Christian Gun Ownership and Concealed Carry as a Christian Responsibility
By Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
I was at Starbucks and ran across an interesting article on the front page of the NY Times.
Pastor Urges His Flock to Bring Guns to Church
This doesn’t pass the smell test with me. The guy must be a nut. One thing nuts do is seize upon certain narrow ideas and then expand them to the extreme, basically obsessing over them. That’s off balance. It’s basically a certain kind of madness.
As a check on this form of madness, in America, we have a few things: the principle of freedom of speech, the power of human kindness, tough love, common sense, and the rule of law, just to name a few.
This madness can be overcome using a process of thinking that is ruled by precision. That’s why we have other parts of the brain that rightly communicate to us through feeling. Therefore, on a feeling level, I say this just isn’t right. It’s disturbing. No amount of mind chatter or rational talk is likely to change that.
What is your gut feeling to bringing, or showing, weapons at church?
I do not raise the question of whether we have a right to arm ourselves. I simply ask how you feel about people using a sacred place of worship to make a show of their firearms. I’m interested in your simple-honest feeling about it. Comfortable, not comfortable, a lot, a little?
As I said, I’m not comfortable with it at all. I feel it is a corruption and a violation of sacred space not unlike a violent act being done in the bedroom.
There are other gathering places more suitable for the display of implements that are designed to harm and kill others. As I see it, a sacred place is meant for the deepening of sensitivity, character, wisdom, love, compassion, and true understanding within oneself.
When I see people using a sacred place for worldly purposes, that feels like a corruption. Christ had strong feelings about this when he threw the money changers out of the temple. Like the rich priests who were running the temple at the time, the bad behavior they permitted or encouraged can be justified with high sounding talk.
So are you comfortable with how this guy chose to use his church or not? I’m guessing that you are comfortable and perhaps would have done something similar if you were in a position of spiritual leadership. Is that right?
You’ve touched on one of my passions – gun ownership. Every responsible Christian adult should own and carry a gun, be well trained in its skillful use, and be well versed in the circumstances and conditions of its proper moral use. We are a polite society because we are a lawful society, and a society that enforces compliance with righteous and just laws.
(Note: we have reaped the blessings of living in a nation based upon righteous law. God and His Law is the measure of Truth, and in general we prosper to the extent we follow His Way. If the Founders had chosen erroneous principles of public relationship, we would suffer because of that error. Political realities forced the Founders to remain mute on the issue of slavery, and we suffered for that embedded error. Thus, the Founders laid an imperfect Constitutional foundation, but one that was corrected by amendments and sufficiently true to the eternal principles of Godliness that we have prospered more than any nation in history. As we leave the faith of our Founding Fathers, our laws, thoughts, and ways of relationship will change. We will suffer for our departure from True Godliness, and see our prosperity, civility, and felicity fade.)
We are under no obligation to let our bodies, lives, and loved ones be forcefully taken by a person who walks outside of the Law of God. And, without the ability to meet force with force, we are at the mercy of the whims and passions of the passing random flow of mankind. Only a fool would trust his safety to the mercy of evil men. A free will universe allows men to choose both good and evil at every moment. The heart and actions of the man committed to evil, or taken by insanity, change little when we express toward him a peaceful attitude, kind, vulnerable, and trusting gestures, or unilateral disarmament.
Alternatively, a man close to the edge of goodness, in touch with conscience, and able to resist the pull of addictive pleasure may be touched or shocked by the sacrificial gesture of vulnerability. Thus, the need to assess each situation to determine the appropriate response.
We cannot expect that absolute vulnerability will function effectively as a reliable defense in response to deadly force. Using vulnerability as our primary or only defense against force requires that we descend to ever greater depths of impotence to show our absolute harmlessness. If effective, the perpetrator may turn away his attack out of conviction, pity, shock, or disinterest. The criminal may consider a display of love by the victim for the perpetrator’s soul, compassion for the perpetrator’s life circumstances, and understanding of the perpetrator’s inner pain as foolish. Having dismissed the victim’s pleas for mercy, and the victim’s caring concern for the perpetrator’s soul, the perpetrator may then continue with his deadly execution. The perpetrator may see the helpless victim begging for mercy as pathetic and unworthy to live among strong men who live with purpose. The tricks of psychology and spiritual confrontation are inconsistently effective and work only when they touch the perpetrator’s exact point of weakness. Positive projection of love, faith, and goodwill is the equivalent of faith without works is dead without effective action. There is no honor in believing in the power of love, putting yourself in a dangerous situation, and then being slaughtered by a madman who can move as a free will agent to kill you for your gold watch.
As far as open carry of guns in church, this is merely a symbolic gesture, an overt representation of what should be implicit. As righteous people, we should be committed to the defense of righteousness in both faith and action. We should act with power in addition to having faith that God will protect us from harm. I look at church-encouraged open carry as a reparative therapy exercise. As Christians, we need to confront the years of politically correct societal indoctrination in pacifism, appeasement of evil, misinterpretation of turning the other cheek, and pseudo-loving new age “holiness”.
