Having reached the end of the book of James last time, I found that my thoughts kept returning to this post from my friend akaGaGa, whose more-conventional name I know, but I'm not sure how freely she wants it used online, so we'll leave it at that. The post was concerned with the question of whether Christian believers have any business being armed in the "interpersonal" sense (i.e., apart from hunting, target-shooting, and such sporting purposes). In a comment, I claimed I had some thinking to do on the subject, as I was (and remain) in some doubt.
If one regards scripture as authoritative -- and I do -- then one starts, and perhaps ends, the thinking process by "searching the scriptures." So, for a while, that's what I'll be doing. Being Christian (rather than Jewish), my idea of how to do that is to start in the New Testament, specifically with the directly-quoted words of Jesus. From there, one branches out to the New Testament in general; and from there, to the Old.
So. In the first four chapters of Matthew, Jesus doesn't have a whole lot to say, although I'm tempted (that's almost a little Biblical pun, there, folks, "tempted," ha ha) to try to apply His colloquy with the Devil from chapter 4 to the idea of the armed Christian. But, for now at least, I think that's reaching a bit far, and I'll try to concentrate on His more directly-applicable sayings. Starting in chapter 5, He has a lot to say. Verse 5: "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth." Verse 7: "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." Verse 9: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." And then verses 10 through 12: "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
These verses, pulled from the Beatitudes, are certainly not a call to arms. Rather, they are a call to benevolence, and to the patient acceptance of suffering and endurance of wrongs. On the other hand, neither do they explicitly forbid the believer to bear arms; I don't suppose it's impossible, by any means, for an armed Christian to be gentle, and merciful, and a peacemaker, and to suffer being wronged passively. About that last, however: while it's possible for an armed person to accept being wronged, it surely has to be harder. I'm just sayin'.
To be continued. Meanwhile, click here for more Words for Wednesday.