"But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the Faith and is worse than an unbeliever." 1 Timothy 5:8
Fathers and husbands are required by Almighty God to provide for their families. This includes not only providing food, housing, clothing, education, medical care, love, discipleship and spiritual guidance, but also protection. Of what worth is all the other provision if one does not provide protection as well? Anyone who fails to provide for their family has denied the Faith and is worse than an unbeliever. In fact, those who refuse to protect their young are worse than an animal. What animal will not fight to protect its offspring?
Our Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples that: "He who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." Luke 22:36
The Law of God is clear. "If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed." Exodus 22:2
The Law of God establishes the basic right of self-defence. Any person is justified in defending himself, or his family, whenever they are attacked or their lives are endangered. Any weapon is permissable for use in self-defence. The Law of God does not say that the home owner is guilty if he uses a sword, but innocent if he uses a club. The issue is not one of weapons, but the right and duty of self-defence.
Resistance to Tyranny
During a slide presentation at a church in America, the pastor objected to the Christians in Sudan taking up arms against theSudanese government. He was much offended by the prevalence of fire arms in the hands of Sudanese Christians. So I asked what Christians in America celebrate on the 4th July? He seemed somewhat confused, so I reminded him that their Founding Fathers had unilaterally declared Independence from Great Britain on 4 July 1776. The British called it a rebellion.
The American colonists took up arms against the Crown because the British had failed to rule the Americans in accordance with the Magna Carta of 1215 and the English Declaration of Rights of 1689. King George had violated his coronation oath. The American Founding Fathers maintained that the British government was no longer an authority to be submitted to, but a tyrannical power to be resisted. How then could Americans object to Christians in Sudan doing what they had done in 1776?
Protecting our Families
I then pointed out that, in the entranceway to their church, they had a framed, colour picture on the wall, of early American settlers walking to church, carrying their rifles with their Bibles. I reminded him that many churches in America, in the 17th Century, fined men if they came to church without a rifle! 1 Timothy 5:8 requires men to make provision for their family and declares that any who fail to do so deny the Faith and are worse than an unbeliever. Churches penalised men who showed such irresponsibility as to fail to carry a weapon for the defence of their family.
I then had to point out that Sudan, today, with slave raiders kidnapping children, burning crops, looting cattle, poisoning wells, destroying churches and crucifying pastors, is far more dangerous than America was in the 1600s.
Firearms and Ministries
Far from Christians in the previous centuries having an aversion to firearms, not only were swords and firearms freely brought into many church buildings, but the pastors were often some of the best shots in town. During the American War of Independence, many pastors served as officers in the Continental Army under General George Washington, fighting for Independence.
Firearms and Missionaries
Pioneer missionary, William Carey, whose landmark book, An Inquiry into the Obligation of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen (the book which launched the modern missionary movement) listed as essential equipment for any missionary: "Knives, powder and shot."
Pioneer missionary and explorer David Livingstone, who first landed in Africa in 1840, was well equipped with some of the most advanced weapons then available, including a six-barrelled revolver and a double-barrelled rifle. On occasion David Livingstone was compelled to use his weapons for protection from wild beasts and to persuade slave traders to set the captives free. At one point, after his party had been compelled to shoot back at Muslim slave traders, Livingstone responded to criticism saying: "I love peace as much as any mortal man. In fact, I go quite beyond you, for I love it so much I would fight for it."
Bishop McKenzie, of the Church Missionary Society, was involved in several firefights against slave traders in the Shiri Valley of present day Malawi. He set many captives free.
Francis McDougal, the first bishop of Labuan, reported an attack by pirates in 1862: "My double-barrelled torry's breach loader proved a most deadly weapon, for it's true shooting and certainty and rapidity of firing."
Many religious readers today would be shocked and horrified to read such reports in present day missionary newsletters. Perhaps the comfortable and prosperous surroundings that most Christians in the West have enjoyed for so long have blinded us to the harsh realities that most Christians throughout the centuries, and in less fortunate parts of the world today, have had to face. An unBiblical pacifism has gripped many western Christians.
When world famous cricketer, turned pioneer missionary, C.T. Studd, undertook the first baptisms in a river in the Congo, he needed to fight off crocodiles with a revolver in one hand, while baptising the new converts with the other! C.T. Studd established his Heart of Africa Mission (what later became known as Worldwide Evangelisation Crusade (WEC) in the heart of cannibal country. He had been drawn to the Congo in response to a poster declaring: Cannibals Need Missionaries!!
