There are quite a few people who are having problems with me posting a video of my son Will shooting our AR-15 (a rifle) on Facebook.
The question is should Christians, in America, own guns or support the right to own guns?
The Second Amendment reads this: “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.”
I didn’t quote the 2nd Amendment merely as an introduction to remind people of it, but because I believe a very sad fact: most Americans have never even read it or really thought about it.
The hearts and minds of America (and American Christians) must be won first through education. Most Americans have very little notion of what America is all about, what Bono, the rock star Irishman, calls “the idea of America.” And the idea of America includes the right to bear arms and, as I will argue, something beyond this.
It is interesting that Jesus in Luke 22:35ff tells the apostles to get a sword. Now, I, personally, would not claim this is an exact parallel to the idea of the 2nd Amendment, but it does have some bearing on whether citizens can have a sword (an instrument of death).
In the book of Romans we are told to obey our government. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1). If we do not obey, we should fear the consequences as the government does not “bear the sword for nothing” (Roman 13:4).
The government “bearing the sword” does not in any way exclude citizens from having one. In fact, the passage might very well assume that citizens carry swords also. The idea here has to do with whether or not the government should be able to exact penalties for criminal activity, even the penalty of death. Paul’s assumption is that this is an obligation the government bears.
However, any time the government no longer functions as a legitimate government, the higher law, a natural law, the “Lex Rex” (King Law or “the law is king”) says that people have the right and obligation to overthrow such government. Aren’t we supposed to submit to the government? However, this assumes that the government in question is a legitimate government. It is hard to know where to draw the line from a biblical standpoint (and I have no intention of exploring that question here), but from the standpoint of our government that “we the people” set up and rule over, this is an obligation we carry.
Because of our biblical obligation to the government expressed by Paul in Romans 13, I would say that owning a gun is something that goes beyond just a right, it is imperative to the well-being of our county. Notice this again in the 2nd Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” “Militia” is a term that may bring up misunderstanding. People will no doubt think of a rouge of hillbilly nuts who hate the government and form their group to create a cult whose purpose is to disturb or destroy our government. This is not what is meant. What is meant is a group of people who love America, whether or not they agree with the policies of any particular presidential administration or the rulings of any Supreme Court. These are citizens who are intent on obeying the government by keeping the government in check. What an incredibly unique and necessary situation our forefathers set up. Not only are there checks and balances in the three branches of our government, there are also checks and balances of power between the formal government and the people. Our forefathers knew all too well how unguarded governments can and most often do turn into tyrannical messes. And they wrote as one of the first amendments something to deter tyranny.

This is a question that I have wrestled with over the last few years. I sympathize with it and was at one time persuaded that the 2nd Amendment’s original intent was void due to it’s impracticality. After all, what can hand guns and rifles do against jets, submarines, drones, and tanks? Not much if it is a person lining up against a jet. However, this is not how it would play out. If the majority of American citizens have guns, it would be much different than you think. First, once tyranny starts, it starts slowly. Once the government moves in this direction, it would attempt to disarm citizens. Adolf Hitler famously gave these rules:
“The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So let’s not have any native militia or native police.” (Adolf Hitler, Dinner Talk on April 11, 1942)
So, the government would not just send jets to all the houses who have guns, it would start slowly and locally. This would pit local militias against governmental law enforcement. If we have guns, courage, and discipline, we would probably win this first stage and take many strongholds in the local government. Then, the government has to count the cost of going against this heavily armed “army” we have created. With this situation, the government would more than likely back down as they would have to essentially destroy much or most of their own people. But if they did continue in their ideology, they would have to send in troops to all the houses, farms, and cities as drone, missile strikes, and fighter jets can only do so much. And they would probably fare about as well as Britain did in the Revolutionary War or we did in Vietnam. But (and this is the point of the Constitution), if we bear arms, it would never get to this point.
In fact, to put this in perspective, I could imagine a situation where our Government supported a branch in our military that was a “militia” branch, being trained and dedicated to stop tyranny on the federal level. I believe that this would be quite in line with the 2nd Amendment.
I believe that there is a responsibility for us to have this kind of power immediately available to all Americans. The truth be told, if there are any Christians who have a hard time with this (and I know there are and I do sympathize with the objections), we must understand that to obey Romans 13, we must, at the very least, support the right to bear arms. When we go against, we may do so because of conscience or fear, but we have nothing to fear as long as we take all the necessary precautions and educate and train all those who do bear these arms. It needs to be well regulated on the “militia” level and on the level of the individual. Is it dangerous? Definitely. Is a car dangerous as we allow 16 year olds to drive them? Absolutely (I have one of those). That is why we should have diligent training for both. Will people use them for evil ends? Definitely. We live in a fallen world with fallen people who seek their own gain. But, ultimately, we have to understand not only the disobedience to Scripture when we go against the 2nd Amendment, but the radical danger there is when the government disarms its people.
I am not really saying that every individual Christian is ordered to have a gun. If it is something that is truly against your conscience, don’t get one. But those who can, should (and go through training, following the safety rules). But, at the very least, I do believe that in order to obey God, we should support the 2nd Amendment.
This is my musing on gun control. I am willing to change my mind if someone can convince me otherwise.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    5 replies to "Why Christians Are Ordered to Have Guns"

    • Scott

      Michael –

      I know you said you aren’t using Luke 22:36 to specifically parallel with the 2nd amendment. But I still think we gravely misunderstand the words of Jesus. I put up some thoughts today.

