Should a Pastor Teach that It is Wrong For Christians to Defend Themselves?

I suppose John Piper will object to my interpretation of his essay, “Should Christians Be Encouraged to Arm Themselves?

If so, he is self-deceived. The point of this long essay is to tell Christians they should not possess firearms and the secondary point is to deny that he is not telling Christians that they should not possess firearms.

The reason he touched on the subject, he tells us, is because he didn’t like the words of Jerry Falwell, Jr., telling his students to arm themselves. I can somewhat understand this because Falwell came across as somewhat aggressive.

But it wasn’t Falwell’s wording that bothered him.

Falwell and I exchanged several emails, and he was gracious enough to talk to me on the phone so I could get as much clarity as possible.

So what was he objecting to?

My main concern in this article is with the appeal to students that stirs them up to have the mindset: Let’s all get guns and teach them a lesson if they come here. The concern is the forging of a disposition in Christians to use lethal force, not as policemen or soldiers, but as ordinary Christians in relation to harmful adversaries.

The issue is not primarily about when and if a Christian may ever use force in self-defense, or the defense of one’s family or friends. There are significant situational ambiguities in the answer to that question. The issue is about the whole tenor and focus and demeanor and heart-attitude of the Christian life. Does it accord with the New Testament to encourage the attitude that says, “I have the power to kill you in my pocket, so don’t mess with me”? My answer is, No.

Of course, I agree about the mindset. But Piper’s claim that “there are situational ambiguities in the answer” to the question “if a Christian may ever use force in self-defense, or the defense of ones family or friends.” No there are not.

Furthermore, there are no ambiguities in his answer to the question, “Can I shoot my wife’s assailant?”

Our primary aim in life is to show that Christ is more precious than life. So when presented with this threat to my wife or daughter or friend, my heart should incline toward doing good in a way that would accomplish this great aim. There are hundreds of variables in every crisis that might affect how that happens.

Which means… don’t be armed in case you might be tempted to protect your wife by shooting her rapist.

I live in the inner city of Minneapolis, and I would personally counsel a Christian not to have a firearm available for such circumstances.

Well, he just did. He counseled all of us.

He concedes ” I would be very slow to condemn a person who chose differently from me.” Sounds to me like he is not ruling out the possibility of condemning.

Throughout Piper’s many words he consistently equivocates between persecution by a hostile government or abusive slave-owners and a mass shooter or other assailant. He takes all the verses about suffering gladly at the hands of the authorities and, without explanation or apology, acts like they are talking about someone who breaks into your home to rob you or worse.

There is no justification for this.

Secondly, Piper constantly pretends that one can call on the police for protection. Not only will that often not work (which I think Piper might admit) but in American law it is not the job of the police. The courts have ruled time and again that the police have no obligation to save your life. They will investigate your death and attempt to make a case against the most likely suspect. But under U.S. law you’re responsible for your defense.

Finally, Piper keeps talking about how only the police are authorized to enforce justice. But self-defense isn’t about justice but about protecting innocent life. Every time he makes this point he implies that the reason for possessing a firearm is vengeance, not self-defense.

Contra John Piper, the Second Amendment was the fruit of the Gospel as it influenced the development of English Common Law. It is God’s gift to everyone, whether Christian or not, to provide a peaceful and safe society.

PS. After I wrote this I found this response to John Piper that is well worth reading.