Should a Christian carry a gun? It’s not an easy answer for many, and for good reason.
Many sincere Christians wrestle with this issue due to their upbringing, bible interpretation, and host of other issues. But whether you should or should not carry a concealed weapon for self-defense or, more nobly, to defend the lives of others, is something each Christian must be convinced of personally.
While the consideration of carrying a gun is understandably a very personal decision, it is important to rightly divide the Word of God on this issue and answer the question of whether it is permissible by God or not. If it’s a matter of clearly breaking one of God’s laws and going against the will of God, than the answer should be simple. “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”, Jesus taught.
Most believers will concede that the use of deadly force is a controversial issue that depends heavily on how one interprets key verses. But for the sake of brevity, we can all agree that the Lord not only tolerated weapons but commanded his earthly servants to use them, at times. God also made provision for civilians to use deadly force to stop intruders to protect their loved ones and even their own life, as we see in the very practical Mosaic law (Exodus 22:2) that protected the rights of an individual to use deadly force to protect against home invasion:
“If a thief is caught in the act of breaking into a house and is struck and killed in the process, the person who killed the thief is not guilty of murder.”
Furthermore, the scriptures do not command us not use weapons to save other peoples lives. And it is dangerous to speak from relative silence and come up with a command against the use of CCW for self-defense.
The pacifist will object, citing these common verses: “don’t resist evil”, “don’t render evil for evil”, “don’t avenger yourself”, and “love your enemies”.
At first glance, it would appear simple enough. But as one begins to understand the context of Jesus’ statements in the backdrop of the Old Testament Law, these teachings of Christ take on a much deeper application. For example, when Paul writes to the believers in Rome (Romans 12) about not avenging oneself, he is quoting from the Old Testament when God’s people righteously used weapons, engaged in warfare, and had civil capital punishment – all with God’s permission and even by His direct command.
You see, Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law. He never contradicted the Old Testament Law. He fulfilled and magnified the Law and made it honorable. Paul also appealed to the Law and Prophets to make his apostolic decrees.
It’s very understandable that one’s interpretation along with other external influences could lead some sincere Christians to believe that carrying a weapon and/or discharging a weapon to defend a life would be a sin and go against the teachings of Christ. Weapon or no weapon, the will of the Lord is not to be reactionary but redemptive.
“Weapon or no weapon, the will of the Lord is not to be reactionary but redemptive.”
In order to redeem one innocent person from an evildoer, the redemptive solution may call for the evildoer to be stopped using deadly force. Simply put: to stop evil is not evil. Putting an end to evil is a righteous act, grounded in Christian love.
Jesus Told the Disciples to Buy Swords
Jesus told the disciples to buy swords, and they did. We also know that Peter had a sword with him in the garden and Jesus didn’t seem surprised. In fact, Jesus did not rebuke Peter for having the sword, nor did Jesus tell Peter to throw it away. Instead, our Lord told Peter to put his sword back in its place. This would akin to saying today, “Holster your gun, Peter!”
Jesus did not rebuke Peter for having the sword, nor did Jesus tell Peter to throw it away. Instead, our Lord told Peter to put his sword back in its place. This would akin to saying today, “Holster your gun, Peter!”
The rebuke was because Peter used the sword for the wrong reasons, at the wrong time, with the wrong attitude. Jesus had already explained to His disciples that He would suffer at the hands of the leaders, and be crucified. This mission-of-all-missions had to take place, and Peter’s use of deadly force to try to stop what Jesus had already determined to do was hindering His work. And because not every occasion in life mirrors the divinely orchestrated night of Jesus’ crucifixion, we should be very careful to apply Jesus’ response to Peter in our day to day encounters with murderous thieves, rapists, crazed meth-heads, serial killers, and terrorists. Furthermore, comparing Peter’s misguided use of the sword — attempting to thwart Jesus’ redemptive path to the cross — to law-abiding citizens’ prudent use of guns for self-defense against those who are intent on harming our loved ones is not a fair comparison.
What’s the difference between those in the world who take up arms and those in Christ?
Those in the world often seek to first save their own life and will usually run from the danger of saving another’s life. They fear death and what man can do to them. And you know the types: they are either brazen, arrogantly confident, and almost looking for a fight, or they are ruled by fear which leads to paranoia. These groups are carrying concealed weapons for all the wrong reasons, with the wrong attitude, and at times regrettably resulting in unnecessary shootings.
But a Christian walks in humility, not cocksure pride. A son or daughter of God no longer fears death. A follower of Jesus Christ no longer fears what man can do to us because Paul reminds us that is it better to absent from the body and present with the Lord. And Jesus says that “All who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution”. Lastly, we know that perfect love — actionable love (meeting others needs) — casts out fear. And so a Christian looks to stand in the gap for others, in prayer and by action, even using deadly force if necessary to lovingly protect them.
But Aren’t We Commanded NOT to Return Evil for Evil?
To be clear, a Christian does not carry a concealed weapon (or any other weapon, for that matter) for the fleshly, sinful purposes of “avenging ourselves, retaliating for unjust treatment, handling hostility, advancing the Christian cause by force, returning evil for evil, or resisting persecution” as a popular pastor misguidedly asserted in response to another Christian leader’s comments.
The wicked heart’s intent and subsequent physical action of raping, murder, abduction, pedophilia and the like are the very embodiment of evil. And yes, Christ also died for these evildoers. Yes, we must be reaching out to a dark world to shine the Light of Christ and proclaim the Gospel so that evildoers will be saved, redeemed, changed, and forgiven and receive Eternal Life.
But let’s be clear about this: stopping rape, murder, abductions, pedophilia, and physical abuse flowing out of a heart of love is holy, righteous, and Christ-like.
But let’s be clear about this: stopping rape, murder, abductions, pedophilia, and physical abuse flowing out of a heart of love is holy, righteous, and Christ-like. Stopping evil is obviously not the same is returning the initial evil act to seek vengeance.