With the current debate about gun rights some have asked the question whether it is “Christian” to own a gun or even to support gun ownership. After all, doesn’t the Bible say, “thou shalt not kill”? Aren’t guns made to kill people?
I’m glad that the question is being asked because the Bible does speak to all of life. The Bible isn’t just a book that speaks to church stuff and religious stuff. – We are right to ask what the Bible has to say on this issue.
However, this question itself is a bit off. The Bible doesn’t actually say, “thou shalt not kill”; what it does say is “thou shalt not murder”. (Exodus 20:13) Big difference. Not all instances of killing equate to committing the sin of murder. The laws of our own nation even acknowledge a distinction between manslaughter and murder.
It is interesting to note that there are instances where God himself even kills people. (ie. Acts 5:1-10; Acts 12:20-22) God has also given rulers the “power of the sword”. (Romans 13:3-4) This means the authority to administer justice, even, when appropriate, to the point of taking a life. This means that the death penalty for serious crimes is not immoral, and that it is not wrong for countries to defend themselves against aggression. Neither is it wrong for Christians to serve in the Armed Forces.
There are also Biblical provisions for self-defense on the personal level. (Exodus 22:2-3) For instance, if someone were breaking into my home trying to kidnap my child or kill a member of my family, it would actually be evil (cowardly) for me to passively stand by and do nothing. Of course, I wouldn’t want to kill anyone, and hopefully no one would die in that situation, but it would be right for me to protect the innocent in that situation even if it meant the death of the aggressor. — The righteous thing for me to do would be to protect their lives, even if it meant loosing my own life.
When Jesus was sending out his disciples at one point he actually encouraged them to buy swords. (Of course, they didn’t have guns back then, but swords would have been the equivalent of a gun back then.) This is found in Luke 22:35-39:
“Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That’s enough!” he replied.
The implication is that Jesus wanted them to be able to protect themselves from wild animals, from robbers or others that would cause them bodily harm as they went out on their mission. Killing another person who is made in the image of God is never ideal, but in this fallen world it is sometimes permitted.
In addition, the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees “the right to bear arms”, and has since the very founding of our nation. Our Founding Fathers had just fought a war to gain their freedom from England and they didn’t want to sign up to be put under the tyranny of a new state. Therefore they wrote the Second Amendment as legal protection which would hedge against potential oppression by their own elected government. — The Second Amendment is about much more than protecting people’s right to go hunting. It’s about power and it’s about protecting the FREEDOM of the people of the United States of America, not only from criminals here, but from the constant potential of future oppression from our own government.
Question: Am I missing anything? What other Scriptures or factors should a Christian consider regarding gun rights and gun laws? What do you think?