Anytime we talk about “guns” and “bearing arms” in the context of the Christian community, it’s inevitably going to spark controversy and varying opinions. To be clear, the Bible does not say, “Thou shalt carry a gun.” Neither, however, does the Bible teach, “Thou shalt not carry a gun.” In many ways, this issue comes down to a matter of conscience for each Christian. The congregation at PVCC represents a wide variety of views on matters related to gun control. We have folks on the left and folks on the right, but NRA members and gun-control advocates can worship together and love one another under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, without ex-communicating one another.
What we have in the Scriptures are three general teachings we need to wrestle through as it relates to Christians and guns.
First, as a general rule, Christians are called not to avenge ourselves, but to “leave it to the wrath of God,” (Romans 12). The gun (or “sword,” to use the Apostle Paul’s language in Romans 13) is ultimately placed in the hands of the authorities, not individual Christians. Until the final day of judgment, God is executing justice on law-breakers through the means of the authorities – not Deacon Bob or Sister Sally. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught His followers to “love our enemies.” While the Owensboro Police Department cannot and should not “turn the other cheek,” individual Christians are commanded to do so.
Thus, I would take issue with the President of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s, recent perceived tone and general disposition when he encouraged his students (speaking of terrorists), “Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever come here.” The Christian ethic is one that does not encourage followers of Jesus to be in the business of “teaching lessons” to the bad guys. The bad guys don’t need angry, trigger-happy Christians waiting for them; they need Jesus. Thus, we must avoid the extreme view of Christians eagerly taking up guns and secretly hoping we get a chance to shoot a bad guy; this is not the Spirit of Christ.
Secondly, however, we must also recognize the biblical teaching that Christians are called to be subject to the governing authorities that God has placed in our lives (Romans 13). With this being said, our governing authorities (as declared in our 2nd Amendment) have given American citizens the right to bear arms. A Christian is not sinning against God by carrying a gun; they are operating freely under the laws given to them by the governing authorities God has placed in their life.
Finally, the Scriptures call us to be protectors and defenders of the weak and vulnerable (Psalm 82, for example). If I’m in the Shoney’s parking lot and see another man physically harming a woman or child, I have the Christian responsibility to intervene. While the congregation at PVCC represents a wide variety of views on matters related to gun control, we all agree on the fact that we want to keep our children safe. It is for this reason that PVCC has developed a Security Team. Some of these men will have concealed guns; some will not. The purpose of this team is not to eagerly hope a terrorist comes to our church so that we can “teach them a lesson” with our 9-millimeter. The purpose of this team is to simply be available to serve and protect the most vulnerable in our congregation, especially our children, in the event that someone would come in to one of our gatherings seeking to cause harm.
The mission of PVCC is not to identify the bad guys so we can teach them a lesson. The mission of PVCC is to recognize that apart from Jesus Christ, we’re all bad guys in a need of a Savior. Our calling is to lovingly proclaim to other sinners where we have found mercy – in the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. After all, the greatest need of our city is not more pistols; the greatest need of our city is more of Jesus.