Evolving on Guns: Considering the Morality of Gun Ownership Now That I Refuse to Be a Victim
Why did Jesus encourage his disciples to carry a sword?
April 29, 2013 - 9:00 am
Finally, I must consider the moral and biblical case for self-defense. Though I won’t take the time to give the complete explanation, Wayne Grudem’s Politics – According to the Bible cites Luke 22:36-38 and Matthew 26:52 as examples of Jesus encouraging or condoning his disciples’ carrying swords for self-defense:
Most of the time, merely carrying a sword would deter a criminal, who would not want to risk being harmed himself. The sword would also enable a person to defend someone else such as a woman or a child or an elderly person who might be under attack from someone stronger. Another reason for carrying a weapon such as a sword is that it could overcome great inequalities in a size or strength between an attacker and a victim…A third reason why people carried swords is that although the Roman officials and local police were able to enforce the peace in general, there simply would never be enough of them to be on the spot whenever a crime was being committed. The sword would provide protection against violent crime whenever a policeman or soldier was not in sight.
In Roman times individuals carried swords for self-defense as an extension of the civil government. As American citizens, we also have the right (and the responsibility) to provide for our own self-defense when the civil authorities are not available to protect us.
Grudem says that since the Bible authorizes the use of self-defense in general and since Jesus encouraged his disciples to carry a sword to protect themselves, it seems “morally right” to use other weapons, including guns, saying that, “A gun is a great equalizer that offsets huge differences in physical strength. .. No other kind of weapon would give a person that ability.” However, he adds that,
The requirement to act in love toward our neighbors, including even the intruder, implies that the least amount of force required to stop the attack should be used, resulting in the least amount of physical harm to the intruder himself.
Now that I’ve worked through some of these weighty issues, I’m more comfortable with my decision to purchase a gun and provide for my own self-defense at home. If you’re a gun owner or if you are contemplating becoming one for the first time, I urge you to spend some time contemplating the ramifications of that decision beyond just barrel length and caliber. Even though the gun itself is a morally neutral object, if you ever need to use it in an emergency you may need to make a split-second moral decision. If you’ve thought through these issues ahead of time, the right decision will come naturally.