Inside Out 272: Christians & Gun Control

03.06.13 | Martha Manikas-Foster

What’s your take on gun control? Would restrictions on gun ownership assault an American citizen’s Second Amendment rights or could they become part of a common sense solution to curb gun violence? Would it be wise to restrict the sale of certain kinds of firearms, or would any limitation strip too much power from citizens?

Where do you stand? Why do you stand there?

“I heard a lot of Christians engaging the Constitution, but I didn’t hear a lot of Christians engaging Scripture,” says Sharon Hodde Miller about what she’s been hearing in the current debate. “So I wanted to look into ‘What does it mean to think about the gun control debate from an explicitly Christian perspective?’”

We’ve invited Sharon to be our guest today for this Inside Out interview. She’s a writer, doctoral student, wife and mother who believes that gun control and gun rights do not have to be mutually exclusive. While she does not own guns, she springs from a family of gun owners. With this as her background she has studied to align herself with what she believes is God’s perspective. To do this, she examined the populations in America that most often fall victim to gun violence.

“What I discovered was that the people who are most affected are people that we as Christians are called to care for.”

How might we consider the victims of gun violence as we look to develop a Christian perspective on the issue of gun ownership? What are some of the biblical principles we should be careful to develop and what should we be wary of as we listen to people with opposing views? Click on the “Listen” button above to hear our 15-minute conversation with Sharon Hodde Miller as she encourages us to keep an eye on God’s priorities as we evaluate both sides of the gun control debate.

To read her January 9, 2013 her.meneutics blog post, “Why All Christians Can Back Better Gun Control," click here:


Your Comments(please keep them on topic and polite)

on 03.06.13 Mark Griffis commented

I cringed when I heard the above, The statement trying to validate her ability to talk on this subject, "I grew up around guns." (paraphrase) is irrelevant. Yes gun control and gun rights are mutually exclusive, as proposed by our current liberal representatives. Just because you can intellectually debate and define their meanings does not make it viable, or even come close to the realities of what is happening today, It is naive at best to even think so. If you read the proposed, unconstitutional, proposed laws and understood their effects you could not make the statement, "they don't want to take away your guns", of course they do ("if the could") they have stated this many times. Yes I am a Christian, that loves the Lord and his teachings (as absolute truth).
The most effected by violence of course will be who we are called to care for, that is everybody. What you are ignoring is that criminals will not adhere to any Current or additional laws. Gun control laws effects the law abiding never the evil among us.

on 03.06.13 cris pasto commented

Very disappointing to hear the liberal line regurgitaged on christian radio. Hammers are used in murders more than guns. Sure wish fln would stay out of the news business when it so often resembles mainstream media. Love the worship music and christian speakers like Jeremiah, McDowell, MacDonald, Ingram, etc.... news reports not so much.

on 03.06.13 Brian Cook commented

Complete liberal agenda, unbeleivable and uninformed. Current legislation is tranparent and dishonest. It addresses assualt weapons which are responsible for less then 3% gun violence. Pistols account for 88% of gun voilence and are uneffected under the proposed legislation. Statistics also dont support the legislation as to say that it would be effective or to serve any other purpose but to clasify a multitude of common guns as assault weapons. She also mentioned that " they are not tring to take your guns away". Actually there is a reason why its called a ban. I prey that she is just uninformed. But i seriously question why she would side with an administation that has voted GOD out of the schools, out of the pledge, off of our currency and has made statements such as
" they dont want to give up there religion and there guns." I wonder what her stance on abortion is.

on 03.06.13 cris pasto commented

Im pleased that other Christians were shocked with this guest. Hopefully fln will thoroughly vet future guests: if fln finds this guest to be aligned with their positions then maybe I need to do a better job of vetting the station.

on 03.06.13 anonymous commented

sharon states the following at the link referenced above: "First, I support the Second Amendment. I do not believe that Americans should have their Constitutional rights stripped or their guns taken away." Please ask sharon if she knows why our mostly Christian forefathers created the 2nd amendment. hint: i'm looking for an answer other than target shooting, hunting, or protection from robbers/intruders/etc. Mixing a little Jesus with the socialist agenda is quite an effective tool of the left.