You ask about my inner feeling – my gut hit on this issue. Should the pastor bring guns out in the open, and discuss and demonstrate them in church? Yes, he should, if this is an issue about which the congregation needs to learn. Some areas of the country may be very comfortable and knowledgeable about the distinction between murder and killing in self-defense. Some congregations may be ignorant about the Biblical stand on self-defense, and education on this topic may help the flock mature in a new area of life.
Is it absolutely wrong to bring a gun into a church, and openly carry, discuss or demonstrate their use? No, but as with all things, their discussion, presence and demonstration must be brought into proper decorum, protocol, and resonance with each setting and the spirit of worship. You note that Jesus forcefully threw the money changers from the temple, declaring it a house of prayer, not a den of thieves. The issue was not buying and selling, but the of hypocritical demand by the Pharisees that their sacrifice be pure. The Pharisees forced the pilgrim to change money (at an exorbitant exchange rate), to buy “acceptable” sacrifices (at inflated rates). The Pharisees were using the commands of holiness to manipulate the captive market to purchase products in a monopolistic. It was not the mere fact of people doing a “worldly” activity in a house of prayer. People bring money to church, buy CDs of the sermon, and pay for summer camp in the lobby. The spirit of a thing or activity determines its holiness. There is no holy or unholy object in life, only the spirit that we imprint it with, or the spirits that it evokes from us — both of which we can conquer by dwelling on the holy and resisting the unholy.
You have described guns as agents of death and violence, and that such objects have an inherent disharmonious resonance with a place of worship. But, just like money, guns do not have a spirit or essence that can be labeled as good or bad. Men’s hearts and minds make an object sacred or profane. Guns are objects, tools, physical entities with no inherent fixed spiritual significance or polarity. Just as is the case with all physical objects, the moral polarity of guns depends upon the specific use and intent of the person in each moment. The mind and heart place moral evaluations on objects and God judges whether man has judged properly. A man may have judged rightly or wrongly, but feelings and reason are not the measures of truth. Feelings may be a message from God or from the tempter. Feelings may be messages, habits, and instincts embedded in the nervous system from genetics, previous teaching, experience, or trauma, or a whole-body communication from the throne of God.
The Holy Spirit is the True voice, the conscience, the one who speaks truth into man’s heart. To the extent we are tuned to His voice, we feel correctly. We must continually compare our heart with claims, evidence, inferences and arguments that connect life together in a logical manner. The Holy Spirit always speaks Truth, but we may not hear that still small voice, or mistake the voice of our flesh and mind for the Divine voice. We have been given the Word of God in the Bible, as an example, as a standard by which we may judge circumstances. Thoughts and feelings that contradict a True interpretation of the Bible are temptations to resist. Developing a plan of action at each moment requires us to integrate our full range of faculties including knowledge, experience, skill, understanding, and feeling.
Every moral dilemma involves a conflict between competing virtues. But in any given situation, only a limited number of principles are in conflict. Resolution of a dilemma first requires discovering the primary principle(s) operating in the circumstance. Such is the dilemma of teaching about guns in church. Is it more valuable to focus on developing trust and openness, or teaching strength and defense of boundaries? Each situation has its own specifics that guide our judgment and action at that specific time and place.
In the case of open carry of guns in church, the principle of not disturbing the peace of the parishioners so as to prevent eliciting a state of agitation, fear, distraction, or fascination would be one principle. But, another principle may be the concern for safety, given that a number of church shootings have taken place. If the primary concern at the moment is to bring people to a place of settled peace about survival and proper response to deadly force, then giving a tough-love facts-of-life sermon may be valuable. Giving a demonstration and/or practicum on gun handling and their proper moral use may be an important lesson for individual maturation and understanding of the issue.
Life is a combination of many experiences, challenges, and perspectives. The church is one place to learn lessons from the perspective of the Bible. Any lesson, any object, any thought or behavior can be the object of a lesson. Properly framing the issues of life from God’s perspective, and aligning the feelings to correspond to God’s perspective does, in fact, make a man more holy and unified with the mind of Christ.
Christians should be armed, both inside and out of church. And of course, being armed includes more than carrying a gun. The attitude of self-defense is the ultimate weapon, and it should always be carried. Many objects can be used as weapons. Some objects have a common dedicated use, but intention gives each object its function.
Men of law should be willing to use deadly force in the defense of righteousness when faced with the real and immediate threat to life, regardless of the location. A threat to life may come anywhere – in school, church, post office, home, work, or park. There is no “holy” place free of evil on this earth. There is no place of pilgrimage, no church, and no synagogue or temple with assured security. No place on earth exists where I am absolutely free of the threat of harm. Thus, I must be willing to exert proper defensive force at all times to protect and honor the temple of the body and keep it safe.
