"But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse that an unbeliever."( 1 Timothy 5:8 )
One need only to pick up a newspaper, scan the TV remote or surf the internet, to realize the top subject these days is "gun control". And along with, and in conjunction with, this subject is a lot of talk homing in on the question, " should Christians bear arms "? As a Christian, I am bound to go to the only absolute Christian authority, which is "the word of God" ( Isaiah 40:8) and the principles taught by "Christ" ( Philippians 1:21).
The scripture was given by inspiration of God ( 2 Peter 1:21) and is the Christian's guide of doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness ( 2 Timothy 3:16). Even our Lord, when tempted by Satan, went to the scriptures for guidance ( Matthew 4:1-11).
As Christians, we are to have the uniqueness of the personal work of Christ. Our disposition and temper ought to always be that of Christ. In other words, we Christians should have the same mind and attitude as Christ Jesus. ( Philippians 2:5-11 ). Christ should be our sole example, in whatsoever we do.
So, as in all other aspects of our Christian life, I will uses these guidelines in my evaluation of Christians bearing arms.
To really understand the Bible and what it intends to say to present generations, it is necessary to understand the cultural context in which it was written. We must not forget its Middle Eastern/Israel-centric context ( Luke 4:14-21). Realizing, of course, the Bible is just as applicable today in it's inerrancy ( 1 Thess 2:13) , as when it was written by the inspiration of God for guiding our Christian walk (Psalms 34:17).
In looking at the time frame of the Bible, the important thing to remember is that when the Bible was written is not as important as what was written. However, the when is important also as we sense how God's presence persisted through the centuries and how His determined sovereign will is perfected in all aspects of our daily lives, ( Romans 8: 27-31 ) including the just and unjust laws of the land ( 1 Peter 2:12-15)..
So, we then must compare the mid-eastern secular demographics to those of today. The reference given then, when referring to the weapon of choice being a sword ( Luke 22:35-36), is just as applicable to today's weapons. And in comparing the ancient swords with the weapons used today, to effect injury or death, nowhere in the Jewish law did I find a rash political decision to register the swords.
Jesus, being God, ( John 1:1-2, ) ( John 8:58) had the same attributes as did God the Father. This means Jesus knew all (Matthew 11:21). He already knew that the Great Commission was going to be issued and His disciples would be sent all over the Roman Empire. Travel was a dangerous business during those days and any unarmed person was an easy victim for robbers and murderers. Just the appearance of a sword would have been a deterrent for any robber, just as a weapon is today. So then, Jesus also was aware ( Matthew 28:18) of this modern day highly contentious "Gun Control" controversy.
I understand the Christian community may be frustrated over this inclusive issue of "gun control". We are not privileged to know God's sovereign plans for our lives. God sometime uses good and evil or believers and unbelievers to effect His divine will or purpose, as He has an eternal purpose for all aspects of our lives. He may just be using this particular " gun control" circumstance to band Christians together ( Galatians 5:13) , or maybe so that Christians may see this as an opportunity to witnesses of God's final eternal plans for this age.( Isaiah 55:11)
You see, this pending government action may just be playing into the “determined will” of God, which includes His unchangeable plans for the world. As the sovereign ruler, He is in total control— no government rises to power, or no government laws be enforced unless He allows it ( 1 Chronicles 29:11). He is determined to carry out the plan that He developed long before creation. ( Acts 15: 18 ) Consequently, we should pray that this "gun control" crisis be concluded for the betterment of both believers ( Isaiah 30:21) and nonbelievers ( 1 Peter 2:15), as well.
Following are some examples of God using evil to prefect His perfect will.
----- In ( Genesis 6:1) and ( Genesis 9:17) God destroyed mankind, in the great flood, to purify His earthly kingdom.
----- In ( Genesis19:24-25) God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah to prefect His plans.
----In ( Exodus 4:21, 14:4,8, 17 ) God hardening Pharaoh's heart, as well as all the Egyptian hearts, to induce them to commit to God.
----- In (Genesis 4:8) God condemned the unlawful killing when Cain killed his brother Abel.
----- In ( Genesis 50:19-21 ) The end result of Joseph's brothers putting him in a hole and leaving him dead was power and prestige.
---In ( Habakkuk 1:5-11) God shows His intention to raise up Babylon, a “ruthless” and “dreaded” nation, to achieve His purpose.
Jesus often taught that all citizens, Christians and non-Christians alike, should obey the law of the land. In ( Matthew 22:21) Jesus sets the framework of how we Christians should think about Christianity and the state ( government) even today. The government does have certain lawful rights, to which we owe our civil authority, our respect and the appropriate obedience. But this obedience is limited to what belongs to God. ( Acts 5:29 ) Contrary to some modern day thinking, the government is not God. Only God is God,.( Isaiah 45:11) and that makes the state subordinated and accountable only to the living God. Thus, government is accountable to God as to its treatment of mankind. And this decree has not changed, throughout history. ( Hebrews 13:8) Why then, would this same dictate not apply to the laws of our land including the Second Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution?
