Views among modern Christians regarding weapons range from those who believe in pacifism at all costs to those who believe owning a gun is a God-given right. The truth as found in the Bible falls somewhere in the middle.
What does the Bible say about Christians owning weapons?
Guidance in the Bible strikes a balance between the right to protect life and the fact that sometimes the will of God is for Christians to suffer persecution. Exodus 22:2-3 shows that self-defense must be proportional; in the Mosaic Law it was allowed to defend a life with more vigor than one's possessions. Jesus affirmed that it is sometimes necessary to be armed for self-defense (Luke 22:37-39).
Throughout the Bible, armed militaries were accepted or even commanded. David, the "man after God's own heart," was a military leader before he was king. In 1 Kings 19, the prophet Elijah killed the priests of Baal with a sword. And nowhere does the Bible tell a soldier to give up his weapon for a life of peace. In fact, Jesus reserves some of His strongest praise for a military commander (Matthew 8:5-13).
Although the Bible allows a God-follower to own weapons, and even sometimes encourages it, God does not give us the universal right to own and use any weapon we wish. Despite the beliefs of many, the Bible does not say Christians have the inalienable right to have a gun—even if the law allows it (1 Corinthians 10:23). Our weapon ownership is governed by civil authorities (1 Timothy 2:1-2) and by the will of God in the particular situation. Jesus refused to defend Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane because there was a greater purpose (John 18:10-11). Sometimes God's purpose is fulfilled by the strength of our faith, not the strength of our defenses.
Before a Christian gets a weapon, he should contemplate his motivations and his training. Protection of life and family is a good reason to own a weapon; exaggerated fear of conspiracy theories is not. Training is essential so that the weapon is used correctly and doesn't cause unintended harm. As in everything we do, a Christian should pray and ask for God's guidance first. Jesus' greatest commandment to us is to love God and love others. Whether that requires using a weapon or not depends on the situation.
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