Thursday, 27 December 2012 14:00

What Would Jesus Shoot?

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A co-religionist friend of mine asked some years ago, “What is the [Catholic] Church’s teaching on firearms…? Does it recommend an assault rifle or a shotgun?”

He was kidding, of course, but not so funny are some recent attempts by liberal “Christians” to turn Jesus into Sarah Brady. Motivated by their unique brand of religiosity in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, they say that the Lord would never condone gun ownership. Why, didn’t He state, “[A]ll that take the sword shall perish with the sword”?

Were I to steal a leaf out of the liberals’ book, I’d now become conveniently literalistic and say that if anyone wants to consider sword control, I’m game. But let’s address the matter seriously.

When the temple guards of the Sanhedrin came to the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus, the apostle Simon Peter leapt to the Lord’s defense, drew his sword, and sliced off the ear of a slave accompanying the guards. This is where the quoted Bible passage comes into play. The gospel of Matthew (26:52) tells us that Jesus rebuked Peter, saying, “Put up again thy sword into its place: for all that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Quite a pacifist message, huh?

Yet there’s something generally overlooked here. Peter only had a sword to draw because he had one on his person — and Jesus obviously took no issue with this. In fact, even during Jesus’ rebuke, He never told Peter to throw his sword away. The command was simply to resheath it.

Why? Perhaps because Jesus had actually ordered the apostles to acquire swords. As Luke 22:36-38 tells us:

“But now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a scrip; and he that hath not, let him sell his coat, and buy a sword. For I say to you, that this that is written must yet be fulfilled in me: ‘And with the wicked was he reckoned.’ For the things concerning me have an end.” But they said: “Lord, behold here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

So what is the actual meaning of Jesus’ words in Matthew? I won’t say anything definitively, but I will note that the relevant line has often been interpreted to mean “He who lives by the sword shall die by it also.” And, of course, there’s as big a difference between legitimate self-defense and living by the gun as there is between respecting the state’s legitimate role and living by government.

So what would Jesus shoot? Nothing, I’m sure. He wouldn’t get married, either; His role wasn’t exactly the same as ours. But I’m also sure that a clear understanding of Christianity shoots the liberal arguments right out of the sky.

(Hat tip: the readers who e-mailed me the Luke reference.)

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4 comments

  • Comment Link REMant Sunday, 30 December 2012 20:32 posted by REMant

    Let Him who is without sin cast the first shot

  • Comment Link Drógo Nazhûr Saturday, 29 December 2012 10:21 posted by Drógo Nazhûr

    As far as what would Jesus shoot? You are correct in that he wouldn't shoot anything. Remember that according to Matthew 26:53, Jesus COULD summon "more than twelve legions of angels" to protect Him. The defense by even one angel would be more effective than any shotgun or machine gun that a person could employ. Someone who could summon more than 12 legions of angels (a legion is between 4,000-6,000) wouldn't need to shoot anything.

  • Comment Link Drógo Nazhûr Saturday, 29 December 2012 10:07 posted by Drógo Nazhûr

    Additionally, Part 3, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 5, Subsection 1, Heading 2, Paragraphs 2263-2265 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states ...

    The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. "The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one's own life; and the killing of the aggressor.... The one is intended, the other is not."

    Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:

    If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful.... Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one's own life than of another's.

    Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.

    ... http://www.kofc.org/publications/cis/catechism/getsection.cfm?partnum=3&SecNum=2&ChapNum=2&articlenum=5&ParSecNum=0&subSecNum=1&headernum=2&ParNum=2265&ParType=a

  • Comment Link Drógo Nazhûr Saturday, 29 December 2012 10:03 posted by Drógo Nazhûr

    “What is the [Catholic] Church’s teaching on firearms…?

    According to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, "The International Arms Trade: an Ethical Reflection" in Origins 8 (24), 7 July 1994, p. 144 (which can be found on the Vatican's own website here -- http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/secretariat_state/documents/rc_seg-st_doc_20010711_trade-arms_en.html) ...

    " ... the right of legitimate defence by means of arms exists. This right can become a serious duty for those who are responsible for the lives of others, for the common good of the family or of the civil community. This right alone can justify the possession or transfer of arms ... "

    ;;; and that is a direct, word for word quote.

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