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Date: Tue, 14 Oct 1997 09:29:29 -0700
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From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: "What Does the Bible Say About Gun Control?" by Larry

>       What Does the Bible Say About Gun Control?
>                          by
>                     Larry Pratt
>                Executive Vice-President
>                 Gun Owners Foundation
>The underlying argument for gun control seems to be that
>the availability of guns causes crime. By extension, the
>availability of any weapon would have to be viewed as a
>cause of crime. What does the Bible say about such a view? 
>Perhaps we should start at the beginning, or at least very
>close to the beginning -- in Genesis 4. In this chapter we read
>about the first murder. Cain had offered an unacceptable
>sacrifice, and Cain was upset that God insisted that he do the
>right thing. In other words, Cain was peeved that he could not
>do his own thing. 
>Cain decided to kill his brother rather than get right with
>God. There were no guns available, although there may well
>have been a knife. Whether it was a knife or a rock, the Bible
>does not say. The point is, the evil in Cain's heart was the
>cause of the murder, not the availability of the murder weapon. 
>God's response was not to ban rocks or knives, or whatever, but
>to banish the murderer. Later (see Genesis 9:5-6) God instituted 
>capital punishment, but said not a word about banning weapons.
>Did Christ Teach Pacifism?
>Many people, Christians included, assume that Christ taught
>pacifism. They cite Matthew 5:38-39 for their proof. In this
>verse Christ said: "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye
>for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to
>resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right
>cheek, turn the other to him also." 
>The Sermon on the Mount from which this passage is taken
>deals with righteous personal conduct. In our passage, Christ
>is clearing up a confusion that had led people to think that
>conduct proper for the civil government -- that is, taking
>vengeance -- was also proper for an individual. 
>Even the choice of words used by Christ indicates that He
>was addressing a confusion, or a distortion, that was
>commonplace. Several times in the rest of the Sermon on the
>Mount Christ used this same "you have heard it said" figure
>of speech to straighten out misunderstandings or falsehoods
>being taught by the religious leaders of the times. 
>Contrast this to Christ's use of the phrase "it is written"
>when He was appealing to the Scriptures for authority (for
>example, see Matthew 4 where on three occasions during His
>temptation by the devil, Christ answered each one of the
>devil's lies or misquotes from Scripture with the words:
>"it is written"). 
>To further underscore the point that Christ was correcting
>the religious leaders on their teaching that "an eye for an
>eye" applies to private revenge, consider that in the same
>Sermon, Christ strongly condemned false teaching: "Whoever
>therefore breaks one of the commandments, and teaches men so,
>shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven..." (Matthew 5:19). 
>Clearly, then, Christ was not teaching something different about
>self defense than is taught elsewhere in the Bible. Otherwise,
>He would be contradicting Himself for He would now be teaching
>men to break one of the commandments. 
>The reference to "an eye for an eye" was taken from Exodus
>21:24-25 which deals with how the magistrate must deal with
>a crime. Namely, the punishment must fit the crime.
>The religious leaders of Christ's day had twisted a passage
>that applied to the government and misused it as a principle
>of personal revenge. 
>The Bible distinguishes clearly between the duties of the
>civil magistrate (the government) and the duties of an
>individual. Namely, God has delegated to the civil magistrate
>the administration of justice.Individuals have the responsibility
>of protecting their lives from attackers. Christ was referring
>to this distinction in the Matthew 5 passage.Let us now examine
>in some detail what the Scriptures say about the roles of
>government and of individuals. 
>Both the Old and New Testaments teach individual self defense,
>even if it means taking the assailant's life in certain
>Self-Defense in the Old Testament
>Exodus 22:2-3 tells us "If the thief is found breaking in, and
>he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for
>his bloodshed. If the sun has risen on him, there shall be
>guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if
>he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft." 
>One conclusion which can be drawn from this is that a threat
>to our life is to be met with lethal force. During the day,
>presumably because we can recognize and later apprehend
>the thief if he escapes, we are not to kill him in non 
>life-threatening circumstances. 
>In Proverbs 25:26 we read that "A righteous man who falters
>before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted
>well." Certainly, we would be faltering before the wicked
>if we chose to be unarmed and unable to resist an assailant
>who might be threatening our life. In other words, we have no
>right to hand over our life which is a gift from God to the
>unrighteous. It is a serious mistake to equate a civilized
>society with one in which the decent people are doormats
>for the evil to trample on. 
