Yesterday, I wrote on Facebook and Twitter, that I felt that every church should have at least two trained, armed ushers at each service. I wrote this after hearing about the horrific shooting at a church service in Texas, taking the lives of at least 25 and injuring 20.
I’m sure that many were taken aback by my statement. I also said that the pastor should also be packing as well. I’m sure that this really sent people into crazy-mode.
There are sound reasons for my statements,which I’ll get into in a bit – but first, what does God and the Bible have to say on the subject? As Christians – we believe that we should always defer to the Word of God – correct?
So, let’s start there.
As a Messianic Jew myself, I always look at the Tanakh – the Old Testament – first. It’s the only Bible that Jesus had to work from in His day. Not to worry, New Testament purists – I’ll go there too, but I like to see things as Jesus Himself would have seen things – there was, after all, no Brit Hadasha (בריטית הדשה) – Hebrew for “New Covenant” – or New Testament – in Jesus’ day.
Question: Is it a duty for a Christian to defend himself (and his family)?
Let’s see, it it God’s duty to protect what’s His? The Bible says that it is.
In the third chapter of Genesis, we see a fallen Adam and Eve. The Garden of Eden is perfect, but man has now sinned.
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever–” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24 ESV)
God saw that the man now knew the difference between good and evil – by eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – the very tree they were command to not eat from – God had to make sure that the Tree of Life was also protected. Adam and Eve weren’t going to live forever anymore – so that Tree – His creation – needed to be protected.
Verse 24 shows how God did this – He placed Cherubim (guards) and a flaming sword (a “fire arm”) – to “guard the way to the Tree of Life.”
Another example of God protecting what is His – the Israelites, were (and still are) – His.
In Exodus 32, we see His people defiling themselves – and His good name, through idol worship. They were worshiping a golden calf. Again – God protects what is His. In this case, His good name and holy stature – and to save His people from themselves. God tells Moses to tell the Men of Levi:
And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.’” (Exodus 32:27 ESV)
God had to purify the camp – and instructed the men to don a sword – a weapon, and defend God’s holiness.
In the nation of Switzerland – the law of the land is that every home must have a rifle and a handgun – in working order. It’s funny how so many see this country as a “pacifist” and a “neutral” country, when in actuality, it has the lowest crime rates in the world – and no nation will go to war with it.
God said that every man should have a sword – and in Switzerland, everyone has a weapon. No one messes with Switzerland – even Hitler and Nazi Germany – went around it, and didn’t attack it – they knew that they would be slaughtered by the armed population.
So, if God has a duty to protect what’s His, so we, as created in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26) – also have a duty to protect what is ours.
Have you ever heard of the “Stand Your Ground” laws, in states like Florida and Texas?This law (sometimes called “line in the sand” or “no duty to retreat” law) is a justification in a criminal case, whereby defendants can “stand their ground” and use force without retreating, in order to protect and defend themselves or others against threats or perceived threats.
Where does this come from?
And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the Lord worked a great victory. (2 Samuel 23:11-12 ESV)
Shammah – one of David’s mighty men, stood his ground against the Philistines – and God brought a great victory.
We too, are to stand our ground – our home, our family, what God has provided to us – and protect it! We see this in Exodus 22 as well:
If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him. He shall surely pay. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. (Exodus 22:2-3 ESV)
In other words, if a thief if breaking in – and you kill him to protect your family – you’re “standing your ground” – and you’re absolved of the killing, it’s not murder (the 6th commandment – which says “you shall not murder”) – doesn’t apply.
In other words, God’s Word says that you are permitted, biblically, to protect and defend – what’s yours – your family, your home, your possessions.
(It also says that if they get away, and they’re caught – that you can’t kill them for that – that they have to repay what they took, or be sold into servitude to repay the debt. In other words, you have to defer to the police and the law of the land.)
These check this map to see if your state has a “Stand Your Ground” law.
Most liberal states like California, Colorado, New York and New Jersey don’t permit you to protect your family and home – most states have this protection however.
(The leadership in these states are mostly heathens anyway, and could care less what God has to say anyway – to their detrement).
OK – you say that the Old Testament is full of war and fighting anyway – why go there? We’re not “under the law” anymore. So why do I go there?
First – as Christians, we believe that there are 66 Books of the Bible – not 27! We believe that the entire Bible is inerrant scripture.
Second, it’s not full of war – it’s rich with rules for wise living,
Third. and most important – yes, Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection fulfilled the Law – the Sacrificial Law.
Jews no longer make sacrifices at the Temple – Jesus’ death is the fulfillment of that in that He died for our sins – we no longer need to make a blood sacrifice for sin – Jesus did that for us.
The Moral Law, however – that’s a different story.
God laid down a moral law in the Torah – the first five books of the Tanakh , The Hebrew Bible, the Christian Old Testament – and it’s the basis of most of the laws here in the United States of America and many other nations.
But, OK, – for you folks who want me to point to the Brit Hadasha (pronounced in Hebrew, the “BREET ha-da-SHAH, meaning “New Covenant”) – the New Testament, let’s start here, with the words of Jesus Himself:
“When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.” (Luke 22:35-38 ESV)
Jesus was telling the disciples that after He was gone – that they would be persecuted. He was preparing them for what was to come.
The Greek word for “sword” in this verse is “μάχαιραν” (machiarian). This type of sword was used for “self defense” while travelling, against robbers as well as threats against ones life, including assassins and wild animals.
The New Testament writers use the word “sword” as well – in a spiritual sense. The Greek word used there is “ῥομφαία” (rhomphaia) – a weapon used in battle – a battle sword. This is used to describe how we fight “spiritual warfare” – also in self-defense.
