John Piper connects the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn the D.C. handgun ban with martyrdom of missionaries.

Noël and I watched Beyond Gates of Splendor, the documentary version of End of the Spear, the story of the martyrdom of Jim Elliot, Peter Fleming, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, and Nate Saint in Ecuador in 1956. That same day we heard that the Supreme Court decided in favor of the right of Americans to keep firearms at home for self-defense.

Here’s the connection. The missionaries had guns when they were speared to death. One of them shot the gun into the air, it appears, as he was killed, rather than shooting the natives. They had agreed to do this. The reason was simple and staggeringly Christlike:

The natives are not ready for heaven. We are.

I suspect the same could be said for almost anyone who breaks into my house. There are other reasons why I have never owned a firearm and do not have one in my house. But that reason moves me deeply. I hope you don’t use your economic stimulus check to buy a gun. Better to find some missionaries like this and support them.

I’m actually supportive of the Supreme Court decision mainly because I have always felt the D.C. ban was unconstitutional.  I think Piper makes an interesting argument, and I am inclined to agree if it is an instance of me just defending myself.  Though I feel that Jesus’ teaching on “turning the other cheek”, (Matthew 5: 39) has been misinterpreted to mean we have to be doormats (the command refers to how we respond to insults not a physical assault by one trying to do severe bodily harm).  I would want to show restraint and avoid deadly force.

I don’t own a handgun, shotgun or rifle.  I didn’t grow up with them, and really had nothing to do with them until I joined the Army.  Regarding self-defense, however, if someone enters my home and threatens my family.  I feel very strongly that part of my calling as a husband and father is to protect, so while I would never want to use deadly force if I am to choose between some home invader or my child… well that would be an easy choice.  So in that  instance I disagree.  What do you think?

41 comments
  1. I’m with you, Shane. I think the missionaries were faithful to Christ in their willingness to lay down their own lives rather than take the lives of those they were seeking to reach. But, like you, it seems equally Christlike to defend the helpless, (“No greater love has any man than this…”) and certainly our own family. I do not own a gun and have no desire to own one. But I do keep my 31 inch Al Kaline Louisville Slugger in the closet.

    Drew Hills last blog post..When Johnny Comes Marching Home

  2. I’m with you, Shane. I think the missionaries were faithful to Christ in their willingness to lay down their own lives rather than take the lives of those they were seeking to reach. But, like you, it seems equally Christlike to defend the helpless, (“No greater love has any man than this…”) and certainly our own family. I do not own a gun and have no desire to own one. But I do keep my 31 inch Al Kaline Louisville Slugger in the closet.

    Drew Hills last blog post..When Johnny Comes Marching Home

  3. I’m with you, Shane. I think the missionaries were faithful to Christ in their willingness to lay down their own lives rather than take the lives of those they were seeking to reach. But, like you, it seems equally Christlike to defend the helpless, (“No greater love has any man than this…”) and certainly our own family. I do not own a gun and have no desire to own one. But I do keep my 31 inch Al Kaline Louisville Slugger in the closet.

    Drew Hills last blog post..When Johnny Comes Marching Home

  4. For me, it’s a difference of roles, and each distinct role has unique responsibilities. My responsibility as a parent protecting my family is different from a missionary trying to reach a tribe with the gospel. A missionary’s responsibility would be different from that of a policeman or soldier. Is it wrong for a Christian to serve as either of those?
    There are times when “deadly force” is required, and protecting my family is one of those.

  5. For me, it’s a difference of roles, and each distinct role has unique responsibilities. My responsibility as a parent protecting my family is different from a missionary trying to reach a tribe with the gospel. A missionary’s responsibility would be different from that of a policeman or soldier. Is it wrong for a Christian to serve as either of those?
    There are times when “deadly force” is required, and protecting my family is one of those.

  6. For me, it’s a difference of roles, and each distinct role has unique responsibilities. My responsibility as a parent protecting my family is different from a missionary trying to reach a tribe with the gospel. A missionary’s responsibility would be different from that of a policeman or soldier. Is it wrong for a Christian to serve as either of those?
    There are times when “deadly force” is required, and protecting my family is one of those.

  7. Great comments all. Nephos – no I think it is ok for a Christian to serve as a police officer or as a soldier and am thankful for those who have done so.