The body is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit on earth. We are now livings temples of the Holy God. The criteria for holiness and honor of the spirit of God’s presence should be clean thoughts, speech, and actions. All of life should be worship. There is no time when we are separate from Him, so we should always protect the temple from the invasion of evil, and being used as a tool of evil.
This does not mean that I should remain suspicious and distrustful, tense and fearful, and keep my distance from people. But caution should be exercised before lowering boundaries and giving trust. There are two major categories of threats: 1) Those who harm the body, and 2) Those who harm the soul. We should judge each person on an individual basis and put up appropriate defenses depending on the type and seriousness of the threat. Those who tempt us to corrupt our character can be repelled by rebuke, confrontation, and distance. Those who threaten our bodies with force should be kept at a safe distance and/or behind barriers, or met only when surrounded by allies.
For past violators who have confessed and repented, we should hold no debts of unforgiveness in terms of love. But, we should hold the violator at a safe distance as the new character is proven consistent over time. Violations should be handled by confrontation. Successful confrontation leads to confession, restitution, and repentance. Such gestures of transformation are sufficient to reestablish relationship, and proceed on the path to establishing a close trusting relationship. But, it takes time to re-establish trust and faith in the consistency of newly developing character. Those who have not repented of their violation, should be kept at a safe distance. For intentional and unrepentant violators, protection of our space with arms may be wise.
For those who have neither confessed nor repented of their violation, the debt and right to pay back the violation should be transferred to God. He is the mediator of justice, and can bring circumstances into the life of the violator that can teach him the lessons of righteousness. Transferring the burden of violation can be accomplished by engaging in a full body and mind sharing, reasoning, and crying out to God about the specifics of the violation. Get alone with God and speak it out loud, as you would to your closest and dearest friend. Tell Him the pain, the full story, the doubts and fears, the certainty and judgment. Let Him be a friend, a judge, a counselor, a lover, an avenger, and a healer. Know that He knows our pain, anger, and sense of violation. Feel His heart as He feels our circumstance. When our faith is complete in His justice, mercy and wisdom, He accepts the transfer of authority to repay. All seeds sown will in their season bring a proper fruit and harvest. The world is God’s play. We are His servants, and sheep of His pasture. Our job is to do the job we are capable of doing, and relinquish control over that which we have no power. Let Him resolve those issues through unseen supernatural means. Giving God the power of judgment and responsibility for justice leaves our hearts free and open for love and compassion – attitudes which should be our general attitude toward all men. The feelings of hurt and injustice should be resolved by the end of each day, not letting the sun go down on our wrath.
For those who confess and repent and have full intention of changing habit and character, reestablish relationship, and keep forgiving and reestablishing relationship, even if the contract is broken repeatedly. It takes time to perfect character and performance – we are human, imperfect, and we all need patience while we learn. Turn the other cheek, give coat and tunic, and walk the extra mile for those who take too much, and violate minor boundaries of body and property. Attempt to enroll the violator in the way of righteousness as you are shackled with them while walking that extra mile. Share the principles of truth, reach their hearts by sound argument, and convict them with the kindness of giving sacrificially. Turning the other cheek is inappropriate to the tyrant or robotic force that destroys with machine-like dispassion.
We should love our fellow man and look for the spark of goodness, amplify it, magnify and expect it. But know that man has the potential for being both saint and sinner. The soul-distance at which we should hold another should be governed by proven character, and such trust can only be established over time by proven habitual performance. Open and close boundaries, and establish the proper distance of relationship based on experience.
The Beatles taught us that “Love is all you need”, but it was a failed and incomplete life paradigm. Mahatmas Gandhi organized non-violent protests and brought the British government’s rule to an end. But such a strategy only works when facing a benevolent ruler, or king with a conscience. Neville Chamberlain serves as the iconic illustration of the futility of appeasing a tyrant willing to impose his will on all humanity. The iron fist of the tyrant will not open to shake hands. We now face exactly this situation with North Korea and Iran. In 2009, our President is now replying to insanity with conciliation, weakness, and empty words. Let us pray we do not reap the normal rewards of such foolishness.
Approaching the world with positivity, expecting good, and giving love is a right and Godly life-posture, but it is incomplete to expect that such an approach is sufficient. Faith in love, pacifism, and open-handedness alone will not bring in the age of Aquarius. A free will universe offers each man the opportunity to act in kindness and respect, or to violate another’s space. Each man operates out of his commitment, and he can commit to 1) serving self, or 2) to obeying God’s law, and serving both self and others in a proper mix. The force of habit entrains a man to act in ways somewhat predictable within the limits of chaotic possibility. But, as free will agents, we are not constrained by habit or character, and each of us can turn from good to evil, or evil to good at any moment. Nevertheless, we should strive to habitually embed and train our nervous system with righteous automatic and autonomic responses. To this end, we should continually renew and refresh our commitment to righteousness in thought, speech, and action, while rejecting the unholy and selfish drives of the flesh and temptations of the spirit.