>Trusting God
>Another question asked by Christians is "Doesn't having a gun
>imply a lack of trust that God will take care of us?" 
>Indeed, God will take care of us. He has also told us that
>if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. (John 14:15) 
>Those who trust God work for a living, knowing that 1
>Timothy 5:8 tells us "But if anyone does not provide for
>his own, and especially for those of his household, he has
>denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." For a man
>not to work, yet expect to eat because he was "trusting God"
>would actually be to defy God. 
>King David wrote in Psalm 46:1 that God is our refuge and
>strength, a very present help in trouble. This did not conflict
>with praising the God "Who trains my hands for war and my fingers
>for battle" (Psalm 144:1). 
>The doctrine of Scripture is that we prepare and work, but we
>trust the outcome to God. 
>Those who trust God should also make adequate provision for
>their own defense even as we are instructed in the passages
>cited above. For a man to refuse to provide adequately
>for his and his family's defense would be to defy God. 
>There is an additional concern to taking the position that
>"I don't need to arm myself. God will protect me." 
>At one point, when Satan was tempting Jesus in the wilderness,
>he challenged Jesus to throw himself off the top of the temple.
>Satan reasoned that God's angels would protect him. Jesus
>responded: "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the
>Lord your God'" (Matthew 4:7). 
>It may seem pious to say that one is trusting in God for
>protection, and we all must, but it is tempting God if we do
>not take the measures that He has laid out for us in the Bible. 
>Role of Government
>The Bible records the first murder in Genesis 4 when Cain killed
>his brother Abel. God's response was not to register rocks
>or impose a background check on those getting a plough, or
>whatever it was that Cain used to kill his brother. Instead, God
>dealt with the criminal. Ever since Noah the penalty for murder
>has been death. 
>Nowhere in the Bible does God make any provision for dealing with
>the instruments of crime. He always focuses on the consequences
>for an individual of his actions. Heaven and hell only applies
>to people, not to things. Responsibility only pertains to people,
>not to things. 
>Resisting an attack is not to be confused with taking vengeance
>which is the exclusive domain of God (Romans 12:19). This has
>been delegated to the civil magistrate, who, as we read in
>Romans 13:4, "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." 
>Private vengeance means one would stalk down a criminal after
>one's life is no longer in danger as opposed to defending
>oneself during an attack. It is this very point that has been
>confused by Christian pacifists who would take the passage
>in the Sermon on the Mount about turning the other cheek
>(which prohibits private vengeance) into a command to
>falter before the wicked. 
>Let us consider also that the Sixth Commandment tells us
>"Thou shall not murder." In the chapters following, God
>gave to Moses many of the situations which require a death
>penalty. God clearly has not told us never to kill. He has
>told us not to murder, which means we are not to take an
>innocent life. 
>Consider also that the civil magistrate is to be a terror to
>those who practice evil. This passage does not in any way imply
>that the role of law enforcement is to prevent crimes or to
>protect individuals from criminals. The magistrate is a minister
>to serve as "an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices
>evil" (Romans 13:4). 
>This point is reflected in the legal doctrine of the United
>States. Repeatedly, courts have held that the government has
>no responsibility to provide individual security. One case
>(Bowers v. DeVito) put it this way: "there is no constitutional
>right to be protected by the state against being murdered." 
>Self Defense in the New Testament
>The Christian pacifist may try to argue that God has changed
>His mind from the time that He gave Moses the Ten Commandments
>on Mount Sinai. Perhaps they would want us to think that
>Christ canceled out the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 or the
>provision for justifiably killing a thief in Exodus 22. But the
>writer of Hebrews makes it clear that this cannot be, because
>"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews
>13:8). In the Old Testament, the prophet Malachi records God's
>words this way: "For I am the Lord, I do not change" (Malachi 
>Paul was referring to the unchangeability of God's Word when he
>wrote to Timothy that "All Scripture is given by inspiration
>of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for
>correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of
>God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work"
>(2 Timothy 3:16-17). Clearly, Paul viewed all Scripture,including
>the Old Testament, as useful for training Christians in every
>area of life. 
>We must also consider what Christ told his disciples in his
>last hours with them: "...But now, he who has a money bag, let
>him take it, and likewise a sack; and he who has no sword, let
>him sell his garment and buy one" (Luke 22:36, emphasis added).
