God and Guns: A Biblical Worldview Analysis of the Second Amendment and Self-Defense

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Christians can confidently defend the Second Amendment in America because we know that the values and morals which lie beneath the right to keep and bear arms are biblical — the value of human life, the right to defend it, and the goodness of protecting our family and freedoms.”

WILLIAM WOLFE

Introduction

The topic of guns and the Second Amendment is in the news regularly these days. Or you might say the “problem with guns” if you are listening to mainstream media outlets. After every mass shooting, the same, predictable debate on gun control vs. the Second Amendment ensues. The progressive left claims we need “gun control” and that the Second Amendment was never intended to provide access to “military-grade weapons.” Defenders of the Second Amendment, often the conservative right, remind the country that the issue is not our right to keep and bear arms but rather a host of other societal factors (fatherlessness, antidepressants, the failure of public schools, etc.) that influence people towards committing mass shootings.

Before we go any further, as Christians, we have to recognize how sensitive this topic can be. While I am going to argue that Christians should support the Second Amendment and practice self-defense, that doesn’t mean that we don’t grieve the loss of life every time a mass shooting occurs. We are commanded to “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). Every time we witness an act of violence, and every time that innocent blood is shed, we should lament the loss of life and mourn for the victims and the families of the victims. But that does not mean that in our mourning we should jettison biblical thinking or our Bill of Rights. Jesus also instructed His disciples to be “as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

It should also be noted that many people have never even read the Second Amendment. Because of that, let me provide it now as a reference point:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The key phrase for our consideration is the second part: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The Founding Fathers, fresh from their victory over England in the American Revolution, knew that an armed citizenry was essential to preserving true liberty, especially against tyrants. The same holds true today. Christians should be informed citizens. That begins with knowing what our rights, as Americans, as citizens, as human beings, actually are — and not what the media tries to tell us that they are. For the Second Amendment, this means knowing that the right to bear arms isn’t a right that the government “grants” to us, and therefore one that it can modify or take away at any time. No, in America, under the Constitution, the citizenry possesses this right inherently, and the government is restricted from interfering in our exercise of this right.

Finally, what is a biblical worldview, and why do we need one for this topic? Well, Christians should have one for every political topic. A biblical worldview simply means filtering everything we encounter in life through the teaching of Scripture. The Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council defines it like this: “We believe a person exhibits a biblical worldview when their beliefs and actions are aligned with the Bible, acknowledging its truth and applicability to every area of life.”

In other words, a biblical (or Christian) worldview means that we let God’s Word get the final say over our beliefs, opinions, and actions — even when it comes to politics. It’s the practical outworking of the command in Luke 10:27 to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.”

How, then, should Christians apply a biblical worldview to guns? Here are three points of consideration:

1. A biblical worldview reminds us that guns aren’t evil, people are.

While the world is confused about the nature and source of evil, Christians are not. We know that evil doesn’t reside inside the cold chamber of a gun, but rather in the beating hearts of mankind. Jesus makes this very clear in Matthew 15:19 when He says, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”

Evil comes from our hearts, not from what we hold in our hands — whether that is a fork, a knife, a rock, or a gun.

We read in Genesis 3 that since sin came into the world (and with it, death), mankind has been capable of committing acts of evil and harm. The very first man ever born, Cain, killed his brother. The issue wasn’t whatever instrument Cain ultimately used to kill Abel, but it was that Cain had allowed sin to take over his heart.

A gun is simply an inanimate instrument. It is a weapon, yes, but what matters is how it is wielded — and who wields it. A gun can be used for either good or evil purposes. When American soldiers used their guns to liberate the prisoners from Nazi death camps, they were doing good. Christians must understand this. The media tries to display guns as if it is the gun itself that is “scary” or “bad.” But that just isn’t true. In fact, law-abiding and virtuous citizens often use guns to protect themselves and their communities and prevent further injury or death in tragic circumstances, such as home invasions, retail robberies, or incidents of physical attack.

It might sound cliché, but it’s true: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. This is, in fact, a deeply Christian statement. And it stands the test of a biblical worldview when it comes to these issues.

2. The ability to use self-defense shows the value of human life.

In Genesis 9, God commands Noah to ensure that, in the post-flood world, life is valued and protected. He does this by instituting the death penalty for those who kill their fellow man. We read, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6).

Another way to put it is like this: If someone seeks to kill another human being, an image-bearer, they forfeit their own life. If it is just to take a life in response to murder, it is just to defend oneself against the attempted murder, even to the point of taking the life of the attacker. This principle is affirmed in Exodus 22:2 and even extended to the protection of private property: “If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed.”

While the modern world contains different tools for self-defense (guns, rather than swords or staffs) the principle remains the same.