The proprietors or owners of a space may ask its patrons to disarm, but the gun owner may decide in turn whether or not to patronize such an establishment. Sensible disarmament requires a justifiable trust in the safety of a space, and should only be done inside a fortress, or upon delegating defensive protection to another responsible and skillful person. Before we give trust, we must first establish the character and the reason to trust.
To temporarily relinquish the responsibility for self-defense to another, is to transfer the responsibility for my welfare for that time. Life is a gift from God, and its safety should not be put in jeopardy. Church is an open place of fellowship and gathering of all who wish to come. The fact that the meeting is organized around worshiping God is no reason to trust or believe that it is a place of certain safety, especially when it is freely open to sinners and saints alike – Church attendance requires no background check or validation of a man’s commitment to life.
Some of the obvious fallacies of belief about guns, church, and perpetration include:
The person truly in a state of worship of God, and proper relationship with Him should not fear or prepare against perpetration since perfect love casts out fear.
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
Protection and safety should not be an issue in church since every perpetrator fears and respects the place of worship. The church, the sanctuary, is safe because every potential perpetrator would never violate the holy space created by the symbols, message, history, and intent of the worshipers.
The true worshiper, the real man of God, cannot be in a state of vulnerability and sensitive reverent communion with the God of Heaven if he has on a gun on his person.
Men who are willing to defend their lives and those of their loved ones with deadly force are less holy, less in touch with the true nature of God, and unable to be in communion with Him, meditate on His finer spiritual qualities, and put on His nature.
(Note: these scenarios are simply too obvious in their erroneous reasoning to justify explanation, but if you feel they need to be addressed overtly, let me know and I will explain them in the form of argument and justification.)
Obviously, those who choose to rebel against God and His Law can choose to violate defenseless sheep. Church massacres throughout the country and world bear obvious evidence to the fallacy of the theory of absolute church safety. Perpetrators are not intimidated by the fear of God nor do they hold respect for the holiness of the worship space. The church murders bear evidence to the validity of concern for safety and the prudence of carrying in church.
But, the point you make is more subtle than the above obvious fallacies set up as straw men to illustrate the absurd extremes of the criticism of open carry in church. I believe you are criticizing what you perceive as open exultation of weaponry in a space and time where the focus should be on worshiping God and developing an inner sensitivity to His voice.
You are right to make this criticism to the extent that any object, person, thought, or principle can be an idol, a distraction from fixing our minds on the words and way of God, Christ, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. The worship leaders, pastor, teachers, and prayer ministers should all bring focus to making that connection and relationship more personal. They can attempt to minimize distractions, but ultimately the responsibility for focusing the mind on Christ is with the individual in the pew.
I don’t know the method or spirit of presentation of the lesson about guns and open carry at the church referenced in the New York Times article, but from the small amount written about the pastor and his motivation, I saw no error in spirit or protocol.
There may have been some parishioners who were distracted from developing that communion with God because of the new experience of seeing armed men in their worship space.
There may have been some who were overcome by gun lust, obsessed with the feeling of power that carrying can bring.
Some may have been in fear, knowing that every other armed person had the capacity for becoming a perpetrator.
Others may have been in confusion as they tried to integrate the apparent paradoxical teachings of the Bible. The Bible includes the following messages about God, life, and relationship: 1) God is presented alternately as a God of peace and mercy, and a God who commands the killing of an entire people who worship other gods. 2) Jesus teaches to turn the other cheek. 3) Later he rebukes Peter with a warning that those who live by the sword will die by the sword. 4) Still later Jesus gives the command to go out in the world and carry a sword, because His disciples will be judged as wrong, evil, and a transgressor, just as He was.
Your comments appear to carry the tone of declaring a Truth about the fact of what it means to carry a gun, what worship is, what state we should be in, and what state one is in when carrying a gun. These are all possible facts of individual emotional mental-emotional reality. A person could in fact be obsessed with death, fear, and/or power, and this would of course be a distraction. But, on a qualitative level, thinking about guns is no more or less of a distraction than thinking about the screaming kid in the church service, dwelling on lunch, worrying about finances, eying the cute girls in the choir, comparing your dress with others, falling asleep, or disagreeing with the teaching. Guns can be a distraction from the message or the inner meditation on God, but just like all other temptations, we must ultimately take every thought captive. We must discipline the mind to properly frame every object, word, and thought. That is the place of holiness.
You said: “There are other gathering places more suitable for the display of implements that are designed to harm and kill others. As I see it, a sacred place is meant for the deepening of sensitivity, character, wisdom, love, compassion, and true understanding within oneself.”