on 03.07.13 Bill Baldwin commented

A weapon in the hands of a Christian are used for many things , hunting , animal control on the farm , home protection , target shooting . My dad was in law enforcement and taught us early how to use and handle a fire arm . He also taught use how serious a loaded weapon is ! He always told us to use them as a tool , and the bad guy can always get a GUN. I'm surprised to hear this type of report on FLN . Anytime a child is taken from us any way it happens is a shame ! Guns don't kill people , a gun is a tool . I will pray for Sharon .

on 03.07.13 anonymous commented

I am a gun owner. I hunt, I shoot, I have my PA LTCF, and I have a curio relics license through the ATF. I also hold a bachelors degree in bible. One thing that she misses is that we already have gun control. For example on the Federal level we have the National Firearms Acts of 1934, 1968, and 1986 which restrict the types of weapons that can be owned by citizens and what weapons can be imported. There are also numerous state and local laws that restrict gun ownership. Jared Loughner passed a background check, and Adam Lanza did not. Yet, both of them committed terrible acts of violence. Now, for some Biblical interaction. Read Acts 23:12 to the end of the chapter. Paul defended himself against a plot to kill him by using the resources available to him. Why should it be any different for us? Plus there are places in the Levitical law that call for the defense of others, and provide for the use of force to defend oneself (my apologies I don't have time right now to look them up). One other observation, we gun owners are not defending ourselves against the defenseless but those who take up arms against us.

on 03.07.13 NICK SHEELEY commented

Sure, we'll let our guns go, leaving ourselves, childeren, friends and neighbors defenseless to a gov't that is increasingly unfriendly to any type of morality, just ask wwii Germany, how that went... here's some scripture for ya... how did Queen Ester saver her people?... convincing the king to allow 'her people' to arm themselves.
Back ground check? sure, but there ought to be background checks for our dear leaders as well, and "news" reporters!

on 03.07.13 Michael Theesfield commented

I wasn't sure originally how I was going to do this comment. I thought maybe I'd address Ms. Miller's position point by point, but I quickly saw that it would turn into a book. I'm in general agreement with others who have commented here in that she seems to me to be shilling leftist talking points rather than providing thoughtful debate on the issue.

In fact, the gun issue vis-a-vis Christianity (which is what I was hoping to hear) seemed to me to be largely absent from both what I can remember of the segment (I can only get it on the radio; even an audio podcast is murder on my dial-up) and what I saw on the linked blog on the same topic.

Even though I've long been staunchly pro-gun, I can see a legitimate issue about Christianity and deadly force. I myself have wondered if it would by my place to take a life and deny them any future opportunity to repent (although I realize that ultimately, that's in God's hands), and wondered about shooting to wound an attacker when it seems like there's a reasonable chance of success (or because God says so in the moment); not because it makes tactical sense (it doesn't), but because maybe it makes spiritual sense.

But I didn't hear or see Ms. Miller address anything like that. All I saw was a one-sided criticism of gun rights (her disclaimer to the contrary not withstanding) whereby she cited the negatives of firearms ownership and none of the positives (which are legion; the biggest in my opinion is that an armed citizenry prevents a tyrannical purge (tens of millions dead in countries where the citizenry was disarmed or unarmed to start with), and also, in my opinion, played the race card and (perhaps mildly) the class-warfare card (neither of which address genuine needs and race issues). She decried taking a position based on fear, but I feel she tried to invoke emotion and too little accurate information in her presentation. I also feel that her lopsided approach suggests a measure of self deception.

I also have one small nit to pick with Mr. Price (if I can stop hitting the computer monitor with the beam in my own eye...). He mentioned something along the general lines of Jesus being opposed to violence. Certainly violence was not his usual mode of operation, but I submit that there was that time when he ran riot with the money changers in the temple; and according to John, he did so with "a scourge of small cords." I realize that this doesn't rise to the level of deadly force, and I don’t know that it constitutes a call to violence; but I submit that violence it was indeed, committed by Jesus.

I do appreciate that it's a tough job to find topics and speakers to air (and I'd like take a moment to assure Chris Pasto who commented above that Ms. Miller is not typical of the guests I hear on FLN). I took a moment to pray for you folks in the FLN newsroom, and for Ms. Miller (and myself, because we ALL need help discerning the truth), because my prayer life leaves much to be desired and I might otherwise forget...

