I own a gun. I plan to own maybe one or two more in the future. I enjoy target practice and shooting skeet. I believe the Second Amendment of the United States’ Constitution provides a legal pathway for me to own firearms. I believe anyone who owns a gun must seriously consider the ramifications of taking someone else’s life. Not only the legal ramifications, but the personal ones: morally, spiritually, emotionally, how will you be affected?
- Do you have a moral imperative to take a life?
- Spiritually, are you prepared to assume the role of judge and executioner?
- Are you in control of your emotions or do they tend to control you?
In my opinion, if you haven’t seriously considered at least these three questions (there are more), you aren’t prepared to own a firearm, even if you know how to safely handle one. If that offends you, I am sorry we can’t agree. Part of being an emotionally mature adult is knowing how to remain civil and cordial with people who disagree with you so I hope we can still play together.
I bring this up only to qualify what I am about to say. I’m not certain that the American-Conservative-Christian obsession with firearms is entirely healthy. (One of my best friends manages a gun store, so if you’re reading this, hang on.) I’m not saying Christians shouldn’t own guns – not even close. However, I am saying that many of the attitudes on display from some Christians about gun ownership and the cavalier way they speak about taking life is highly unChristian.
As Christians, we are the light of the world. Jesus said so. We are ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are adopted sons of the Most High God (Romans 8:15). The position that we have been given in God’s kingdom should elevate our conduct and our reasoning. There are many American-Conservative-Christians who have taken on a very eye-for-an-eye point of view on issues of justice and vengeance. But if you read the Sermon on the Mount, beginning in Matthew 5, you will encounter statements like this:
- Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. (Matthew 5:7)
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9)
- Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10)
- Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. (Matthew 5:25)
- 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. (Matthew 5:39)
- But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:44-45)
- So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)
When Jesus was arrested, one of his disciples (Peter; see John 18:10) attacked the servant of the High Priest with his sword. Jesus swiftly rebuked him saying, “Put your sword back in its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:50-53).
As a Christian, your gun ownership needs to filter through these statements from Jesus. I do not believe this forbids owning a firearm; neither do I believe this forbids using a firearm as a final measure of self-defense. In fact, Jesus does indeed instruct his disciples to obtain a weapon for the purpose of self-defense (Luke 22:36). But what it should forbid is an attitude of shoot first and ask questions if they survive. It should bring Christians to a point of deep self-examination. Taking a life consigns that person to their eternal destiny. If that doesn’t bother you, maybe you shouldn’t own a firearm.
Taking a life consigns that person to their eternal destiny. If that doesn’t bother you, maybe you shouldn’t own a firearm.
Jerry Falwell, Jr., President of Liberty University, addressed the Liberty student body and made some bold statements about gun ownership and killing Muslims. While he seemed to be speaking about stopping terrorists, the thunderous applause and cheers coming from the student body is what was more disturbing. Are these students, who are presumably Christian, really celebrating the idea of taking another human being’s life? I get that it is in the defense of other innocents, but in light of the teachings of Christ, taking a life, even in self defense or the defense of others, is something to be mourned and lamented.
We should not be brazen or fool-hardy about owning a deadly weapon. We should not think lightly about using it, or resort to using it out of anger, as Peter did at Jesus’ arrest. We should be prepared to defend the innocent and defenseless. And we should always mourn at the taking of life. Life is precious, and all men and women are created in the image of God. God’s heart is that all people would come to salvation in Christ, even the ones we call enemies. It is always a sad event when people die without Christ.
It’s not my desire to cult-lead you and insist that you agree with me. I know some of you probably disagree, and we don’t have to agree on this in order to remain friends. But I do believe deeply that if you don’t understand the gravity of this issue and the eternal consequences at stake, you’re ill prepared to undertake the responsibility of using deadly force. Don’t allow rebelrousers to stir your emotions, but don’t be foolishly passive either. As with all things in the Christian life, read the Word, allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in your thoughts and actions, and be self-controlled. In doing this, you’ll be prepared for all situations.