Grateful acknowledgments to Larry Pratt
The underlying argument for gun control seems to be that the availability of guns causes crime. By extension, the availability of any weapon would have to be viewed as a cause of crime. What does scripture say about such a view?
Perhaps we should start at the beginning, or at least very close to the beginningóin Genesis 4. In this chapter, we read about the first murder. Cain had offered an unacceptable sacrifice and Cain was upset that God insisted that he do the right thing. In other words, Cain was peeved that he could not do his own thing.
Cain decided to kill his brother rather than get right with God. There were no guns available, although there may well have been a knife. Whether it was a knife or a rock, scripture does not say. The point is, the evil in Cainís heart was the cause of the murder, not the availability of the murder weapon.
Godís response was not to ban rocks or knives, or whatever, but to banish the murderer (or institute capital punishment - Genesis 9:5-6). God never said a word about banning weapons.
Did Christ Teach Pacifism?
Many people, Christians included, assume that Christ taught pacifism. They cite Matthew 5:38-39 for their proof. In this verse Christ said:
Matthew 5:38-39, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."We do not believe Christ was teaching to "turn the other cheek" in virtually all circumstances. Even Christ did not literally turn the other cheek when smitten by a member of the Sanhedrin (John 18:22-23), or when struck on the face by the palms of the Roman guards (Matthew 26:67-68, Mark 14:65, Luke 22:64).
The Sermon on the Mount, from which this passage is taken, deals with righteous personal conduct. In our passage, Christ is clearing up a confusion that had led people to think that conduct proper for the governmentóthat is, taking vengeanceówas also proper for an individual. The principle taught in the Sermon on the Mount is that bondservants of Christ should not retaliate when insulted or slandered (Romans 12:17-21). Such insults do not threaten a believer's personal safety. The question of rendering insult for insult, however, is a far cry from defending oneself against a mugger, or a woman using the martial arts against a rapist.
Even the choice of words used by Christ indicates that He was addressing a confusion, or a distortion, that was commonplace. Several times in the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, Christ used this same "Ye have heard that it hath been said" figure of speech to straighten out misunderstandings or falsehoods being taught by the religious leaders of the time.
Contrast this to Christís use of the phrase "It is written" or "The Scripture saith" when He was appealing to the Scriptures for authority (for example, see Matthew 4 where on three occasions during His temptation by the devil, Christ answered each one of the devilís lies or misquotes from Scripture with the words: "it is written").
The reference to "an eye for an eye" was taken from Exodus 21:24-25, which deals with how the magistrate must deal with a crime. Namely, the punishment must fit the crime. The religious leaders of Christís day had twisted a passage that applied to the government and misused it as a principle of personal revenge.
Scripture distinguishes clearly between the duties of the magistrate (the government) and the duties of an individual. Namely, God has delegated to the magistrate the administration of justice. Individuals have the responsibility of protecting their lives from attackers. Christ was referring to this distinction in the Matthew 5 passage. Let us now examine in some detail what the Scriptures say about the roles of government and of individuals.
Both the Old and New Testaments teach individual self-defense, even if it means taking the assailantís life in certain circumstances.
Self-Defense in the Old Testament
Exodus 22:2-3, "If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft."
One conclusion which can be drawn from this is that a threat to our life is to be met with lethal force. After "the sun has risen" seems to refer to a different judgment than the one permitted at night. At night it is more difficult to discern whether the intruder is a thief or a murderer. Furthermore, the nighttime makes it more difficult to defend oneself and to avoid killing the thief at the same time. During the daytime, it had better be clear that oneís life was in danger, otherwise, defense becomes vengeance, and that belongs in the hand of the magistrate.
Proverbs 25:26, "...it is unseemly for a righteous man to fall before an ungodly man."
Certainly, we would be falling before the wicked if we chose to be unarmed and unable to resist an assailant who might be threatening our life. In other words, we have no right to hand over our life, which is a gift from God, to the unrighteous. It is a serious mistake to equate a civilized society with one in which the decent people are doormats for the evil to trample on.
Another question asked by bondservants of Christ is, "Doesnít having a gun imply a lack of trust that God will take care of us?" Indeed, God will take care of us. He has also told us that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15).