(The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court of the United States first ruled in 2008 that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess and carry firearms.
(In 2008 and 2010, the Supreme Court issued two landmark decisions officially establishing this interpretation. In District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home within many longstanding prohibitions and restrictions on firearms possession listed by the Court as being consistent with the Second Amendment. In McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025 (2010), the Court ruled that the Second Amendment limits state and local governments to the same extent that it limits the federal government.)
I too believe that all law abiding citizens have the right, both from a scriptural and constitutional context , to protect the family from an unlawful criminal act.
However, now our job as believers is to figure out ( Jeremiah 29:11-13) what things belong to Caesar ( the government ) and what things belong to God.
As I commenced researching the scriptures, much to my amazement, the Bible actually had much to say on this subject, of government verses God. Remember, in researching the scripture, we must relate the mid-eastern culture to that of today. As mentioned, the weapon of choice was the sword.
In ( Exodus 22:2-4) the scripture addresses the Mosaic law's edict of a thief. If a thief was killed during a nighttime theft, the homeowner was not liable. However, if the thief broke in during the daytime, and the homeowner killed him, a murder had taken place with the home owner being guilty. This shows me the early scriptural Jewish laws did not support the use of deadly force by individuals to defend property. It did, however, support the use of deadly force by individuals to protect the lives of family members
One of the strongest scriptures I found was in ( Luke 22:36,38 ) where Jesus instructed his followers to sell some of their cloths and buy a sword, when they indicated they only had two swords among the twelve of them.
Jesus not only upheld His disciples right to carry a weapon, but also held them responsible for its use, as when Peter cut off the ear of the soldier who had come to take Jesus away ( Matthew 26:47-52). In doing so, Jesus also warned that those using a weapon took a great risk of escalating a conflict. Nonetheless, He didn't say they had no right to fight. He just explained that His eternal kingdom was not of this world ( John 18:36).
One verse, often times used to disclaim the early saints right to bear arms, is found in ( Isaiah 2:4 ). Does this verse refer to Christians not bearing arms ? I think not. This scripture refers to our future Millennial kingdom here on earth. Until we reach this perfect thousand year kingdom, maybe we should reverse this mind-set according to (Joel 3:10).
Conversely, did Jesus not tell us to turn the other check in ( Matthew 5:39 ) ? Yes He did, but He was not referring to a Christian using the necessary lethal force in the protection of his family. Jesus actually meant we should be tolerant to the mistreatment or abuse used wrongly against us, rather than strike back against the evil doers. It had nothing to do with the argument of not using deadly force in protecting our loved ones.
Turning the other cheek is simply an orientalism, referring to a figure of speech that refers to one’s response to a verbal blow. Two of The Twelve would not have been wearing swords on the night of Christ’s betrayal if our Lord had been teaching pacifism for three and one half years. Nor would our Lord, in (Luke 22:36) have suggested that believing Jews buy weapons even if they had to sell their coats to afford them. And what about the incident in ( John18:23), no mention of turning the other cheek.
God is all knowing, all powerful and absolutely right and just in all that He accomplishes, Acts 17:31) as He loves us all ( Ephesians 2:4). He cannot lie and what He says, that will He do ( Ephesians 1:8 ).
Listed below are a selection of scripture references, "pro" and "con) to ponder, with respect to believers being armed ( 2 Timothy 2:15).
----In ( Genesis 34:25-29 ) first and foremost, the early mid-eastern culture had its share of violent crime.
-----In Genesis 3:24) angelic sentries used the flame of a whirling sword to block the access of Adam and Eve to the Garden of Eden after they sinned.--
-- In ( Exodus 20:13 ) God gives a command not to kill. This command prohibits deliberate unauthorized murder. ( 1 Peter 4:15)
----In ( Deuteronomy 32:39 God has the right to kill
----In ( Numbers 22:23) the angel of the Lord stood with a sword to lock the way of Balaam and his donkey.
-----In ( Nehemiah 4:17-18 ) the workers building the wall were to work with one hand and keep the other hand on the sword ( the weapon of choice at that time).
----In ( Judges 5:8 ) the people of Israel were oppressed, as they had no weapons of protection.
---In ( Joshua 5:13-14) He appeared to Joshua as a military commander with a sword in His hand
----In (Psalm 45:3) God gives the instruction to strap on a sword.
----In (Proverbs 25:26) we read that a righteous man should not faultier to the wicked. Certainly we would be faltering before the wicked if we chose to be unarmed and unable to resist an assailant who might be threatening our life.
----In(Matthew 12:29) we see reference to a thief attempting to overcome one protecting his property.