Anyway, I'm glad you folks are on the air (especially since I haven't had TV news since the switch to DTV!).


Michael Theesfield

on 03.07.13 Steve Barrows commented

I listened to Inside Out 272: Christians and Gun Control yesterday. I was impressed to hear the speakers credentials as a contributing author to "Hermeneutics," althought, I was not familiar with that publication. After hearing the total lack of biblical support, i.e. Scripture, I decided to do some research. Ms. Miller writes for "Her.meneutics," a website devoted to evangelical Christian women's issues. Her own blog is devoted to women's theology. This piece is the kind of warm, fuzzy (and misplaced) thinking that can result when there is an agenda other than God's theology, as revealed in the Bible. Really disappointing, FLN. You can do much better.

on 03.07.13 Anonymous commented

I am still bewildered by the fact that FLN would host and endorse such liberal, left wing positions. I am thinking it would be good to publicly & transparently learn more about the beliefs of FLN staff members on a host of issues. I think it is important to know where those that "feed" the flock stand. FLN has a near monopoly on "Christian" radio in our area - at least its the only one i've listened to or know that i can tune in to although i was just told there are other options. I am concerned that new Christians that hear opinions from those in a position of such influence may be vulnerable to such socialist propaganda (like these leftist gun control opinions) presented to them as Biblically sound doctrine. the following comes to mind:
2 Timothy 4:3
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passion...

Michael, here's an awesome take on Christians and gun rights & self defense that uses actual scripture as its foundation. It's a copy of a sermon a pastor friend shared with me.