Your level of certainty seems very high that guns are agents of death and that such objects are incompatible with a contemplation of the subtle aspects of Truth, Godliness, righteousness, and the relationship with our creator God. And, with this certainty, I disagree. The temptation to dwell on such issues may be strong and broadly felt, but there is no actual underlying essence or nature to guns which makes them incompatible objects with deepening sensitivity to the nature of God and self and developing Godly character by learning the lessons of life and wisdom from scripture. There is no logical or necessary disconnect between the physical act of carrying a weapon while seeking to understand the application and generation of the feeling of love for self, others, and God, having compassion for the evil that overtakes men and makes others victims, and dividing all of these traits accurately within the mind and spirit.
Your argument is one of “place”, that the venue of a church is unsuitable for the display of weapons of destruction. And, to a large extent, you are correct. Most of the time, the lessons examined in the church context do not involve extreme threats to life. Most of the time there is no need to overtly address our use the tools objects of defense in the space and time dedicated to worshiping God. Nevertheless, defense, just like politics and sexuality are life skills, considerations, and lessons a well rounded Christian should be prepared to place in proper context.
In your criticism, you do not leave room for the possibility that there may be a time for considering guns in church as an object lesson about life. You have given a strong level of “isness” to guns, and given an almost inflexible meaning to the wearing, displaying, and/or teaching about, guns in church. You have declared that guns in church rise to the level of a definite violation of sacred space. But rather than using such strong terms, you have attempted to disguise your judgment of the “wrongness” with words such as “suitable”. Thus, while you declare yourself to be a man who sees the unity in all things, you have made a hard line of value judgment by declaring that the essential being and nature of guns is incompatible with the worship of a Holy God. This judgment confronts the issue of the inherent nature of a “thing”.
In contrast with your monopolar, inflexible, judgmental attitude toward guns in church, I propose that there is a time and place for everything. There is a time to kill and a time to heal, a time for every purpose under heaven. And having said that, we must then immediately recognize that man is not the measure of all things. A man’s attitude does not sanctify adultery, false witness, idolatry, etc. A man’s ignorance of sin may lesson the severity of the consequence or repercussion, but there are absolutes and God places boundaries and limits on the full freedom and expression of humanity.
Carrying and consideration of guns in church does not rise to the level of a 10 Commandment type of prohibition. Rather, this particular object and activity has an association with the commandment, “Thou shalt not murder”. Thus, each man must mature in his establishment of a proper boundary between an unGodly violation of the Law, and a righteous defense of life. By properly discriminating the application of the spiritual forces surrounding each object, a thing may be seen as sacred or vulgar, and its proper use in the execution of life or death, sin or sanctification. God is the measure of harmony, resonance, and perfection, and the fruit of each moment will bear witness to the accuracy of our judgment.
Ultimately, the point of the sermon on guns is that each man must bring his mind under control, see his weapon as a tool of righteous use rather than an object of obsession, idolatry, or unrighteous purpose.
Regarding the distraction of guns from our meditation on holiness, we must bring our generative and eliminative organs with us to worship, but we place them in proper place, neither obsessing about, nor ignoring them. In fact, the lesson of the day may concern using them properly, resisting their improper use, and sanctifying these important functions in our relationship with God and life.
Guns are not idols to be worshiped, they are not objects to be feared, rather they are tools that must be used properly to protect life from unrighteous violation. Their use is best trained and framed in the sacred setting. Properly employed, guns are tools used for the purpose of saving and protecting innocent life by stopping a perpetrator. Improperly used, they can murder and unjustly take life for selfish purposes. There are few lessons with the gravity of properly understanding the commandment, “Thou shalt not murder.” If the preacher wishes to teach using object lessons and illustrate with audience participation, such choice has no moral implications. There is a time, place, and protocol for each morally neutral action and object.
It appears that you have a particular idea about what church “is” and “should” be, and that guns in that space is an absolutely incompatible and dissonant concept. My experience and belief is that church is a place of fellowship, education, and worship. God can be found anywhere, even in a guitar, sunset, or elephant. The object is a vehicle through which man and life relate. A more full nature of God can be seen in the totality of all natural and mental-emotional-spiritual interactions. The creation reflects the Creator.
One of the challenges of spiritual growth is to relate properly with all people and things. There is a divine order to all things. There is a proper way of being at every moment, by everything, and person, which is defined by the divine. Guns are physical representation of an underlying essence beyond the world of substance and structure, but intimately connected with it. Every object, at every level of dimension, represents and forms a type of spirit, and the nature of each innately requires a particular relationship protocol. This complex cast of object and life spirits interrelate to dictate the dance, rhythm, and music of life. God has populated a universe teeming with spiritual forces, all with their own life and force of will and nature. Thus, the incredible diversity and uniqueness of each moment of life configuration. We can never rest on our past victories or mastery of a particular type of life scenario. Rather, we must live life in constant communion with the the Holy Spirit, which is alternately recognized as the conscience, the gut feeling, inspiration, and the still small voice. We must integrate the leading of the heart, the reason of the head, and the knowledge of the general principles of the way of Godliness with a proper perception of the actual spirits in play at any given moment. And, given the limited processing power of the human mind, the hazy perception of our spiritual vision, and the power of influence of the spirits of the flesh, we are prone to make both moral errors and errors of judgment. Which is the reason for mercy, atonement, and persistence in the development of righteous character.
