It seems everywhere you look today, there is the topic of gun control being discussed. What should be controlled? What shouldn’t be controlled? Background Checks? Should the 3D Printing of guns be legal?
In addition specifically to this post, that of concealed carry and the right to defend yourself.
It is fascinating to me the stance many professing christians have taken on guns in general and that of self defense. I have been reading scripture a lot these days on the subject of self defense because of these concealed carry laws and how Christians are rallying behind them.
When I look into topics like this, I have to define my terms for clarity of reasoning and thought. “Self Defense” can mean many things on many levels. It can mean defending your life, or just protecting yourself from another giving you physical harm.When I speak of Self defense, I speak of using lethal force. Each situation involving personal endangerment can be nitpicked upon, and I’ve seen it been done. So I decided to instead look for situational solutions in certain verses, to look for overarching truths communicated throughout the entire bible. So let’s take a look at what scripture says on the idea of self defense. With, or without a gun.
“I have a right to defend myself from others and government.”
Ever heard that one before? It sounds bold, strong, and so American! According to our constitution we do indeed have the right, given by the law of this Nation, to protect ourselves from individuals. Isn’t it marvelous though, that we are not first bound to a Nation’s laws? Rather, it is so liberating to have the responsibility to “Obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29). So what does God, Christ, and Scripture say, truly, about protecting oneself from harm?
To be frank, I can find nowhere in scripture where self defense is condoned.
Rather, I see it condemned.
Where do I find such things? Here are a few passages which include teachings on the subject.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,that you may be sons of your Father 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.For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” ~Mathew 5:38-48~
Throughout the gospels, I see only the example of Christ’s love and non-violence taught and demonstrated through his actions. Not once did he encourage self defense. Rather, he commanded the opposite. To love those who persecute you, even to death.
Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again. Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,having the same conflict which you saw in me and now here is in me. ~Phillipians 1:15-30~
See, our knee jerk natural reaction to self defense, and pacifism, is “No Way! We have a right to defend ourselves!” and so, with that desired, preconceived notion, we search for scriptures to suit our purposes and take them out of context. Scriptures like Exodus 22:2 and 1 Timothy 5:8 for example. These two verses have been taken and propped up and misconstrued to create an entire ideology based on “Clinging to my guns and my bible” to defend against the intruder or Government. The Christians in Rome didn’t defend themselves, and what an incredible impact they made for Christ.
Shouldn’t our natural response be a red flag though? Our nature is self preservation. Flesh and Spirit are always diametrically opposed in scripture. Every. Single. Time. Our instinct is to kill someone to save someone else. That’s emotional self preservation. You want to show you love your family or others? Die for them. Sacrifice yourself. Christ’s example was to sacrifice himself out of love… See where I’m going with this?
In realty, it isn’t about our life, or other’s lives. It is about our witness for Christ.
The ultimate issue here is not “What to do in ______” situation. The ultimate issue, is yet again, one of the heart. It lies in trusting if God is really in control. Self-Defense boils down to everything else in life. That everything we do is to bring glory and honor to God and Jesus Christ. Fatally shooting someone, or injuring them out of a desire for self preservation hardly follows Christ’s commands. How is defending yourself against an unbeliever being a witness for Christ’s love?
I see many professing Christians where Christ is not the focus in this arena of discussion. Instead I see them fighting to protect their rights to own and use a gun against others. I see them proudly displaying a gun on their Bible like it is some sort of symbol of biblical freedom. I’m not saying owning a gun is bad. Not at all. I am saying it is bad when the motivation for ownership is for use against other human beings.
Do we really, truly, deep down believe ‘To Live is Christ and die is gain.’?
I’m not sure we do. Rather, sadly I see a culture of professing Christians where “To live is Christ, and Defend is gain.” Something which is against every teaching of Christ and in scripture. It honestly comes down to love. The only way we cannot defend ourselves is by loving the other. Self defense is not an action ruled by love, but one ruled by force, fear, or selfishness. Love is what we are commanded to strive towards, to be as gentle as doves, yet wise as serpents. And love, unlike a safety, is something which never fails.