GUN CONTROL

This is a topic that we’ll hear a lot about over the next several months. The latest word on the street is that Obama will attempt to make an end run around congress for the clout to remove our guns, appealing directly to the United Nations for a treaty which the United States will be obligated to honor despite the Second Amendment “guarantee”. The process, of course, will be gradual. Demagogues the world over appreciate the false comfort it gives the masses to approach the process of oppression gently and slowly.

First, the public must be distracted from the real reason why the Second Amendment was adopted in the first place. In speaking with members of the younger generation, I perceive this process to be nearly complete. Among the various reasons they have given me for the granting of our Second Amendment right of gun ownership, the two most common are hunting and family protection. Those needs can be met, of course, with much more primitive firearms than those presently on the market. For those purposes, black-powder muzzle-loaders with turnaround times of a minute between shots should be more than sufficient. Therefore, there shouldn’t be a legitimate question in anyone’s mind that semiautomatic weapons, at least, should immediately be banned. The kind of ammunition required for such advance weaponry also should be prohibited. They want to hunt so badly? Well, okay then, let them pour their own lead balls.

I can’t remember anyone of that generation among those with whom I’m in contact addressing the real reason for the Second Amendment – protection from a corrupt and repressive government. If one should propose that as a possibility, they are quick to point out specifics of the Second Amendment of which I wasn’t aware that they understood: the mention of a militia. Keying on that word, they go on to say that the National Guard should be up to protecting us from that kind of problem. “Well, duh,” I’d usually say in response to that notion. “Don’t you think that just perhaps the National Guard is part of the government?” Even state-run guards became toothless when the states themselves became vassals of the federal government to collect federal funding for things like highway maintenance.

Once the public has been denied the ownership of the more sophisticated weapons, it will be a much easier task for the government to complete the process of removing all firearms from public access.

The second order of business for the gradual process of social engineering away our dependence on firearms has been to emphasize their danger. “Another Handgun Death!” scream the headlines, emphasizing the nature of the tragedy in great and gory detail of the victim and the impact on the victim’s close relatives while completely ignoring the statistics regarding such cases. A cursory examination of these statistics would reveal that, in our gang- and crime-ridden society, guns in the hands of the public at large save far more lives than they destroy. In a society as large as ours, tragedies will and do occur. When they happen to us or people we know, they are genuine causes for grief. However, it’s a characteristic of our emphasis on the material world to the exclusion of God that makes even one victim of this sort abhorrent to the public, especially with the media regularly screaming about the “situation”, as if it was out of control. The media is supported in this matter by one-sided and relentless indoctrination in the schools.

In response to the threat of this encroachment of government upon our basic rights, conservatives point out, with historic records to prove the truth of their assertion, that once the public has been effectively disarmed, a full-blown and repressive dictatorship isn’t far behind.

Conservatives, having compiled a list of governmental assaults upon the public welfare, point back to our own revolutionary history, citing the uprising against England led by the father of our country George Washington, who, by the way, was a devout Christian. Perhaps, the more extreme among them say, we should take a cue from their own courageous stance against tyranny and gear up ourselves to repeat the process.

Now, having brought up the influence of Christianity on the affairs of our nation, I wish to pursue that topic by addressing the Christians in my audience. Given the flavor of my tirade to this point, I expect that my further commentary will surprise you, for I don’t advocate turning to revolt or anything like it. What I do propose requires the demonstration of far more courage and self-restraint than acting out in violence. I suggest that we obey Jesus, In Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus tells us to deal with our enemies with love. It’s not an easy thing for us to do and it runs counter to the get-your-own-back norm of our society. But if we are true followers of Jesus, as we claim to be, we will do as He asks:

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy; but I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father, who is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the eviul and one the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them who love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye, therefore, perfect, even as your Father, who is in heaven, is perfect.”

A second American Revolution wouldn’t work out anyway like the original one did. That American Revolution was conducted by a public that held up Christian principles as standards of respect for each other and their leaders. Many were Christians themselves, but in addition to that the majority accepted the presence and influence of Christianity within the public domain. History records that where the constraints imposed upon public conduct by Judeo-Christian principles are not present, revolt quickly turns to mob action that brings the most repressive of leadership to the forefront. We can witness that very thing taking place in other countries today. In America, we the public have permitted the removal of Christianity from any area where the religion may have any relevance to our daily lives. Any revolution at this point would be certain to result in even greater repression that we feared at first.

Those who would advocate a second American Revolution are misguided as to their perception of its secular nature. It isn’t a material battle, not at this point of general depravity. In Ephesians Chapter 6:10-18, Paul identified it for what it really is:

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand, therefore, having your loins girded about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, with which ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; . . .”

