Monday, October 20, 2008

MS Vs. MN View On Self Defense, I Like MS's

A pastor friend of mine from Mississippi would disagree with Piper's assessment of self-defense below. That's ok though. We all may allow Piper to be wrong just this once. :-)

Do You Have Your Sword?

No matter how many laws you pass attempting to ban guns from those who seek to do harm, the bad guys will always obtain them. The notion that violent lawbreakers will somehow be thwarted by creating more rules is about as sensible as thinking that a hormone-filled adolescent will not ogle the emerging debutante because we asked him nicely.

Criminals disobey the law for their own advantage and violent criminals look for victims. The best victims are the weakest victims; those who will not or cannot defend themselves against aggressive wrongdoing. Gun laws are paper tigers that only serve to restrict and forbid good citizens from protecting their family, person, and property.

Even though the civil authorities are instituted by Divine mandate to bear the sword against evil doers, they are not always able to respond quickly and efficiently particularly when someone’s life is in immediate danger. Every school shooting in our country attests to this fact. It just takes too long for law enforcement to respond. Compound that with an entire campus or mall of unarmed and fenced in victims and you have a tremendous recipe for unabated carnage. We should allow those students and citizens who want to be able to defend themselves the ability to do so and not have to rely on merely bare fists, loud shouts and screams, or a belated cavalries for their protection.

Self-defense is godly. Arming oneself for that task is right and biblical. If the use of that defense ends in the termination of the aggressor’s life then that is the price that the criminal paid for his wickedness. When Christ sent out his disciples just before his own arrest and death he gave them a list of things to bring with them.

“When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. “For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment. They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.” Luke 22:35-38

Notice that Jesus did not say, “When you go leave your sword behind and simply pray when you are attacked and do the best you can, knowing that you’ll be spared if you remain pacifists.” Instead, he advocated being armed for defense and security. He did not instruct them to kill anyone who got in their way nor did he tell them to be brazen and antagonistic. He wanted them to be safe and to have the tools to ensure it.

Recently a well-known pastor, author, and preacher compared his decision to not arm himself in his household to the same decision that Jim Elliot and his missionary friends made in Ecuador when they were speared to death by hostile natives. They had guns with them but only shot them in the air rather than killing the tribesmen. As he wrote, “they were ready to go to heaven but these natives were not. So why would they kill them rather than being killed themselves?” And so if someone were to attack us in our home, he argues, why would we want to kill them either since they are probably not ready to go to heaven either? Jesus certainly gave other advice.

One of the problems with this theory is that is presupposes that using a gun defensively automatically means killing a person. This is neither true nor desirable. Death is simply the possible risk incurred by the evil doer when he decides to threaten and inflict harm. As an example of this principle in action watch this trailer clip from Boston Legal which makes the point quite nicely.

And so when asked directly whether he is a pacifist or whether he would protect his daughter from harm if he did own a gun he responded by saying, “… the circumstances are so unpredictable. What would you do? Shoot the guy in the head? Or shoot him in the chest? How about the leg? Or just throw the gun at him, or hit him over the head with it? Of course I’m going to protect my daughter! But I’m not aiming to kill anybody, especially an intruder who doesn’t know Christ and would go straight to hell, probably. Why would I want to do that if I could avoid it?” Again, see the above video on how to handle that situation. What is curious to me is his seeming abandonment of God’s sovereignty in election and His promise that He is not willing that any of His own will perish but that all of His children will come to faith and repentance found in 2 Peter 3:9? Am I now ruining God’s plan in redemption because I chose to use intense force in protecting my daughter? My decision to shoot a rapist who I find on top of my daughter with a knife to her throat is now wrong because if I kill him he might go to hell? I’m not advocating killing him for the sake of killing him but am also thoroughly convinced that my decision to be fully armed so that I can protect my children is neither wrong nor going to circumvent God’s purposes in salvation.

Later he makes a comment that “those who live by the gun shall die by the gun” but this, too, is a misapplied principle since owning a firearm for protection is not living by the gun. Owning a handgun for protection is exactly the same as listening to Christ in Luke’s gospel when he told those who were about to journey to arm themselves. Even a sword can kill and those who obeyed Jesus were not guilty of living by the sword either. I think Piper is guided by good motives but led down the wrong path. [click here for John Piper's full blog post]

If more men realized their God-given duty to be ready and able to defend their neighborhoods and person the purposes of evil brought about by willing men would be lessened. That is a good thing.

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