A major topic that seems to have taken the media by storm recently is the issue of guns, gun control, what kind, and if people should even own guns. It is a very touchy subject to say the least. Let’s look at the question, should Christians own guns for self-defense?
Owning guns for hunting and for self-defense are two ends of a spectrum that would be too broad to cover in this piece. Most people seem to be okay with the idea of owning a gun for hunting. So, let’s narrow down our exploration to the more difficult subject and question: should Christians own guns for self-defense?
We aren’t going to discuss brands, calibers, capacities, types, or anything of the like, again because that would be too broad of a topic for this piece. Whole books could be written on it. Today I want to look at the specific sense of Christians owning any gun for the means of self-defense.
In America, we have the second amendment that grants citizens the right to keep and bear arms. Somewhere along the line this has been interpreted as being not only a God given right, but also a duty.
Let’s look at it.
John Piper On Guns
Last year John Piper wrote an article that went viral entitled, Should Christians Be Encouraged To Arm Themselves. Needless to say it stirred many emotions. There were more rebuttal articles written towards that than I think I had ever seen towards a topic; guns are a touchy subject for many Americans.
Although Piper wrote a very in depth article, I feel he missed the point completely. Most if not all of Piper’s scripture references were in regards to Christians not retaliating against being persecuted for their faith, not in regards to defending against outright evil, violence, or injury.
Piper had a seven-fold response to the question “Can I shoot my wife’s assailant?” Essentially, his answer was no. I feel like Piper completely disregarded the understanding of the “golden rule” given to us in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31.
In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
If I were personally being assaulted or raped, I would want someone to defend me; even if it meant shooting him or her to get the person off of me. So why would I not do this for my wife?!
I believe 1 Timothy 5:8 refers not just to providing food and shelter for family members, but protection as well.
Now, I’m not here to debate Piper on the issue of guns, because I want to look at the topic from a different lens. I just wanted to show a few holes in his approach to the topic before proceeding.
Great Power, Great Responsibility
Voltaire is credited with the saying, “with great power comes great responsibility.” In reality, he was rewording what Jesus told us in Luke 12:48,
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”
A gun is a powerful tool. There’s no doubt about it. So with the great power comes an even greater responsibility. Or, as Jesus put it, you have been given much [power], much will be required of you [responsibility].
Outside of the legal responsibilities to store it safely, to follow the laws of your state, and the moral responsibility to be properly trained in how to use it, if you so choose to own a firearm I believe you have three Spiritual responsibilities that come about from that decision.
1. The responsibility to know when to lay down the weapon
As I stated earlier, Piper’s use of scripture references were in regards to persecution for being a Christian. When this is the case you have the responsibility to lay down your weapon, and receive said persecution. This only comes through maturity in the Lord. You must be wise, and attentive not only to the situation, but also to the Spirit.
If you notice Jesus rebukes Peter for using his sword against the servant of the high priest, when they came to take Jesus. This was one of the times of persecution in which Peter should have laid down his sword.
2. The responsibility to know when to shoot
Just as you have a responsibility to know when to lay down your weapon, you also have the responsibility to know when to shoot. Each man or woman must decide in their own heart in what instances they will engage.
The Bible regularly talks about defending the innocent and caring for those in danger. This is a great responsibility, because if you engage an attacker, whether in your own home or out in public, you will have to live with that choice for the rest of your life.
If you decide to own a firearm, you must decide when you will and will not get involved in a situation, should it arise.
In Luke 22, Jesus gives a directive to his disciples that is used quite regularly in the gun debate. He states,
And He said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘And He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.”
Jesus was not instructing them to purchase swords as a means to become violent men. Jesus was instructing them to buy swords to stand ready to do violence should the time come to defend the innocent, their family, or their self.
When they were sent out previously, they were under the supernatural protection of His guidance and sovereignty.
3. The Responsibility To Not Cause Your Brother To Stumble
Finally, your greatest call and responsibility is to your brothers and sisters in Christ. You are not to put a stumbling block in front of them. (Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 8 & 10) Whether it is food, drink, festival days, or even the issue of gun possession; our call is to think of others more highly than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).
Just because you choose to own a gun does not mean you flaunt it in front of your brothers and sisters who do not believe in owning guns when you are around them. It is your responsibility when you own a gun to use sound judgment around your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Let Each Man Choose For Himself
Finally brothers and sisters I finish with this thought. Let each man choose for himself if he should own a gun or not. Those of you who stand in a different position than another, do not act as a judge towards your brother or sister who thinks differently than you.
I personally believe in owning guns, I do own guns, and I am legally licensed to carry a gun. I own guns for hunting birds and both big and small game. I also own historical guns and a couple pistols. My father had them when I was growing up and I have a healthy fear and understanding of their power and capabilities. I believe it comes back to the understanding that with great power comes great responsibility. I understand I have a great responsibility by owning guns and carrying one.
If you don’t believe the same way, that’s okay. I don’t judge you for it, and I would hope you wouldn’t judge me for it. That’s the beauty of this life; we can disagree on things and still live unoffended.
Each person has to decide for him or herself if they want to own a gun or not. I encourage you to read Romans 14:1-13 and Colossians 2:16-17.
Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.
The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.
For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall give praise to God.”
So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. – Romans 14:1-13
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. – Colossians 2:16-17
I believe Paul’s words apply to an issue such as guns as well that is not directly covered in scripture. Let each man decide for himself, and then the brothers and sisters in Christ should honor each other’s decision.
We have made the issue more about what everybody should or shouldn’t do, instead of allowing the body of Christ to make a decision each for him or herself. Then allow each person to honor the rest of the body, and not cause some to stumble.
So whether you choose to own a gun or not, it is your choice. You must decide in your own heart if it is right for you. It’s important to remember the responsibility that comes with that decision. Whether you choose to own a gun or not, honor each other, but most of all honor Christ with your decision.
Do you think Christians should own a gun for self defense? Why or why not? Let me know your thoughts below.