Politics & The Bible–Can a Christian Own a Gun? Can He Defend Himself with Deadly Force?

Posted: December 7, 2010 in Uncategorized

Can a Christian defend himself with deadly force? If so, can he own a gun for such a purpose? 

Wayne Grudem anticipates the immediate objection of the teaching contained in the Sermon on the Mount, especially Matthew 5:38-39, which reads:

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Grudem argues “Jesus is not prohibiting self-defense here.  He is prohibiting individuals from taking personal vengeance simply to “get even” with another person.  The verb “slaps” is the Greek term rhapizo, which refers to a sharp slap given in insult…so the point is not to hit back when someone hits you as an insult.  But the idea of a violent attack to do bodily harm or even murder is not in view here.”

Grudem goes on to point out that the disciples carried swords, which were often used to repel robbers on the unpatrolled roads of the Roman Empire (Luke 22:36-38).  Grudem believes it is strange that Jesus would not have forbidden the disciples from “packing heat,” so to speak, if he was ideologically opposed to self-defense.

Grudem reasons that if it were permissible for the disciples to carry swords then it is permissible for Christians to own legal and licensed weapons for our own self-defense.

Dr. Grudem then shifts the argument from Scripture to experience.  He cites a number of studies that purportedly demonstrate that gun control laws are counterproductive in that they only keep law-abiding citizens from owning weapons while criminals continue to purchase guns from the black market.  For example, Washington D.C. enacted one of the nation’s strictest gun control laws only to see the murder rate jump 134% while the homicide rate in surrounding states dropped by 2%. 

Grudem also touches upon the haggling over the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, which reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Liberals have argued that the Constitution only guarantees the right to bear arms for the modern equivalent of the militia–the National Guard.  Conservatives, on the other hand, point to the debate records behind the 2nd Amendment to demonstrate that the militia was actually a check against any and all perceived tyranny and that the Founding Fathers assumed that everyone could (and even should) own a firearm. 

Grudem sides with the conservatives on this issue (and as a lawyer with a profound interest in Constitutional Law, I agree with the interpretation of the Founder’s intent). 

But it seems to me that Grudem needed to tackle a case that has been presented to me several times–if a Christian knows he or she is going to heaven to be with Jesus, should they forfeit their lives in the hopes that his or her attacker comes to know Christ? This is a difficult scenario to be sure for instinctively, I would move to protect myself and my family but should I?  I don’t have the answer but would love to hear an orthodox thinker like Dr. Grudem analyze it.

Next up…the Bible & marriage.

  1. Pastor,
    This is another question one might ponder. If a Christian defends his family, who may also be Christian, is he not possibly saving the many known good seeds, who may reap a harvest of not one, but possibly thousands of souls. Also, we find Jesus telling his disciples, as they prepare to evangelize, to carry their swords. The matter of intent of the person with the gun is also paramount. If he, sees the person and has time to fire a warning shot without risking harm from the criminal, but instead shoots him dead because of anger, bigotry, racist’s attitudes, then there is a clear problem. I will protect my family, and if given the chance, meaning time, will freeze the criminal and call the police. This will come with both affirmation of good, saving the family, and a heavy hear, for taking a life.
    Brother Rodney

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