Church shootings: a biblical view of guns & self-defense

Recently we witnessed screaming news headlines of the church shooting in South Carolina, in addition to massacres and other terrible atrocities committed in broad daylight around the world.

gun, church shooting, walther p22, handgun, self defenseIn light of these tragic events, there has been a hot debate in the public arena about what we should do as a society to prevent such events — or minimize their lethality.  Christians are divided on the answer, largely due to a lack of understanding of the Scriptures and history. In this broadcast, writer and war historian David Botkin addresses the biblical view of self-defense. The broadcast was initially aired in 2013 to address the Sandy Hook shooting, but we are re-airing it due to its applicability to the recent church shooting in June, 2015.

Note: For more topics and messages from the Botkin family, visit There is a wealth of practical wisdom on many important topics that Christians face today. You can download free messages and also purchase books, CDs and DVDs.

Click on the link below to listen to the message (or right-click and “save as” to download)
Biblical View of Self Defense.mp3

*This message aired on April 16, 2013 and June 23, 2015.


  1. It takes imagination. “Kill before you get killed” is pretty simple math. As Christians, we are called to something higher. We are called to pray and join God in working to address many of the issues that lead to violence – issues such as poverty, mental illness, family dysfunction, and drug dependency. Most of all, we are called to join God in rescuing sinners from darkness and welcoming them into God’s family (not gunning them down before they hurt us).

  2. It takes faith. You’ve seen the bumper sticker that reads, “Protected by Smith & Wesson.” Some trust in chariots and some in horses and some in guns, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Trusting in God to protect (and to still be good when he doesn’t protect) takes faith.

  3. When I read Scripture, I read of people killing and being killed. Sometimes God commands killing and other times he commands not killing. But the overall sweep of the Bible and the specific teachings of Jesus lead me to conclude that violence is not the way to go and that I, as a Christian, should not own a firearm for the purposes of self defense (recreational shooting might be another issue). What God is up to in the world is not bringing all things under his authority at the barrel of a gun – if this were the case, Jesus would have chosen some way other than the cross. Neither does God always prioritize the welfare and safety of you, your family, and the other people you love – after all, look at the tragic lives of Jesus, Paul, Peter, Stephen, and the martyrs who followed them.

  4. My concern is that we too often equate God’s agenda with our own agenda and then we make decisions like owning a gun based on our personal values instead of a keen Christian ethic. If my value is to stay alive and protect what and whom I love, it’s not too difficult to project that value onto God and make weapon ownership a God-given right, if not command. The only problem is that these are not God’s values, at least not as I read Scripture.

    We are bringing to our homes wrong things. Instead of teaching our kids to love one another and forgive your enemies and etc.. We are bringing to our homes guns and different sort of weapons. And than we see what happens around our country. Father gave his son for his 21st birthday a gun as a gift? and than this guy went to church and shoot people. And you want now more families to own guns? Stop bringing to your homes wrong things, That is not Gods view. Being driven by Holly Spirit this topics should not be an issue. Come on guys.

  5. Slav,

    I understand and appreciate many of your concerns. The Gospel is NEVER advanced via armed force – the ONLY legitimate use of weapons on the part of individuals is in order to defend life (not property, not our pride, not to respond to insults).
    The argument I made in my lecture is that Ex. 22:1-4 specifies a time/context in which God says it is NOT inherently sinful to use lethal force. You may not like that, but that’s what that passage says.
    I believe I also made the argument that we have a duty to defend the innocent – a concept continually found through both old and new Testaments.

    How do you propose saving the innocent lives of your family in the event of a Home Invasion? If time allowed, I would pray and make an appeal first – but if I perceive that an attacker has lethal intent, as well as opportunity and ability, and if there’s no way to avoid the confrontation by any other means, then I FULLY believe that God would not view lethal force, in that instance, as sinful.

    I say that in faith, because that’s what I understand God’s Word to say. It took me time, study, and prayer to come to the position, and I don’t expect ANYONE to simply join me in this serious position – but I do expect them to go study the passages I’ve laid out.

    David Botkin

Comments are closed.