Question For The Pastors
As the title above says, I have a question for those of the cloth amongst our midst.
This is a question that I feel should be asked by each and every person that decides to carry a gun, or any lethal weapon, for self protection IMO. I get asked this question a lot, or some variation of it because I am an R.N. as well as a LEO. So people think I'm supposed to save lives, not take them. So, the question is:
Given society's mental prejudices against killing another human being how are you prepared for wearing the "Mark of Cain"?
For me, the answer is easy, after much soul searching and deep thinking on the subject. I will admit I had this deep thinking at a much younger age and often have affirmations of my belief throughout the course of the various years.
Pastors, Priest and other such people of the cloth are not seen as people that defend self and others, except through prayer. In my mind this would place the person of the cloth at a severe psychological disadvantage in the lethal encounter aftermath. Doctors and Nurses also face this same prejudice by society, in that we are to treat the wounded and sick, not create them.
For me the answer is, I'm a little bit selfish. I can help nobody if I am incapacitated. Therefore, I must keep myself alive in order to treat others. The first rule of being a First Responder is to make sure the scene is safe. If I am injured at the scene then I will divert resources from the "victim". That is much like my thinking in regards to defending life.
It has been a long time since we had Circuit Preachers riding a horse and packing a Colt and I wonder how society would view a pastor that took a human life in defense of self or others? I also wonder if all the pastors, priest and whatnot have given full and serious consideration to this subject matter and are prepared to live with the consequences?
I'm catholic and haven't seen or heard of any priests in my 24 years carrying guns. However, alot of other denominations, the pastors/reverends seem to be pretty open about carrying a gun for self defense.
You're probably right about the stigma attached by our society. I still carry. Biblically there is no conflict with self-defense IMO, and that is the standard that I care about
For me it breaks down into two categories: Threat to my life for the cause of Christ and threats to my life or those I am called to pastor (shepherd/protect).
For the first, this would involve a clear "renounce your faith or I kill you" kind of threat and I am prepared to choose to live and die for my faith in that event.
For the second which includes active shooter threats to the church, drug-crazed idiots, estranged spouses of church members, folks who blame organized religion for their problems, crazy people, you name it, I see zero conflict in shooting to stop the threat.
I have already come to terms with the potential for a rough aftermath, such as the media spin, the negative reaction of church members, and the backlash from leftward leaning elements of our society, etc. I think it boils down to understanding my calling and conscience.
I am called to shepherd the flock that I serve. 1 Samuel 17:34-35 records David's thoughts on his role as a shepherd: "But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it." So I carry in part to protect myself and my family, but I specifically carry to church to protect those that would seek to harm the church. The next verse in that passage records David's words regarding the present threat of Goliath: "Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God."
The other side of the equation is that I have weighed the thought of doing nothing against the possible fallout from doing the right thing and I would rather suffer for doing what is right that be tortured by the thought that I could have limited the loss of innocent life and did not have the preparation/resolve to do so.
As a pastor myself I agree with Pastorpack and couldn't say it any better!
Originally Posted by PastorPack
I can't add much to what has been said. I recognize that we live in a world affected by the events recorded in Genesis 3. As a result of the curse, there is evil in this world. My first responsibility is for the protection of my family, and then of my congregation.
I am much more concerned about how I would feel if they were victimized and I had not done everything in my power to protect them. I'd have a much harder time living with that than with the after-effect of a necessary defensive action. The state still recognizes my right to protect myself and those for whom I'm responsible, and to do so using firearms if necessary. So that is within my power, and I've determined that I will do so.
God is sovereign, yet my responsibility is clear. I'm not responsible for the criminal's decision to attack, but I am responsible for my decision to protect.
Thanks, Biker, for the opportunity to reflect. When I was a fire chief, I was command in an training situation that included a response to a church with fire showing and children still inside in a day care. The first on engine encountered two armed men in the parking lot that shot at the engine. I of course ordered all fire and EMS responders to stage a safe distance from the church until PD secured the scene. In a real situation would I have been concerned about the decision, about the kids, etc? Of course, but there was no other option -- dead firefighters can not help anyone. If this had been real would there have been disastrous PR aftermath? Yes, especially if the kids had been hurt or killed. That said, the decision was the only one available and would be made regardless of the potential aftermath.
I have responded as a chaplain to the Wedgwood Baptist Church shooting and as a counselor to Virginia Tech. I have walked with a variety of people in the aftermath of such situations. As a minister, I have concluded that just as when I wore the Chiefs helmet there may be situations where I will have to do the right thing, however unpleasant and whatever the consequences. Before concluding this, I have had to conclude (as others have already posted) that self-defense and the defense of others is not contrary to Scripture. I personally believe that not only is it not contrary, but it is consistent with God's concern for the weak and with a husband/father's role as protector.