    • Etienne OMNES

      Mr Patton,

      I will certainly not try to convince you of the other side. I will just add an other viewpoint to this subject: I’m french, so we have a radically different view of the state than in america. Ours is more descending from the Roi Soleil Louis the XIVth than the americans fathers: we expect the state to be strong, and we want it to be like that. And with that, the right to bear weapons: to put it shortly, in France citizens do not and should not wear weapons.

      To put it more developed, and before being rational, i will just say a word about this: In France, we find it completely out of mind to accord freely weapons to all, and for us it is even madness. “No surprise there is so much mass shootings: the entire country is an arsenal” we say. In France, this the state who protects and the state only, it is a prerogative of its. Our police is traditionally a strong and numerous one, and it is quite liked and trusted by the population, even when we do not like our governement (strangely). Since the rise of djihadism, we have buffed up our police and counterspy agencies and give it more even more powers (wich is not a particularly good news even for a strong-state supporter like me). I say all of this to make understand: there is nothing more opposed than the french and the american conception about weapon-bearing.

      To be true, it is the first time I actually understand a bit why you support such things as 2nd amendment.

      Now to the point: I think, too, that the people should be a counter-power, and the 2 last centuries of french history (where we have known 2 empires, 2 monarchies and a fascist puppet regime) convince me enough of the idea. Yet, I’m still not sure that weapon-bearing is the solution. In France, we have thrown away these authoritarian regimes without having weapons at home so why should every citizen be armed? Is it really a good solution, when we see the concentration of mass shootings in America?

      The most important question is: Can a “well-regulated militia” exist? Then: Is it not preferable to have a well-controlled (professional) army?

      My thought is immature on this subject, so forgive me if I say something wrong. I think that our fallen nature make the idea of militia a desperate solution: it is helping (or at least giving more power to) our vices without really helping or improve our virtues. There is so much dilemmas with using weapons for good, that before even know if you should/can shoot or not, the “bad one” had shot ten times, just following his instinct. When you have weapons, you MUST have responsability, a sound reasoning and a not-to-short temper. This where the “well-regulated” come in the game.

      To have a well-regulated militia, in my (french) mind, you should have trained your militia, and most importantly trained their minds so they will not use lightly their weapons. This sort of training is found in only one place: army, and maybe police academy. There only they teach not only how to use, but when and why and against who use it. To these kind of trained people only I can trust to wear weapons.

      In France our army (the same that we send in Afghanistan) is patrolling in the stations, and even in the streets of the big cities. I encounter them daily, with their uniforms and their assault-rifles. I’m conforted by their presence, because I know they will not use it against me , under no circumstances. Let the same M16 be between the hands of a random people and i would not even go out of my house. That is the main reason for me to have difficulties with weapon-bearing.

      BUT… you are absolutely right: if my (until then) democratic government turn silently authoritarian, what could we do? In France we have a tradition of political rioting and protests, and in certain ways, the Strike Right is our 2nd amendment. (Now you know why whe protest so often). So if our government turn authoritarian, we would protest, like we are doing at this moment against an unpopular law.

      Is the french way (less weapon, more riots) better than the american way (more weapons, less protests)? I suppose that yes, but my french tradition can blind me.

      Do you really think that the weapon-bearing is a good solution to maintain or defend democracy? In face of its downsides, is it still preferable to a less extended right?

      Thanks for reading and your ministry,
      Your greatest french fan,

      Etienne Omnès

    • Fabien Bastin

      I say if man and woman can carry a weapon equally, the main thing is to respect the concept of equality. In some countries where carrying a weapon is not observed, it is not observed by both man and woman, neither the man nor the woman are carrying a weapon!
      Now I say we should not let ourselves be carried away by details and stick more on respecting the concepts. The Bible carries quite a few concepts.
      So in the respect of the concept of equality in White Western society, can we see also male car-mechanics as well as female car-mechanics if man and woman carry a weapon equally?
      It appears to me that this talk about the US 2nd Amendment concerns mostly the males as man is defined as being stronger and protector of the family. In other words and that is seen in many American cowboys or gangsters movies, only the man is allowed to carry the weapon and this perception of things is a perversion, a corruption of society, a betrayal of the concept!
      Now the understanding when we watch those 18th century paintings showing US parlamentaries discussing together in a Congress or in Washington, like the signing of the US Independence Declaration , is that only male representative are painted. There is not a single woman signing the Declaration equally? I say as Christians we have the right to readjust the Constitution of the US or any other Constitution including us and readjust it to fit the concepts of the Bible like the Universality of the message of salvation, it is Universal or not? It is only for men and only men shall rule or not?
      I am not suggesting, I am not negotiating, I stand for Christ and for the concepts of the Bible! That s the direction I take!

    • Jorge Angulo

      You cannot support weapons of death and follow Jesus. The gospels, the writings of Paul and the other letters reject violence against the government and others. The sermon on the mount clearly calls for nonviolence. Also, the second amendment is only for militia purposes. Gun ownership in America is idol worship.

      • C Michael Patton

        Who controls the government? The people. Individuals. The only reason a militia can be formed is because the people not only have the responsibility but also the power to thwart and threaten the power in charge that attempts to usurp the constitution. You should try to understand why the formers made it the 1st —before all others—amendment. The powers that be would love for you to take this philosophy and disarm yourself. It is the only way they can survive. But we must obey the constitution. Therefore, we must be armed. The practical element of self protection is assumed. If you don’t have the right to protect yourself, you have no autonomy in any sense. You can be controlled. It’s all the same.

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