Questions From Readers
Should a Christian keep a gun, perhaps a handgun or a rifle, to protect himself from other humans?
Christians follow Bible principles when choosing how they will protect and defend themselves. These principles show that it would be wrong for Christians to use such weapons as handguns, rifles, or other types of guns to protect themselves from other humans. Think about the following points:
Human life is sacred to Jehovah. The psalmist David wrote about Jehovah: “With you is the source of life.” (Psalm 36:9) Therefore, if a Christian chooses to defend himself or his property, he would do everything possible to avoid becoming bloodguilty, that is, responsible for the death of another person.—Deuteronomy 22:8; Psalm 51:14.
It is true that any object a person uses to defend himself may cause him to become bloodguilty. However, guns make it easier to kill someone, whether by accident or on purpose.a (See footnote.) Also, an attacker may already be nervous, so if he sees a gun, the situation is likely to become more dangerous and someone might get killed.
When Jesus told his followers to carry swords on the night before he died, this was not so that they could protect themselves. (Luke 22:36, 38) Rather, Jesus wanted to teach them a lesson: His followers should not use violence, even when they have to face a crowd that has weapons. (Luke 22:52) After Peter used his sword to attack the high priest’s slave, Jesus commanded Peter: “Return your sword to its place.” Then Jesus stated a principle that guides Christians even today: “All those who take up the sword will perish by the sword.”—Matthew 26:51, 52.
As foretold at Micah 4:3, God’s people “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears.” True Christians are known for being peaceable. They follow the commands God gave through the apostle Paul to “return evil for evil to no one” and to “be peaceable with all men.” (Romans 12:17, 18) Even though Paul experienced difficult situations, including “dangers from robbers,” he never went against Bible principles in order to protect himself. (2 Corinthians 11:26) Instead, he trusted in God and knew that the wise counsel of the Bible “is better than weapons of war.”—Ecclesiastes 9:18.
To Christians, life is much more valuable than material things. We know that a person’s “life does not result from the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15) So if talking in a mild way to a robber with a gun does not stop him, we follow Jesus’ advice: “Do not resist the one who is wicked.” This may mean that we let him have whatever he wants. (Matthew 5:39, 40; Luke 6:29)b (See footnote.) Of course, it is best to avoid becoming a target of criminals. They may be less likely to attack us if we follow the Bible’s advice and avoid “the showy display of one’s means of life.” (1 John 2:16) It will also be a protection for us if we are known by our neighbors as being peaceable Witnesses of Jehovah.—Proverbs 18:10.
Christians respect the conscience of others. (Romans 14:21) Some brothers and sisters would be shocked, or even stumbled, if they learned that one of their Christian brothers had a gun to protect himself from other humans. We may have a legal right to own a gun, but because we love our brothers, we would never do something that we know might stumble them.—1 Corinthians 10:32, 33; 13:4, 5.
Christians want to be a good example to others. (2 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Peter 5:2, 3) If a Christian has a gun to protect himself from other humans, the elders will give him counsel from the Bible. If he decides to keep the gun, he would not be a good example. As a result, he would not be able to have any responsibilities or special privileges in the congregation. The same applies to a Christian who continues to carry a gun as part of his secular work. It would be much better if he tried to find another job.c—See footnote.
A Christian must make his own decisions about how he will protect himself, his family, and his possessions, as well as where he will work. But when he makes such choices, he should base them on Bible principles. Our wise God gave these principles to us because he loves us. That is why Christians who have a strong relationship with Jehovah choose not to keep a gun to protect themselves from other humans. They know that if they trust in God and follow Bible principles in their life, they will have true security forever.—Psalm 97:10; Proverbs 1:33; 2:6, 7.
a A Christian might decide to own a gun (such as a rifle or a shotgun) to hunt animals for food or to protect himself from wild animals. When he is not using the gun, though, he should take the bullets out of it, maybe even take the gun apart, and keep it locked in a safe place. In areas where it is illegal to own guns, or where the government restricts or regulates gun ownership in some other way, Christians obey the law.—Romans 13:1.
b To learn how to defend oneself against rape, see the article “How to Prevent Rape” in the March 8, 1993, issue of Awake!
c For more information about employment that requires carrying a gun, see The Watchtower of November 1, 2005, page 31, and July 15, 1983, pages 25-26.