Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Should churchgoers be armed?

One issue that crops up periodically is whether churchgoers should be armed. A few quick observations:

i) I don't know the history, but it wouldn't surprise me if historically, churchgoers were often armed. Consider, say, Christians living in the countryside from 17-19C. Christians who went to church on foot or on horseback. I suspect many of them were armed when they went to church because they were armed whenever they left home, to protect themselves from bandits, Indian braves, wild animals, &c. 

By the same token, it wouldn't surprise me if during the 20C, many churchgoers had rifles in the gun racks of their pickup trucks when they drove to church. Although they wouldn't bring the rifles into church, the rifles were in their trucks in the parking lot. 

In addition, some churchgoers are off-duty policemen. They may be required to have a concealed weapon. (I don't know the rules on that.) Some churchgoers are active-duty military or retired military. Some of them have concealed gun permits. Not to mention open-carry. So I doubt this is a hypothetical scenario. 

ii) If you're a pacifist, you oppose guns inside church because you oppose guns outside church. You oppose guns in general.

But assuming you're not a pacifist, if it's morally permissible for Christians to be armed outside church, then it's morally permissible for Christians to be armed inside church. Where they are is not a morally significant difference. Some professing Christians draw superstitious distinctions about architecture, as if a church building is sacred space, and the moment you enter the narthex, different rules kick in. That, however, is a relic of the OT, as well as high-church (e.g. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox) theology. But that's unsustainable under the new covenant. At most, we might say a church is temporarily hallowed ground by the presence of Christians. 


  1. Good article Steve; again, knowledge of history is often very helpful.

  2. What many churches are looking at today is forming security teams. We've had a security team for some time where members are qualified and organized in order to identify and handle physical threats in the safest, most effective way possible. That way the pastors don't have to tote weapons and the rest of the congregation doesn't have to worry about it. Our children's wing is especially secure.