Mary Slessor, pioneer missionary to Calabar (modern day Nigeria), included "maxim machine guns" in her prayer letter request back to the home country. This was to counter the threat of slave traders in Nigeria.
Andoniram Judson, America's first foreign missionary to Burma, was captured on the high seas, and incarcerated in a French prison, from which he escaped. Later he was imprisoned and tortured in a Buddhist prison in Burma for 18 months.
David Livingstone was mauled by a lion and endured multiple attacks on his life by slave traders.
John Paton, missionary to the cannibals in New Hebrides islands, described being encircled by cannibals "in a deadly ring and one kept urging another to strike the first blow."
Faith and Action
Missionaries such as these faced dangers which we can hardly imagine. We should not be too quick to judge and condemn others for doing what the Bible commands them to do – to take reasonable precautions for self-defence and for the protection of their families. Yes, of course, the primary weapons of missionaries are the Bible, prayer, faith and persuasion. Just as our primary spiritual food is the Word of God. But that does not stop us planting seeds, harvesting crops, shopping and preparing food!
Christians must be balanced and we need to recognise that sin comes from the heart of man (Mark 7:21-23). There is no point blaming a tool, a cold metal inanimate object, for the evil in men's hearts.
Pacifism is in defiance of historic Christian teaching. The 39 Articles, the foundational statement of the Church of England, states clearly in Article 37: "It is lawful for Christian men to carry weapons."
The Westminster Catechism, considered the finest expression of Biblical teaching, states under the 6th Commandment that the prohibition against murder requires as our duty:"All careful studies and lawful endeavours to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting, by just defence, against violence, protecting and defending the innocent."(Q135).
"Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked." Proverbs 25:26
The first president of America, George Washington, declared: "Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence. To secure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and the pistol are equally indispensable. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference. They deserve a place of honour with all that is good."
Switzerland's Strategy for Survival
If you want peace, prepare for war. Peace is achieved through superior firepower. This sums up the Swiss attitude towards peace and freedom. The land of William Tell, Ulrich Zwingli, William Farel and John Calvin, with its deep mistrust of central governments, its abiding love for God's Word and for life and liberty, remain a bastion of freedom through armed neutrality.
"The nation will continue to exist only if it is strong enough to defend itself." "We have a small army, yes, but it is made strong by our traditions." General Guisan in his book:"Our People and its Army" asserted that military defence has two essential components – moral force and material force. A young man at his Confirmation received a sword and could not marry unless he possessed a Bible and a firearm. The local assemblies of lawmakers each carried a sword as a symbol of liberty when they gathered for legislation. Days of military recruitment were festivals with processions, flags and music. Being capable of military service is a physical certificate of health. The warrior spirit exhibits itself in the arts, literature and architecture. The army is the incarnation of the federal republic. The people are the army, the army is the people. The army provides education for citizenship. "We owe it to our ancestors, always appreciate freedom and independence…It is better to die than to live in slavery!"
The Swiss Shooting Federation (SSV) was formed in 1824: "To the promotion and perfection of the art of sharpshooting, an art beautiful in itself and of the highest importance for the defence of the Confederation." Shooting festivals became one of the most important unifying activities in the community. It has always been Switzerland's high level of military preparedness, as a nation of sharpshooters on skis, that has proved an effective deterrent to would-be aggressors.
Switzerland is the only European nation which has proclaimed that, in the event of an invasion, any announcement of surrender is to be regarded as enemy propaganda, that every soldier must fight to the last cartridge, and then with the bayonet. Their published and openly proclaimed military strategy is to make any invader pay a severe penalty for violating their neutrality. The standing order is: Keep fighting. No surrender. No retreat. Fight to the last bullet and blade.
Foundations for Freedom
To limit a person's access to lethal weapons is to limit his ability for self and family defence. Weapons control interferes with our basic right and responsibility for self-defence. Ultimately gun control can deprive you of your right to life. The right of citizens to use lethal force to defend themselves is a great deterrent to thieves and attackers.
Those who choose not to have firearms still benefit from those who do. If only one in twenty people are armed, it still acts as a restraint on potential attackers who are not certain who is armed, and who is not. The deterrent value of armed citizens against crime cannot be overestimated.
"Do not be afraid of them, remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses." Nehemiah 4:14
From these, and many other, passages of Scripture (including Numbers 32:20; Judges 5:8; 1 Samuel 13:19-22), we can see that a man is responsible to be armed and prepared to protect his household.
