Self-Control, NOT Gun Control
“Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control…” (1 Cor. 9:25-27; ESV).
In a horrifically terrible and tragic event which transpired on Saturday, December 1st, 2012, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher allegedly shot and killed his (former?) girlfriend before eventually taking his own life with a handgun later that same day in the parking lot of Arrowhead Stadium. The following evening, on Sunday night, December 2nd, a widely known and highly respected sportscaster used his halftime segment of a nationally-televised football game to advocate for gun control. During the conclusion of his monologue he made what I would have to describe as one of the most ridiculous, ignorant, ill-informed and self-deluded statements I have personally heard from anyone in quite some time. And I quote: “If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Cassandra Perkins would both be alive today.” Really?!?
Is there anyone out there in their right mind, who truly believes that even if any 6’ 2”, 228 lb. professional athlete and NFL linebacker in the prime of his career didn’t possess a gun, that there is no way on earth that he could ever possibly find any other way to kill a woman (or man, or himself, or even several of each of these others) if he truly wanted to? Really? Could he not have used a baseball bat? What about a brick? Maybe smother her with a pillow? Is it not entirely possible that if any such athlete truly wanted a woman dead, that he could have gotten her into his car and driven them both off of a cliff or into a river? What possible self-delusion and/or personal agenda could blind such an otherwise apparently intelligent human being, as to make them publicly profess to believe that one of today’s professional athletes in such tremendous physical shape could not kill a woman even with just his bare hands if he really wanted to? Probably the same type of apparently otherwise intelligent human being who is suffering from the self-imposed delusion that any person truly bent on taking another’s life would somehow be stopped by some sort of law that says that guns are illegal! So is murder! But that law already on the books really doesn’t seem to slow such people down much in reality now does it?
And just what if it had gone down with one of those other weapons instead of with a gun? Would such sportscasters have been on national television the very next night advocating for the banning of, let’s say, baseball bats? (Can you imagine some semblance of the following: “Sorry folks, but there should be no professional baseball season this summer because baseball bats are just way too dangerous. Oh, and we will henceforth be petitioning Congress to pass a new law to remove both wooden and aluminum baseball bats from all schools, college campuses and store shelves as soon as possible.”)
And just what if a brick had actually been used by some professional athlete to beat his girlfriend to death? Would said sportscaster have gone on national television the very next night to advocate for the banning of bricks from all private and public places and uses in this country? Of course not! They’d have immediately been made a laughingstock! Oh, and what about if such a murder had been committed by means of smothering with a pillow? Would we have been subjected to such abject and utter silliness as, “If so and so didn’t possess a pillow, his girlfriend would still be alive today?” Would there have been a call for couch cushions to have been confiscated? Or, what if bare hands were used as they are in many murders? Would anyone else in the American media spotlight have publicly advocated for the outlawing and removal of hands? I somehow seriously doubt it. And after all, we already know about automobiles… and alcohol…
A few weeks after the aforementioned tragedy, another professional football player from a different team was tragically killed in an automobile accident while riding in a car driven by one of his teammates who was allegedly intoxicated. Where was the loud cacophony of cries from the earlier-mentioned celebrity sportscaster and his cohorts calling for the institution of “car and alcohol control?” Which one of them stated in all due seriousness, “If so and so didn’t possess an automobile, his NFL teammate would still be alive today?” None of them; at least that I am aware of. And incidentally, one does have to at least wonder: If gun companies like Winchester were as big of an NFL sponsor as beer companies like Budweiser, would sports commentators like the aforementioned have quite as much to say when such deaths resulted from the abuse of the products of their biggest corporate sponsors? I don’t know. But I still do know that at least I heard no such specific public outcry from them regarding this equally tragic and needless death, calling for the control of automobiles and alcohol as I did when it came to the other two deaths involving the use of a gun. In fact, I heard no more call for the banning of automobiles and alcohol in relation to this latter death than I did for the banning of planes and air travel when Muslim terrorists used those very means to take down New York’s Twin Towers in 2011, killing nearly 3,000 people in the immediate onslaught. Why is that? Because sane and thinking people immediately – even if only subconsciously – realized that the ultimate problem there wasn’t the fault of the planes but of a handful of people who merely used the planes as the means to a very evil and tragic end.