The relationship with God is the fundamental relationship in life. But, His extent is too large and abstract to relate to His fullness. Thus, God came to live in human form as Jesus, giving us a tangible connection to the intangible God. His incarnation gave us an example of a life lived within the law, while facing the temptations of the flesh. Jesus lived righteously but was condemned and executed without justification, which allowed Him to give flesh and meaning to the metaphors established throughout the history of Israel.
The firstborn, male lamb, without spot or blemish, was offered up as a sacrifice for the remission of sins.
Where the blood of the Passover lamb was placed on the doorpost and the death angel passed by.
Without the shedding of blood it is impossible for the remission of sins.
Jesus died, returned to the Father, and in His place sent the Holy Spirit as our personal counselor in the ways of righteous speech, thought, and action. From Him we learn or feel the ways of perfection, and learn to love each person and object. We learn from the instruction of the written word, the leading of heart and conscience, and the feedback of pain and pleasure resulting from the flesh to flesh contact with life.
The objects, people, and circumstances of life embody a complex of spirits that interact around principles, desires, aversions, pathways and obstacles in the physical and spiritual world. Participating in this dynamic, we learn the lessons of life that reveal the proper ways of being toward people, things, and God. The objects, people, and circumstances of life challenge us to acquire skill in properly manipulating them in their various modes of operation. Every moment of life is simultaneously a lesson, entertainment, relationship, and the substance of eternity, where each moment is sacred. In this theory, God is always present, in all places and times. But in each place and time we may choose to focus on a narrow subset of the totality of lessons. At the orchestral symphony we may study the rhythm and harmonies and our visceral empathy with these inborn and acquired tastes. In athletics, we may focus on competition, excellence, skill, strategy, and overcoming personal limits. In church we may focus on the principles of Godliness and the meditation on His presence and love. Life is a seamless interconnection of spiritual force and relationship, and any lesson can be learned through sincere participation in any field of life experience. Thus, regardless of the focus of the lessons presented at each scene, chapter, or life epoch, all lessons are present, at some level, all the time.
Regarding the use of deadly force, each person must learn the distinction between murder and righteously using lethal force to protect innocent life. The wise teacher instructs the flock and gives lessons they can easily understand and apply to their daily lives. The spiritual teacher should educate the flock in understanding the moral distinctions associated with various situations and moral dilemmas. There are venues more appropriate than the traditional church setting to develop the actual skill and comfort in handling arms.
But, the location of worship is arbitrary. Men may choose to assemble and acknowledge God anywhere. In war, that place may be in a foxhole, under the cover of a tank, or in the armory. Regardless of the location, regardless of the armament carried, God is present, and men need only lift their hearts and minds toward Him, and the ground is holy.
Every field of knowledge has its academic and practical components; consider for example the study of medicine and the cadaver lab, flight school and flying. Likewise, the spiritual teacher should teach both the academic and theoretical aspects of spiritual life, as well as the practical application of that knowledge as it applies to a wide variety of life circumstances. In that vein, the proper use of firearms is an important topic for consideration by the Christian man. This lesson includes making the distinction between murder and self-defense. Within this consideration is a proper understanding of boundaries, the sanctity of life, and God’s Law with regard to making the decision to righteously take another’s life.
By teaching lessons that authorize men to engage in righteous and Godly self-defense, and giving men the absolute right to use deadly force to protect life, we can break the culture of Christian political-cultural impotence. Christianity is a religion of relationship, how to be with another man and relate in a Godly way. By presenting Christianity as a religion of sweet love only, the church can quickly degenerate into a culture of co-dependent enabling. When we ignore instruction in tough love, we allow bad behavior to proliferate without correction. Response to attempted murder with deadly force is the ultimate in tough love. When we stop the murder-intent perpetrator from completing his goal by wounding or killing him, we have saved his soul from the spiritual consequences that proceed naturally from such actions.
Those who purposely attempt murder, deserve the fruit of the seed they sow, and any such attempt should be stopped. A harmless termination of the threat is best, but in the face of lethal force, a gun may be the only force strong and quick enough to stop the progression toward the death of innocent life.
The pressure to make a proper judgment in the case of the armed citizen is high, the time short, and the data limited. But, responding with deadly force is righteous to save innocent life. Summary execution of the murderer is a service to God and an honorable execution of His Law.
To consciously choose to allow the perpetrator to continue to murder, and to refuse to stop the slaughter when the tool of termination is available, is to be party to the perpetration. The man who judges self-protection as wrong and unGodly, has made the unspoken moral judgment that victimization without response at the hands of a perpetrator is of greater holiness, greater righteousness, and a more perfect moral choice than stopping the violation.