As a Pastor I am to "Shepherd the Flock of God"! In the imagery of a Shepherd, feeding and protecting both come in view! In the example of David and Nehemiah, fulfilling God's purpose for their lives brought about a time of trusting God's Sovereignty and exercising wisdom in dealing with BG's. The Giant was dealt with and a nation was able to move forward because a skilled youth did what a military commander should have already done. Nehemiah had a wall to build and realized while the building was going on, BG's would likely show up. Nehemiah told the folks who were building to keep their weapons with them.
Originally Posted by Wes Kenney
I don't ever want to have to use my weapon but if the threat take place, I pray that my action will be those of a good steward of life.
My wife is wheelchair bound! If a shooter comes in our church, she is a ready target because her lack of mobility due to physical problems which would not allow her to dive for cover. I will either respond to the shooter or get between her and the shooter and then respond to the shooter. The other side of it is that she may have already responded to the shooter as she carries as well! That is what I think I would do, only a Sovereign God knows now what I would really do then.
Life is a precious gift. I don't want to take it but I don't want it taken either. I believe the Word of God would support that!
The way our country going and the increase of BG's (Giants or whatever you want to call them) this is a very timely question for us to answer. The sad fact is, to many congregations have already had to deal with the aftermath of the presence of BG's, mad folks, robbers, etc! Yet we are still to slow to deal with the wisdom of Nehemiah which was "be ready to deal with folks who desire to harm"!
There is a huge difference between killing and murder. Cain committed murder. :wink:
Great thoughts and questions Biker. And as the other pastors have already noted, we usually wear several 'hats'...husband, father, pastor, etc.
As men, God has placed us 'out front' in providing for and protecting our loved ones. Refusing to defend ourselves and our families against a violent criminal would be a denial of what our Creator has made/called us to be. Only in suffering for our Faith, does the Bible specifically command nonresistance.
But you're right to think that the use of deadly force in self-defense would likely take a greater toll on us than on others. Among other things pastors tend to have sensitive hearts and consciences. At least I do. So I know that for me it would be a long and difficult road.
Oh well, here in New Jersey it's pretty much a non issue...with the gun laws as they are. We're pretty much 'limited' to prayer and martial arts.
And even prayer is frowned on here.
As Thumper pointed out-the more accurate translation of "Thou shalt not kill" should read, "Do not murder", there being a line (perhaps a fine line, but a line nonetheless) between murder and justifible homicide.
I wrestled with this while in Seminary, (lo those many years ago :gah:) when I went to Seminary from active duty and was still in the National Guard as a "spear carrier". I also got my first CC permit while in Seminary. Like Pastor Pack, I determined that there was a very fundamental difference between being threatened specificially because of my faith and being threatened by a random act of violence due to our being in a Fallen world.
Do I want to shoot/kill somebody--Heavens NO!!! However, unless it is a specific issue of persecution for my faith, I have a higher moral obligation to protect my family, my comrades and my country.
Thanks guys, as a member I wonder what a source of info would be to glean facts to present to our Elders(pastors) concerning protection for the flock. Perhaps a dedicated group of men for this task might be one way to go. Any info would be appreciated. Santa01
I think others have answered in a way that expresses my feelings. If it's a "renounce Christ or die" situation, I'll wave to all y'all on my way out of this world. If it's some crackhead who wants my life or livelihood, I will defend myself.
I am very aware that it will be a rough ride in the eyes of the public, my own congregation, most likely my own denomination, and many in the community. People love to MMQ! This would be no different, if not even worse.
I also suspect that I would have a tough time emotionally after taking a life. No matter how logically right it might seem, I think my feelings would still take a beating.
I have thought this through. I don't think that means I am fully prepared for it, should that time ever come. I would definitely seek some counseling, including some good friends who are pastors/shooters/former military.
As a pastor I have searched my soul about this. I have been in the pastorate for over 30 years and never felt the need to be armed until the last two years. Even then I was reluctant to venture into this new area of life for me. Wife took her CHL class before me and did very well and encouraged me to get my CHL. I am a peace loving man but I will not let a wolf or pack of wolfs take my life or my family's life or the life of the congratulation God has placed me over with out a fight. I do not carry a weapon to destroy but to protect and defend. I hope it never comes to using my weapon, but I have to face God one day, and a shepherd without a rod or staff is just in the way when a real world wolf comes after the flock. God has granted me peace and I carry all the time to protect and defend and if other don't understand it well I know where I am on this issue. It would not be the first time that as a pastor I have been misunderstood.
Great line, Wes.
Originally Posted by Wes Kenney