After the article I posted “Citizenship in Heaven”, I received a comment on it from a friend. Here are parts of it:
What about taking up arms to protect your wife and children, elderly relatives and friends from roving gangs of hoodlums who’ll laugh in your face as they go through your neighborhoods in the coming rampage in the USA when there are no jobs or money and famine sets in? Do we shoot them? I simply couldn’t stand idly by and watch this happen to my family without fighting back the best way possible. At my age that would be with a shotgun or .45… This is not clear to me in the Bible. The subject is painted with “too broad a brush!” I just can’t see allowing that to happen. But I agree with you on the idea of not taking on the United States government. But there does seem to be a difference here. I just think this is a much more complicated issue than only having two sides to it. I believe we should defend our own. Now a government edict, that’s different. But roving gangs of bloodthirsty mobs…? Sorry… Just my opinion, – God bless you Mark, -John
And, yes, he’s right. In one place Jesus even said, “A strong man, armed, keeps his goods in peace.” (Luke 11:21) But He went on to say, “When a stronger than him comes, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and he spoils all his goods.” (Luke 11:22) And the favorite one of the gun lobby here in America is where Jesus, towards the end of His ministry, told his disciples “He that has no sword, let him buy one”. (Luke 22:36) Then when the high priest and his men came to take Jesus, it says Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant.(John 18:10) Whereupon Jesus told Peter, “Put up your sword, for they that live by the sword shall die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) And then Jesus replaced the ear of the high priest’s servant.
What does that have to do with us 2000 years later? First, I can tell the ones of you who are reading this outside the US that this is a very serious question for many here. The USA currently has one gun for every man, woman and child in the country. There’s a vast gun culture here and they’re used in crimes of all kinds every day.
This is an enormous subject. I suppose I agree with what John wrote that, as Jesus said, “The good shepherd gives his life for his sheep.” (John 10:11) If someone is in a situation where intruders or mobs come to your house to take your family and your lives, then I think there’s Scriptural evidence enough to say that you’re within your rights to defend your life and your family.
But here’s the problem with saying that. From this particular example of an exceptional situation can grow the justification for keeping huge arsenals of weapons in the homes of Christians with the excuse that it’s all there to defend their family. And the culture of guns, self defense, militias and all that grows until it becomes the totally predominate philosophy of that house, or neighborhood or culture.
In the history of Christianity, that’s not been the hallmark of great Christian individuals or nations. By leaning on the arm of the flesh and physical means, Christians are turned away from the true armor of God and the protection He would have us hold dearest. There are so many historic examples of families, individuals, societies and nations who cultivated their spiritual weapons and their relationship with the Lord and the Lord delivered them from marauders, mobs or invasions.
I’m sure many of you know these verses from the Bible but I’ll share just a few here. “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the tearing down of strongholds” (II Corinthians 10:3). Or perhaps the most famous, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) If a Christian family is truly strong in spirit, depending on the Lord and even getting their instructions directly from the Lord, then He can protect and even lead them out of danger before it happens, or “give them a mouth and wisdom that none of your adversaries can refute or resist”. (Luke 21:15)
By putting our first trust in weapons, rather than the power of the Spirit, we actually weaken ourselves in the spiritual and that’s actually where it’s all really happening. Admittedly, millions of American Christians may have already made that decision and turned to carnal weapons as their default choice in the battles that may come in times ahead. So this is a struggle between the flesh and the spirit, spiritual armor or carnal armor. I’m not saying not to defend your flocks if you’re in a situation like that. But if building up weapons stocks and boasting in your arsenal weakens you in the spirit, then you’re not really and truly prepared for the dark ages that may soon come. That’s how it seems to me. “According to your faith be it unto you.” (Matthew 9:29)