Recent pursuits in expanding my biblical education have, to say the least, stirred the pot in my brain-housing group. I was raised in the church and, now that I’ve figured out how to get my wild streak contained in the “Break in Case of War” cabinet, have a pretty decent foundation on the subject. One of the issues I identified within myself was the allowing of vague remembrances to play too large a role in what I consciously decide. Not only does this shortcoming prohibit effective argumentation on the topic, but it can also bleed over into other aspects of life and form a very vague character. This lead me to doing more current research on the topic of a Christian using a handgun in self-defense, and that led to this article. Enjoy.
I’m sure that there are very strong positions on both sides of this issue, and if you haven’t commented on an article yet, I hope this is the one you decide to open up a discussion about. There may be some verses I mention that you feel could be viewed differently. There may be some examples you don’t think apply in the same way I do. If this is the case, please comment! I want to know what YOU think about this issue! I readily admit that these articles I write have the largest impact on my personal learning. As you read in the title, this is my current stance because of the information I have and how I understand it.
I’m fairly certain my position on self-defense through the use of deadly force is already clear. I do think that Christians are not only permitted to exercise the right of self-defense, I believe that they are encouraged to do so. It is supremely important for Christians to understand where the line of self-defense and revenge are drawn though, and not surprisingly following God’s guidance will keep you out of harm’s way as much as can be expected in a fallen world.
In past articles I’ve mentioned how important it is to remember that safety is the priority, not necessarily victory. From a Christian’s perspective this should be doubly important. It seems to me that the crux of this issue winds up being the condition of the heart. For a few thousand years now, balance has been identified as the key to a healthy and happy life. We’ve got to figure out how to balance the ability to identify and neutralize a threat to our loved ones while at the same time remembering that we have accepted a calling to cause no harm to someone who is not a threat. When firearms (and a well trained shooter) are involved in a situation a bad guy can go from a threat to a responsibility in an instant, and as an armed citizen it’s your job to identify and uphold that line.
Exodus 20:13 says that we should not kill. This is one of the most obvious and generally referenced verses on this issue. From what I’ve been able to find, the literal translation from Hebrew tells us that this means we should not murder. Self-defense has never been considered murder by any nation or culture, so I’d say we’re safe here. Matter of fact, just a few chapters down (Exodus 22:2) establishes that should a thief breaking into your house under the cover of darkness be struck and killed then the homeowner is innocent. The Lord even takes the time to mention light conditions (and here we all thought Surefire invented light), going on to say that if someone breaks in during the day and can be identified as a thief just after material goods deadly force should not be used.
Another arguable position is addressed in Luke 22. Jesus tells his disciples to sell the clothes off their backs if they have to to buy swords. I found some scholarly types who think Jesus was being sarcastic when he said they had enough swords, but with all of the other heavenly-sanctioned slaughter that takes place in the Bible I don’t buy it. David and Goliath is one of the best-known stories in the Good Book, and in essence it’s a retelling of God putting a hit out on a scumbag with a little boy and a rock fulfilling the contract.
Please understand that in no way do I take this issue lightly. It’s good to lighten the mood from time to time, but as armed Christians we must remember where our priorities lay. Not only will God’s will be done, but if we’re spending time where we should be then we’ll probably be pretty in sync with that awesome Will ourselves. Like I said, it’s the condition of the heart. While Peter was chastised for using his sword in anger, the fact remains that one or more of those men who traveled around with the Living God carried a weapon, and chances are good he wasn’t keeping it a secret from Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus did not tell Peter to get rid of the sword as they were stepping off on their journey, but He did let him know that it should never be used in anger.
This short article is only the tip of the iceberg, and it’s also not designed to convince Christians who don’t choose to carry that they should. While there may be a time you are called to lay down your life, letting a meth addict unperceptive to your words and commands knife you to death behind a gas station is probably not that time. I do not mean to critique you or your relationship with the Lord, but if you’re thinking about what this means for you and you’re praying for guidance and wisdom you’re headed in the right direction.