Should Christians Own Weapons for Self Defense?

Refusing to have a self-defense weapon in the name of “God will protect us in His sovereign power” is like knowingly walking through a dangerous alley or refusing to exercise regularly with the same attitude.

Owning a weapon for self-defense can be one of the ways through which we acknowledge that our bodies are indeed the temple of the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God could have supernaturally protected the Israel nation throughout the Old Testament, but He found it worthwhile to use human watchmen and soldiers to defend the cities. When we defend our bodies from physical harm, we are no different from a Christian who goes to the gym for the same reason. Of course there are times when we (through the weakness of our flesh) may be tempted to use the weapon (e.g. a gun) inappropriately in a fit of rage, but that does not negate the original intent of owning the weapon. A Christian who goes to the gym might just as well use his muscles for wrong purposes.

Our bodies are instruments of God’s work and must be preserved so that they may be used in an optimum way for the furtherance of the Kingdom and the glory of God. The Christian father who protects his body and his family from physical harm is prophetically living out the picture of how God is protecting us in the spiritual realm. It is for the same reason that we get out of the way of an oncoming car, avoid eating foods that we know are bad for our health, and duck when someone throws a stone at us. We don’t ignorantly invoke God’s sovereignty when He has equipped us with self-defense instincts and biological boosts like adrenaline rush.

Someone may then ask, “what about martyrdom? Won’t the person who does not own a weapon be dying as a martyr?” Well, for Christian martyrs, their bodies are being destroyed and their lives are being taken because of the Gospel – because of their Faith. Their death is directly serving the purpose of glorifying God. If a martyr can physically defend himself and preserve his life without necessarily denying his faith, then I don’t see why he or she shouldn’t. Just examine all the cases of martyrs in the history of the church. Their death was contingent upon their unwillingness to deny Christ, not their willingness to physically defend themselves. Jesus told us to deny ourselves and die to self for the sake of following him, not for the sake of dying as fools.

Even Jesus, knowing that His time had not yet come, [supernaturally] evaded those who wanted to kill him prematurely; “And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.” [Luke 4:29-30]
Perhaps it would help us to stop and ask, why didn’t he just stand there and die like a martyr?

The spread of the Gospel in the early church was actually contingent upon the people’s ability to evade persecutions without having to deny their Faith. Look at what happened after the stoning of Stephen in Acts 8. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria” (Acts 8:1). Their flight from persecution actually helped fulfill the great commission! “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). Did you see that? Acts 8:1 complements Acts 1:8. Is this a coincidence? I don’t think so.

Lastly, there should be discernment and Gospel-consciousness even in our handling of our self-defense weapons. As a Christian, I am confronted by the fact that the intruder is a human being, made in the image of God and must be given a chance to hear the Gospel and turn from his evil ways. Therefore, I would (as much as it depends on me) use the weapon in a way that would make him harmless to me and my family but able to stay alive and get a chance for repentance. I am not suggesting that you start preaching at the attacker as the attack is going on! That’s foolish, unless, maybe, it’s an act of supernatural intervention taking place – which would be beyond your control. The balance between self-defense and other-offense must be determined by our sensitivity to the Gospel. We should never injure another because of our hate for them, but only because of our love for both our families and the offender.

“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” [Genesis 9:6]

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In His service and for His glory,

Cornell

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