As a conservative, the answer for me should probably be “yes.” As a faithful believer in the plan of God, I’m going to have to go with the unpopular response and declare that churches should not adopt armed security measures to protect their congregations. To do so would be to declare that we have faith, but…
The tragic events in South Carolina last week scarred the nation and has caused an uproar that is rocking the politics and activism of the entire country. One man acting in the spirit of hate is making church pastors around the country take matters into their own hands rather than to trust in the plan of our Father.
The arguments are logical. Churches should be considered a safe haven for all who seek the Word of God. Fear should not be a reason that people can invoke when deciding that they do not want to go to church. Agents of hatred should not be able to see churches as easy targets to spread their mayhem. It makes perfect sense for pastors and church leaders to want to protect their flock. The problem isn’t with the logic. The problem is that the calling of discipleship and the spreading of the Word of God must be done with a heart that purely embraces the teachings of the Bible.
One may point to Luke 22 and declare that Yeshua told his disciples to sell their garments and buy swords. This can be used as justification to protect the church, but it is not so. Careful examination shows that even though they had swords and even used them to defend Yeshua, he rebuked them for the use and healed the man who had his ear cut off. Is this a mixed message? Is He telling his disciples to arm themselves but not use their arms? An argument can be made for that scenario, but it’s not likely.
Throughout the New Testament, we see that the sword is intended to protect earthly things while the true Sword of the Spirit that is part of the full Armor of God is the weapon of choice: the Word of God. At no point after the attempted defense of Yeshua is a sword used by the Apostles for defense of their earthly bodies. None died in battle. None engaged in battle. I have yet to see a compelling explanation of why Yeshua told his disciples to buy swords, but the rest of Scripture does not support the use of force for defense.
The world is a scary place to those who hold value in their lives. This is not our calling. Those who die as martyrs are revered. This is not to say that there is no place for defense such as law enforcement or war, but churches must allow their defense to come in the form of the Spirit, not the gun.