By Lynette Kittle, Crosswalk.com
When it comes to the heated national gun control debate, Christians differ in their belief on the issue and Second Amendment rights, with pastors and believers on both sides of the case.
Believers on Both Sides of the Gun Control Issue
American Evangelical clergyman Rev. Robert Schneck, who ministers to appointed and elected Washington, D.C. officials and serves as President and Founder of the non-profit Dietrich Bonhoeffer organization, stated in a HuffPost piece on gun control: “I am concerned about gun violence in this country, because I think to do nothing is to devalue human life, to treat that which God deems of ultimate value as of no value at all. Reducing gun violence is part of what it means to love God’s people and want them to flourish.”
As well, Russel Moore, former president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, states, “I have very close co-laborers in Christ who are proponents of gun control. They haven’t persuaded me of that but I don’t see them as being on another ‘side.’ We are both looking toward the same goals.”
Jerry Newcombe, Executive Director of the Providence Forum, with the mission, “To preserve, defend and advance the Judeo-Christian values of our nation’s founding,” writes, “The thing about gun control laws is that they can work to disarm the law-abiding. Strict gun laws, like those in Chicago, only insure that the only people with guns are the bad guys. Laws on the books don’t keep the criminals from getting and using guns. They only stop the law-abiding citizen from access to guns.”
Where Did the Second Amendment Originate?
As many Christians declare their U.S. Constitutional Second Amendment rights to bear arms, what did our Forefathers have in mind when writing, “A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to and bear Arms, shall not be infringed"?
Some argue the Second Amendment began as early as ancient Rome, more recently developed during the late 16th century when Queen Elizabeth established a national militia, requiring all classes of citizens by law to take part and be responsible for defending the kingdom.
Historians believe this deeply influenced the framers of the U.S. Constitution in allowing citizens to bear arms, a right included in both the Articles of Confederation (1781) and at the Constitutional Convention, where the U.S. Constitution was drafted for the newly formed United States.
In the gun control debate, Newcombe dismisses hunting as being the number one argument and support for the right to own guns. “Sometimes I hear people talking about the Second Amendment in terms of hunting. Hunting Shmunting. The Second Amendment is in reference to self-defense. It’s also in reference to ensuring our rights as citizens.”
What Does the Bible Say About Guns?
Because guns are not mentioned specifically in Scripture, written before their invention (AD 1,000-1860), verses relating to the use and bearing of weapons most closely relate to the topic. During Bible times, a slingshot and stone were deadly weapons.
Dr. Mike Austin, author of God and Guns in America explained in an interview, “More generally on the positive moral side, I think there are instances in the Old Testament where the people were told to be armed guards to protect the temple or self-defense is allowed,” citing Nehemiah (Nehemiah 4:15-23) and Esther as examples.
Esther 8:11 explains, “The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies.”
“So I think,” explains Austin, “in principle it looks like, to me self-defense. There ‘s a theological justification for arming yourself for the sake of self-defense.”
Newcombe writes, “The Bible teaches that we are not to murder (Exodus 20:13). It also teaches that there’s a time and a place for everything under the sun. Sometimes, that includes having to defend oneself.”
History of Past Gun Laws and the Effects
Gun Control in the Third Reich's author Stephen P. Halbrook writes how hidden history reveals how the Nazi regime made use of gun control to disarm and repress its enemies and consolidate power, a fact rarely mentioned in history books. “Countless books on the Third Reich and the Holocaust fail even to mention the laws restricting firearms ownership, which rendered political opponents and Jews defenseless.”
Historian William J. Federer writes, “The New York Time, November 9, 1938, reported: ‘The Berlin Police…announced that…the entire Jewish population of Berlin has been “disarmed” with the confiscation of 2,569 hand weapons, 1,702, firearms and 20,000 round of ammunition.’”
As well, “George Mason, a founding father from Virginia, stated: ‘To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them,’” writes Federer.
History reports how civilian gun ownership has helped protect and keep Americans safe. “After World War II,” write Newcombe, “an American asked his Japanese counterpart why they never invaded our west coast. The Japanese replied, ‘We knew that probably every second home in your country contained firearms. We knew that your country actually had state championships for private citizen shooting military rifles. We were not fools to set foot in such quicksand.’”
CompellingTruths.org reports past surveys and research estimate Americans legally and otherwise own between 160 and 393 million guns.
Can We Say There is a Christian Stance?
As well, Moore, states, “I hold to conservative views on the Second Amendment, but I don’t hold to my views here in the way that I would something clearly revealed in Scriptures. I certainly don’t hold to those things the way that I would the fundamental of Christian doctrine and ethics.”
Compellingtruth.org concludes on their website, “Personal freedom is a virtue of the Bible. In a nation built upon freedom, some will choose to say that guns lead to violence; others will choose to say that guns can prevent violence.”
Because gun ownership is not specifically discussed in Scripture, Romans 14:1-4 is often used to declare the freedom we have in Christ to choose when it comes to owning guns, where the Bible doesn’t spell it out but gives us a choice.
As well, many defer to Roman 13:1, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
Many Christians believe this verse calls citizens to submit to whatever gun laws the government sets up. However, it’s significant to point out that many governing leaders who are pushing for gun control also protect the right to murder unborn babies in the womb.
The Bible Condemns Murder by Any Method
Because the Bible condemns the taking of human life by any means, we can say for certain that using guns to murder is not condoned in Scripture, just as murder by any weapon or item used to kill another person isn’t, including the instruments of abortion.
Scripture does support an individual using self-defense to defend oneself and family when necessary, which often involves the using of a weapon to do so. In short summary, the Bible does not condemn the ownership of a gun for self-protection.
Photo Credit: ©Kenny Luo/Unsplash
Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, StartMarriageRight.com, and more. She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.