Author: Dr. Preston Sprinkle
Christians disagree on many ethical questions, and some disagreements can get quite heated. Few disagreements are as volatile as whether Christians should own guns and use them against their enemy. The pacifist will say guns should never be used to kill, while the non-pacifist will argue that it’s sometimes necessary to use lethal force against an attacker. Regardless of which view is correct, there are three things every Christian can agree on.
First, we should never own a gun out of fear. We serve a King who defeated death when he triumphed over the grave. He is our Savior, Protector, and Judge. He’s our Victor, our Conqueror, and in Him we place our hope. Even in the Old Testament, where violence is sometimes allowed, God’s people were never to trust in their weapons, but in God who supplies the victory. From Genesis to Revelation, it is because our trust is in almighty God that we should have no fear of our opponent. Trusting in a flesh and blood weapon for our victory over evil is tantamount to idolatry. The age-old adage, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” could be spun on its head: “Guns don’t save people—only God does” as in “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt 10:28).
Second, Christians should never think that using a gun against evil is the only way to protect yourself or your family. Pacifists and non-pacifists agree that we should protect our families against harm. They simply disagree on whether violence should be the Christian means of protection. Perhaps using a gun will stop an attacker; perhaps you’ll miss the killer and blow your kid’s head off. Perhaps God will intervene through a prayer; perhaps in His sovereignty, He won’t. There is no method that will guarantee success. Our only guarantee is that Jesus defeated evil through a cross and a tomb, and He will one day raise us from the dead and set all wrongs right.
Third, earthly defeat could mean heavenly success. The Roman Empire defeated Jesus by nailing him to a cross, yet Jesus defeated Rome by being nailed to a cross. The way of God’s kingdom is funny that way. The martyrs of Revelation were slaughtered by Rome, but as John the apostle points out: “They have conquered him,” that is, the devil, “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Rev 12:11). They conquered by dying. This is why Satan hates it when we suffer, and especially when we are martyred. Satan would much rather keep us drunk with comfort and the false security of our guns.
As believers, we can spend their limited time on Earth debating whether we should own guns and use them to shoot our enemy. But one thing is clear: We live in an upside down kingdom, where enemies are loved, suffering leads to glory, and crucified Lambs rule the world. Rather than fight each other, let us pray that in living God’s Word and it is in Him we place our trust and our hope. Give us courage to fear God—and God alone.
Disclaimer: The author’s views are his own and not necessarily those of Rev. Rob Schenck.