Should Christian clergy be armed during Worship or any other sacred Assembly?
by Robert Randle 10/05/2009 / Devotionals
There has been an increasing escalation of violent acts, including murder, happening in Christian Churches, Jewish Temples and daycare centers in the news such that the worshipper's safety is potentially at risk. There was a time when any house of worship was the last place where such disregard for the sacred would take place; that was then, but this is now. There are some members of the clergy who have a gun concealed underneath their Ecclesiastical vestments (robes) or have off-duty law enforcement officials who are members of their congregations, who as a general rule, always carry a firearm. Besides asking the overly simplified question of "What would Jesus [Yeshua] do, is there any references in the Scriptures that can aid us in this disturbing modern dilemma?
Matthew 28: 47, 55
And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, "Have you come out, as against a robber [criminal, insurrectionist, murderer], with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me." (Cp. Mark 14: 43, 48-49)
On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, "Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise.' "Therefore command that the tomb be made secure [by posting one of the soldiers to stand guard] until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead.' So the last deception is worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how." So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the tomb and posting a guard.
Luke 22: 52
Then Jesus said to the chief priests, and captains of the Temple [Temple police or security force], and the elders who had come to Him, "Have you come out, as against a robber [criminal, insurrectionist, murderer], with swords and clubs?"
John 18: 3
Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
There are several things to consider, namely, whether "PASSIVE RESISTANCE" in all circumstances is at all in accord with true spiritual principles and the Word of God. Consider the Ten Commandments or the Law ["Torah"] of Moses which was written by the finger of God, but nowhere does it say, "Thou shall not Fight (Cp. Exodus 21: 12-26)." Now the next thing is the passage in Matthew 5: 39 & Luke 6: 29, but in order to understand the context, it is prudent to read Matthew 6: 38-39, which reads:
"You have heard it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' "But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also." Jesus was teaching against retaliation or vengeance and not necessarily about taking action to protect yourself or a loved one from harm or even allowing yourself to be robbed. This last part is a sort of implied meaning that is found in Luke 11: 21-22, which states: When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own place, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.
Even reading all the Gospel narratives it appears that there was some kind of Temple police or security officials, including the rank of Captain and a guard that was dispatched to watch the tomb where Jesus was laid. It would suggest that such a force might be used on other occasions, perhaps to keep peace and order during Feast days, protect the temple precincts from vandalism, or to separate adversaries during heated discussions by rabbis about the Mishnah or Talmud, or to protect against robbers looting the temple treasury as well as the offerer.
To reiterate this point on using violence, the Apostle Paul wrote: Repay no one evil for evil (Cp. Romans 12: 17a), and while it is certainly prudent to be concerned about having a gun-totin,' First Amendment zealous pulpit or trigger-happy undercover law enforcement sitting in the pew, it is, at least from what has been reviewed thus far, reasonable to have some type of officially trained security force or guard to watch for any unusual circumstance or behavior of any person which could place the safety of worshippers in harm's way. Last, but not least, Psalms 71: 1-3a, 4 says: "In You, O LORD, I put my trust; let me never be put to shame. Deliver me in Your righteousness, and cause me to escape; incline Your ear to me, and save me. Be my strong refuge, to which I may resort continually. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.