Arming myself does not provide absolute protection against harm. But using the argument of statistics, I can take my place as one of many in an armed society committed to containing perpetration. When evil people know that transgression will be met with probable forceful resistance, many will choose to restrain themselves rather than suffer near-certain retaliation. In a society where responsible and righteous adults arm themselves, those beyond conscience and care of consequence will meet with summary justice. The wise and courageous spiritual teacher will communicate this important life lesson to his flock.
The ability to meet force with equal force gives men the freedom to act and move at the limits of righteousness. Those who would un-righteously limit the freedom of an armed people should meet with effective resistance.
In a situation of assured safety, little attention need be given to personal safety. But, in a more threatening situation, worshiping while armed frees the attention to focus on God and the lessons of Godliness. Knowing that I can respond to a deadly threat places me at the same level as the perpetrator, and gives me the option of response.
We are the sheep of His pasture. To live is an opportunity to be in relationship with Christ, both as student and witness. We should not love our lives above all else, but life is a gift and responsibility, and we should honor the trust. To die is gain, because we return to a better place, but there is a time for all things. To die protecting life, my own or others, is honorable. But, my power to defend myself, even if knowledgeable and well trained in the use of deadly force, is a small power compared to His might. This comparison by itself, of my power with His, brings me into a humility and worship of His majesty. I must remain humble before the awesome and unfathomable power and mystery of God Almighty.
Ultimately I must rely on His protection to organize life safely and guide me to avoid threatening and dangerous circumstances. Even so, there are times when evil emerges, and times when I might be called upon to act as God’s hands extended. Just as the child born blind for the purpose of God’s power being manifested, we may encounter adversity that ultimately gives Him glory. We should all be prepared, and committed, to answer God’s call to service.
Good and evil stand in stark contrast as poles of life possibility. As a son committed to righteousness, I must be willing to defend or attack as required. As an armed citizen, I may be able and called to respond to some threats. The offensive armed campaign is typically a military operation, and every able-bodied citizen should be trained at arms. A requirement of citizenship should include belonging to a well-organized militia to defend against enemies, foreign and domestic.
Jesus advocated going out into the world armed.
Luke 22: 35 And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” So they said, “Nothing.” 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. “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.” So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.”
Carrying a gun or a sword is a metaphor for being willing to defend against unrighteous violation of my space or the space of those I love. The polarity of lawfulness is unlawfulness, and there are times when unlawfulness is so extreme in its virility that the violation justifies the use of deadly force. Those times are not frequently encountered in polite society, but as our society loses its Judeo-Christian ethic, and the underlying commitment to the patterns of behavior that reflect true Godliness, we have a loosening of the moral boundaries that restrain behavior.
The current anti-gun lobby have used arguments against being armed, owning and carrying concealed based on arguments such as:
“X” number of people are killed by guns per year by accidents.
Guns should be carried by law enforcement and others who are trained and authorized to use them. T
The 2nd amendment did not intend to include private citizens, only the military.
Guns should be used for hunting, not for self-defense.
The politically correct pacifist and spiritual person can use arguments that are more emotive, such as:
It makes me feel uncomfortable to be around guns.
Carrying weapons into church is violating the sacred space of worship.
Guns should not be used for hunting, animals are alive, have rights, and we are committing murder if we kill and eat them.
The world will be a more peaceful place if everyone just lays down their arms.
All these arguments could be argued and the error of that position exposed. But, I shall choose to only confront the issue of peace versus strength. Commonly this argument is used only in the context of national defense, but it applies on the level of the individual and interpersonal interaction also.
When a person or nation wishes to overtake the space of another, it is possible to maintain peace by capitulating to slavery. At some point, surrendering freedom for peace is too high a price, small interpersonal surrenders are required, but on the larger scales, and the greater sacrifices, the trade of the one virtue for the other will result in a net degradation of life quality. Peace is the fruit of men living together in righteousness, it is not the ultimate goal of life – nor is any other virtue to be exalted as the supreme irrevocable and unalterable principle around which all of life revolves. Worship of a virtue in the absence of a context becomes idolatry, and peace, like any of the other virtues, can only be evaluated in the larger view, the environment, and context where the other virtues compete for their proper place. In this example, we only consider the competition between freedom and peace, but this principle should be applied widely when making value and moral judgments.
When men use force to invade another’s space, and take more than their due, there a degradation of the quality of the resultant peace, even if we submit without resistance. The value of freedom and ownership of property is spoken most clearly by the pain felt in body, mind, and spirit when denied. God has programmed the soul to defend, own, and love that for which we have traded labor and bonded with. The inner peace we seek arises when the heart finds satisfaction injustice and hope. The external peace between self, neighbors, and nations comes only when men accept their current state, work for a better tomorrow, receive the just reward of their labor, and rest in the hope of justice to remedy the temporary inequities.