Why can’t this country’s fanatical and hypocritical “gun control” advocates conceive, accept, and admit to this same exact concept? I really don’t know, but apparently they can’t… And while I by no means intend to minimize or marginalize the simply unspeakable and horrific tragedy and atrocity that occurred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut where 20 children and several staff members were mercilessly gunned down very shortly thereafter… yet because it serves as such an unmistakable illustration of the utter and incredible hypocrisy of so many of those in the “gun control advocacy corner,” it must at least be mentioned here, as here they came yet again on the heels of that tragic act of terror and horror as well, calling for the blame to be placed on inanimate objects once again, instead of placing the blame where it truly belongs…
So what is this incredible and insidious hypocrisy of which I speak? Simply this: while it is true that on that most tragic and darkest of days in Connecticut in deep December when some twenty young, pure, and innocent lives were brutally taken from this earth on that day and in that place – and while I by no means intend to make light of those parents’ horrific and immeasurable loss in any way, shape, or form – there are at least, on average, several hundred times that number of innocent childrens’ lives taken every day in this country through the bloody butchery we call “abortion,” as the merciless war and unholy holocaust that has cost the lives of so many millions of innocent children continues… And one of the most heinous of hypocrisies has to be that so many of the so-called ‘liberals’ who cry out so relentlessly from the “gun control” advocacy corner of our ungodly society every time an adult, a child, or a handful of people die as a result of a sinful human being wielding a gun, in many cases, support both militantly and wholeheartedly, the wholesale butchery of our unborn children by the hundreds every day in this country! And that isn’t even the most unbelievable facet of their hypocrisy. Try this following on for size…
One can call and advocate for everything from “gun control,” to “bat control,” to “brick control,” to “pillow control,” to “cushion control,” to “car control,” to “alcohol control,” to “plane and air travel control.” We can outlaw every modern thing we have that could possibly ever be used as a weapon – from computer monitors to pocket combs; we can legislate ourselves out of everything we have while outlawing ourselves completely back to the stone age if we want. But the simple truth of the matter is still this: as long as there are branches on the trees, stones on the ground, and hatred and hardness in the hearts of some towards their fellow human beings that could conceivably cause them to want to murder them – men, women, and yes, even children – then people will always either find or invent a way to kill. Period. The solution to the problem here is not that we need more of any and/or all of the above-mentioned controls – including gun control – but ultimately that we human beings need far more “self-control.” Because whether we are discussing suicidal line backers, intoxicated drivers, troubled twenty-somethings, or unborn baby butcher shops, the problem here is not a political one, but an inward, spiritual, and biblical one!
Every one of the above-mentioned losses of life could have been stopped dead in its tracks, long before any of these tragedies ever even began to occur, by the humans involved in them exercising more self-control. Everything from anger, to alcohol, to abortion – all of these death-dealing and crime-contributing factors could have been easily eliminated simply by the advance and exercise of more powerful and personal self-control. Period. And so, what exactly is the ultimate source of such an all-consuming and death-delivering self-control? The one thing that the majority of people in our country today who adamantly claim they want such crimes to cease, seem to apparently rather die themselves than to ever see instituted and insisted upon as the ultimate and exclusive answer and solution to our sin problem… Jesus and His word exalted as Lord and law once again!
Now granted; amongst those who claim to follow and believe in Jesus there are admittedly a large number of hypocrites and insincere people too. But there is also a large and concerned, sincere contingent of faithful followers who seek to humbly and wholly heed His word and carry out His commandments as well. These Christians are constantly taught, admonished, and take to heart His commandments to love their neighbor as themselves; to not commit murder, thievery, adultery, or other atrocities against their fellow man; to not react in anger; to indeed forgive whenever wronged; to not shed innocent blood; to not consume alcoholic beverages; and to exercise constant restraint and self-control in all things. In fact, that phrase “self-control” occurs repeatedly within God’s holy word. Here are just a few of God’s divinely-given and power-packed examples:
- “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Prov. 25:28; ESV).
- “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal 5:16-25; NKJV).
- “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love” (2 Peter 1:3-7; ESV).
- “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness” (1 Thess. 4:1-7; ESV).
- “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim 1:7; ESV).
- “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us…For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:1-14; ESV).
- But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…” (II Tim 3:1-4; ESV).
The all-powerful and exclusive source of such far-reaching, all encompassing, and world-altering “self control” is none other than the author and finisher of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is through our study and acceptance of His holy word, coupled with our humble and submissive obedience to it as we live for Him and allow Him to have all control, that we learn to practice such a life-giving and life-altering measure of self-control. Surely it is incredibly easy to see why those who truly and fully believe in His explanation, validation, and blood-bought guarantee of a blissful and heavenly home for those who live a holy life as He has said they must (II Cor. 6:16-7:1), and who conversely believe just as truly and fully that there is an eternal abode of hell and punishment, “…a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries…” (Heb. 10:27; ESV), will think long and hard, and do everything in their power – and as they rely on His limitless power – to exercise incredible and inhuman restraint, resolve, and self-control before committing such ungodly and hell-spawned atrocities as we humans sometimes perpetrate on others and put themselves at even any risk of personal and perpetual, eternal damnation in the process. It is also just as easy to see why those who, on the other hand, reject outright the notion of God, hell, absolute truth, and the divine inspiration of the holy and sacred scriptures (II Tim. 3:14-4:4; Psalm 119) – those who live lives as described in II Tim. 3:1-4 and other such places – have no problem with living solely, sinfully, and single-mindedly for themselves, despite the eventual and eternal costs and consequences.
And we have no one but ourselves to blame. Those who have sought and still seek to kick and keep God out of the classroom, the courtroom, and the bedroom have been quite successful. And as a result, it should surely come as no surprise, when those who grow up believing they came from animals, naturally wind up behaving like animals (Romans 1:18-32).
God put it this way in His holy word: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal 6:7-8; ESV). Until we truly get that, the atrocities will undoubtedly continue to both ‘cost us,’ and accost us.
But if we should ever really care to correct this course of needless bloodshed and chaos, the solution is simple: nothing short of a return to God-inspired, word-instructed, Spirit-empowered, self control. And that can only happen when we as a society make it our ultimate goal to once again return to God. Remember: The only legitimate answer is God-inspired and demanded “Self Control, Not Gun Control.” God bless.