m60 machine gun
August 13, 2000
Do guns have a place in the life of a Christian? Should a born again believer in Jesus Christ, who we trust in for all things, own a firearm for defense? After all, what would Jesus do? A more important question would be, what would Jesus have us do!
I have heard of sermons from the pulpit condemning guns and offering up our Christian faith as proof that we should revile them and, at the least, not own or use them. We are quoted verses in the scripture such as “turn the other cheek” and “thou shalt not kill.” Many good Christians, upon hearing these “proofs,” would be hard pressed to explain why their belief in the right to keep and bear arms for any reason, including self-defense, is not contradictive to their faith in Christ and Christianity as their life defining religion. These people will be glad to know that God’s Law, His very word, which is the Bible, justifies and condones our use of guns in self-defense. Let’s take a closer look at the arguments against the Christian’s use of guns and see through God’s Word why, as Christians, we have a Biblical, God-given right to own and use guns for defense and why guns are not the evil objects that some would like to make us believe.
There are those who would say that because Jesus did not carry a weapon when He walked the earth, then neither should we Christians who follow Him. Those who use this line of reasoning seem to forget that Jesus was God in the flesh and consequently did not need a weapon! Jesus was sent to save mankind by His crucifixion on Calvary; He would not have allowed His own death any other way. As for Jesus’ followers, they did carry weapons! Their weapon of choice was the Roman sword (probably the Roman short sword) that was then considered to be the most advanced personal military weapon of the day; the equivalent of the modern firearms we use today.
It was no secret to Jesus that His disciples carried weapons. At the last supper, Jesus tells His disciples that “…if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36 NIV). The context of Jesus’ order at the last supper is that of preparation. He says in the next verse that He is “…numbered with the transgressors [and] what is written about [Him] is reaching its fulfillment” (Luke 22:37 NIV). We see in this verse that Jesus knows the fulfillment of prophecy is near and the followers of Christ will soon take up the cross after His death. They will be persecuted and will need to defend themselves against a world unwilling to accept the truth of Jesus Christ. Scripture defines scripture and clearly Jesus is not concerned that His followers sell their cloaks to buy a sword in order that they have something to carve up a Sunday dinner with or to display over the fireplace mantel after He leaves. The sword was made for killing and Jesus knew that there would be a time for its use as Ecclesiastes 3:1,3,8 states “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to kill and a time to heal…a time for war and a time for peace” (NIV). Clearly, scripture allows for all things under heaven. There will be times when we must fight to kill and wage war, but also to heal and to have peace. Jesus did not condemn the sword. Rather, He recognized it as a tool that would need to be utilized for its intended purpose and He made this very clear to His disciples.
But what about the Bible verse that tells us to “turn the other cheek?” Based on this scripture, surely a Christian should be a pacifist and not take up arms against those that would harm him, right? Wrong! Matthew 5:39 reads, “…if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (NIV). The Christian pacifist will take Christ’s “turn the other cheek” instruction out of context and insist that it be applied to every situation that comes down the pike, including not taking up arms for self-defense. Jesus was teaching us to turn the other cheek in response to a slap in the face. He is telling us to keep our pride in check. Clearly, a slap in the face is not life threatening. Though being assaulted or murdered will hurt more than your pride. If someone murders your child, should you offer him your other child? Obviously, you would not. So what do we learn from this? That if we don’t need to apply this teaching to any one situation outside of Jesus’ specific intent, then we don’t need to apply it to any situation outside of His intent (matters of pride, not matters of life and death). The notion that we should “turn the other cheek” to those who would take our lives or liberty is man’s foolish notion, not God’s.
Use the example in the book of Esther where those who hated the Jews began to carry out their attack against them as Haman had planned. However, an edict by the king made it law that every Jew would “…assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill, and annihilate any armed force of any nationality or province that might attack them and their women and children…” (Esther 8:11 NIV). And in fact the Jews did just that as “[they] struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them…” (Esther 9:5 NIV). Remember that this law was written in response to an unjust law plotted by Haman to destroy the Jews in all of the king’s provinces (127 of them) stretching from India to Cush. In fact, so effective was their defense of themselves and their families that the Jews “…[celebrated] annually the 14th and 15th days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration” (Esther 9:21-22 NIV). These two days of remembrance, known as Purim, are still celebrated by believing and non-believing Jews today.
