In Harm’s Way
Pastor Danny Kirk, Sr., and family.
This week another pastor died. But he didn’t die from a heart attack, cancer, or just plain old age. He didn’t even die in an accident on some busy highway. No, Danny Kirk was beaten to death with an electric guitar in the sanctuary of the church he founded 18 years ago. (Click here for the full story)
Of course, this wasn’t the first pastor to die at the hands of an assailant. This wasn’t the first to die in a church building, either. No, there have been others. They have been shot, beaten, and stabbed. One was even found naked and spread-eagle in front of the altar, mutilated.
I’ve Seen It
When I was only in second grade (1973) my dad, a pastor, was threatened by those who wanted to physically remove him from the pulpit. They were stopped by a Marine who had just returned from Vietnam.
One time a man threatened to come shoot my dad at church. He had already shot at our house. Fortunately, some other men of the church found out. They stood around the church, armed with pistols under their coats. He came…and he left.
But it seems like attacks on ministers are becoming more frequent here in America. In other countries Christians are regularly mistreated, assaulted, and even killed. But here in this country, it is pastors that are being targeted. Why that is happening is up for debate. The question I am posing is whether or not a pastor should carry a weapon.
For the longest time people have thought that preachers, pastors, ministers, priests, etc., should be mild and mannerly…peaceful and placid…always turning the other cheek. Somehow, because of the Romantic perception of a wimpy, mamma’s boy of a Jesus, people think that His servants should be softies. They forget it was Jesus who vacated the temple with a whip (not something your average 90 lb. girly-man would do).
And when it comes to being attacked, there is this notion among many that the Christian, especially the minister, should not try to defend himself, just “turn the other cheek.” They think that true faith dictates we lower our hands and let God fight our battles for us.
I actually heard a man defend passivity to the extreme. When asked what he would do if a criminal attacked his wife or children, he said, “If it is God’s will they die, then I am not going to stand in His way. His will be done.” I wanted to beat the guy myself! What kind of insanity is that? To stand and watch your family be molested because you think it is wrong to defend yourself?
Friends, God gave us brains. He also gives the believer the Holy Spirit. If you have both, then it should be pretty simple to discern that a man (or woman) has a responsibility to defend his loved ones, as well as himself. Even Jesus understood that there are times when we need to protect what is in our care. He said, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace” (Luke 11:21 NKJV). How much more should we guard our own lives?
And what about the idea of being a good shepherd? What kind of shepherd would have allowed wolves, bears, and lions to come and carry away his sheep? What did David do to the bear and lion (1 Samuel 17:36)? Was it not his duty to protect his sheep?
What if a gunman entered the church? Where does Scripture say that the only option is to stand (or cower under a pew) and pray that he will see the error of his ways, lay down his AK-47, then take communion? What would David do?
This is how I see it. God is my strong tower (Ps. 61:3) and my shield, my fortress in time of trouble (Ps. 144:2). He is also the One who led Nehemiah to set guards as the wall around Jerusalem was being rebuilt. As a pastor, I believe that God has called me to a “great work” from which “I cannot come down” (Neh. 6:3). Therefore, I will keep in mind the instruction Nehemiah gave those who labored…
“Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. … Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. … They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.” – Nehemiah 4:9, 13-14, 17-18 KJV
I see nothing wrong with a modern-day wall builder having a modern-day weapon “girded” to his side.
What would you do if attacked? Would you defend your loved ones?