The Gospel and Gun Control

Ben Howe approaches gun control arguments from a Biblical perspective.

“Jesus’ statement here has to do with vengeance and retribution, not with self-defense,” says Dr. Thomas Howe, Professor of Bible & Biblical Languages at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC. “You should defend yourself, but you should not attempt to exact retribution upon those who do evil against you,” Howe says. 

In fact, Jesus’ comments on not resisting evil are a clarification of the Old Testament command, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” That command was directed at legal authorities yet had over the years become a justification for revenge by individuals. For many people, and eye for an eye became an opportunity to wrong someone who had wronged them. Within this context, Jesus’ illustrations, none of which have anything to do with a potentially fatal attack, provide new instruction. 

As Howe puts it, “You cannot turn the other cheek if you have been killed in the initial attack. Jesus’ commands and illustrations do not concern self-defense against potentially fatal attacks. [His words] cannot refer to defending your life since it is ridiculous to tell someone to leave
punishment up to God if that person has been killed in the crime. Instead, these illustrations have to do with mistreatment or being defrauded.”

He includes a reference to a verse that seems applicable but never seems to get mentioned during gun control debates, Luke 22:35-36:

35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 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.