    Pacifists – while I respect their position, I’m afraid have misinterpreted scripture like Matthew 5:39 (which is talking about individuals seeking revenge) and the command to not murder (which they wrongly broden the definition of murder). They also take those passages and wrongly apply them to nation-states when those commands are applicable to individuals.

    Not to say that everything government does is just and right, but they have an authority to mete out justice (Romans 13) whereas individuals do not.

  8. Great comments all. Nephos – no I think it is ok for a Christian to serve as a police officer or as a soldier and am thankful for those who have done so.

    Pacifists – while I respect their position, I’m afraid have misinterpreted scripture like Matthew 5:39 (which is talking about individuals seeking revenge) and the command to not murder (which they wrongly broden the definition of murder). They also take those passages and wrongly apply them to nation-states when those commands are applicable to individuals.

    Not to say that everything government does is just and right, but they have an authority to mete out justice (Romans 13) whereas individuals do not.

  9. Great comments all. Nephos – no I think it is ok for a Christian to serve as a police officer or as a soldier and am thankful for those who have done so.

    Pacifists – while I respect their position, I’m afraid have misinterpreted scripture like Matthew 5:39 (which is talking about individuals seeking revenge) and the command to not murder (which they wrongly broden the definition of murder). They also take those passages and wrongly apply them to nation-states when those commands are applicable to individuals.

    Not to say that everything government does is just and right, but they have an authority to mete out justice (Romans 13) whereas individuals do not.

  10. Great comments all. Nephos – no I think it is ok for a Christian to serve as a police officer or as a soldier and am thankful for those who have done so.

    Pacifists – while I respect their position, I’m afraid have misinterpreted scripture like Matthew 5:39 (which is talking about individuals seeking revenge) and the command to not murder (which they wrongly broden the definition of murder). They also take those passages and wrongly apply them to nation-states when those commands are applicable to individuals.

    Not to say that everything government does is just and right, but they have an authority to mete out justice (Romans 13) whereas individuals do not.

  11. End of the Spear was a really great movie – I loved it! I think that trying to establish their pacifist response to the natives as an argument against self-defense doesn’t hold water for me.

    In their case it was a case of “personal” conviction and possibly a leading of the Spirit.. two ways that do hold water in cases of self defense – and other things.

  12. End of the Spear was a really great movie – I loved it! I think that trying to establish their pacifist response to the natives as an argument against self-defense doesn’t hold water for me.

    In their case it was a case of “personal” conviction and possibly a leading of the Spirit.. two ways that do hold water in cases of self defense – and other things.

  13. End of the Spear was a really great movie – I loved it! I think that trying to establish their pacifist response to the natives as an argument against self-defense doesn’t hold water for me.

    In their case it was a case of “personal” conviction and possibly a leading of the Spirit.. two ways that do hold water in cases of self defense – and other things.

  14. End of the Spear was a really great movie – I loved it! I think that trying to establish their pacifist response to the natives as an argument against self-defense doesn’t hold water for me.

    In their case it was a case of “personal” conviction and possibly a leading of the Spirit.. two ways that do hold water in cases of self defense – and other things.

  15. I am a missionary and have been under gun fire with my children. We never owned guns in Venezuela as it was illegal.

    I support the 2nd amendment here in the US and we own fire arms here.

    Usually, when missionaries are putting themselves in harms way, men will go alone with the knowledge they will not defend themselves with deadly force.

    We were once caught in a cross fire of two gangs. They were fighting, shooting, in our yard and our roof was only thin tin. The children and I huddled in the hall and prayed and God used a neighbor lady and HER rifle to
    protect us.

    I learned that night that if I did have a gun and my children were endangered , I would use it. That kind of situation clarifies ones thinking !!!

    Jungle Moms last blog post..Angel Falls, Cell phones, Mirrors, and Love !!!

  16. I am a missionary and have been under gun fire with my children. We never owned guns in Venezuela as it was illegal.

    I support the 2nd amendment here in the US and we own fire arms here.

    Usually, when missionaries are putting themselves in harms way, men will go alone with the knowledge they will not defend themselves with deadly force.

    We were once caught in a cross fire of two gangs. They were fighting, shooting, in our yard and our roof was only thin tin. The children and I huddled in the hall and prayed and God used a neighbor lady and HER rifle to
    protect us.

