Good Christians line up on both sides of the ‘2nd amendment’ / ‘lethal force’ issue. I have friends – friends I trust – friends who love God – who disagree sharply on this topic. Why? Each side, believing the Bible is clearly in their favor. Let’s take a quick look at the Scriptures first, then I’ll add my conclusions at the end:
(Clarification: I’m not talking about the use of guns for hobbyists, hunting, or other even war, etc.)
Bible passages used to OPPOSE carrying guns with the intent to use lethal force:
Matthew 5:38-39, 44
“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…
Romans 12: 17-19, 21
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.
Bible passages used to SUPPORT carrying guns with the intent to use lethal force:
Then he said to them, “But now, whoever has a money-bag should take it, and also a traveling bag. And whoever doesn’t have a sword should sell his robe and buy one. For I tell you, what is written must be fulfilled in me: And he was counted among the lawless. Yes, what is written about me is coming to its fulfillment.”
“Lord,” they said, “look, here are two swords.”
“That is enough!” he told them.
If a thief is caught in the act of breaking in, and he is beaten to death, no one is guilty of bloodshed.
Bible passages that give GUIDING PRINCIPLES on the use of guns / lethal force:
1 Corinthians 10:23
“Everything is permissible,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up.
When a strong man, fully armed, guards his estate, his possessions are secure.
1 Timothy 5:8
But if anyone does not provide for his own family, especially for his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.
Rescue the poor and needy; save them from the power of the wicked.
Learn to do what is good. Pursue justice. Correct the oppressor. Defend the rights of the fatherless. Plead the widow’s cause.
1 Peter 2:21
For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
Where I’ve landed on the use of guns & lethal force:
- I have the RIGHT to own and carry a gun. Owning & carrying a gun is clearly within my Constitutional right and it’s never forbidden by the Word. As a Christian in America, I have the national and spiritual right to own, carry, and/or use a gun. The Bible doesn’t forbid self-defense, it forbids revenge, which is quite different. As well, the law for God’s people actually protected someone who used lethal force in self-defense.
- But just because I have the right, doesn’t mean that I should. Our MOTIVE should be examined of why we want to carry a gun. Is it for our protection? For the security of others? For fear of danger? For me, I don’t know if I would use a gun to defend myself. I really don’t. I wonder if I could prioritize my own life above the person who is threatening to take it… I would be much more tempted to carry non-lethal force to protect myself (and maybe you have considered this, too). However, I most certainly see myself using lethal force to defend my family. I might not use it for my own protection, but I absolutely would demonstrate the value that I have for those whom I love – and I believe the Bible is clear that it’s okay to feel that way! (Which is probably why I think most about carrying when I’m with my family.)
- More about MOTIVE: Some carry weapons because they have a strong sense of justice. They can often be found standing quietly near a door of a church on Sundays, on the ready, making sure that no evil may enter. And, even though I might not every be ‘that guy,’ I’m blessed that they demonstrate their love for others in that way. I believe God has put people on earth with something extra special – and they often end up in camo or in blue – but sometimes they look just like you and me. And the Bible is clear that this position is easily defensible.
- Final Thought: I don’t know where this piece fits in, I just know that it belongs on this page… The Bible says that Christians are ‘called to’ suffering – that we are ‘promised’ an ‘inheritance’ of trials, pain, heartache, and suffering. If our posture is constantly one of self-preservation, on the defensive, then we will miss so much of what God has for us. Hear me… the disciples all left to their mission fields carrying swords. Yet we have no records of them using them – they actually laid down their lives in martyrdom when the time came. They didn’t die defending themselves, they died sacrificially for the Way.
I’m a hunter. I enjoy going to the range. There’s something masculine about the smell of gunpowder. Yes, I have a few guns and I will use them – most certainly – if you try to mess with my family… but all the rest on this page, I’m still learning and growing and figuring it out. I’m not hoping to die for my faith – but, if it comes down to it, I hope I’m ready to do the right thing!