>Keep in mind that the sword was the finest offensive weapon
>available to an individual soldier -- the equivalent then of
>a military rifle today. 
>The Christian pacifist will likely object at this point that
>only a few hours later, Christ rebuked Peter who used a sword to
>cut off the ear of Malchus, a servant of the high priest in
>the company of a detachment of troops. Let us read what Christ
>said to Peter in Matthew 26:52-54: 
>    Put your sword in its place, for all who take the
>    sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think
>    that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will
>    provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?
>    How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that
>    it must happen thus?
>In the companion passage in John 18, Jesus tells Peter to put
>his sword away and told him that He had to drink the cup that
>His Father had given Him. 
>It was not the first time that Christ had to explain to the
>disciples why He had come to earth. To fulfill the Scriptures,
>the Son of God had to die for the sin of man since man was
>incapable of paying for his own sin apart from going to hell.
>Christ could have saved His life, but then believers would have
>lost their lives forever in hell. These things only became
>clear to the disciples after Christ had died and been raised from
>the dead and the Spirit had come into the world at Pentecost
>(see John 14:26). 
>While Christ told Peter to "put your sword in its place" He
>clearly did not say get rid of it forever. That would
>have contradicted what he had told the disciples only hours
>before. Peter's sword was to protect his own mortal life from
>danger. His sword was not needed to protect the Creator of
>the universe and the King of kings. 
>Years after Pentecost, Paul wrote in a letter to Timothy "But
>if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those
>of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than
>an unbeliever" (1 Tim. 5:8). This passage applies to our
>subject because it would be absurd to buy a house, furnish it
>with food and facilities for one's family, and then refuse to
>install locks and provide the means to protect the family and
>the property. Likewise it would be absurd not to take, if
>necessary, the life of a night-time thief to protect the members
>of the family (Exodus 22:2-3). 
>A related, and even broader concept, is found in the parable of
>the Good Samaritan. Christ had referred to the Old Testament
>summary of all the laws of the Bible into two great
>commandments: "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your
>heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all
>your mind,' and your neighbor as yourself'" (Luke 10:27). When
>asked who was a neighbor, Christ related the parable of the
>Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). It was the Good Samaritan who
>took care of the mugging victim who was a neighbor to the victim.
>The others who walked by and ignored the victim's plight
>were not acting as neighbors to him. 
>In the light of all we have seen the Scriptures teach to this
>point, can we argue that if we were able to save another's life
>from an attacker by shooting the attacker with our gun
>that we should "turn the other cheek instead?" The Bible speaks
>of no such right. It only speaks of our responsibilities in
>the face of an attack -- as individual creatures made by
>God, as householders or as neighbors. 
>National Blessings and Cursings
>The Old Testament also tells us a great deal about the
>positive relationship between righteousness, which exalts
>a nation, and self defense. 
>It makes clear that in times of national rebellion against the
>Lord God, the rulers of the nation will reflect the spiritual 
>degradation of the people and the result is a denial of God's
>commandments, an arrogance of officialdom, disarmament and
>For example, the people of Israel were oppressed during the time
>of the rule of the Judges. This occurred every time the people 
>apostatized. Judges 5:8 tells us that, "They chose new gods;
>then there was war in the gates; not a shield or spear was
>seen among forty thousand in Israel." 
>Consider Israel under Saul: The first book of Samuel tells of
>the turning away of Israel from God. The people did not want
>to be governed by God; they wanted to be ruled by a king like
>the pagan, God-hating nations around them. Samuel warned the
>people what they were getting into -- the curses that would be
>upon them -- if they persisted in raising up a king over
>themselves and their families. Included in those curses was
>the raising up of a standing, professional army which would
>take their sons and their daughters for aggressive wars
>(I Samuel 8:11). 
>This curse is not unknown in the United States. Saul carried out
>all the judgments that Samuel had warned the people about. His
>build up of a standing army has been repeated in the U.S., and
>not just in terms of the military, but also the 650,000 full-time 
>police officers from all levels of government. 
>Saul was the king the Israelites wanted and got. He was beautiful
>in the eyes of the world but a disaster in the eyes of the Lord.
>Saul did not trust God. He rebelled against His form of sacrifice
>unto the Lord. Saul put himself above God. He was impatient.