We are looking at a challenging topic today…the question, “Is Armed Self Defense Biblical?” In light of the recent two horribly tragic multiple murder scenes, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown CT and the firefighters in Webster, near Rochester, our nation has embarked in a war of emotions and words that claim to be aimed at curbing gun violence, but in reality are more about achieving political goals than safety.
We Christians are not above this discussion and most are asking the same questions as the nation. Some Christians, however, have questions with a bit of a different twist. But, should our understanding be formed by our emotions? By our political leanings? Neither! We are people of faith, and like our theme verse for the year, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of the Lord. So let our answer to this question be formed by the Word of God.
Many Christians might approach this question with another question: Shouldn’t we trust in God, rather than arms? After all,
Psalm 44:6-7 6 For I will not trust in my bow, Nor will my sword save me. 7 But You have saved us from our adversaries, And You have put to shame those who hate us.
And, who can ignore Matthew 5:39 39 "But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. Don’t these verses teach us that there is consistency between Old and New Testament, and that following Jesus, picking up our cross daily, must necessarily result in unarmed, passive Christians?
Let’s look deeper, but before we do, let’s pray….
First, let’s be clear. Self-defense can be defined as "protecting oneself from injury at the hand of others." Self-defense is not about taking vengeance. Self-defense is not about punishing criminals. Self-defense involves preserving one's own health and life when it is threatened by the actions of others. When we speak about using armed, potentially lethal force in self-defense, we're talking about using weapons to protect ourselves and others, even if the weapons used could kill the attacker. The biblical basis for this is the principle that God holds His people accountable for the preservation of life. Psalm 82:4 cites an obligation to protect those who are in danger:
Psalm 82:4 Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.
Consider also Proverbs 24:11, which indicates we have a duty to preserve the lives of those who are harming themselves:
Proverbs 24:11 Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.
Ezekiel 33 has a well-known passage:
Ezekiel 33.6 "... 6 'But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman's hand.'
If you know danger is coming to others, and you deliberately fail to warn the others of the danger, you are guilty of harming the victims. This is not to say that you can make people heed your warning. The surrounding verses also say that if the people refuse to heed the warning of the watchman, the watchman is not guilty if they are harmed. God holds His people accountable for the preservation of life.
The second point to examine is that God Addresses Murder and Killing. Of course we are familiar with the Ten Commandments. Commandment Six:
Exodus 20:13 You shall not murder.
Murder is wrong. This means the premeditated killing of others is wrong. Killing in a fit of emotion is also wrong and is prohibited here. Even accidently taking the life of another is wrong. We must do all that we can to avoid it and stay as far away as possible from taking life.
Having stated this prohibition, let's look at some of the qualifiers to this prohibition.
Leviticus 24:16-17 16 'And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death. 17 ' Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death.
From verse 17, we see that "killing" was a crime requiring capital punishment. "Killing" here is defined above. But note that not all killing is wrong. In the immediately preceding verse 16, there were times (such as in civil judgments) in which "killing" was commanded and sanctioned. Blasphemers were to be killed. Likewise, in verse 17 itself it commands that "whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death." So we already see two qualifiers to the command "thou shalt not kill."
Killing a man in capital punishment for murder or blasphemy was permissible.
Exodus 21:12-15, Numbers 35:6-34, and Deuteronomy 19:1-13 give further qualifications to the prohibition to kill. Here the Lord deals with accidental killing where there is no negligence.
God defines accidental killing this way in Deut. 19:4: "...whoever kills his neighbor unintentionally, not having hated him in time past...". It even gives an example: "as when a man goes to the woods with his neighbor to cut timber, and his hand swings a stroke with the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies".
God says here, if you commit unintentional killing--that is, if you accidently kill someone, and it is not motivated by anger or hatred, and there is no negligence involved--then your life is forfeited. You are guilty of killing and could be put to death by the avenger of blood, but there is a way of escape. If you committed accidental killing, and there was no negligence, you would not be put to death if you fled to one of the designated cities of refuge.
This is like house arrest. In fact, it is stronger than house arrest! Number 35:25ff says that if you wander out of the city of refuge, you may be put to death if the avenger of blood finds you. The person guilty of accidental killing had to stay in a city of refuge until the death of the high priest. Then he was free to return home. (By the way, this is a beautiful picture of Christ's work—Christ, the city of refuge in whom we must remain hidden! And Christ is the high priest whose death takes our guilt and sets us free.)
It shows that killing someone accidently, with no malice, without negligence, made your life forfeit. It was almost as serious as murder in God's eyes. God makes a merciful provision, but it did not remove the fact that you were worthy of death for unintentional killing.
Premeditated, intentional killing, as well as killing in passion, was absolutely forbidden. Such a one had no protection in the cities of refuge and was to be handed over and put to death (Ex. 21:14f, Deut. 19:11ff, Num 35:16ff ).
So, we see that killing someone out of 1) hatred, 2) negligence, or 3) sheer accident were subject to capital punishment. In the case of sheer accident without negligence, God established a network of cities of refuge which made merciful provision to spare the life of the killer. God Addresses Murder and Killing
God Addresses Crime
With that important perspective, let's look at passages speaking about victims of crime.
Exodus 22:2-3 2 "If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. 3 "If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed.
There are two cases here. In the first case, if someone breaks into your home at night, and you kill him, you are not held guilty of murder. You are not deserving of capital punishment. You do not need to flee to a city of refuge to preserve your life. The understanding is that at night, it is dark, and if someone has invaded your house, they do not announce if they are there merely to steal jewelry and tools. In the dark, you have no way of knowing if someone is coming to kidnap, to rape, or to murder. You are thus blameless if you kill the criminal in that situation. The passage makes it clear that if a man is breaking in at night with the intent of theft or worse (rape, murder, kidnapping, etc.), the defendant can righteously defend himself with lethal force to prevent the commission of the crime).
