Pastor Says ‘Love Your Neighbor Not Your Gun’

Daniel Darling, the senior pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, is saying that some people might think that as Christians “we love our guns more than our neighbors.” Pastor Darling is not saying that keeping and bearing arms is sinful, he is saying that we should put our emphasis elsewhere. We can love our neighbors and be “wise as serpents and gentle as doves” (Matt. 10:16) at the same time.

I understand Pastor’s Darling’s concerns, but I think he is missing a number of points. A weapon can be used to protect our neighbors. A woman in Georgia used a gun to protect her children from an intruder whose intent was to do them harm. In what way should she have loved the man intent on doing her harm?

While Jesus told Peter to put away his sword (Matt. 26:47–56; Mark 14:47; John 18:10–11), He did not tell him to destroy it. Jesus did not propose any word buy-back program. Jesus and the Bible generally sees man’s problem as one of the heart. It’s not what goes into the man (or a man’s gun) but what comes out of a man that’s the issue. “All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man”  (Mark 7:14–23).

This passage might apply as well:

“If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, ‘Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!’ (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence” (Col. 2:20–23).

Liberal do-gooders do not understand these principles. They believe that things and circumstances are a person’s behavior determiners. (I don’t want to dismiss the effect that psychotropic — mild-altering — drugs might have had on some of these crazed killers. David Kupelian of WND asks: “But where, I’d like to ask my colleagues in the media, is the reporting about the psychiatric medications the perpetrator – who had been under treatment for mental-health problems – may have been taking?”)

Note that Jesus said that “those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword” (Matt. 26:52). That perishing could mean in self-defense or by the civil magistrate (Rom. 13:4). Jesus knows we live in an evil world. There were those who wanted to stone Him to death (Matt. 14:14; John 8:59; 10:31). He eventually met a terrible death by execution.

How should we understand Jesus’ injunction to “turn the other cheek” (Matt. 5:38–39)? There’s quite a difference between being slapped across the face and someone wanting to take a baseball bat to your head. Self-defense is a biblical option in such a case. Here’s an interesting passage that speaks to common sense and the reality of evil in the world and the proper response:

“If the thief is caught while breaking into [your house], and is struck so that he dies, there will be no bloodguiltiness on his account” (Ex. 22:2).

The homeowner can assume that someone breaking into his house at night has nothing but bad intentions. Does the application of this law apply, for example, to the Trevor Martin shooting by George Zimmerman? We don’t have all the facts to know. That’s why we have courts, rules of evidences, and cross examination of witnesses. Recent photos of Mr. Zimmerman show that he was in a violent struggle with Trevor Martin.

The apostle Paul tells Christians, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18). Sometimes peace isn’t possible. If it comes down to defending my family against people who want to do them harm, turning the other cheek is not applicable. Will I incite someone, go out of my way to cause trouble, or put my nose into someone else’s business where it does not belong? No. Here’s some good biblical advice:

“Like one who takes a dog by the ears is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him” (Prov. 26:17; see 3:30)

To protect hearth and home, life and limb is a biblical, constitutional, and common sense right.

In the movie Ben Hur (1959), there is a discussion between Balthasar and Judah Ben Hur about seeking revenge.

Judah Ben Hur: “I must deal with Messala in my own way.”

Balthasar: “And your way is to kill him. I see this terrible thing in your eyes, Judah Ben-Hur. But no matter what this man has done to you, you have no right to take his life. He will be punished inevitably.”

Overhearing their conversation, Sheik Ilderim speaks wisdom: “Balthasar is a good man. But until all men are like him, we must keep our swords bright!” If all those in the world had the heart of Balthasar, then there would be no need to discuss what the right response is regarding evil.