The racially motivated murder of nine black people while inside a church building in Charleston, South Carolina is horrendous. My heart is sad. Family members and friends are waking up today without people they love for absolutely no reason. What needless suffering because of one bitter individual.
I wonder if anyone had a gun in that church building? I wonder if someone would have had a gun, including the pastor, would he or she have had the courage to pull the trigger? And if he or she would have, how would America, and more specifically, Christians, have responded?
Let me be clear on one thing. If Dylann Roof would have walked into any church and told everyone, “Recant your faith or be killed,” retaliatory-based aggression of any kind would seem to be absolutely unjustified from a Christian standpoint. Is this not, in some sort of way, why Jim Elliot and his four other men fired guns into the air rather than at members of the Aucas?
In any instance that one is facing any form of persecution for one’s faith, to act out in violence toward that individual/group would fail to reflect Christ in that instance. One is not called to preserve self when put on trial for Christ. Either profess or deny Christ in that instance. After all, in this scenario, your life is being threatened because of your faith.
However, if a person walks up to you, whether that be in private or public, and threatens your life for no reason associated with your faith, is this different? In other words, if someone like Dylann Roof walked into your church but it was not at all apparent that the aggression was faith-related persecution, do you believe that because the threat/persecution is not faith-related, pastors/Christians have the right (in states where law does not prohibit individuals from carrying firearms) to use a firearm in a house of worship to defend him/her and the congregants?
Let me be clear, this will be one of the hotly debated moral issues within Chrisitanity over the next few months and years. Sadly to say, it is of the utmost relevance.