In America, there is a large group of people where being a Christian, active in the gun culture and protecting their right to fire arms is proudly the basis of their identity.

For example, at the shooting range you may see a bumper sticker on a car stating "All I need is my Bible and a gun". (The movies also eat this one up romanticizing, glorify and macho-fy this phenomenon.)

What denomination or general belief is the root of this phenomenon and is it like that in other countries?

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    I think it's cultural rather than denominational. – Ryan Frame Jun 19 '13 at 23:26
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    @RyanFrame uh no there are many bible verses about owning and using weapons – user4060 Jun 19 '13 at 23:48
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    This might be better on politics, albeit reversed- why does there appear to be such a high correlation between religiosity and gun ownership? – Affable Geek Jun 19 '13 at 23:53
  • @AffableGeek: maybe but I am looking how religion shapes this belief from the Christian point of view; supported by Christian beliefs, culture and the Bible. – Greg McNulty Jun 20 '13 at 0:34
  • This is not a good match for the QnA format here. It's far more of a discussion starter question. The Not Constructive close reason is a pretty good match: this will likely solicit debate, arguments, and extended discussion. This site is for questions that can be answered, verified and we can all move on. If we start turning it into a discussion forum we'll never get the kind of expert buy in we're looking for. That's not to say this is a bad topic or something Christians should talk about, just that this isn't a venue for "talking about" things. – Caleb Jun 20 '13 at 7:30

As a preface, I think the question might benefit from some further clarification. Aside from considering the matter in the light of Scripture, it seems many would likely agree that there is a significant difference between what might be called "responsible gun ownership" and the subculture often highlighted by the media that defiantly and aggressively glorifies gun ownership.

I'm aware of no Scriptural basis on which gun ownership can be advocated. In fact, the first verse that comes to mind is Mt 26:52:

Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword."

No historical doctrines come to mind, either. Roman Catholic "Just War" doctrine doesn't seem related to the issue, though someone with better knowledge of the Church of Rome may know otherwise.

The strongest potential connection I can see between the church and the "gun culture" would stem from the independent, uncompromising, perhaps "defiant" character of the Protestant Reformation in relation to the Church of Rome in the 16th century. (Some of Luther's "antics" come to mind). Elements of the same uncompromising approach can be seen in the choice of the Puritans to separate from the Church of England.

But, while I'm not a pacifist, I don't mean to suggest that the Bible encourages gun ownership. As far as I'm aware, it does not.

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    I also remember a scripture that mentions our weapons should NOT be of the carnal world, but of the spirit.... – Greg McNulty Jun 20 '13 at 0:39
  • @Greg: Very true. I think that's in 2 Corinthians. – Philip Schaff Jun 20 '13 at 0:58
  • To the downvoter, would you care to add a comment? – Philip Schaff Jun 20 '13 at 0:59
  • I would point out that the Bible really cannot encourage gun ownership, as guns didn't exist, but you probably meant in principle. Then I would say casey's answer addresses this – SSumner Jun 20 '13 at 16:14

I am unaware of any doctrine that explicitly states such a thing. However, it might be linked to the fact that there is a scriptural basis for defending yourself and your family, although it is a matter of opinion that a gun is the best tool for that.

What I would say is more likely is as Ryan Frame said it in a comment:

[I]t's cultural rather than denominational.

In the USA, where the gun culture you are referring to is most prevalent, patriotism is arguably it's strongest. Often, you will find casual Christians who are ultra-patriotic. These people are generally "red" voters because the "blue" candidates typically support such things as abortion and gay marriage. By default, they become gun supporters because "red" candidates usually are.

When you live in a country where it is not uncommon to display the American flag on the same alter as the Cross of Christ what do you expect?

  • very interesting. Now I am curious about "Christians who are ultra-patriotic." How are those two connected ? What does the US have anything to do with the alter of Christ or Christianity at all?? If anything this country supports being free of believing in a God and the pursuit of happiness in this life, not the next. – Greg McNulty Jun 20 '13 at 0:38
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    Speaking as a gun-toting, right-wing, ultra-conservative, Christian patriot, I have to say you hit it on the head. @GregMcNulty - that's probably a great question, but not so much for the site, but I mean it when I say I fall squarely into that category. On a day that I have more free time, you can feel free to corner me in chat and pick my brain (for what it's worth). I have a pretty good understanding of the exact culture being discussed here. – David Stratton Jun 20 '13 at 1:00
  • @GregMcNulty How and why those are connected is part of the phenomenon you mentioned in your original post. I really am no sociologist so I really can't say. I am just immersed in that sub-culture where I live so I can tell you what it is, but not how or why it is that way. – 3961 Jun 20 '13 at 3:12

Luk 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

Jesus told the disciples to carry a weapon. The sword in particular the short sword was the most deadly weapon available during the times of Jesus. Many quote this verse in connection with guns because both a weapons which can defend.

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    This is a very, umm..., novel justification. Small hint: in theology, novel is rarely a compliment. While I suppose this is a legitimate proof text, I would find it both difficult to reconcile with other Scripture (eg Peter, put away your sword), nor do I find any guns rights organizations that claim this as theological justification. – Affable Geek Jun 19 '13 at 23:51
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    If you are going to assert that "many use this justification," you really need to source it. – Affable Geek Jun 19 '13 at 23:52
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    Hi casey547, that's an interesting perspective. FYI, it looks like both Calvin and Clarke taught that Jesus' words in Lk 22:36 were metaphorical -- that he specifically was not advocating literal weapon ownership. I'm trying to wade through Matthew Henry on the same verse right now, but I expect he taught the same. – Philip Schaff Jun 19 '13 at 23:59
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    @PhilipSchaff as long as you call taking money with you and a bible with you a metaphor your welcome to call taking a sword with you a metaphor as well – user4060 Jun 20 '13 at 0:06
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    caseyr547's appeals to Wikipedia notwithstanding, Matthew Henry and John Wesley also both taught that Jesus' words were metaphorical. All references are available in the respective authors' commentaries. Cf. Mt 10:22-25, Mt 26:52. No hard feelings, caseyr547, take care. – Philip Schaff Jun 20 '13 at 0:46

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