The subject of guns is a touchy one for Christians. Our feelings about them are often wrapped up with a love for hunting, concern about second amendment rights, as well as personal security. So, let’s take two of the three off the table. I believe in the constitutional right to bear arms and in the hunting of animals that are eaten, or are hazardous to humans or farm animals. (Frankly, I can’t imagine Jesus would think killing living things, just for the fun of it, acceptable.) But, I can’t prove that by the Bible.
But, the question before us today is, would Jesus own a handgun for personal protection? Setting aside the fact that he was, and is God and needed no protection, it’s more helpful to ask this question, “Would Jesus condone followers of his, owning a gun for the protection of one’s family?”
I also want to say upfront, that I have friends who are serious followers of Jesus, loving, kind and deeply spiritual who own handguns for personal protection. This is an issue on which serious Christians can disagree. But, I do not own a gun for personal protection and never have and I’ll tell you why shortly. (I do own a shotgun to shoot skeet occasionally, but it’s locked away and I don’t hunt.)
As an elder, I’ve seen an alarming trend the last 20 years, it’s the number of Christian women divorcing their husbands for verbal, emotional or physical abuse. The scripture they quote most often as justification for a divorce is this one.
“To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.” 1 Corinthians 7:12-13, 15
They’ve concluded that one or more of these things are true of their husbands;
1. He is, or may be an unbeliever as evidenced by his abuse. Therefore divorce is permissible.
2. He has already emotionally abandoned his wife, even if he’s still living in the home.
(While there are cases of abuse by wives, 95% of the abuse I’ve seen is by men against women. Therefore, I’ve written this blog in that vein.)
So, let’s try to examine this issue from both a biblical and human points of view.
I rarely blog on strictly theological issues, but on Monday I posted a blog on why I’m so hesitant to ask people to pray “the prayer” of salvation, anymore, until I’m confident they understand what and who they’re about to commit their lives to. And, one of the reason why I don’t, is due to the misunderstanding between the doctrine of eternal security (once saved-always saved) and the promise we make people that if they do pray the prayer, they can know without a doubt that they are saved (assurance of salvation).
All of us would like to have assurance of our salvation. But the question all Christians ask of themselves, if they’re honest, “How can I know, or can anyone know, if they’re really saved for sure?”
When I came to real faith almost 35 years ago, Billy Graham was in his prime and Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade, was leading people to Christ in elevators. Evangelicals used little booklets like The Four Spiritual Laws and Steps to Peace to introduce people to Christ. The last step of course was to pray out loud a short prayer acknowledging your sin, receiving Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, and thanking him for your salvation – “The Prayer”.
So why is it I’m so cautious about asking people to pray the prayer?
Because, even 30 years ago, most people knew the basic storyline of the Bible, including Adam and Eve’s decision to sin. The majority of Americans had gone to Sunday School or church, or their parents had, so there was a general awareness of sin and God’s displeasure with it. And they also knew that Christians believed Jesus died to save us from our sins.
Nobody is exactly sure what happened, but today I find very few non-Christians, especially those under 40, who believe they are sinners and therefore that they have a problem with God. Either they’re indifferent to God, or if they believe in God at all, don’t think they have a problem with him. Guys can be living with their girlfriends and aren’t the least bit ashamed to tell me. The purpose of this blog isn’t to whine about how that happened, but it did!
So, here’s the problem for them and the dilemma for the church: If you don’t know you’re a sinner, you have no need for a Savior!