Those who trust God work for a living, knowing that 1 Timothy 5:8 tells us: "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." For a man not to work, yet expect to eat because he is "trusting God" would actually be to defy God.
King David wrote in Psalm 46:1 that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." This did not conflict with praising the God, "Which teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight" (Psalm 144:1).
The doctrine of Scripture is that we prepare and work, but we trust the outcome to God. Those who trust God should also make adequate provision for their own defense even as we are instructed in the passages cited above. For a man to refuse to provide adequately for his and his familyís defense would be to defy God.
There is an additional concern to taking the position that "I donít need to arm myself; God will protect me." At one point, when Jesus was in the wilderness, he was tempted to throw Himself off the top of the temple. The reasoneing was that Godís angels would protect Him. "Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God" (Matthew 4:7).
It may seem pious to say that one is trusting in God for protectionóand we all mustóbut it is tempting God if we do not take the measures He has laid out for us in scripture. God gave us a brain, and common sense, we should use both. Whether it be locking our doors, wearing a seatbelt, wearing a bullet proof vest or making use of any of the other things mankind has developed to make man safer; we should make use of these things, and not tempt the Lord.
Do I tempt His will by not providing for my own safety? Should an electrician wear the safety equipment that would protect his life (lanyards, insulated gloves, safety glasses), or is this tempting God? Is this a demonstration of his lack of faith in God's Word? If someone works in the wilderness for the forestry department, and carries a gun while installing pipes and wires in the event that a rattle snake comes upon him, does this constitute a lapse in faith? When our valiant soldiers were using their guns to destroy the Nazi (I am purposely not using the word "German" here because it was not only Germans who made up the Nazi forces [there were other ethnicity's], and not all Germans were a part of the Nazi regime), forces that were trying to enslave the whole world in W.W.II ...was that a lack of faith on our part as a nation or as individuals?
Bottom line: I do believe that my God is big enough to protect me until my purpose here on earth is complete. I also believe that I should not tempt the Lord by ignoring tools that are available to make my life safer.
Role of Government
Scripture records the first murder in Genesis 4 when Cain killed his brother Abel. Godís response was not to register rocks or impose a background check on those getting a plough, or whatever it was that Cain used to kill his brother. Instead, God dealt with the criminal. The penalty for murder has been death.
We see the refusal to accept this principle that God has given us from the very beginning. Today we see a growing acceptance of the idea that checking the criminal backgrounds of gun buyers will lessen crime, but we should seldom execute those who are guilty of murder.
In Matthew 15 (and in Mark 7), Christ accused the religious leaders of his day of also opposing the execution of those deserving of deathórebellious teenagers. They had replaced the commandments of God with their own traditions. God has never been interested in controlling the means of violence. He has always made it a point to punish and, where possible, restore (as with restitution and excommunication) the wrongdoer. Control of individuals is to be left to self-government. Punishment of individuals by the government is to be carried out when self-government breaks down.
Manís wisdom today has been to declare gun-free school zones which are invaded by gun-toting teenage terrorists whom we refuse to execute. We seem to have learned little from Christís rebuke of the Pharisees.
Nowhere in scripture does God make any provision for dealing with the instruments of crime. He always focuses on the consequences for an individual of his actions. Heaven and hell apply only to people, not to things. Responsibility only pertains to people, not to things. If this principle, which was deeply embedded in God's Law, still pertained today, lawsuits against gun manufacturers would be thrown out unless the product malfunctioned.
Responsibility rightly includes being liable for monetary damages if a firearm is left in a grossly negligent fashion so that an ignorant child gets the gun and misuses it. The solution is not to require that trigger locks be used on a gun to avoid being subject to such a lawsuit. Some might argue that this is nothing more than an application of the Biblical requirement that a railing be placed around the flat rooftop of a house where people might congregate. But trigger locks are to be used with unloaded guns which would be the same as requiring a railing around a pitched roof where people do not congregate.
Surely in protecting against accidents we cannot end up making ourselves more vulnerable to criminal attack, which is what a trigger lock does if it is in use on the firearm intended for self-protection.