>He refused to wait for Samuel because God's way was taking too
>long. Saul went ahead and performed the sacrifice himself,
>thus violating God's commandment (and, incidentally, also
>violating the God-ordained separation of duties of church
>and state!) 
>Thus was the kingdom lost to Saul. And, it was under him that
>the Philistines were able to defeat the Jews and put them
>into bondage. So great was the bondage exerted by the Philistines
>that "Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all
>the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, 'Lest the Hebrews
>make them swords or spears.' But all the Israelites went down
>to the Philistines to sharpen each man's plowshare, his mattock,
>his ax, and his sickle;...So it came about, on the day of battle,
>that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any
>of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan..." (1 Samuel
>13:19-20; 22-23). 
>Today, the same goals of the Philistines would be carried out
>by an oppressor who would ban gunsmiths from the land. The sword
>of today is the handgun, rifle or shotgun. The sword control of
>the Philistines is today's gun control of those governments that
>do not trust their people with guns. 
>It is important to understand that what happened to the Jews at
>the time of Saul was not unexpected according to the sanctions
>spelled out by God in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. In the
>first verses of those chapters, blessings are promised to a
>nation that keeps God's laws. In the latter parts of those
>chapters, the curses are spelled out for a nation that comes
>under judgment for its rebellion against God. Deuteronomy
>28:47-48 helps us understand the reason for Israel's oppression
>by the Philistines during Saul's reign: 
>    Because you did not serve the Lord your God with
>    joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of
>    all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies,
>    whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger,
>    in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of all things;
>    and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until
>    He has destroyed you. 
>The Bible provides examples of God's blessing upon Israel for
>its faithfulness. These blessings included a strong national
>defense coupled with peace. A clear example occurred during
>the reign of Jehoshaphat. 2 Chronicles 17 tells of how 
>Jehoshaphat led Israel back to faithfulness to God which 
>included a strong national defense. The result: "And the fear 
>of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands that were 
>around Judah, so that they did not make war against
>(2 Chronicles 17:10). 
>The Israelite army was a militia army (Numbers 1:3, ff.) which
>came to battle with each man bearing his own weapons -- from
>the time of Moses, through the Judges, and beyond. When
>threatened by the Midianites, for example, "Moses spoke to the
>people , saying, 'Arm some of yourselves for the war, and let
>them go against the Midianites to take vengeance for the Lord
>on Midian'" (Numbers 31:3). Again, to demonstrate the Biblical
>heritage of individuals bearing and keeping arms, during David's
>time in the wilderness avoiding capture by Saul, "David said to
>his men, 'Every man gird on his sword.' So every man girded on
>his sword, and David also girded on his sword" (1 Samuel 25:13). 
>Finally, consider Nehemiah and those who rebuilt the gates and
>walls of Jerusalem. They were both builders and defenders,
>each man -- each servant -- armed with his own weapon:
>    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
>    (Nehemiah 4:17-18).
>The wisdom of the framers of the Constitution is consistent with
>the lessons of the Bible. Instruments of defense should be
>dispersed throughout the nation, not concentrated in the hands
>of the central government. In a godly country, righteousness
>governs each man through the Holy Spirit working within.
>The government has no cause to want a monopoly of force;
>the government that desires such a monopoly is a threat to
>the lives, liberty and property of its citizens. 
>The assumption that only danger can result from people carrying
>guns is used to justify the government's having a monopoly of
>force. The notion that the people cannot be trusted to keep
>and bear their own arms informs us that ours, like the time
>of Solomon, may be one of great riches but is also a time of
>peril to free people. If Christ is not our King, we shall have
>a dictator to rule over us, just as Samuel warned. 
>For those who think that God treated Israel differently from the
>way He will treat us today, please consider what God told the
>prophet Malachi: "For I am the Lord, I do not change..."
>(Malachi 3:6).
>  <@{{><   <@{{><   <@{{><   <@{{><   <@{{><   <@{{><   <@{{><
>        "Where the people fear the government
>          you have tyranny."
>         "Where the government fears the people,
>           you have liberty." 
><@{{><   <@{{><   <@{{><   <@{{><   <@{{><   <@{{><   <@{{><

Paul Andrew Mitchell, Sui Juris      : Counselor at Law, federal witness 01
B.A.: Political Science, UCLA;   M.S.: Public Administration, U.C.Irvine 02
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_____________________________________: Law is authority in written words 09
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