Jesus even encouraged His disciples that a time would come (and had come) when they should arm themselves for the purpose of self-defense. In Luke 22:37, we read that Jesus said, “But now 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.”

If it was unbiblical for a follower of Christ to “bear arms” then Jesus would never have commanded His disciples to purchase a sword.

Remember, God also commands Christians to be wise. We see this all through the book of Proverbs. That wisdom is first and foremost oriented towards knowing God and serving Him rightly — the wisdom of and for salvation. But it is also a wisdom for how to live best in God’s created world. If you are a single woman, exercising your Second Amendment right to bear arms by owning and carrying a gun is a very wise thing to do; it enables you to protect yourself from much stronger and larger attackers, should you need to do so. A husband and/or father who has guns in his house isn’t a radical or a revolutionary, but rather a wise man who has taken efforts to protect and provide for his family (1 Timothy 5:8).

Because God values innocent human life, we should too. One of the ways we show that we share this value as Christians is by defending our right to self-defense — and that includes our right to own, carry, and if need be, use a gun to do so.

3. The Second Amendment secures our other freedoms, including religious liberty.

One of the best pro-gun organizations in America is the group Gun Owners of America. In an interview, its executive director, Erich Pratt, put it well when he stated:

“The Second Amendment is about liberty. It is about freedom, and it’s about securing a God-given right that every man and woman has to protect themselves and their families. Not only against bad guys but also against bad guys with badges. Ultimately the Second Amendment is about defense against tyranny. But certainly, it includes the right to protect yourself in your comings and goings.”

This is important for Christians to realize. The Second Amendment isn’t just about our freedom to own guns; it’s the safeguard of every other freedom we have in America, including our First Amendment freedom of religious liberty.

Yes, the Second Amendment allows us to protect ourselves from criminals. But it also equips America’s citizenry to defend themselves, and their livelihood, from the government should the government ever become truly tyrannical.

As Christians, we believe that we are commanded to gather together in worship of the Triune God (Hebrews 10:24). We also believe that the government is mandated, by God, to “wield the sword” against evil-doers (Romans 13:1-7). However, human history and the present day are full of examples of governments that refuse to let Christians worship freely and instead wield the sword against otherwise peaceful citizens. We would be foolish to assume that can’t happen in America. Owning guns is a life insurance policy against a dark future that looks more like China than Texas.

Here in America, we just celebrated the Fourth of July, remembering the day on which the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. The only way that the American colonists were able to defend their freedoms from the British, and form a new nation, was because they were armed.

The Second Amendment is the foundation for all of our other freedoms in America. If you take it away, the entire Bill of Rights — our freedom for speech, religion, assembly, privacy, right to a trial by jury, etc. — could all come crashing down overnight. Christians are commanded by God to love our neighbors (Mark 12:31). To love our neighbors is to fight for what’s good for them, both spiritually and physically, both eternally and politically. This means Christians should continue to defend the Second Amendment and fight against any efforts to weaken it or infringe upon the right of American citizens to keep and bear arms. The future of our freedoms depends on it.

Conclusion

While increasingly controversial in the age of mass shootings, the right to bear arms is something that Christians should continue to support wholeheartedly. Why? Primarily because we know, as Christians, that the problem is never in any given instrument or weapon, but rather the real issue is the problem of sin in the human heart: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Jesus taught that it isn’t what is external to a man that is the cause of sin, whether that be an unclean food or an AR-15; rather, evil comes from what is internal to us, our hearts (Mark 7:20). To put it bluntly, Christians of all people should know that if guns are banned, only the bad guys will have guns. Why? Because law-abiding citizens will honor the law, even if it is unconstitutional.

We also know that the right to self-defense is intrinsic to the value of human life, as taught by God in the Bible (Genesis 9:6). The Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms, secures for our citizenry all the freedoms of the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly, and petitioning the government.

No doubt, many issues plague our nation: fatherlessness, the increased use of anti-depressants, broken homes, the rise of social media, the glorification of violence, our failed public school system, and the secular left’s effort to get God out of our public square, to name a few. It’s more than fair to argue that these are the factors contributing to mass shootings — not the Second Amendment. As Christians, we must be people who seek the good of our city and nation (Jeremiah 29:7). We do this by fighting for the truth in our personal lives and in public policy.

Christians can confidently defend the Second Amendment in America because we know that the values and morals which lie beneath the right to keep and bear arms are biblical — the value of human life, the right to defend it, and the goodness of protecting our family and freedoms.

Therefore, Christians should advocate for the Second Amendment and, whenever possible, vote to preserve our right to bear arms. In doing so, we are raising our children in safety and security and fully embracing both the risks and responsibilities that come with the freedoms found in a self-governing nation that still claims, for the time being, to be under God.


Follow William on Twitter! @William_E_Wolfe