception to all the rules and the question you have to ask: why? Why would we make this exception?”
About five years ago, Schenck, a pastor whose anti-abortion credentials are robust, began to question whether his commitment to life and his commitment to guns were mutually exclusive. If one believes in the sanctity of human life, how could one countenance the idea that everybody has the right to a tool that can end life so fast? This is a guy who was on Roy Moore’s side when the 10 Commandments monument was removed from the judge’s courtroom, so he’s not exactly a liberal. And while the Constitution gives Americans the right to carry guns, the Bible sees rights differently, says Schenck. “The scripture says, ‘All things may be lawful, but not all things are helpful.”