In light of recent shootings catapulted to national news, the Washington Post highlights what will surely be the left’s newest evangelical hero, hoping to infiltrate conservative Christians and turn them against guns. The tactic is “divide and conquer,” and the wedge is the ultimate political litmus test for Christians: the pro-life issue.
Rev. Rob Schenck is a recognized national conservative evangelical with a prominent ministry among conservative politicians and a background in pro-life activism. After the 2013 D.C. Navy Yard shooting, he says reality set in and he turned against guns.
WaPo sloganizes Schenck’s views: “one cannot be both ‘pro-life’ and also ‘pro-guns.’”
Schenck’s own words in the write-up are less eloquent and more straw-man: “When we say, ‘Nobody will ever take my life, I’ll take theirs,’ it contradicts the Christian life and message.”
The argument came in the wake of the Umpqua shooting. Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey had the right response: Christians should arm themselves and carry. This did not sit well with the anti-gun crowd, and Schenck saw an opportunity to publicize his new ministry angle. He took his shot at Ramsey:
“He is not qualified to issue such a challenge to his fellow Christians. It’s bad advice.”
The shot fails. First, the moment you begin attacking an opponent based on his credentials or qualifications, or alleged lack thereof, you’re on dangerous ground. Resorting to ad hominem suggests you have no good argument on the substance. Turns out, this is the case.
It is actually the Lt. Gov. who has the real Pro-Life position here. For some unfortunate reason, the Pro-Life activist is on the wrong side of the Pro-Life issue when it comes to guns.
Schenck’s argument is not principled or built on thorough review of Scripture. It’s based on a narrow view of Christian love, and an abstracted and misapplied view of the sanctity of life. As a result, he ends up making nonsensical statements:
“I’m not saying self-defense is never an option for a Christian. I think it is,” he said. “But there’s an impulse toward lethal self-defense that’s contrary to Christian thinking and teaching.”
Logically this is saying that a Christian has a right to self-defense, but not a right to lethal self-defense. In other words, if someone attacks you, you can fend them off, but if they want to kill you (I suppose you can stop and ask them just before or during the attack, right?) you must submit to their murder.
I can’t think of a worse wrangling of logic or morality. This is not application of Christian principles to real-world concerns. It is trying to force an anti-gun political agenda into Christian terminology. But the shoe doesn’t fit.
As I wrote recently, Christians need to consider gun ownership, training, and skill as pro-life issues. The use of force and even lethal force to protect life is every bit as pro-life from a Christian perspective as the death penalty. To be consistent, the movement must call to protect all innocent life, not every single life without exception. When a soul turns rogue and criminal, he or she risks their life in committing their acts of violence, such as burgling a house at night, attacking an individual, armed robbery, etc. Perpetrators forfeit their right to life when they commit such acts. This is precisely what Jesus meant when He said, “all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword” (Matt. 26:52).
The consistent Pro-Life believer will do what Lt. Gov. Ramsey said: they will take the Second Amendment seriously, and put it to practice. They will bear arms. They will train and study to protect life if need be. They will be prepared. Anyone who attacks this principle in this world still filled with lethal evils is not Pro-Life, they are quite the opposite. They may be so mistakenly or with good intentions, but they are objectively anti-life.