Peace Be Still or Piece of Steel?
The Continuing Debate Over Guns in Churches
After several recent church campus shootings, including last month’s horrific killing spree at Wichita, Kansas’s Lutheran Reformation Church (which included the death of “Abortion Doctor” George Tiller), many congregations are debating the place of firearms in their services.
Should churches employ armed security guards or even allow parishioners to carry concealed weapons through the doors of their facilities?
Where do we draw the line between trusting God and protecting ourselves? Is it wrong for a church to take a political stance on such an issue?
These are all questions being pondered by countless churches and religious organizations throughout the nation, each from a myriad of denominations and ecclesiastical backgrounds.
According to the Associated Press, Pastor Ken Pagano of New Bethel Church in Louisville, Kentucky recently invited members of his congregation to “bring guns to church to celebrate the Fourth of July and the Second Amendment.”
Pagano’s church scheduled a handgun raffle to be held in their facilities on June 27, 2009.
The event was also said to include patriotic music and information and demonstrations on proper gun safety.
“We’re just going to celebrate the upcoming theme of the birth of our nation,” said Pagano.
“And we’re not ashamed to say that there was a strong belief in God and firearms—without that, this country wouldn’t be here.”
Arkansas Pastor John Phillips, however, disagrees with the whole notion of guns in churches. Phillip’s stance is considerably noteworthy, considering he was shot twice while leading a service in 1986.
“A church is designated as a safe haven, it’s a place of worship,” he said.
“It is unconscionable to me to think that a church would be a place that you would even want to bring a weapon.”
To this day, one of the two bullets from the shooter remains lodged in Phillip’s spine.
The Scriptures contain several passages in which God instructs His people to protect themselves from their enemies; those individuals who would seek to cause them harm.
The Book of Nehemiah, for example, continues the story and history of the “children of captivity,” better known as the Jews, who have fled Babylon to return to their own land.
Chapter four notes the precautions taken by Nehemiah during the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem:
“From that day on, half of my servants carried on the work while half of them held spears, the shields, the bows and the breastplates…Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon. As for the builders, each wore his sword girded at his side as he built, while the trumpeter stood near me.” (vs. 16-18, New American Standard-updated edition).
Keep in mind these swords likely weighed between 20 and 40 pounds. And the passage records these men were working and toting their weapons. Talk about being prepared for an attack!
Needless to say, several pro-firearm church attendees support their position with the aforementioned passage, arguing that, based on recent tragedies, today’s congregants need to be prepared in much the same way.
Imagine church construction personnel walking around a campus building site toting AK-47s. Or the elderly lady who sits in the pew behind you caressing the 9mm tucked away in her purse. Perhaps that’s a tad extreme.
But allowing any man or woman to walk into a church with a concealed weapon, while an ambiguous issue to some, may be asking for trouble.
Not to mention, churches that become overly immersed in debating this issue (referred to as a “gray area by many) run the risk of distracting nonbelievers and even their own members from the true purpose of the church: To reach the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and raise up a Biblically functioning community.
–Josh Givens, The Underground staff writer