Since what we are seeking to reform is our public life together, the principal object of our concern should be the current state of our public life together. We are not attempting time travel to Arcadia, or perpetrating some sort of a book jump into Utopia. We play cards with the hand we were dealt, and what we were dealt is this dog’s breakfast of a civic order. We start where we are, and we are to go somewhere good that we can actually get to from here.
So someone interested in genuine reform has to have his eye on three things. What are they? First, since our principal problem is the idolatrous cancer of statism, we must first be interested in keeping that statism from getting any worse. Second, we have to roll back as much of that statism as we can. And third, those things which are healthy in themselves, and which may be allowed to remain, must be grounded in our desire to do the will of Jesus, as revealed in Scripture.
So, to take an issue at random, am I saying that Jesus doesn’t want us to pass any more of these inane gun control laws? Right, that’s what I am saying, and I am grateful for this opportunity to come clean and explain myself.
This, of course, sounds perfectly outrageous to those children of this age who have memorized almost all of the secularist catechism. And if they allowed themselves to think about what I just said for more than ten minutes, they would get pretty whipped up about it. How dare I?
How dare I what? Well, speak for Jesus on a “political” matter when no reputable concordance or Bible search software contains any reference to automatic or semi-automatic weapons. Seems like a reasonable question, right? But it only seems like a reasonable question because it is entirely the wrong question.
If I am debating someone who was maintaining that God didn’t know where South Dakota was, the difference between us would not be about geography. And if I am debating someone who thinks the government has the right to tell me what kind of light bulb to use, the difference between us is not about the best wattage for my living room. If I am debating someone who wants to ban magazines with more than ten rounds, they want it to be about the magazines — whereas if I still have my wits about me, I should know that the debate is over whether or not the ATF rose from the dead in order to ascend into the heavenlies, in order to give gifts to men. I maintain the negative, but maybe that’s just me.
That great mentor of the hard left, Saul Alinsky, taught all the non-chumps on his side that the issue is never the issue. Keep your eye on the ball. What is the stated purpose of the law, and what is the real purpose of the law? The stated purpose of such laws is to keep devasting weapons out of the hands of criminals. The real purpose of the law is to grow the power of the idol-state, and to shrink the power of those capable of resisting it. This sleight of hand matters because what genuine Christian wants criminals to have devastating weapons? And what genuine Christian wants a bigger and more powerful idol-state? There are two different questions on the table, and so it matters which one is the real one.
If I am Paul come to idolatrous Athens, and I find 454 idols all over that idol-ridden city, would I support gun control laws sponsored by the 455th shrine? No, of course not. The first order of business would be to topple all the idols, and then figure out what a God-honoring civil order would do with the guns.
And the answer to that question, incidentally, if we may run ahead for a moment, is nothing. In a God-honoring civil order, there would be no need to do anything with the guns. The guns weren’t doing anything wrong, being inanimate and all. I am not with N.T. Wright on this, whose only law-application from the Old Testament has to do with how Jubilee laws apply to the World Bank. All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable, and Scripture tells us to do things with murderers that we simply refuse to do, and it never tells us to do anything whatever with the murder weapons. “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecc. 8:11, ESV). It does not say, however much we might like it to, “Because the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil, therefore remove all the weapons from the general populace, and accumulate them in the arsenals of an arrogant and overweening state” (Ecc. 22:11). Like I say, it doesn’t say that, for which we may render thanks to a merciful God.
Alinsky was an idolater, but like Joab, he was a shrewd man. So I am actually with Alinsky on this one point, and the issue should be kept the only issue. That issue is who the ruling elites think they are. Since at least 1913, they have been of a mind to exalt all their cabinet seats above the stars of God, sitting upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. And lo, they have come a cropper.