Peace is not the highest of virtues – it stands as only one of gods in the pantheon of virtues, which includes righteousness, lawfulness, justice, tolerance, and freedom – all of which spring from the same fount of Godliness. Peace is a fruit of right living, it cannot be superimposed upon life without the supporting structures of justice and lawfulness. Again, the Lawfulness which underlies peace is the perfect way of being that is defined by God and is the perfect will of God for the ways of man.
The question you raise is, “Is it right to defend against violation of space?” Or stated another way, “Is it an Absolute Good, to allow violation so that peace is not disturbed by retaliation in defense?”
These questions illustrate well the issues surrounding carrying and being willing to use deadly force. My answer is, “We are unrighteous, and accomplices of evil if we capitulate for the purpose of living in peace.”
The early comers to this country used their guns to survive. They had ideas similar to yours, that guns and spirituality are incompatible, and tried not taking their weapons to church. But, when their enemies realized that the settlers were unarmed and vulnerable while in church, they used that time to attack them. As a result, the early colonial legislators passed laws requiring males to carry guns at all times. This included church. When armed, they were ready to repel an attack from mad dogs or unfriendly Indians.
Today, we live in a somewhat more tame environment, but certainly not one without the threat of meeting deadly force. As a result, few people exert the effort and expense of training, arming themselves, and carrying heavy iron. In general, we have delegated the duty of responding to aggression to the police. But, the realities of a sudden violent attack is that police are not personal bodyguards. And even though they are committed to protect and serve, when seconds count, the police are minutes away.
We face the same issue at church today when madmen attack pastors and parishioners in churches. Without arms, the faithful are a docile captive audience, unable to defend themselves against the wolf. The lawful righteous religion of peace and love has been besmirched as Jesus predicted, “They will treat you like the worst of transgressors when your righteousness pricks their evil consciences.”
Psalm 2:1 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure:
The universe was created with the poles of good opposing evil, where Christ/Jehovah established the measure of the perfected man. God allows both polarities, but desires that all follow the ways of life. The play of life requires that we find goodness, and the Bible gives us clues as to the patterns of right life, but we must discern the specifics of goodness in each situation. And, to complicate the game, and make it truly a challenge of commitment to loving the way of God, He has configured the universe to allow evil to disguise itself as good and desirable. Evil has seduced the nations to rage against the God of Heaven, preferring the taste of sin and its temporal pleasure to the discipline and long term reward coming from following His Law.
The Bible depicts lovers of lawlessness as self-confident fools, believing in peace and love, without a basis in Righteous Law. But peace cannot come without adherence to God’s laws.
The flower children of the 60s grew up, but remained under the spell of the Marxist and New Age illusions of utopia. Their erroneous doctrines if imposed upon the nation will destroy its foundations. And, central to the revolution is the disarmament of those who would resist the imposition of the shackles of a New World Order. The ability to resist with force is the only actual deterrent to tyranny and serfdom.
The fabric of the Judeo-Christian culture erodes daily, with its shackles of slavery forged of legislation codifying the enforcement of the Godless laws and their futile schemes to organize men to behave as mindless lotus-eaters to inhabit the utopia of their imagination. The useful idiots who have grown dependent upon the largesse of government have faithfully given their votes to those who enable their dependent lives.
In service of the revolution, they attempt to remove dissent, and abridge the freedom of speech with doublespeak legislation such as “the fairness doctrine”. The freedom of the press has already been largely co-opted by the government-media alliance whose biased reporting is just propaganda disguised by a thin patina of reporting both sides. The “Hate Crimes” legislation gives teeth to the enforcers who wish to criminalize speech advocating righteous and Godly sexuality. Judicial activism has already declared that the rights of privacy trump the codification of Biblical sexuality in the Lawrence v Texas decision.
A nation that violates God’s Law will eventually be destroyed.
Leviticus 20:22 ‘You shall therefore keep all My statutes and all My judgments, and perform them, that the land where I am bringing you to dwell may not vomit you out. ‘And you shall not walk in the statutes of the nation which I am casting out before you; for they commit all these things, and therefore I abhor them.
Even the earth vomits out the unGodly and Lawless. We can only rely on God’s protection in such days. Only God can deliver the Godly, and those who trust in Him will be delivered in the Day of the Lord. The wicked will see the rewards and the fruits of their own actions. Sadly, the whole world will suffer terribly as a consequence of their foolishness and rebellion. Mankind will become rare when the rotten fruit of the wicked comes to full maturity. Fools, thinking themselves wise, will cause the earth to be destroyed. Resisting God’s Law is futile, but the Godless have been seduced and truly believe that opposing God’s Law is Right. Their strong delusion has left them fully convinced of the Truth of their secular-New Age doctrine, and its promise of producing an age of peace, harmony, and understanding. Without Godliness in the heart of every man, there will be no peace.