In the second case, it says "if the sun has risen on him", and you kill the intruder, you are guilty of his bloodshed. The understanding is that in daytime, there is light, and you can discern the intentions of the home invader. The crime in question here is theft ("if the thief"). It is not legitimate to kill someone who is not threatening you, but merely stealing your property. In creating civil laws, we see here that not all crimes are worthy of death.
In the daytime, it is assumed that the intention of the intruder can be discerned. If he is a thief, he may not be killed by the defendant. However, if the intruder is there to commit a different crime—assault, murder, kidnapping, rape, etc.—different laws/rules would apply. Though the crime of theft is not worthy of death, kidnapping was worthy of death (Exodus 21:16, Deut. 24:7) as was murder.
Matthew Henry writes: "...if it was in the day-time that the thief was killed, he that killed him must be accountable for it, unless it was in the necessary defense of his own life. ... We ought to be tender of the lives even of bad men; the magistrate must afford us redress, and we must not avenge ourselves."
Now let's look at two OT examples of defending your own life against murderers.
In Nehemiah 4, Israelites have been sent back from captivity to rebuild Jerusalem. They were rebuilding their lives with the sanction of the civil ruler, King Artaxerxes. This was not a wartime scenario. It was closer to a racial hatred scenario where racists wanted to kill them. Think of the KKK threatening black homeowners and students. They are surrounded by people who hate them and want to kill them.
These were citizens, not soldiers. Nehemiah 4:13 says that people stationed "people by families" around the city. These were not trained soldiers or law enforcement officers. They were merely concerned residents and settlers—citizens, not professional soldiers or law enforcement agents.
Note that these families were armed, with "their swords, their spears, and their bows." This is a situation where they are willing to apply lethal force to defend themselves.
Let's briefly discuss swords, spears, and bows. Swords and daggers killed Ehud, Amasa, and eighty priests. At longer ranges, we know bows and slings killed men like Goliath, King Joram, and King Ahab. Spears killed men like Asahel, Absaolm, the Israelite man and the Midianitish woman, and many others. These are handguns, shotguns, and rifles. These are implements of lethal force. In fact, at close range, a sword can be more deadly than a handgun. These ancient weapons are as deadly as their modern counterparts.
Note that they are carrying these weapons for personal defense and civil defense, and that these are "assault weapons", namely, the same types of weapons that armies would use for offensive purposes. And why wouldn't they want assault weapons (for those weapons are the most effective weapons for defending oneself)? Why would you not want to use the best tools available for the task at hand?
Against what are they defending themselves? The crime of unlawful, racist murder. Hate crimes. They are defending their lives and their homes. Nehemiah 4:14 specifically says, "...fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses." It is good and right to defend your family, even using lethal force weapons.
One final observation: In self-defense, these citizens did not merely own weapons. Rather, where they perceived a risk of harm to their persons, they carried their weapons with them, as many people legally carry weapons with them today, for the purpose of self-protection:
Nehemiah 4 17 Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon. 18 As for the builders, each wore his sword girded at his side as he built, while the trumpeter stood near me. ... 21 So we carried on the work with half of them holding spears from dawn until the stars appeared. .... 23 So neither I, my brothers, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us removed our clothes, each took his weapon even to the water.
If you live somewhere where you have reason to be concerned about crime, this would be similar to legally carrying a weapon to defend your family, even when running daily errands to the store.
The final Old Testament passage we examine is in the book of Esther. Here we have a historical example arranged by Divine Providence. In this account, the Jews are under threat of racial violence. The civil authority, King Ahasuerus, grants them legal permission to use lethal force in self-defense:
Esther 8:11-12 11 By these letters the king permitted the Jews who were in every city to gather together and protect their lives -- to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the forces of any people or province that would assault them, both little children and women, and to plunder their possessions...
So they have legal sanction to "protect their lives" using lethal force, much as we do in most parts of this country. They are allowed to "kill and annihilate" in order to "protect their lives." Now, as people under obligation to obey God, not just stay within the civil laws of Ahasuerus, what do the Jews do with this legal freedom?
Esther 9:1-5 ...the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them. 2 The Jews gathered together in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could withstand them, because fear of them fell upon all people.... 5 Thus the Jews defeated all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, with slaughter and destruction,
We see that given legal sanction to defend their lives with lethal force, they do not choose non-violence. Rather, as it says in verse 11, to "protect their lives", they use the "sword" (verse 5). Here is another example of widespread use of weapons in self-defense—a non-wartime, non-law enforcement scenario.
At this point, you may be thinking this is all relegated to Old Testament principles and thinking. Let's turn to some passages in the New Testament dealing with lethal force and self-defense.
Turning the Other Cheek
Matthew 5:39 "But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
Notice how the scripture specifies the RIGHT cheek? Why? Because to be struck on the right cheek was to be insulted — a higher rank or caste insulting a lower rank or caste. At the time of Jesus, striking someone deemed to be of a lower class with the back of the hand was used to assert authority and dominance. If the persecuted person “turned the other cheek,” the discipliner was faced with a dilemma. The left hand was used for unclean purposes and would never have been used to strike anyone, so a back-hand strike on the opposite cheek would not be performed. The other alternative would be a slap with the open hand as a challenge or to punch the person, but this was seen as a statement of equality. Thus, by turning the other cheek the persecuted was in effect demanding equality.