    I learned that night that if I did have a gun and my children were endangered , I would use it. That kind of situation clarifies ones thinking !!!

    Jungle Moms last blog post..Angel Falls, Cell phones, Mirrors, and Love !!!

  17. I am a missionary and have been under gun fire with my children. We never owned guns in Venezuela as it was illegal.

    I support the 2nd amendment here in the US and we own fire arms here.

    Usually, when missionaries are putting themselves in harms way, men will go alone with the knowledge they will not defend themselves with deadly force.

    We were once caught in a cross fire of two gangs. They were fighting, shooting, in our yard and our roof was only thin tin. The children and I huddled in the hall and prayed and God used a neighbor lady and HER rifle to
    protect us.

    I learned that night that if I did have a gun and my children were endangered , I would use it. That kind of situation clarifies ones thinking !!!

    Jungle Moms last blog post..Angel Falls, Cell phones, Mirrors, and Love !!!

  18. I am a missionary and have been under gun fire with my children. We never owned guns in Venezuela as it was illegal.

    I support the 2nd amendment here in the US and we own fire arms here.

    Usually, when missionaries are putting themselves in harms way, men will go alone with the knowledge they will not defend themselves with deadly force.

    We were once caught in a cross fire of two gangs. They were fighting, shooting, in our yard and our roof was only thin tin. The children and I huddled in the hall and prayed and God used a neighbor lady and HER rifle to
    protect us.

    I learned that night that if I did have a gun and my children were endangered , I would use it. That kind of situation clarifies ones thinking !!!

    Jungle Moms last blog post..Angel Falls, Cell phones, Mirrors, and Love !!!

  19. No one is perfect…not even John Piper.

    His assertion that a missionary reaching out to a tribe with a penchant for violence and deciding to contrast their nature with Christ’s love by not firing on them is the same as some numbskull breaking into my home here in Des Moines is the same thing is lame…

    Besides, the same God that emphasized living in community and love in the N.T. was the same God that told the Israelites to wipe out entire nations, including women, children, and animals.

    Also the argument that you wouldn’t use deadly force to protect yourself or your family because they are not ready for heaven is weak. The decision to accept the risk of counter-force is that of the attacker. As a good Calvinist, John should know that God either elected that attacker or not way before he decided to challenge my willingness to pull the trigger.

  20. No one is perfect…not even John Piper.

    His assertion that a missionary reaching out to a tribe with a penchant for violence and deciding to contrast their nature with Christ’s love by not firing on them is the same as some numbskull breaking into my home here in Des Moines is the same thing is lame…

    Besides, the same God that emphasized living in community and love in the N.T. was the same God that told the Israelites to wipe out entire nations, including women, children, and animals.

    Also the argument that you wouldn’t use deadly force to protect yourself or your family because they are not ready for heaven is weak. The decision to accept the risk of counter-force is that of the attacker. As a good Calvinist, John should know that God either elected that attacker or not way before he decided to challenge my willingness to pull the trigger.

  21. No one is perfect…not even John Piper.

    His assertion that a missionary reaching out to a tribe with a penchant for violence and deciding to contrast their nature with Christ’s love by not firing on them is the same as some numbskull breaking into my home here in Des Moines is the same thing is lame…

    Besides, the same God that emphasized living in community and love in the N.T. was the same God that told the Israelites to wipe out entire nations, including women, children, and animals.

    Also the argument that you wouldn’t use deadly force to protect yourself or your family because they are not ready for heaven is weak. The decision to accept the risk of counter-force is that of the attacker. As a good Calvinist, John should know that God either elected that attacker or not way before he decided to challenge my willingness to pull the trigger.

  22. No one is perfect…not even John Piper.

    His assertion that a missionary reaching out to a tribe with a penchant for violence and deciding to contrast their nature with Christ’s love by not firing on them is the same as some numbskull breaking into my home here in Des Moines is the same thing is lame…

    Besides, the same God that emphasized living in community and love in the N.T. was the same God that told the Israelites to wipe out entire nations, including women, children, and animals.

    Also the argument that you wouldn’t use deadly force to protect yourself or your family because they are not ready for heaven is weak. The decision to accept the risk of counter-force is that of the attacker. As a good Calvinist, John should know that God either elected that attacker or not way before he decided to challenge my willingness to pull the trigger.

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