Another verse of scripture misquoted by many Liberal theologians as proof that guns are bad goes something like “the Bible tells us we should beat our swords (or in our case, guns) into plow shares.” The actual verse from Isaiah is written in the context of the second coming of Christ at which time “they will beat their swords into plow shares and their spears into pruning hooks” (Isaiah 2:4 NIV). The prophet Micah, depicting the coming Millennial Age when the Messiah will reign and personally administer justice also gives this prophecy: “Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Micah 4:3 NIV). Obviously, the second coming of Christ has not happened yet, making the use of this scripture to condemn guns a non-issue. Simply put, the use of weapons for waging war will not be necessary after Christ returns to administer His perfect justice. Until that time, we had better be prepared to use our weapons to defend our nation and ourselves.
But what of the sixth commandment, “thou shalt not kill?” Surely the idea of killing someone in self-defense would be in direct disobedience to this commandment, right? Wrong, again! Any accurate translation of the Hebrew text would clearly read the sixth commandment as, “thou shalt not murder.” Deuteronomy 9:11 defines the parameters of murder as when “a man hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him, assaults and kills him…” (NIV). The Bible also defines instances where someone who kills another is innocent and ”…not deserving of death since he…[killed]… his neighbor without malice or aforethought” (Deut. 19:6 NIV). If someone intentionally tries to take a life because of hate or desire for that persons possessions and premeditates his actions and carries those actions out, then that person is a murderer and has broken the sixth commandment. However, if the victim were able to exercise his God given right to self-defense and kill his attacker, say with a gun, then the victim would be innocent of murder and would have taken a life justifiably to protect himself from his attacker.
In fact, we see in the book of Nehemiah that God is very much a part of assisting His followers when they take up arms to defend themselves. When Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem to rebuild its fallen walls, he and his fellow Jews do not meet with light opposition. When the Jews hear of the plots of others to kill them in order to stop the rebuilding, they “…prayed to [their] God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat” (Nehemiah 4:9 NIV). God is put first in their actions to protect themselves, but they do much more than just post a watchman.
Nehemiah posts entire families “…with their swords, spears, and bows [at the weakest points in the wall]” (Nehemiah 4:13 NIV). He then speaks to them saying, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and daughters, your wives and your homes” (Nehemiah 4:14 NIV). This was not a band of sword, spear, and bow wielding lunatics to be sure. With God’s perfect blessing these people had taken responsibility for their own safety and that of their families. To neglect this responsibility would have been in disobedience to God!
Nehemiah goes on to explain that “from that day on, half of [his] men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows, and armor” (Nehemiah 4:16 NIV). Not leaving their well-being up to chance, Nehemiah concludes that “neither [he] nor [his] brothers nor [his] men nor the guards with [him] took off [their] clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water” (Nehemiah 4:23 NIV). Also in chapter four, verses 15 and 20, Nehemiah acknowledges that God would fight for them and that He frustrated their enemy’s plans. These people did not stand idly by and expect God to zap their enemies; they put God first and took direct action; with weapons no less!
So what conclusion can we draw from this event in the Bible? The same conclusion that the disciples knew even as God in the flesh walked with them: God helps those who help themselves. And oh, yes, the wall was finished in 52 days, much to the fear of the surrounding nations who “realized that this work had been done with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:16 NIV). Imagine that, God’s children using weapons to defend themselves for God’s work. How’s that for a deterrent to crime!
If all of this evidence is still not enough to open our eyes to this question of guns and self -defense, then let us examine the very first murder. From the book of Genesis we know that “…while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him” (Genesis 4:8 NIV). Cain did this because he was jealous of the favor God showed to Abel and angry with God for rejecting the offering that Cain himself gave. Now, an interesting fact: the Hebrew word used in this passage for “killed him” is used elsewhere in the Bible for “sliced the throat.” We have a pretty good idea that Cain used a knife or other cutting tool to murder his brother. Prior to this act, God warned Cain, “but if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7 NIV). It is interesting to see here that God did not warn Cain that he had cutting tools laying around and their evil influence might cause him to sin. Instead, He warned Cain of the evil brooding in his own heart that would cause him to sin if gone unchecked. In defiance, Cain cut his brother’s throat in cold blood.