So, Jesus wasn’t saying meekly submit to violence…he was saying return insult with the demand to be treated as an equal. This is an echo from
Lamentations 3:30
Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace.
Once again, we see that Jesus did not change what was in the Old Testament, but fulfilled it, expanded on it.
Notice also, how a backhand slap was known and understood to be an insult (not much has changed), and Jesus was counseling a moderate, yet assertive reply to an insult….not complete pacificism.

Jesus Told His Disciples to Arm Themselves
Luke 22:35-39 And He said to them, "When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?" So they said, "Nothing." 36 Then He said to them, "But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. 37 "For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: 'And He was numbered with the transgressors.' For the things concerning Me have an end." 38 So they said, "Lord, look, here are two swords." And He said to them, "It is enough." 39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him.
Here's the context. Picture this. Jesus and his disciples have just had communion. They are about to go to a time of prayer in the garden. Jesus says these words to His disciples, and it's as if they are saying, "Look what we have with us, Lord. Two guns!" Jesus responds, "It is enough."
If you read commentaries on this passage, there are a number of questions which are not clearly answered. There are questions about the applicability of this passage, of the intent of Jesus, of the meaning of His response.
Whatever your interpretation of this passage, there are a few broad-stroke observations we can make about this passage.
1. Jesus expected them to have swords and anticipated a time when those without swords would need to acquire them.
2. Among eleven disciples, they did have two swords--in almost a 1:5 ratio.
3. Jesus expected them to carry the swords on their person as they traveled from the city to the garden prayer meeting.
It is difficult to make absolute claims beyond these observations, but the observations themselves have significance. Namely, among those closest to Jesus, some carried personal weapons in His presence with His consent to communion and to prayer meetings. We cannot make absolute claims as to the reasons, right or, wrong, for the carriage of these weapons. Perhaps it was in anticipation of trouble from the Jewish leadership. Perhaps it was protection against mere robbers. Paul in 2 Cor. 11:26 cites the "perils of robbers". Though there are questions we can't answer, we do know they possessed these weapons, that they carried these weapons, and that Jesus knew and consented. Furthermore, Jesus spoke of some time, present or future, when disciples would need to acquire personal weapons, even more urgently than garments.
The Garden of Gethsemene
Now, the next passage we come to follows these events. Jesus and the disciples are in the garden, and the men come to arrest Jesus. At least two of the disciples are armed, with the knowledge and consent of Jesus. Here is the question: Will they use the sword against the armed multitude which has come against Him? Let's look at the three passages which recount this event.
Luke 22:49-53 (NAS) 49 And when those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, shall we strike with the sword?" 50 And a certain one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus answered and said, "Stop! No more of this." And He touched his ear and healed him. 52 And Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against Him, "Have you come out with swords and clubs as against a robber? 53 "While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours."
Matthew 26:51-56 51 And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. 52 But Jesus said to him, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 "Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 "How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?" 55 In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, "Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me. 56 "But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled."
John 18:10-11 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. 11 So Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?"
In these three passages, you get a sense that Jesus is saying, "Though we have a right to employ our swords in defense of this unrighteous arrest, we are intentionally putting aside our lawful right, and I am allowing myself to be taken without resistance." See how this is expressed: "Lord shall we strike with the sword?" "No more of this." "This is your hour, and the power of darkness." "Put up your sword... or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father... all this was done that the Scriptures...might be fulfilled." "Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup...?"
Why Christ tells Peter to put up the sword:
1. Christ is willingly laying down His life, though He has the right to use sword and angelic legions to deliver Himself from this unjust arrest (Luke 22:51, John 18:11).
2. Those who are quick to resort to violence will die by violence (Matt 26:52). The Lord hates the one who "loves violence" (Psalm 11:5).
The sword is not always the appropriate response, especially in persecution for Christ.
There is greater protection than swords.
Possession of weapons and skills with weapons a good and useful thing
Having looked at a number of passages that deal with weapons and self-defense, let's spend a little time discussing Scripture's view of owning weapons and being skilled in their use. The imagery of weapon use and skill at weapons use is often employed in Scripture, and it is often portrayed as a positive or desirable thing. The Lord's might is something good, and it is often depicted using martial terms (Zec. 9:14, Psa. 7:13, 18:14, 21:12, 64:7, Hab. 3:11, Deu 32:42, 2 Sam 22:15). The Scriptures are a sword (Eph. 6:17; Heb 4:12). A sword comes out of the mouth of Christ (Rev. 1:16, 2:16, 19:15).
Possession of weapons is never discouraged in Scripture. In fact, in 1Sam 13:19ff, it is negatively reported that no spears or swords were found in Israel because of the Philistines:
1 Samuel 13:19-22 9 Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, "Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears."... 22 So it came about, on the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan. But they were found with Saul and Jonathan his son.
Let's look at two verses from the Psalms:
Psalm 144:1 Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:
Psalm 18:34 He teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze
