Church gun giveaways send wrong message

Bible and gun

A local church in Troy, NY is promoting a gun giveaway and its not the first church to do so. Churches in Texas and Kentucky have offered gun giveaways.

The practice of a church gun giveaway sends the wrong message.  Is it wrong because it is illegal to own a gun? No. Is it wrong because it is immoral to own a gun? No.

The apostle Paul once wrote to the church in Corinth,

All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.

It may be lawful for a church to have a AR-15 gun giveaway, but it is not profitable to Christianity. To some, having more guns means more safety. However, studies show no strong empirical evidence to support this. For instance, in the only peer review published study on gun related deaths, the Annals of Emergency Medicine reported:

“…on a case-controlled study in which household were matched on a number of demographic factors, and then incidences of gun violence were compared.  They found that people who keep a gun in their home are almost twice as likely to die in a gun-related homicide.”

In 2004, American Journal of Epidemiology published a study that found:

Results show that regardless of storage practice, type of gun, or number of firearms in the home, having a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and firearm suicide in the home.

Owning a gun at home increases risk for children and adults.  Why should churches support a practice that puts more risk of death or injury at home? If gun owners want to minimize gun risk, shouldn’t there be more sponsorship of training and safety? That’s just more profitable in order to reduce gun injury or death at home.  If anything, churches should be more concerned with safety, than gun promotion.

A church is sanctuary, a place of safety.  In a time where churches hold gun turn-in programs, gun giveaways send the wrong message to local communities. Violence of guns harms urban and non-urban communities. Troy pastor Willie Bacote, who leads a church with a gun buy-back program remarked, “The fact a church would offer some type of weapon to anyone strikes me as ludicrous and goes against everything the Bible teaches.”

Christianity is not incompatible with gun ownership, but churches must be sensitive of the image a gun brings to a place of peace of Jesus Christ.  I cannot imagine Jesus would ever hold a “free sword” day contest in the temple. For even upon Jesus’ arrest, a sword was drawn by Peter and Jesus prohibited him saying, “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” In other words, “if by your actions you encourage violence, expect violence to come to you.”

The Apostle Paul was right. All things may be lawful, but not profitable. It is lawful for a church to giveaway a gun. However, it certainly is not profitable, especially in places of gun violence and violent crime.

Alan Rudnick

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Alan Rudnick has been featured on television, radio, print, and social media and serves as the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ballston Spa, NY. He has quickly established himself as a leader, blogger, and commentator in the areas of faith, Christianity, ministry, and social media. He is the author of, “The Work of the Associate Pastor”, Judson Press. Alan’s writing has been featured with the Albany Times Union, The Christian Century, Associated Baptist Press, and The Fund of Theological Education.

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  • Eduardo Blanco

    I think it sends and outstanding message. That the Church stands with their parishioners by not treating them like the enemy as currently perpetuated by popular media. Guns are not a social evil and are a part of the fabric of this country like it or not. If you choose not to participate, that is your business but do not demonize those that engage in these activities nor attempt to symbolize guns as evil objects.

    • disqus_iulM4CIA78

      I could not agree more. Why would a church/pastor want their congregation to be victims of criminals?

      Luke 11:21- ESV
      When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe;

      I guess some people would like Christians to guard their palace not fully armed.

      Matthew 26:52-54 – ESV
      Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For
      all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I
      cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve
      legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled,
      that it must be so?”

      Notice how Jesus says to put his sword “back in its place”. Not “Throw Away Your Sword! You have NO use for it!”.

      I personally believe the Bible is very clear. Christians should defend their friends, family, and the innocent from wicked men. (Proverbs 25:26) Self-defense is not a sin, God did not say he detests the shedding of blood, just the shedding of innocent blood a.k.a. murder. (Proverbs 6:16-19)(Exodus 22:2-3)

      However, this should all be balanced by the fact that we are not to seek vengeance, love our enemies, and be slow to anger.

      This whole argument that the tools of self-defense are somehow inherently sending the “wrong message” or “promoting violence” is obviously not very Biblical.

  • disqus_iulM4CIA78

    Pastor Alan,
    With all due respect, you are writing this from a different view on guns than those who host these giveaways. You are focusing on gun violence as if it is the fault of the gun. In many parts of the country guns are a part of the culture and are not seen the same way you see them.

    Why should churches support a practice that puts more risk of death or injury at home?: Of course owning a gun at home increases the risk of a gun accident occurring. That is like saying if you own a pool you are 100 times more likely for a pool accident to occur at your house.
    If gun owners want to minimize gun risk, shouldn’t there be more sponsorship of training and safety? There is a lot of that going on, however, the media isn’t exactly highlighting it.

    Jesus also said to sell your cloak and buy a sword if you did not have one. If self-defense was more important to Jesus than being fully clothed, I think he would not be against Christians arming themselves.

    ”Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” In other words, “if by
    your actions you encourage violence, expect violence to come to you.” : I would take issue with your interpretation, I believe you are allowing your bias influence your view on this verse. Although I do not disagree with your interpretation, I believe the verse is saying if you make a living by violence (robber, gang member, etc) then you will die by that violence. Also saying that giving away a gun “encourages violence” is very misleading. These churches aren’t giving away guns and saying “go shoot somebody with it!”. That would be like your church giving away food to the hungry and I then criticize you by saying “you are encouraging obesity”. Gifting an object does not encourage any sort of behavior.

    Thanks for your time.

  • Scott Coleman

    Luke 22:36 KJV: “………and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one”. I’d say G-d wants us to defend ourselves.