Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. - Romans 12: 21 (ESV)
The key verse is found in the subsection with the title - "Marks of a True Christian." I understand this will make many gun defending Christians uneasy but the Word of God makes things very plain for us if we are willing to be teachable even when it teaches us that what we might hold dear could be wrong. Let me be clear up front. I am not saying guns are wrong. I am not saying owning guns are wrong. I am saying these are carnal discussions, not Christian ones. To use God and His Word to try and defend the carnal is what is wrong. I do not want to live in a country where the government are the only ones with the guns because history teaches us what happens in those instances. But that is not a Christian argument. I think many of the gun control advocates cannot see the forest for the trees they are so focused on. I think the gun supporters are so worried about slippery slopes that they would advocate arming bears instead of bearing arms. Both sides have valid points and the truth is somewhere in the middle but those are again, carnal truths. Not biblical ones. The purpose here is to delve into yet another attempt to use God to defend guns, this time offered up by Pastor Shane Idleman, which can be found here:
Let me say up front that I think Pastor Idleman makes a valiant attempt to strike a more reserved chord than most who try to undertake this quest. He goes out of his way to try and say he is not defending guns per se but then he goes ahead and tries anyway. The problem as always is that the Bible does not support these arguments and never has. Just the simple question, "who would Jesus shoot"; should dispel such nonsense. Just reading the Beatitudes should dispel such thinking. Just the fact that He laid His own life down should dispel these opinions. Since they do not however, it is important to try and sift through the biblical arguments offered up to see what God is actually teaching us. The opening gambit from Pastor Idleman is this:
"What we're seeing today is not a gun problem; it's a moral problem called sin. We are witnessing the rapid deterioration of a nation. We have lost our moral compass ... we have lost the fear of the Lord."
Amen. This is a completely correct statement. The problem is that he is using this truth to support the notion that it really is not the guns that are the problem but rather the sinful state of man. While this is true it only reinforces why we should be unbelievably cautious about the proliferation of guns, no? Take for example the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. There is no question that the problem was the deranged sinful state of Adam Lanza. But how much less damage could he have done had he not possessed the weapons? The mere fact that we are so depraved and have so lost the fear of the Lord alone demands stricter gun control, not lessened. Howe easy was it for the kids at Columbine to get their guns? Do we see the point? Idleman offers up a Scripture from the Gospel of Matthew next:
Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. - Matthew 26: 52 (ESV)
Idleman makes a nuanced argument that says because Jesus told him to put the sword "back in its place" that this means weapons have a place. Three points here. One is the missed theological opportunity. Idleman is trying so hard to use the verse to support his presupposed position that he missed the point. The disciple here had a first reaction of violence that was supportive of how the world thinks and Jesus rebuked him for it. He rebuked him because He correctly points out that He could call down legions of angels if He wanted to. Secondly, Jesus was only telling him to sheath his sword. He was not making a theological statement or a deep political-philosophical stand for weaponry in an organized society. Let's be fair. The last point here is really one that is often overlooked. Comparing swords and automatic weapons is like comparing oranges and orangutans. Even if you could find some biblical mandate that was pro-sword that does not blindly mean that every weapon created from that point on shares the same approval. I think there is a demonstrable difference between advocating for swords and advocating for a gun that could fire off thirty rounds of ammo in 15 seconds and armor piercing bullets that can take down an elephant. Idleman starts to compound his logical problems however:
"Later Jesus adds, "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me?" If He was a thief and a robber, the clubs and swords would have been justified. In my opinion, these Scriptures imply that weapons do have a place in society. Albeit we must be careful."
Yes, Jesus is stating that they approached Him as they would a robber, with swords and clubs. He is acknowledging that these are used in society at that time and for those purposes. Acknowledging however is not approving. It is the same stretched logic that claims because Ecclesiastes says there is a time for war that God approves of war. Nonsense! God is stating that because of the depravity of man, He acknowledges there will be time for war. In the same Scriptures it says there is a time for hate. By the pro war logic, God approves of hate. Sorry, that does not fly logically or Scripturally. Idleman continues:
"Additionally, In Luke 22:36 Jesus says, "But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one." What is one to do with this Scripture?"
What Idleman does with it is to use it say Jesus was advocating the need for personal self defense. That is not surprising since he searched for Scriptures to prop up his presupposed opinions. When I might not be sure I turn to some commentaries to possibly shed some light on a murky area. Here is an excerpt from Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible regarding this verse:
These words of Christ are not to be understood literally, that he would have his disciples furnish themselves with swords at any rate, since he would never have said, as he afterwards does, that two were sufficient; which could not be enough for eleven men; or have forbid Peter the use of one, as he did in a very little time after this: but his meaning is, that wherever they came, and a door was opened for the preaching of the Gospel, they would have many adversaries, and these powerful, and would be used with great violence, and be followed with rage and persecution; so that they might seem to stand in need of swords to defend them: the phrase is expressive of the danger they would be exposed to, and of their need of protection; and therefore it was wrong in them to be disputing and quarrelling about superiority, or looking out for, and expecting temporal pomp and grandeur, when this would be their forlorn, destitute, and afflicted condition; and they would quickly see the affliction and distress begin in himself. In "seven" ancient copies of Beza's, it is read in the future tense, "he shall take, he shall sell, he shall buy".
That seems to make a lot more sense to me. That lines up consistently with the teachings of the Prince of Peace. Jesus was preparing them for the upcoming persecution not literally saying go buy swords. Idleman now foresees the pushback he might get:
"Paul tells Timothy that if "anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Tim. 5:8). But those who" seek "to protect "their" family, which is often a greater responsibility (if not equal), "are often "labeled war-monger"s" and accused of mis-applying the Scriptures".