by Dr. Dillon Burroughs
Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. recently urged students at his college—the largest Christian university in America—to carry concealed weapons on campus to defend against potential jihadist terror attacks. His view has created a firestorm of media, leaving many Christians wondering what God’s Word says related to this issue.
Should Christians own guns? In this discussion, a disclaimer should be made: The Bible was written before guns, but not before armed conflict. The Bible includes detailed descriptions of various wars, including predictions of battles in the end times (such as in Ezekiel 38). Therefore, any Bible discussion about guns is based on principles, not direct commands, and is subject to debate among those studying this issue. What biblical concepts can be found related to guns?
First, at least for Americans, gun ownership is a legal right. The Second Amendment clearly includes the right for all citizens, Christian or otherwise, to “bear arms.” Interestingly, the focus in the Second Amendment was not hunting or sport shooting, but defense. The text reads, “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.”
Second, gun ownership is at least an option according to biblical teachings. For example, when soldiers repented at the preaching of John the Baptist, they asked, “What should we do?” John answered, ““Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay” (Luke 3:14). They were not commanded to leave the military or become pacifists. The disciples also carried small swords at the command of Jesus (Luke 22:38), though Peter was told to put away his weapon at the Jesus’ arrest (Luke 22:51).
Third, the Bible includes ample evidence to support self-defense. Ecclesiastes 3:3 mentions there is “a time to kill and a time to heal.” Verse 8 adds “a time for war and a time for peace.” Scripture includes accounts of those who have died for their faith; it also includes accounts of those who have entered armed conflict to defend themselves, their family, and their nation.
From a personal standpoint, one could ask, “If an armed robber came at (me, my child, spouse, parent, or friend) with a weapon, would I intervene with a gun if I could?” Would God permit or even encourage such an action? Again, the Bible does not command a person to own or use a gun, yet it also allows for self-defense and defending others.
Those who argue Christians should not own guns have noble intentions of peace and love. However, in this life there are those who wish to cause harm. We must both recognize this reality and prepare how to best defend ourselves, our loved ones, and our nation in such situations.