Ask An Evangelical: Gun Control

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What can the Bible teach us about gun control?

This will take a little digging since there’s no “Thou shalt not carry firearms” passage in the Bible, which makes sense as guns weren’t invented until many years after the words of Scripture were completed.  On PBS’s website for their “History Detectives Special Investigations” show, 1364 is listed as the year of the first recorded use of such a weapon. And, according to this article on Biblica.com, the sacred text was complete and being copied much earlier.

In spite of that, I think the Bible speaks ‘clearly’ on gun control, saying that it’s completely unneeded and, at the same time, unfortunately necessary.  And, interestingly, both sides are covered by the same command in the book of Romans…”Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The entire passage in Romans lists some of the original commandments, including “You shall not murder.” If mankind had followed all of God’s commands, I can’t picture a  need for gun control because, if they had even been invented, guns would be used only for recreational use, hunting, or some other activity that wouldn’t bring harm to mankind. 

Unfortunately, the 10 commandments are regularly violated and, every time they are, in an act toward another human, they violate the biggest commandment, not even written with the original 10, “Love Your Neighbor.” The failure of people to love their fellow man is what makes some type of gun control, and self-defense, necessary.  I’ll deal with the latter first.

What does the Bible say about self-defense?  In chapter 22 of the book of Luke, where Jesus is betrayed by one of his disciples and arrested, we find two very different views on the use of weapons. 

In verses 35-36, Jesus tells His disciples to buy a sword if they didn’t have one.  Got Questions believes this was because, he “knew that now was the time when His followers would be threatened, and He upheld their right to self-defense.”  Yet shortly after, when the arrest takes place and Peter, a disciple, cuts off someone’s ear with a sword, Jesus rebukes him.  Why? It seems Peter was trying to defend Jesus but since the Son was following the Father’s will, by moving toward crucifixion, Peter was actually standing in the way of God’s work. 

Jesus certainly could have avoided being arrested and later killed on a cross but the Bible teaches that was the plan to bring about unheard of change in the world, so he followed through with the terrible punishment that he didn’t deserve.

Not everyone threatened by a life ending situation, due to their faith, has Christ’s power to change the situation and some, in this difficult circumstance, can’t even raise their voice in self-defense; the decision of whether they live or die has been made for them, as evidenced by the many stories of Christian martyrdom found on the internet.

And that brings me to a whole different perspective on gun control that I rarely hear mentioned; not should we or shouldn’t we but rather, how MUCH is necessary.  If we focused on that, I think a lot of antagonistic rhetoric would significantly subside.

When I hear, “we shouldn’t have gun control,” are they in favor of allowing a man, on trial for murder, to take a pistol into the courtroom with him? Or do they want a child to be allowed to bring their dad’s Smith & Wesson pistol into an after-school day care center? In both cases, I have to think the answer is no, but that means they are in favor of some level of gun control.

On the flip side, those advocating total gun control seem to face a similar issue. “Take away all guns,” if it could be done, would create an atmosphere where a security guard at a bank wouldn’t have much chance against an ax wielding robber. And a young woman, untrained to physically restrain a larger, stronger man, would not have the same deterrent factor to prevent an assault that a gun might offer her.

Even the commandment to love your neighbor could be used to support some type of gun ownership. Coming home from work, you see a large man beating the woman living next door. Knowing you couldn’t possibly scare him away or overpower him, you reach into the glove box of your car, pull out a pistol and, pointing it at him, tell him to leave the lady alone.

Regardless of what happens next, if your motive was to protect your neighbor out of love, I don’t think anything in the Bible would speak against what you did. 

About Scott McIntyre

Scott McIntyre is glad his parents didn’t name him Vladimir or he’d be listed last on this page. While a long time California resident, he was the Oakland Spirituality Examiner for Examiner.com from 2011-12 and about the same time began blogging on several topics. The first, teaching Christians how to lovingly share their spiritual beliefs, emphasized skills that can benefit all forms of one-to-one interaction. He also writes on marriage, travel, downsizing, humor, and the motive behind people’s words and actions. After retiring in 2016, Scott embarked on some major ‘R & R’; Relocating and Rebranding. Following in his sister’s footsteps from the early 80’s, and later in the decade, his parent’s, Scott left the Golden State to become a Washingtonian in a small town just west of Spokane County.

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