The firearm that is kept for self-defense should be available in an emergency. Rooftop railings have no correspondence to the need for instant access to a gun. On the other hand, guns that are not intended for immediate use should be kept secured as a reasonable precaution. But to make the owner criminally or monetarily liable for anotherís misuse violates a basic commandment of Scripture: "...the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him" (Ezekiel 18:20).
Self-Defense Versus Vengeance
Resisting an attack is not to be confused with taking vengeance, which is the exclusive domain of God (Romans 12:19). This has been delegated to the magistrate:
Romans 13:4, "For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."
Private vengeance means one would stalk down a criminal after oneís life is no longer in danger as opposed to defending oneself during an attack. It is this very point that has been confused by Christian pacifists who would take the passage in the Sermon on the Mount about turning the other cheek (which prohibits private vengeance) into a command to fall before the wicked.
Let us consider also that the Sixth Commandment tells us: "Thou shall not murder." In the chapters following, God gave to Moses many of the situations which require a death penalty. God clearly has not told us never to kill. He has told us not to murder, which means we are not to take an innocent life. Consider also that the magistrate is to be a terror to those who practice evil. This passage does not, in any way, imply that the role of law enforcement is to prevent crimes or to protect individuals from criminals. The magistrate is a minister to serve as "a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil" (Romans 13:4).
This point is reflected in the legal doctrine of the United States. Repeatedly, courts have held that the government has no responsibility to provide individual security. One case (Bowers v. DeVito) put it this way: "[T]here is no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered."
Self-Defense in the New Testament
Christian pacifists may try to argue that God has changed His mind from the time that He gave the Ten Commandments. Perhaps they would want us to think that Christ canceled out the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 or the provision for justifiably killing a thief in Exodus 22. But the writer of Hebrews makes it clear that this cannot be, because "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (Hebrews 13:8). In the Old Testament, the prophet Malachi records Godís words this way: "For I am the LORD, I change not;" (Malachi 3:6).
Paul was referring to the unchangeability of Godís Word when he wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." Clearly, Paul viewed all Scripture, including the Old Testament, as useful for training bondservants of Christ in every area of life.
We must also consider what Christ told His disciples in His last hours with them: ". . . he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." (Luke 22:36). Keep in mind that the sword was the finest offensive weapon available to an individual soldieróthe equivalent then of a military rifle today.
The Christian pacifist will likely object at this point that only a few hours later, Christ rebuked Peter who used a sword to cut off the ear of Malchus, a servant of the high priest in the company of a detachment of troops. Let us read what Christ said to Peter:
Matthew 26:52-54, "Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?"
In the companion passage in John 18, Jesus tells Peter to put his sword away and told him that He had to drink the cup that His Father had given Him. It was not the first time that Christ had to explain to the disciples why He had come to earth. To fulfill the Scriptures, the Son of God had to die for the sin of man, since man was incapable of paying for his own sin. These things became clear to the disciples only after Christ had died and been raised from the dead and the Spirit had come into the world at Pentecost (see John 14:26).
In terms of following Christ's example, one must remember that His personal nonresistance at the cross was intertwined with His unique calling. He did not evade His arrest because it was God's will for Him to fulfill His prophetic role as the redemptive Lamb of God (Matthew 26:52-56). During His ministry, however, He refused to be arrested because God's timing for His death had not yet come (John 8:59). Thus, Christ's unique nonresistance during his ministry does not mandate against self-protection.
While Christ told Peter to put up his sword in its place, He clearly did not say get rid of it forever. That would have contradicted what He had told the disciples only hours before. Peterís sword was to protect his own mortal life from danger. His sword was not needed to protect the Creator of the universe and the King of kings.
Besides, Peter's use of force was not justified, because soldiers came to arrest Jesus and take him to trial, they did not come with the intent or goal of killing him and murdering him in the Garden with his apostles. There is a difference between a man immediately threatening ones life, and a man coming to arrest you. There is no justification for killing a man who has come to arrest you.
Another objection people bring up is this statement from Christ: "if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight." They claim that Christ did not want his servants to fight. However, this verse is quoted out of context. Let us read this entire verse:
John 18:36, "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."
