Christians and Guns…
Is it OK for a Christian to carry a gun? Is lethal self-defense OK with Jesus? What happens when a Christian kills someone by mistake? Should a pastor pack heat in the pulpit?
These are just some of the questions I’ve raised after appearing in an award-winning documentary by filmmaker Abigail Disney. (Yes, of the famous entertainment family.)
Three years ago, Ms. Disney asked me to be a subject in her feature-length examination of the question of Christians and guns. The result was The Armor of Light, titled after a sermon I preached on the subject from Romans 13:12, “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
This whole thing got started because several members of Congress had asked me why they hadn’t heard anything from serious Christians on how to stem the tide of gun violence in America. One of them said, “You Christians have opinions on everything, except guns!”
Well, I do have an opinion on guns and I share it in The Armor of Light, which is currently available on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play and Vudu. It will also be broadcast as part of a PBS primetime special on May 10.
The Armor of Light was nominated for a Dove Award and won Best Documentary at Austin’s Attic Film Festival, a gathering of filmmakers “exploring the art of telling the Gospel story through film.”
My intent in cooperating with Ms. Disney in the making of her film was to prayerfully present a series of biblically informed questions about the move by many Christians—and even whole churches—to arm up.
As Americans we must respect the Second Amendment to the Constitution, but as Christians the Word of God is always our final authority. For me, the debate over Christians and lethal self-defense is not a political or legislative issue, but a moral and ethical one. I wrote extensively on this topic in a cover article for Sojourners magazine, “Should Christians Own Guns?” You’ll find it in the current issue. (Link below)
The unintended consequence of launching this national discussion has been the opportunity to talk about the Bible, faith, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ to audiences I’ve never had access to before. It’s also given pastors and other church leaders the opportunity to address an issue that, until now, has been considered untouchable because it divides congregations politically.
Again, for me, lethal force is not a political question; it’s a spiritual one. What is the will of God? When does a Christian take a life—and when does a Christian surrender his life? These are not questions that can be answered through laws, but only through prayer and searching the Scriptures.
What I do know is that the use of guns in lethal self-defense is literally a matter of life and death—and that relates directly to the question of God’s will as expressed in His commandments.
To be Christian is to be pro-life: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). How does pointing a deadly weapon at another person express this precept? I think there is a way that it can, but rarely—very rarely.
For me, this topic is much more about questions than it is about answers. I think the people of God need to carefully, prayerfully, and biblically explore this critical issue before lives are ruined or lost, the testimony of the gospel is damaged, and we grieve the Lord to whom we have pledged our ultimate and absolute allegiance.
I hope you’ll take the time to watch The Armor of Light and read my article in Sojourners magazine. Both are an invitation to an open and prayer-filled conversation among caring Christians, especially pastors and other church leaders. It’s my goal to use that conversation to help our lawmakers in Washington and around the country to understand that there is more to these crucial issues than simple politics.
Thanks so much for your support and for giving me a hearing!
God bless you and all yours,
Rev. Rob Schenck
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