And what about after the murder? God asked Cain, “where is your brother Abel?’’ and still in defiance Cain replies, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9 NIV). It is at this point that God puts a curse upon Cain and drives him from the land, effectively condemning the evil in Cain’s heart and the deed that it bore. Note here that God did not cry out against the “evils” of knives and other edged weapons as the scourge of mankind! He did not attempt to demonize, demoralize, regulate, confiscate, or ban edged weapons in any way, shape, or form. He didn’t even orchestrate a knife buy-back scheme! (*) Why? Because God knew something that many people in this day and age fail to see-- that Cain did not murder his brother, Abel, because of the availability of knives; nor did he murder his brother because there were not enough knife laws on the books; nor because the mere presence of a knife gave him the predisposition to become a murderous lunatic; nor because the “knife culture” in Cain’s day was out of control; nor because Adam and Eve (his mom and dad) forgot to lock up all of the knives; nor did he murder his brother because of the myriad of other excuses we might like to dream up. God knew that it was the evil in Cain’s heart that led him to commit such a horrible act. Cain could have used a rock, club, or a gun if any had existed, to finish out his murderous task, but the cause and effect would have remained the same. Indeed, if it were the weapon that God had condemned, we would see it clearly throughout the scriptures; we do not.
We know then, that the use of modern weapons as righteous tools for self-defense throughout the Bible is natural and expected. Only in our culture of “Liberal enlightenment” do we even beg the question of the “appropriateness” of defending ourselves, especially with a gun, against those who would do us physical harm. The farther we get from God’s perfect Law, the more we distance ourselves from common sense. Even children are born with an intuitive sense of fairness and injustice. They cannot explain it, but they know it and will act upon it. God has given all of us this same wisdom; it is our responsibility to use it. We cannot pretend that it is OK for man to implement laws that contradict the rights given to us by our Creator. When a right is regulated it ceases to be a right and becomes a privilege that can be taken away. We know, as God has established, the difference between right and wrong and it is the individual who is responsible for, and who must be held accountable for, his own actions.
Every Christian must understand this: the witness of God comes through the Word of God, not our feelings. It is reprehensible that anyone, given the knowledge of God’s Word, would claim in the name of Christianity that guns and their use for defending ourselves is wrong. It is ridiculous to believe that we can blame any kind of violence on something other than the person who committed it. Doing so conveniently relieves us from examining our own faults. It might make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but it doesn’t address the truth. Don’t forget that The Ten Commandments address the conditions of our own hearts and not the objects of our transgressions. Our sins will always be our own responsibility, no matter who or what else we try to blame. But, there is hope…
Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins so that we could spend eternity with Him in His Kingdom, rather than the alternative, which is eternity removed from God (hell). We cannot get to heaven by being a good person or doing good works. “For it is by Grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not of works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus said, “I will tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3 NIV). But how can I become born again?
First, I must believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, died on the cross for my sins, rose again on the third day, and ascended into heaven where He sits now at the right hand of God.
I must recognize that I am a sinner, undeserving of God’s Grace. I need to confess my sins to Jesus and repent of them, making Jesus Christ the center of my life.
I must accept by faith that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. Pray to Jesus and tell Him these things---He is waiting and He will listen!
Even after Cain murdered his brother and rejected God, God put a mark on him so that no man would kill him (Genesis 4:15). God showed His unwavering Grace and spared Cain’s life, giving him an opportunity to repent. In effect God was telling Cain, “there is nothing you have done or could ever do to keep me from you.” God still loved Cain after his sin. Likewise, there is nothing you or I have ever done or could ever do that God will not forgive us for. Christ’s finished work on the cross saved us from condemnation; all we need to do is accept His gift! If you haven’t already, won’t you do it now? It’s the most important decision you will ever make. I did it and He changed my life. He will change yours, too.
So what does the M60 machine gun have to do with God? Besides all of the above, it’s fun to shoot and wow---what a witnessing tool! And in case some of us still don’t get it…
“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his palace, his possessions are safe.”
Jesus Christ (Luke 11:21)
(*) The very term “gun buy-back” used to describe the illogical guns-for-money ploy, suggests that our guns were government property to begin with! Strange, that’s not what God’s Law or the Constitution says. In addition to defending our persons and our shores from foreign invasion, the framers of the Constitution wrote the Second Amendment assuring the private ownership of firearms so that we the people could uphold our duty to overthrow a tyrannical government should the need ever arise. Anyone who tells you differently is either lying or is not competent enough to speak on the subject.
This may be copied freely if all credit is given to the author. Readers may contact the author with questions or comments via e-mail at: JRMG30@AOL.COM