As we can see, this was only in reference to his servants fighting to avoid Jesus being delivered to the Jews (such as what Peter tried to do). It was the will of God that Jesus (and some of us) be arrested and brought before the majistrates, His servants are not to resist. If his servants fought in this situation, Jesus could not have fulfilled scripture! This is the reason why his servants could not fight in this situation. Jesus gave a specific reason why his servants did not fight. To ignore this reason, and claim that Jesus prohibited all fighting in all situations, would be to add to scripture something that is not there.
Years after Pentecost, Paul wrote in a letter in 1 Timothy 5:8, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." This passage applies to our subject because it would be absurd to have a house, furnish it with food and facilities for oneís family, and then refuse to install locks and provide the means to protect the family and the property. Likewise, it would be absurd not to take, if necessary, the life of a nighttime thief to protect the members of the family (Exodus 22:2-3). Fathers are to protect their families and the state is to protect the right to do so.
A related and even broader concept is found in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Christ had referred to the Old Testament summary of all the laws of scripture into two great commandments: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself" (Luke 10:27). When asked who was a neighbor, Christ related the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). It was the Good Samaritan who took care of the mugging victim who was a neighbor to the victim. The others who walked by and ignored the victimís plight were not acting as neighbors to him.
In the light of all we have seen the Scriptures teach to this point, can we argue that if we were able to save anotherís life from an attacker by shooting the attacker with our gun that we should "turn the other cheek instead"? Scripture speaks of no such right. It only speaks of our responsibilities in the face of an attackóas individual creatures made by God, as householders or as neighbors.
sis 14, Abraham forms a militia to rescue Lot and receives the blessing of Melchizedek. Then, in Hebrews 7, this episode is repeated and God made it part of the New Testament age. There are many other passages in the Scripture and they all support our duty of self-defense. For example:
Luke 11:21-22, "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils."
Mark 3:27, "No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house."
Matthew 12:29, "Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house."
The above words are spoken by Jesus. He said when a man is armed his goods are in peace. But when he is not armed, it is easy for criminals to bind the innocent and steal their goods. If it was against God's Will to be armed, I do not believe Jesus would speak positive about men being armed.
National Blessings and Cursings
The Old Testament also tells us a great deal about the positive relationship between righteousness, which exalts a nation, and self-defense. It makes clear that in times of national rebellion against the Lord God, the rulers of the nation will reflect the spiritual degradation of the people and the result is a denial of Godís commandments, an arrogance of officialdom, disarmament, and oppression.
For example, the people of Israel were oppressed during the time of the rule of the Judges. This occurred every time the people apostatized.
Judges 5:8, "They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?"
Consider Israel under Saul: The first book of Samuel tells of the turning away of Israel from God. The people did not want to be governed by God; they wanted to be ruled by a king like the pagan, God-hating nations around them (1 Samuel 8:5). Samuel warned the people what they were getting intoóthe curses that would be upon themóif they persisted in raising up a king over themselves and their families. Included in those curses was the raising up of a standing, professional army which would take their sons and their daughters for aggressive wars (1 Samuel 8:11).
This curse is not unknown in the United States. Saul carried out all the judgments that Samuel had warned the people about. His build-up of a standing army has been repeated in the U. S., and not just in terms of the military, but also the 650,000 full-time police officers from all levels of government.
Saul was the king the Israelites wanted and got. He was beautiful in the eyes of the world, but a disaster in the eyes of the Lord. Saul did not trust God. He rebelled against His form of sacrifice unto the Lord. Saul put himself above God. He was impatient. He refused to wait for Samuel because Godís way was taking too long. Saul went ahead and performed the sacrifice himself, thus violating Godís commandment (and, incidentally, also violating the God-ordained separation of duties of church and state!).
Thus was the kingdom lost to Saul. And, it was under him that the Philistines were able to defeat the Jews and put them into bondage. So great was the bondage exerted by the Philistines: "Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said,
1 Samuel 13:19-23, "Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears. But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock...So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people..."
Today, the same goals of the Philistines would be carried out by an oppressor who would ban gunsmiths from the land. The sword of today is the handgun, rifle, or shotgun. The sword control of the Philistines is todayís gun control of those governments that do not trust their people with guns.