Skill and ability to use weapons here, whether literal and/or metaphorical, is positively portrayed in these verses.
Further, we have accounts of David, not a soldier, not a law enforcement officer, but a youth, employing ranged weapons skillfully (with God's help) against bears and lions. This is domestic use of lethal weaponry, non-military use, with non-military training. The weapons used by young David are not "kiddie" slingshots. They are powerful enough to kill a bear and lion--in today's market, we're talking about a .44 magnum, not a .22, in the hands of someone too young to be in the army.
We might be tempted to think that was just for dealing with animals that could threaten sheep. But aren't humans worth even more protection than sheep?
We understand that according to Scripture, in matters not of worship or church government, whatever is not forbidden is permitted. I'm not making a claim that ownership of weaponry for the purpose of self-defense is required of the believer. It is not required, but it is permitted by Scripture.
Now, let's conclude with some warnings.
Trusting in the sword
First of all, it would be a mistake to leave this service trusting in the sword. Guns, knives, weapons... these are mere tools, and none of these things can guarantee protection, any more than owning a fire extinguisher guarantees that your house won't burn down.
Psalm 44:6-7 For I will not trust in my bow, Nor shall my sword save me. 7 But You have saved us from our enemies, And have put to shame those who hated us.
We see in Nehemiah 4:14 that the people were armed and willing to use their weapons, but they were also trusting in the Lord:
"Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.... 20 "At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us."
Do not put your trust in weapons. They are tools that are useful, but they are only dead, inanimate tools, at the end of the day.
"...the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD's." (1Sa 17:47 NAS)
Improperly resorting to the sword
Secondly, beware of improperly resorting to the sword. I would hope the passages dealing with the shedding of blood impressed on you the narrow limitations for when it is proper to employ lethal force. It is never to be in hatred, never in revenge, never in jealously. David in his pride nearly murdered Nabal, but Abigail restrained him. David would have killed Nabal...and regretted it.
1 Samuel 25:32 And David said to Abigail, Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Israel, who sent thee this day to meet me: 33 and blessed be thy discretion, and blessed be thou, that hast kept me this day from bloodguiltiness, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.
Employing potentially lethal force out of anger, hatred, jealously, or revenge is always wrong and is condemned by Scripture.
Here is a warning: If you find that you have anger or self-control problems, owning firearms may be unwise. The believer is to be "not soon angry, no brawler, no striker" (Titus 1:7). Lamech is an example of someone who should not own weapons (Gen. 4:23f).
When you are insulted or cursed, when your wife or your mother is insulted or cursed, you are not to resort to violence.
Luke 6:27-30 27 "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 "Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. 30 "Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.
There are a lot of great virtues depicted in the classic westerns. The propensity to break into fistfights or gunfights when honor is insulted is not a virtue. The Lord, not you, is to take vengeance and set things right. An insulting slap in the face is something you can suffer as a Christian.
What if you are badly wronged? What if your wife or daughter is badly wronged? You must stop an attack that is in progress, but afterwards, you must not seek revenge. There is no room for vigilantes.
Rom 12:19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
A wrong admiration for the "man of violence"
Thirdly, do not admire the "man of violence".
Proverbs 3:31-32 Do not envy a man of violence, And do not choose any of his ways. 32 For the crooked man is an abomination to the LORD; But He is intimate with the upright.
Those who resort to violence rather than Godliness are not to be admired. There are many similarities between David and Joab. Both were skilled at killing men, and both had killed many men. Were they both men of violence? Here is the difference: David, first and foremost, sought the Lord, trusted the Lord, and loved the Lord. Why didn't he do violence against Saul? It wasn't because Saul was his father-in-law. Rather, it was because Saul was the Lord's anointed. It was because of David's regard first for the Lord that he would not resort to violence.
On the other hand, Joab, over and over, resorted to the sword to deal with problems. Joab was a man of violence.
Proverbs 1:16 For their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed blood.
Romans 3:15 Their feet are swift to shed blood;
Earth was destroyed in the day of Noah because "the earth was filled with violence" (Gen 6:11ff). God hates violence. There is a narrow scope in which it is applied righteously, but it is only because of sin that such skill is necessary.
Beware of influences in your life which would encourage admiration of a Joab rather than a David.
Finally, keep the right perspective on this. Though we see sanction and even a qualified directive from Christ to possess personal weapons, we must remember three points. First, in the remainder of the New Testament, we have no further examples of believers taking up the sword. Second, the emphasis in the remainder of the New Testament is decidedly not geared toward the issues of physical self-defense or righteous use of lethal force. Rather, we see more emphasis on Godly living, suffering affliction and persecution for Christ, and grasping the precious doctrines of Christ and the Gospel. Third, possession of weapons and acquiring the skill to use them in self-defense is permitted but not required by Scripture.
Believers should be conscious that armed self-defense is legitimatized by the Scriptures, just as the use of construction tools, cooking tools, transportation tools are legitimized by Scripture. And these matters of self-defense should hold in our minds and in our affections the same position as those other legitimate, but transitory, matters.
The tendency in some circles is to make the topic of self-defense of primary importance. Though heavenly beings do battle and render judgments with the sword, in the perfection pictured in both the Garden of Eden and in the Heavenly city, the primary activities are fellowship with God, fellowship with His people, singing in worship, and living in peace.
That is our destination.