But Jesus commanded the disciples to buy a sword – a weapon – for self-defense! They were to sell a cloak to do so if needed!
So why did Christ say that two swords “were enough” – it’s simple – the disciples weren’t a militia. Two swords were enough to protect twelve of them. They were to be able to defend themselves, not take over entire cities.
We have a God-given right to defend ourselves, to protect ourselves, our families, and what’s ours.
It’s not wrong to own a gun!
Now, let’s get back to arming the church – Why should there be armed ushers? Because a good guy with a gun, can stop a bad guy with a gun. We have seen quite a few examples of people entering churches, hell-bent on taking lives.
Look at this list – how may of these could have had different outcomes, if there was one or two “good guys with guns” – who knows? But God allows us to defend ourselves!
- First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Tex., on Sunday, in which at least 26 people died, was the latest and by far the most deadly shooting at a church in recent years. Here are some notable previous fatal shootings at churches.
- Sept. 24, 2017 – Antioch, Tenn. A gunman carrying two pistols opened fire as Sunday services were ending at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, killing one person and wounding seven others; he also pistol-whipped a church usher who confronted him. The gunman, identified as Emanuel K. Samson, shot and wounded himself, the police said; he was taken into custody.
- June 17, 2015 – Charleston, S.C. Nine people who had gathered for Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a landmark black church in Charleston, were shot and killed by a white gunman, identified by the police as Dylann Storm Roof, who was arrested the next day. A 10th person was wounded. The dead included the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a prominent state senator.
- February 14, 2010 – Richmond, California – Three hooded men walk into Gethsemane Church of God in Christ and opened fire and then fled the scene, as the singing of the choir was replaced by frightened screams. The two victims, a 14-
year-old boy and a 19-year-old man, were hospitalized.
- March 8, 2009 – Maryville, Illinois – Terry Joe Sedlacek, 27, of Troy, walks into the First Baptist Church, and shoots pastor Fred Winters dead, point blank. Several church members are injured by a knife in the struggle to capture after the attack, The suspect also had stabbed himself, but survived, when his gun jams.
- July 27, 2008 – Knoxville, Tennessee – A gunman opens fire in a church during a youth performance, killing two people and injuring seven.
- Dec. 9, 2007 – Colorado – Three people are killed and five wounded in two shooting rampages, one at a missionary school in suburban Denver and one at a church in Colorado Springs. The gunman in the second incident is killed by a guard.
- May 20, 2007 – Moscow, Idaho – A standoff between police and a suspect in the shootings of three people in a Presbyterian Church ended with three dead, including one police officer.
- Aug. 12, 2007 – Neosho, Missouri – First Congregational Church – 3 killed – Eiken Elam Saimon shot and killed the pastor and two deacons and wounded five others.
- May 21, 2006 – Baton Rouge, Louisiana – The Ministry of Jesus Christ Church – 4 killed – The four at the church who were shot were members of Erica Bell’s family; she was abducted and murdered elsewhere; Bell’s mother, church pastor Claudia Brown, was seriously wounded – Anthony Bell, 25, was the shooter.
- Feb. 26, 2006 – Detroit, Michigan – Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church – 2 killed + shooter – Kevin L. Collins, who reportedly went to the church looking for his girlfriend, later killed himself.
- March 12, 2005 – Brookfield, Wisconsin – Living Church of God – 7 killed + shooter – Terry Ratzmann opened fire on the congregation, killing seven and wounding four before taking his own life.
- July 30, 2005 – College Park, Georgia – World Changers Church International – shooter killed – Air Force Staff Sgt. John Givens was shot five times by a police officer after charging the officer, following violent behavior.
- Oct. 5, 2003 – Atlanta, Georgia – Turner Monumental AME Church – 2 killed + shooter – Shelia Wilson walked into the church while preparations are being made for service and shot the pastor, her mother and then herself.
- June 10, 2002 – Conception, Missouri – Benedictine monastery – 2 killed + shooter – Lloyd Robert Jeffress shot four monks in the monastery killing two and wounding two, before killing himself.
- March 12, 2002 – Lynbrook, New York – Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church – 2 killed – Peter Troy, a former mental patient, opens fire during Mass, killing the priest and a parishioner. He later receives a life sentence.
- May 18, 2001 – Hopkinsville, Kentucky – Greater Oak Missionary Baptist Church – 2 killed – Frederick Radford stood up in the middle of a revival service and began
shooting at his estranged wife, Nicole Radford, killing her and a woman trying to help her.
- Sept. 15, 1999 – Fort Worth, Texas – Wedgewood Baptist Church – 7 killed + shooter – Larry Gene Ashbrook shot dead seven people and injured a further seven at a concert by Christian rock group Forty Days in Fort Worth, Texas beforekilling himself.
These are perilous times – what did the Apostle Paul write to Timothy about such times?
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty [perilous times]. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. (2 Timothy 3:1-9 ESV)
We are to protect against all dangers that may creep into our homes – including God’s house.
People usually enter the sanctuary from the rear, and when seated, face forward. Ushers are usually in the rear of the sanctuary and can protect against an evil-doer coming into the church.
But in the event that this defense is breached, who is facing to the rear of the sanctuary? The Pastor! This is why I say that the pastor too, should be trained and armed to respond to these emergencies. The Pastor is the Shepherd of the Flock – and protects the sheep.
Train and arm him and his assistants. To do otherwise, is to go against scripture – and what church wants to do that?
The Bible clearly tells us that it’s biblical to (1) own a firearm/weapon, (2) protect and defend ourselves and our families and possessions, and (3) protect and defend God’s house and His people.