God, not guns, will reign

My natural mental instinct would say NO!

Charles Darwin, anthropologist and father of the theory of evolution, argues that survival rests in the hands of those who are capable of surviving: "the survival of the fittest." We live in a society that teaches us that we "must" have a gun to survive. It looks as if we are going back to the days of the wild, wild West.

I had the fortunate opportunity of worshipping with family members of the Emanuel 9, the men and women who were killed while they were at Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, S.C., as well as the lone survivor whose life was spared.

Some 15 or so years ago, I attended the 50th wedding anniversary of Chris and Maxine McNair, whose daughter Denise was killed in the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

In spite of all they have gone through, I don’t believe any one of them would ever resort to carrying a gun to church.

As bleak as it looks now, I believe God when he says in 2 Chronicles 20:15, "For the battle is not yours, but God’s," and again in verse 17, "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord."

The Moabites, Ammonites and Mount Seirs of this world will not reign. God, not guns, will reign.

Our churches should be gun-free zones. We have to stand on His promise.

— Alberta McCrory, Gaines Chapel AME Church, Anniston

We are called to nonviolence

Are you asking if the law should dictate that churches be gun-free zones? Or are you asking if churches should decide to be gun-free zones?

If you’re asking the former, the Constitution says the government should stay out of a church’s business — unless it’s breaking the law.

If you’re asking the latter, then I’ll say what I think is the ideal situation, while passing no judgment on churches that do otherwise.

Yes, churches should be gun-free zones. Even though we live in a culture where churches (mosques, temples and synagogues) are being targeted by hate-driven violence, we are still called to practice nonviolence and love for our enemy.

I don’t believe that hurting or killing another person in self-defense goes against the commandment, "You shall not murder." I believe Jesus calls us to an even higher ideal:

"Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matthew 26:52).

"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you" (Luke 6:27).

Jesus came to teach us about a kind of love that goes against all our human instincts. His love is hard, gritty and leaves no room for self-interest.

It’s not the kind of love we see in movies where hippies sit around a fire singing "Kumbaya" and putting daisies in policemen’s gun barrels. No, His is the love that allows your enemy to beat you, spit on you, curse you and your family and even murder you — all while you pray to our God in heaven, "Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do."

I'm not saying it’s easy. I’m not even saying I’d be able to do it. But it is the highest goal of Christian living.

— Rev. Laura Hutchinson, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)