It is important to understand that what happened to the Jews at the time of Saul was not unexpected according to the sanctions spelled out by God in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. In the first verses of those chapters, blessings are promised to a nation that keeps Godís laws. In the latter parts of those chapters, the curses are spelled out for a nation that comes under judgment for its rebellion against God. Deuteronomy 28:47-48 helps us understand the reason for Israelís oppression by the Philistines during Saulís reign:
Deuteronomy 28:47-48, "Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee."
Scripture provides examples of Godís blessing upon Israel for its faithfulness. These blessings included a strong national defense coupled with peace. A clear example occurred during the reign of Jehoshaphat. 2 Chronicles 17 tells of how Jehoshaphat led Israel back to faithfulness to God which included a strong national defense. The result: "And the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat." (2 Chronicles 17:10).
The Israelite army was a militia army (Numbers 1:3ff.) which came to battle with each man bearing his own weaponsófrom the time of Moses, through the Judges, and beyond. When threatened by the Midianites, for example:
Numbers 31:3, "And Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the LORD of Midian."
Again, to demonstrate the Biblical heritage of individuals bearing and keeping arms, during Davidís time in the wilderness avoiding capture by Saul:
1 Samuel 25:13, "And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff."
Finally, consider Nehemiah and those who rebuilt the gates and walls of Jerusalem. They were both builders and defenders, each manóeach servantóarmed with his own weapon:
Nehemiah 4:17-18, "They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me."
And here is one of the most compelling passages in the Scripture concerning self defense:
Nehemiah 4:14, "...remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses."
The prophet Habakkuk was shrewd enough to understand this when he prayed to the Lord:
Habakkuk 1:12, "Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction."
As he decried the violence and misery that had overwhelmed the land when the Chaldeans invaded, he acknowledged it was because of their own rebellious doings. So too, do we see the exact same situation mirrored in what is happening, spiritually and socially, in America today.
There is a parallel here to the siege of Jerusalem in A. D. 68 - 70. Jews had been very slack to obey God, which is why they came under Gentile rule in the first place. Now, some Jews had gotten even worse and started small skirmishes against the Romans and even against the local populace. Why? Because they didn't like the idea of accepting God's judgment for their many, selfish sins. Thus, they tried to escape the dishonorable way, by doing whatever they could to avoid punishment, even if it meant killing their own people.
Although it started gradually and the cause seemed just at first, before it was all over, they killed old and young, rich and poor in Jerusalem, the City of Peace, and even drank their blood because of the fierce famine, which had been brought on by their refusal to stop fighting.
Throughout the campaign, Titus had offered them safety, money and land if they would stop the rebellion and senseless shedding of blood. He even sent their captured General Josephus to speak to them in their native tongue and offer them immunity if they would simply stop fighting. For a few who did accept the Roman offer, Titus gave them land and money in a city to themselves, since by then their reputation among neighboring nations was bad. Also, he decided to stop fighting himself, until he heard of the carnage going on inside the city. He kept fighting mainly to save pitiful, defenseless Jews, who were being slaughtered.
The last stronghold for the rebel robbers inside the city was their own Temple! Titus told them he had no intention of damaging their Temple if they would come out and fight somewhere else. Otherwise he could not be responsible for it. They later set it afire themselves, multiplying their iniquity even more. All the details can be found in "The Works of Flavius Josephus," in his "Book of Wars," numbers two through six.
The Providence of God in War
The scripture records many accounts of fighting and warfare. The providence of God in war is exemplified by His name YHWH Sabaoth, meaning "The LORD of hosts" (Exodus 12:41). God is portrayed as the omnipotent Warrior-Leader of the Israelites. God, the LORD of hosts, raised up warriors among the Israelites called the shophetim (savior-deliverers). Samson, Deborah, Gideon, and others were anointed by the Spirit of God to conduct war. The New Testament commends Old Testament warriors for their military acts of faith (Hebrews 11:30-40).
In 1 Samuel 17, we saw that David was only armed with a slingshot, and the Philistine (a giant) was heavily armed with weapons. David did not cower, he trusted in his Lord.