on 03.09.13 Gary M commented

The Lord talked about apostasy in the church in the last days.. This was a perfect example..

on 03.11.13 Chad Barber commented

I have had some discussions with Christians on this topic and am very surprised that FLN would put this content on the air and present it as the "truth". I think it would have been much better to also discuss the other side of the issue, which is what seems to be happening in this comment section. It seems to me to be a liberal position at best and I would hope FLN would consider its audience when presenting such things. It also appears that maybe this is an attempt to gain a larger audience by offering something that might attract others who typically would not tune in to FLN. It is always, always, always better to stick with Scripture and a literal rendering of the facts! I hope FLN does better in selecting who is asked to speak for these spots. I do appreciate the music and teaching that I have heard, but I could certainly do without the liberal news reports!

on 03.11.13 Loreen Miner commented

I was very disappointed, and angered after listening to this piece. I felt the woman talking was so misinformed, and naive about this issue.I am a mother of 3, and we have already started teaching the importance of gun safety, as well as the reasons why it is important to own guns. I am flabbergasted that FLn would support, or even air such a liberal, ad left-sided piece. Just another reason why I havn't, and never will financially support your ministry.

on 03.12.13 ithaca gun commented

not only did i not hear the "right" and scriptural side to the debate during the interview, but it sounded as the FLN people were in agreement with the speakers ideology. does their silence confirm this? i spend a good deal of time in elmira/ithaca region - is there another station option you guys could recommend. As chad says above, love the music and teaching (scriptural), but i can do without the liberal opinions. there's plenty of that in ithaca!

on 12.06.13 jillian George commented

Good thoughts. I've been trying to get a handle on a Christian perspective on this issue. I also found this guy's thoughts interesting:

He’s a Bible prof at Biola University




Inside Out airs Wednesdays at 12:20pm EST during the Family Life Noon Report.


Inside Out: Raising Boys Who Respect Girls

Oct 09, 2019 | Martha Manikas-Foster

Inside Out: Approaching Elections

Sep 25, 2019 | Martha Manikas-Foster

Inside Out: 9-11 Eighteen Years Later: The Church and our Muslim Neighbors

Sep 11, 2019 | Martha Manikas-Foster

More podcasts...