---In ( Luke 11:21-22) scripture gives the right of family protection.
---In (Revelation 2:12) God displays a two-edged sword.
The question is then ask, should government use a law, whether just or unjust, to disarm the private law abiding populist? The only reference I found was in ( 1 Samuel 13:19-22) On this occasion, the Philistine government confiscated the weapons, to make slaves out of the people..
"-------What then should be our Christian conviction, with respect to protecting our loved ones ? How this question of gun ownership by Americans is resolved may well determine the future of Christianity in our country and the world. If those who view gun ownership as a privilege granted by government, rather than a right originated by God, are successful in taking away our guns they will be back to take away our Bibles. Freedoms are linked, and tend to fall like dominoes.
This country did not come to its birth because a group of taxed patriots dumped British tea in Boston Harbor. It was born because a handful of colonists resisted the attempt of the mother country to impose gun control on Massachusetts. On the morning April 19, 1775, a handful of people who understood and appreciated freedom risked life and limb to oppose the confiscation of their weapons. Their "shot heard ‘round the world" began a war of defense that became our War for Independence. What they believed and why they were willing to die for their beliefs was later summarized for us in the second amendment to our Constitution.
Many Christians believe that they have a right to call a policeman to protect them from a home invader, using lethal force if necessary. How can one delegate to government a right that one doesn’t have himself? We cannot give what we do not have! Many Christians believe that killing the enemy overseas is commendable, but killing the enemy here at home is wrong. What twisted reasoning arises among God’s people when the study of Scripture is neglected for a generation and replaced with music, drama, psychology and lectures on "How to Feel Good About Yourself." Back to The Book. It is not a pacifist book. God is not a pacifist God. Pacifism allows terror to reign and good people to perish!------)
( the above quotation excerpt is an internet quote, author unknown. Too which I shout a big Amen )
In conclusion, we Christian are subject to abiding by the same laws as are the unsaved. Nonetheless, we all have certain inalienable rights, under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, to protect ourselves and our family against aggression. It was never the intent of Christianity to give up or die by means of an evil sword. So, as by law, we all do have the absolute right of self defense.
We all face difficult challengers daily, whether living for Christ Jesus ( James 1:2-4) or yielding to the trickery of Satan's influence ( Ephesians 6:12), which only leaves the streets and our safety in the hands of the criminals of evil direction. So, what do you think ? What is your choice ? ( Philippians 1:21) Regardless of one's spiritual standing, there is no Biblical basis for personal revenge, hatred or political persuasion.
The internet, modern day's assumed authority on just about any subject, has both "pro" and "con" comments, concerning Christian's bearing arms. And I'm sure the readers of this article will have as well. It is my opinion, however, that this current "gun control" society is rooted and grounded in secular humanism, ( Colossians 1:16-17) which is opposed to the teachings of Christ. ( 1 Cor 5:17) In fact, "gun-control" already has a long history connected genocide, oppression and unspeakable evil. The founding fathers of the United State considered our right to keep and bear arms to be God given and rightly so. ( 2nd Amendment )
The heart of the argument for gun-control assumes that sin is a result of external circumstances and that by eliminating guns you can eliminate the problem of sin. However, this view is rooted in a humanistic belief that sin comes from external forces in direct contrast to the Christian view that sin is a result of man’s natural state of depravity inherited from Adam's fall ( Genesis 3:1-7). The Christian view is that man sins because of his fallen nature ( Romans 5:12) and hostility toward God (Psalm 51:4). Except through repentance (turning away from sin toward God’s laws) ( 1 John 1:9 ) and the inward washing of the God's Holy Spirit ( Titus 3:3-5) man’s sins cannot be controlled.
Blessings To All
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While I am sympathetic to what you have written and can see the wisdom of it, I feel strongly that Jesus came to show us another way.
In Ephesians the weapons of our warfare are very much about faith and prayer, and we are called to love God, love our neighbors, love one another and even to love our enemies. This means we are called to resist evil in a new way. Jesus is the model. He lived under an unjust regime but did not lead a revolt - even though he was accused of it. He rebuked Peter in the garden for cutting of a servants ear saying "He who lives by the sword will die by the sword."
War and fighting restrain sin ( and there is a role for Governments in this) but do not change hearts - only love and the Holy Spirit can do that. We have to believe that the Gospel of love can overcome evil with good, that prayer can change things, that God will look after us, and that if and when we do suffer that He has a purpose for it. Otherwise, we become just like the world that uses violence and power to achieve its goals and is dominated by fear and revenge.
Love does seem to be so powerless against evil and violence, and yet, it is the only power that can hope to break them - and it has. Evil may get a few victories, but God will crush it in the end.
In the mean time, Jesus calls on us to follow Him. See Revelations 12:10
I would be interested in your response at firstname.lastname@example.org.