Serving the High Plains

Armed citizens a biblical virtue

I hear there are dozens of presidential executive orders coming soon that tighten the regulation of Second Amendment rights. This is a fundamentally spiritual and moral issue.

For years, I have advocated that political candidates should be asked to explain where they think our rights come from. Since government is in the business of securing our rights, how do you know which rights ought to be secured? This is a great question because it’s like a laser-pointer that hovers on issues of morality and worldview (topics that are strenuously avoided by modern politicians).

Should citizens be armed well enough to effectively defend themselves from armed aggression? Have we been endowed by our Creator with the unalienable right to life and liberty, or does human government bestow those things by its own, capricious will?

Is it possible that the repeated, biblical command to love our neighbors might extend to protecting them from physical aggression, by the reasonable use of force?

Then, if Bible readers come to the unremarkable conclusion that God does allow this use of arms, is it possible that government itself might become that aggressor from whom we all deserve to be defended? Even typing this out, I marvel that some folks will see the questions themselves as threatening. They are dangerous, of course, but only to the bad guys.

Every Fourth of July, we shoot off fireworks to commemorate the fact that America’s founders asked and answered all those dangerous questions. They were not afraid to put it in writing, the belief that rights come from God, and it’s not the duty of government to regulate them, but to defend them. Whether they were consistent with those beliefs, especially concerning the equality of all created men, is another discussion.

When God established a governing system in his own nation, Israel, it’s instructive to note a couple things. First, the Lord didn’t institute a police force of any kind. Second, he prohibited a standing army. (Early America also had neither one, for a long time. The first police were instituted to catch runaway slaves.)

So who was tasked with stopping all the bad guys, and repelling armed invasion? Every able-bodied man over the age of 20. Every man was supposed to be filled with enough faith to run to the trouble, not pay someone to go for them. They all had to be armed.

In 1 Samuel 13, the Philistines had so harassed and dominated the Hebrews that the pagans implemented a system of “sword control” in which edged weapons were outlawed for the Israelites. Even to sharpen their farm tools, Israel had to pay a Philistine blacksmith steep prices, as they weren’t allowed to do it themselves. The heroes of the story were King Saul and his son, Jonathan, who defied their oppressors and possessed swords. In the very next chapter, God used Jonathan and his outlawed sword, to work great deliverance for the nation.

If government creates rights, then government is free to remove, restrict, or ignore them. If, however, our rights come from God, we should take pains to defend them from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Gordan Runyan is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Tucumcari. Contact him at:

[email protected]

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