I’m always amused by those who profess no interest in the Christian faith except to quote selected snippets of Scripture (usually with little or no context) in an attempt to get the faithful to see things their way.
Since the shooting last week in Oregon, the debate over firearms rights has heated up once more. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen allusions to “aren’t Christians supposed to turn the other cheek,” etc, etc.
This is what happens when you quote the Bible (usually via some agenda’s talking points) but never study it. Yes, Jesus commanded his disciples to ‘turn the other cheek.’ The Apostle Paul in his letters also gives detailed instructions for how churches should deal with recalcitrant members, outlining a series of escalating steps that end in expulsion. These instructions are about personal relationships — and remaining open to reconciliation. But even Jesus acknowledged it takes “two to tango” in that regard, and that not everyone will respond in kind. Most of these “turn the other cheek” quoters never touch on that time when Jesus fashioned a whip and drove the profiteers out of the temple. Jesus was not a milquetoast, and He did not expect His disciples to be, either.
So, my question to those who love to spout just enough Scripture to confuse the issue: what does any of the above have to do with a scenario where a complete stranger who cares nothing for relationships is only hell-bent on murder? Answer: nothing. There are indeed other scripture that are applicable here: “greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,” for instance. There are some online who have pointed out the instruction from Jesus to his disciples “let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” The all-important context for that: Jesus is preparing for His death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven. He will not be physically present with His disciples. Instead, they will remain as ambassadors in a world completely hostile to their faith. Which brings me to one more verse from our Lord:
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” – Matthew 10:16
It is unwise to unilaterally disarm in a world demonstrably filled with evil. Christians should never seek conflict — that is against the ‘innocence’ we are commanded to maintain. And we should not be strutting about like Dirty Harry, begging some ‘punk’ to “make my day.” That is certainly not a Christlike attitude, and I fear too many display it without thinking, which harms the reputation of Christ and His Church. If, God forbid, we find ourselves in a situation where we have to choose between taking the life of an assailant, or allowing carnage among others, we should not hesitate to act… and to have been prepared beforehand to act responsibly and decisively. But never should this be taken lightly: even these mass murderers were created with the imago dei, and it grieves the Father to lose anyone so irretrievably to the influence of sin and a hardened heart. It is not His wish that any should perish, but in His wisdom He knows that some will use the free will He gave them to pursue just that road. Still, nowhere in Scripture can I find a command to stand by, passive and unarmed, and allow one who has made such a self-destructive choice to inflict destruction on others.
Which brings me to a final, related thought: if it looks like an invasion, and acts like an invasion, what are we to deduce from the above? The same voices claiming Christians should forego the right of individual self-defense would seem to apply the same view to national defense.
That is neither “wise” nor “innocent.” And it’s about time we push back–hard–against such Wormtongue-like advice, and tell them to “keep your forked tongue behind your teeth.” The devil himself is known to quote scripture. That doesn’t mean he’s using it correctly.