Far more importantly, we as Christians march to a different tune than the public at large. I’m not a stranger to guns, having qualified with the M-1 rifle and the .45 semiautomatic handgun during my enlistment in the Marine Corps. Later as a civilian, I found a gun to be handy during a rare Clint Eastwood moment in convincing a thief to return what he stole from me. I guess that if I were ever to be confronted with an imminent danger to my wife’s life or well-being, I’d be prone to trading the life of a threatening individual to keep hers intact. But allow me to describe a better and nobler standard for the Christian who is forced to witness the descent of his society into godlessness: follow Jesus. When He told us that if we loved Him, to obey Him, He also showed us through His word, the Bible, how to do just that.

We are clearly told by Jesus Himself, as well as by Paul and Peter, to expect repression and persecution and, when it happens, to suck it up and deal with it nobly and selflessly. As Paul said in Philippians 1:29 and 30, persecution comes in the package:

“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him but also to suffer for his sake, having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.”

An outstanding example of Christian behavior in the face of persecution is demonstrated by the beloved lady Perpetua.

Perpetua suffered under the persecution which began in A.D. 200. According to John Foxe in his book Christian Martyrs of the World, this was the fifth of ten persecutions foretold by Jesus in His message to the Church at Smyrna, Revelation 2:8-11:

“And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These things saith the first and the last, who was dead, and is alive. I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty (but thou art rich); and I know the blasphemy of them who say they are Jews, and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer. Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried, and ye shall have tribulation ten days; be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: he that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”

The Church at Smyrna was the second of the seven Churches addressed by Jesus in Revelation Chapters 2 and 3. Of these Churches, Smyrna and Philadelphia were the only two for which Jesus had nothing negative to say. It has been broadly recognized as the persecuted Church. According to Foxe and other theologians the ten ‘days’ spoken of by Jesus were ten periods of overt, usually intense persecution. Foxe listed them all in his book, which is considered to be one of the three greatest Christian works outside the Bible ever written. The following is his entry regarding Perpetua:

“During the reign of Severus, the Christians had several years of rest and could worship God without fear of punishment. But after a time, the hatred of the ignorant mob again prevailed, and the old laws were remembered and put in force against them. Fire, sword, wild beasts, and imprisonment were resorted to again, and even the dead bodies of Christians were stolen from their graves and mutilated. Yet the faithful continued to multiply. Tertullian, who lived at this time, said that if the Christians had all gone away from the Roman territories, the empire would have been greatly weakened.

“By now, the persecutions had extended to northern Africa, which was a Roman province, and many were murdered in that area. One of these was Perpetua, a married lady twenty-six years old with a baby at her breast. On being taken before the proconsul Minutius, Perpetua was commanded to sacrifice to the idols. Refusing to do so, she was put in a dark dungeon and deprived of her child, but two of her keepers, Tertius and Pomponius, allowed her out in the fresh air several hours a day, during which time she was allowed to nurse her child.

“Finally the Christians were summoned to appear before the judge and urged to deny their Lord, but all remained firm. When Perpetua’s turn came, her father suddenly appeared,, carrying her infant in his arms, and begged her to save her own life for the sake of her child. Even the judge seemed to be moved. ‘Spare the gray hairs of your father,’ he said. ‘Spare your child. Offer sacrifice for the welfare of the emporer.’

“Perpetua answered, ‘I will not sacrifice.’

“’Are you a Christian?’ demanded Hilarianus, the judge.

“’I am a Christian,’ was her answer.

“Perpetua and all the other Christians tried with her that day were ordered killed by wild beasts as a show for the crowd on the next holiday. They entered the place of execution clad in the simplest of robes, Perpetua singing a hymn of triumph. The men were to be torn to pieces by leopards and bears. Perpetua and a young woman named Felicitas were hung up in nets, at first naked, but the crowd demanded that they should be allowed their clothing.

“When they were again returned to the arena, a bull was let loose on them. Felicitas fell, seriously wounded. Perpetua was tossed, her loose robe torn and her hair falling loose, but she hastened to the side of the dying Felicitas and gently raised her from the ground. When the bull refused to attack them again, they were dragged out of the arena, to the disappointment of the crowd, which wanted to see their deaths. Finally brought back in to be killed by gladiators, Perpetua was assigned to a trembling young man who stabbed her weakly several times, not being used to such scenes of violence. When she saw how upset the young man was, Perpetua guided his sword to a vital area and died.”

The perceived nobility of her name has a factual basis in the circumstance of her birth. But her high birth is of little consequence compared to the nobility of her faith and the beautiful manner in which she chose to exercise it.

Perpetua certainly wasn’t alone in her suffering on behalf of Christ. Rather, she typified the lot of the Christian during those times when the Christian Church was at her dynamic best. It appears that we are in just such a time right now. Although the media doesn’t furnish the news about this to the general public, huge numbers of Christians throughout the world are being persecuted at this very moment. Hebrews Chapter 11 gives us an example of how we should really fight our battle against the deterioration of our society and our government: illuminate through love and faith the darkness that surrounds you with the light of Christ.

“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edged of the sword; whose weakness was turned into strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put into prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

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