Thursday, January 31, 2013

Noisy Debates Need Sound Logic

"Even if one new gun law saved a life, it would be worth it."

How often have you heard somebody give that argument in the debate over our Second Amendment?

It's been a one-liner opponents of more gun laws have had a difficult time refuting.

Well, I'm neither a gun owner, nor do I want to own a gun, and I don't think evangelicals have any sort of mandate from God to spend a lot of energy fighting over this issue, but the more times I hear the "if even one new law saves one life" rationale, I think I'm going to scream.

We're fighting battles on catch phrases, slogans, and sound bites that we're not thinking through.  And when you think this one through, you see that it doesn't make sense.

It may sound like it, since protecting human life is something governments and laws are supposed to do.  But if it were true, it should apply in other cases, right?  Meanwhile, most of the people who are spouting it in advocacy of more gun laws are... the same people who support abortion.

Think about it:  each abortion takes a life.  Not every gun that is shot is involved in hurting anything, let alone death.  Hardly any gun owners, considering how many there are and how few of them use guns inappropriately, kill people with a gun.  But each abortion is a human being's death.

Every time.

Life, Laws, and Abortion

So, using the type of rationale that presumes more laws are good, as long as one life is saved by them, our society should be outlawing abortion, right?  If more gun control laws that infringe on the rights of Americans to own guns will save even one life, which would make the new laws worthwhile, shouldn't the "rights" of women to kill their unborn offspring be secondary to the laws limiting a woman's freedom to pursue inconsequential sex so her baby could live?

Isn't that the corollary to "even if one new law saved a life, it would be worth it" in the abortion debate?

Of course, since it works to the advantage of pro-lifers, perhaps gun advocates should re-think their opposition to more gun laws.  But the fact is, "even if one new law saved a life" needs to be balanced against the wider scope - pardon the pun - of civil rights and basic morality.  In the case of gun rights, since so few guns are involved in the horrific crimes that have captured our nation's emotions, and since so many gun owners act responsibly with the weapons they own, curbing gun violence has more to do with societal attitudes towards violence and conflict resolution than more legislation.

In terms of abortion, it's not just one life that is saved by making abortion illegal, but millions.  And it's not a mother's rights to irresponsible sex that government needs to protect, but the right of life that begins at conception to make it through birth alive.  Since the mother is opting for murder, the state needs to protect innocent life.

This is the logic behind gun rights advocates resisting more gun control, and pro-life advocates working to save the unborn.  Not "even if one new law saved a life."

Love the Sinner, Accommodate the Sin?

By the way, speaking of logic - or the lack of it, advocates of amnesty for illegal immigrants are increasingly relying on the "treat them as people" argument for letting illegals stay in the United States despite their status as lawbreakers.

"We need to sympathize over the plight of these people, and understand that simply kicking them out of our country and back into a culture that their kids, especially, would find foreign is inhumane."

OK, if that is the case, then why should evangelicals insist, for example, that homosexuals who come to Christ abandon their homosexual lifestyle?  Homosexuality is as much against God's law as breaking national sovereignty laws, is it not?  What's the difference?  I imagine it would be just as difficult - if not more so - for a gay person to leave their sexual relationships, than for a family here illegally to return to their native country.  If we're talking inhumanity and lack of love, what's the difference?

Christians who advocate for amnesty rely on the "sojourners and strangers in your midst" scriptures that teach us to treat people unlike us with kindness and dignity.  However, couldn't "sojourners and strangers" be the unsaved people who populate our pews alongside us on Sunday mornings in our churches?  But do we preach that people can stay in their sin after they repent and turn to Christ?

Of course not!  We believers pursue discipleship so we can learn how to better love our Savior and demonstrate our faith by committing our ways - sins and all - to His lordship in our lives.  If that means we need to make lifestyle changes, then we make those changes.

How is that different for illegals?  Granted, most evangelicals have not displayed much Christ-like love to illegals, let alone gays.  So, to the extent that we still need to learn how to demonstrate love to these people groups, the point being made by the "sojourners and strangers" crowd is well taken.  For example, although I oppose amnesty, I support a moratorium on deportations, while efforts to encourage illegals to return to their native countries have time to take effect.

Meanwhile, do you see how careful we need to be in the sides we take and what we say to support our positions?  Logic is a critical component in every conversation, particularly ones in which emotions can run high.  We need to use the brains God has given us more effectively as we represent Christ in our fallen world.

It may not win us popularity, but popularity is like guns and living in a country illegally.  God doesn't guarantee us the right to have or do any of them.  But He does expect us to choose our positions on these issues with integrity and compassion.

While we rely far less on laws, and totally on Him.

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