The discussion of our right to bear arms and gun control has come up quite a bit recently in our culture. The question we should be asking as christians is, “what does the Bible say about the topic?” As many people have pointed out to me, the Bible does not, in fact, mention the word “gun”, but this does not mean the Bible doesn’t speak of principles that we can apply to this issue. I would like to look at three principles in Scripture: God’s purpose for government, God’s permittance of carrying weapons, and what is the heart of the problem. The first principle we need to explore is God’s purpose for government. This is absolutely vital to look at as what is being proposed is a governmental gun control. If gun control fits God’s purpose for government then we, as christians, should willingly submit to it and be on board with it as God is our ultimate authority. What is God’s purpose for government though? I propose that His purpose for government is to discourage wickedness and to protect the innocent. We find that God instituted government in Genesis 9:5-6 “Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.” This is right after the flood and God is instituting capital punishment. This may be something that is difficult for us to stomach, but it reveals that God is just and He takes life very seriously.
God, in His justice, is also very loving; this is why He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for man’s sin, Jesus didn’t stay dead but rose again providing a way of salvation for all who would believe in Him. When God instituted capital punishment He made the purpose for government clear, He wanted to discourage wickedness and to protect the innocent. The discouragement of wickedness comes through a high penalty (death for murder), and the protection of the innocent comes in the proactive decree and follow through of the command. Further, we find in 1 Timothy 1:8-9 “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers” that the law (specifically the Levitical law in this passage, but applicable to governmental law) is for those who are wicked, not to enable wickedness, but to discourage it.
One more passage to look at about the purpose for government is Romans 13:1-5. “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.” Here we find once again the principle of discouraging wickedness through our governing authorities. God instituted government in order to discourage wickedness and in return protect the innocent.
When government is accomplishing what God intended we are to submit to this authority, but when it is not we have the right and really the obligation to resist them (Acts 5:29). Does gun control discourage wickedness and protect the innocent? I would argue that it does neither of these things. The government has already done a good job on discouraging wickedness through regulating who can and cannot buy a gun. Yes, someone could (and people do) buy guns illegally, but that is not a problem with the legislation, it is a problem with the punishment involved and the implementation. Gun control is trying to take away guns from law-abiding citizens in hopes of preventing citizens who do not abide by the law from breaking the law. Will gun control protect the innocent? I do not believe it will, as it is only taking protection away from law abiding citizens. In short the purpose of the government is to discourage wickedness and protect the innocent, but gun control does neither of these things. The second principle I would like us to explore is God’s permittance of carrying weapons. First, Jesus’s disciples carried swords and Jesus Himself told His disciples to buy one (Luke 22:36). I would also like to point out Psalm 144:1 “Blessed be the LORD my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle.” Where David proclaims that God not only is not against weapons, but actually helps him with warfare. Nehemiah 4:17-18 “Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me.” We find that God permitted His people to have a weapon even in their everyday life, it was not just soldiers, it was everyday citizens doing a civil task in this passage. Nowhere in the Bible do we find the idea that it is wrong to own, let alone carry, a weapon. The end game of gun control is not to simply get military grade weapons out of peoples hands, it is to cut back (or eliminate) those who own weapons and carry them. In the Bible, we find that God permits and even encourages His people to have weapons. The last principal I want us to see today is the heart of the problem. The problem is not with the object the problem is with the person. Isaiah 10:15 “Shall the ax boast itself against him who chops with it? Or shall the saw exalt itself against him who saws with it? As if a rod could wield itself against those who lift it up, or as if a staff could lift up, as if it were not wood!” The principle in this passage is clear, an object accomplishes nothing by itself. A gun is merely a tool, it can be a tool for murder, self-defense, or enjoyment. God never blames the tool used for wickedness, He always blames the person who used the tool. James 4:1 “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” Here we find where the problem really is, it is in the person who commits wickedness.
If we are really looking for a solution to the murder problem we have in America we need to reach the hearts of men with the gospel of Jesus Christ (that Christ died for their sins and rose again to make a way of salvation for all who would believe). If we just take guns away we will be in a similar problem as the U.K. is (knife ban), we must deal with wickedness by reaching people for Christ. If you are looking for a non-religious solution to your problem, you will not find it, but the closest thing you can find is not gun control, rather it would be to discourage wickedness by voting for representatives who will pass legislation for harsher penalties for existing laws.