"A righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well." Proverbs 25:26
The Deadly Deception of Pacifism
When these Scriptural principles are ignored the results can be tragic:
The Christians at the Elim Mission Station in Rhodesia were such convinced pacifists, that even within a few kilometres of Marxist Mozambique during a vicious war, they refused to be armed. They had neither fence, nor dogs to protect them. They refused to allow the security forces to station some guards for their protection. When communist terrorists visited Elim, the missionaries provided them with food and medical supplies.
On one fateful night, in 1979, ZANLA terrorists of Robert Mugabe herded the nine missionaries and four children onto one of the fields. In front of the parents, they hacked the children to death. Then, in front of the husbands, they raped and tortured the women to death. Finally, they brutally murdered the men. Yet, so effectively had their pacifist beliefs neutralised them, that there was no attempt at resistance. The men stood by and watched ruthless terrorists butcher and abuse their loved ones.
In November 1987 a similar massacre took place at New Adams farm in Zimbabwe. Their sincere belief in pacifism disarmed the 16 precious Christians and made them helpless victims to a frightful slaughter.
English Legal Tradition
English legal tradition has always recognised the right of free citizens to possess and carry weapons for self-defence. King Alfred the Great (871-899) laid the foundation for English law. The Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 formed the preamble for these laws. While abuses, such as disturbing a meeting by drawing a sword, were prohibited – the basic right to bear arms was entrenched.
The laws of King Cnut (1020-1023) declared self-defence to not only be a right, but a duty. Those who failed to assist a person under attack were to be fined. Similarly, anyone who "illegally disarms a man" were to be fined.
The Magna Carta of 1215, the first written restriction on the powers of government, and the grandfather of all Bills of Rights, guaranteed the right of all free men to bear arms.
The English Declaration of Rights of 1689 recognised "the right of having and using arms for self preservation and defence." Other free states entrenched this right to obtain, own, carry and use weapons for self defence, including most notably the United States of America and its Bill of Rights. So important and basic was this considered by the American Founding Fathers that they placed it in the Second Amendment – straight after religious freedom!
If these foundational principles for freedom seem extreme, or outdated, then consider recent history:
Rwanda was a Gun Free Zone
On 6 April 1994, one of the most dreadful campaigns of mass murder was unleashed upon the Tutsi people of Rwanda. In just over 6 weeks more people were killed with machetes and clubs than had died from atomic weapons in all of history. The MRND Hutu government of Rwanda instigated, organised and launched the systematic slaughter of the Christian Tutsi minority after enforcing a rigorous gun control. As the population had been previously disarmed, they were helpless to defend themselves against the state which now had a monopoly of weapons. Over 500,000 Tutsi Christians were murdered.
The confiscation of weapons made the massacres possible - by disarming the targeted victims. The holocaust in Rwanda again confirmed that limiting the ability of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and their families is an open invitation to criminals to attack the innocent.
Gun Control Precedes Genocide
The genocides perpetrated upon the Christian Armenians in Ottoman Turkey from 1915-1917 were preceded by gun control and gun confiscation. The massacres of Christian peasants in the Soviet Union from 1929-1953 were preceded by gun control and gun confiscation. The massacres of Jews and Christians in Nazi occupied Europe from 1939-1945; against Christians and anti-communists in Red China from 1949-1976; against Christians in Uganda from 1971-1979; against anti-communists and educated people in Cambodia from 1975-1979; and Christian Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994 – they were all preceded by gun control legislation, which effectively disarmed the targeted victims.
The Greatest Killer
A gun free sticker would not have helped these people, because the greatest threat to life is not from firearm accidents, nor even from criminals. The greatest killer in the 20th Century was secular governments who had disarmed their own citizens. Approximately 160 million people were killed by their own governments, in over 40 communist states, just in the 20th Century alone. These were not foreigners killed by invading armies during times of war, these were citizens killed by their own governments in times of peace.
Tyrants Prefer Unarmed Victims
Gun control deprives potential victims of their best means of protection. A free people need to be armed. Disarmed people can be easily exploited and oppressed. If a government does not trust its citizens with weapons, then the citizens cannot trust the government with power. A government that fears its people is itself to be feared. No government should ever have a monopoly of force or weaponry.
Deal with the Murderer
The underlying arguments for gun control seem to be that the availability of weapons causes crime. But this has not been the Biblical position. Genesis 4 records the first murder when Cain killed Abel. God's response was not to ban rocks, knives, clubs, or whatever murder weapon may have been used, but to banish the murderer. It is the murderer's heart that is the problem, not the weapon used.