1 Samuel 17:37, "David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee."
1 Samuel 17:45, "Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied."
Because David was in the Lord's will, he defeated the Philistine. The safest place to always be, is in the Lord's will.
Moreover, it is significant that although given the opportunity to do so, none of the New Testament saints - nor even Jesus - are ever seen informing a military convert that he needed to resign from his line of work (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 3:14).
Self-defense may actually result in one of the greatest examples of love. Christ said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. " (John 15:13). When protecting one's family or neighbor, a bondservant of Christ is unselfishly risking his or her life for the sake of others.
Bearing arms is consistent with the lessons of scripture. Instruments of defense should be dispersed throughout the nation, not concentrated in the hands of the central government. In a godly country, righteousness governs each man through the Holy Spirit working within. The government has no cause to want a monopoly of force; the government that desires such a monopoly is a threat to the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens.
The assumption that only danger can result from peopleís carrying guns is used to justify the governmentís having a monopoly of force. The notion that the people cannot be trusted to keep and bear their own arms informs us that ours, like the time of Solomon, may be one of great riches, but is also a time of peril to free people. If Christ is not our King, we shall have a dictator to rule over us, just as Samuel warned.
The late Francis Schaeffer put it this way:
"The Bible is clear here: I am to love my neighbor as myself, in the manner needed, in a practical way, in the midst of the fallen world, at my particular point of history. This is why I am not a pacifist. Pacifism in this poor world in which we live - this lost world - means that we desert the people who need our greatest help. I come upon a big, burly man beating a tiny tot to death. I plead with him to stop. Suppose he refuses? What does love mean now? Love means that I stop him in any way I can, including hitting him. To me this is not only necessary for showing love to our fellow man: it is loyalty to Christ's commands concerning love in a fallen world. What about the little girl? If I desert her to the bully, I have deserted the true meaning of God's love - responsibility to my neighbor."
J. P. Moreland and Norman Geisler likewise say the following:
"To permit murder when one could have prevented it is morally wrong. To allow a rape when one could have hindered it is an evil. To watch an act of cruelty to children without trying to intervene is morally inexcusable. In brief, not resisting evil is an evil of omission, and an evil of omission can be just as evil as an evil of commission. Any man who refuses to protect his wife and children against a violent intruder fails them morally."
We affirm, then, that Scripture allows followers of Christ to use force for self-defense against crime and injustice. If self-defense is scripturally justifiable, so long as it is conducted without unnecessary violence. Gun ownership, for the purpose of self-defense against criminals and tyrannical governments, is a God-given duty. Men are commanded to protect the weak (Psalm 82:4, Proverbs 24:11) and their households (Exodus 22:1-2). Even God's holy angels carried swords with them (Numbers 22:23,31, 1 Chronicles 21:16,27,30).
Taking guns away from godly people is not the solution to our crime problem. People have been violent and murderous since the beginning of time (remember Cain and Abel?). Guns are not the problem, people are. The Scripture tells us that the heart of man is exceedingly wicked and will be the cause of all manner of evil, whether or not guns are around. Our job in America should not be to strip honest citizens of their firearms, but rather to fulfill the Great Commission and let God change their wicked hearts.
The Lord's will is found in His word. No where has God revealed to us that we should disarm while living in the land. However, you will find where God has revealed that weapons control is the practice of tyrants (1 Samuel 13:19-22). Scripture shows us that man has the right and duty to protect himself and his loved ones from those who would threaten to take it away. We are not advocating that one kill an aggressor, but it deters criminals, for sure.
If one chooses not to be armed, that is fine. But our point is that, as stewards of God's gifts, we are to take care of them. And we are to take care of our family. If you look at the criminal acts in Kennesaw, Georgia, you will see that there has been virtually no crime in that city. Every citizen is armed. Robbers want to steal things, they don't want to lose their life...so why would a robber steal from an armed house...when he can go to the next town and rob someone who is defenseless?
Being armed is a deterrent to crime. And whenever a government has taken the arms away from the people, genocide has usually resulted. In both the Old and New testaments, God's people were armed, and nothing is spoken negatively about them being armed. They might be chastised for how they use those arms, and they may also be blessed for using arms, but having arms in and of itself is not good or evil.
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