In Genesis 9:5-6, God instituted capital punishment for murder. "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man."This death penalty for murder was repeatedly restated (Exodus 21:12-15; Leviticus 24:17-22; Numbers 35:33; Matthew 5:17-18; Acts 25:11; Romans 13:1-4; Revelation 13:10).
However, nowhere does the Bible advocate weapons control. The Bible does record the control of weapons by the Amalikites and the Philistines (Judges 5:8 and 1 Samuel 13:19-22) but it condemns these restrictions on individual defence as a pagan attempt to centralise excessive power.
A Bad Workman Blames his Tool
If firearms caused crime, then Switzerland would be a violent, lawless country, because every citizen has weapons of war stored in his home. Yet, despite having millions of military type rifles, and a great many other firearms and weapons of war in private homes, overall firearm abuse is so low as to be insignificant and Switzerland has the lowest burglary and murder rate in the industrialised world. How many mass murders take place in gun shops, on shooting ranges, or in police stations, where firearms abound?
Also, in 1945, at the end of the Second World War, when tens of millions of soldiers returned to their homes, with millions of surplus firearms sold on the open market (the South African government were selling .303 rifles for just R2 each), and hundreds of thousands of captured souvenir weapons, there was actually a sharp decline of violent crime in the USA, Britain, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
However, later, with the advent of "the permissive society", and as church attendance decreased, along with the explosion of the drug culture and the sexual revolution – then violent crime increased. Clearly, guns do not cause crime. People in rebellion against the Laws of God cause crime and violence.
Gun Free is No Guarantee
Nevertheless, we in South African have an organisation called Gun Free South Africa which regularly claims that: "a person who uses a firearm in self-defence is more likely to be shot than someone who does not" and "the cases of people attacked and robbed of their guns – and often shot with their own guns – far outnumbered occasions when somebody successfully defends themselves with a gun"!!! (Loaded Issues, GFSA leaflet). The same leaflet asserts that criminals are more likely to attack armed victims!
Criminals Prefer Unarmed Victims
These incredible assertions are decisively refuted by the facts. A US Department of Justice report on a Survey of Incarcerated Felons found that the greatest deterrent to crime is armed citizens. 60% of convicts agreed that they would never attempt to rob a victim if they thought that he or she might be armed. 74% declared that their greatest fear was being shot by a victim. 57% stated that they feared armed citizens more than police. Every year, armed citizens legally shoot four times more criminals than do policemen.
An American study, Crime Control by Gary Kleck, reported than a million times a year US citizens use firearms to defend themselves against criminals and to prevent a crime (2,740 times a day). In 98% of these cases, the mere brandishing of the firearm proved sufficient to deter the attacker. Only in 2% of the cases did the citizen find it necessary to kill, or wound, the criminal. Gary Kleck began his studies as a gun control advocate, yet, after his research, became convinced that it was counterproductive. He now opposes government interference in the rights of citizens to obtain and use fireams for self-defence.
A Rapist's Nightmare
A US Justice Department study of more than 32,000 rapes or attempted rapes, found that the best protection against rape is for a woman to be armed. When a potential victim of rape was armed with a firearm, or a knife, only 3% of the attempted rapes succeeded (Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, Rape Victimisation).
Resistance Increases Chances of Survival
A South African study, by John Mann of SAGA, researched 206 cases of armed private defence (not including police or military personnel) in the Gauteng area. In summary he calculated: 677 attackers to 246 defenders/victims; 81% of attackers had weapons, 71% had firearms. 36% of the attackers were killed, or arrested, by the defenders. 64% of the attackers fled. Only four armed defenders/victims died (confrontational survival rate of 31 to 1). No bystanders/innocent parties were injured by actions taken by the defenders. In his conclusion, Mann observed: Potential victims can expect multiple attackers. When an intended victim has used a firearm in defence, four out of ten attackers were killed, or arrested; six out of ten attackers ran away. When an armed victim resists, their chances of surviving the attack are increased by 31 times (3,100%).
More Guns – Less Crime
John Lott of the University of Chicago law school conducted an exhaustive study on the relation of firearm ownership to crime. His 18 years of thorough research of all the data, for over 3,000 counties of the United States, was published under the title: "More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws."
Lott's scholarly study exposes the falsehood and folly of many Gun Free SA guestimates, claims and assertions. For example, the GFSA claim that most people are killed by a friend, family member, or someone they know. The often quoted statistic is that 58% of murder victims are killed by an acquaintance. What most people do not realise is that this so-called "acquaintance murder" category includes gang members killing other gang members, drug buyers killing drug pushers, taxi drivers being killed by customers they picked up for the first time, prostitutes and their clients and so on.