Why Christians Aren’t Obligated to Register or Surrender our Firearms

Connecticut residents waited in long lines on Thursday to register their firearms and high-capacity magazines before the state’s new gun laws go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. WFSB-TV reports that a ‘long-line of people’ stood outside the Public Safety Building in Middletown, Conn., all day to register semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines. Several residents were upset with the ‘unconstitutional’ requirement, while at least one person didn’t appear to mind.

This report from The Blaze details the feelings of citizens while having to register their lawfully-owned firearms in Connecticut. They’ve been told by their state legislature that there are no intentions of taking away their firearms, they just want to know who owns them and where they’re at. Never mind the reality that only law-abiding citizens are waiting in line to register their firearms. Never mind that the legislature has no legitimate reason to know who owns these firearms and where they’re located. And never mind that if gun ownership is necessary to the security of a free state, the government knowing the location and ownership of firearms has a damnable consequence for operational security. These citizens (I use that term loosely) are  standing in line to willingly give a government they don’t trust information it shouldn’t have so it can violate liberties it’s not supposed to infringe. And yet, here they stand in line.

One man is reported as saying, “I understand why they’re doing it, but I don’t think it’s constitutional.”

Then why, one has to ask, is the man standing in line to do something unconstitutional? My concern is that some Christians  while reading this article are already quoting to me Romans 13. Americans – and indeed, American Christians – need to have a mature, discerning understanding of the Bible’s call to submission to governing authorities.

Here are a few points to help you understand Romans 13 in light of our current national discourse:

If you’re under the impression that Romans 13 teaches a complete submission to all kinds of lawful and unlawful governments in all situations, you’re mistaken.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (Romans 13:1, ESV)

Who – or what – are ‘the governing authorities’? Even though ‘authorities’ is in the plural, the use of the definite article implies that this is speaking of the supreme earthly ruling authority or authorities. These authorities – whatever or whoever they are – have been ‘instituted by God’ in accordance with divine providence. His providential appointment of earthly authorities is clearly what’s in view here, for any more explicit action on the part of his divine sovereignty would hold the Almighty complicit in the case of despots; God chose to allow the rising up of authorities for purposes known to his sovereign will. Indeed, God raises up wicked authorities so they can be cast down (like Pharaoh, given as an example of ‘being raised up’ to be destroyed in Romans 9:17).

Who is our ‘authority’ in the United States of America? The question, as asked, can’t be answered. Our authority is not a who, but a what. Our authority is a body of laws, not a body of flesh. In short, our Caesar is the United States Constitution. Beyond that, the framers of our Constitution created that document to be a non-binding rule of laws only authoritative upon the people so long as they find it compatible with conscience. This principle was set in precedent in the very words of the first truly-American document, the Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

The very men who framed this declaration were some of the very same men who crafted our Constitution, and those who weren’t still shared these founding principles. There comes a time, our founders argued, that people can freely dissolve political bands if they’re being governed in a way that is contrary to Natural Law and God would prescribe they be governed.

If these men were rabble-rousers, we could discount their opinion as that of barbaric rebels in violation of Romans 13. But as it turns out, these were the men who set our Caesar in place. These were the men (and those were the principles) that crafted the ruling authorities that govern us today. And these men, if one would be thoughtful enough to employ the organ that sits upon our crown, clearly stipulate that America’s Caesar must submit to Natural Law and God or the the people are under no obligation to call him king. Surely, the guiding principles that they reasoned to declare independence from Great Britain found their way into the government they established.

No doubt, some would argue that the executors of law are the rightful authorities. No doubt, if the President ordered a surrender of firearms tomorrow, many Christians would comply under the dictates of Romans 13. And yet, the President takes an oath of office to defend and uphold the Constitution. Clearly, if the president takes the oath to defend the Constitution, the Constitution is the higher rightful authority. The President, legislators, and Supreme Court all are servants of the American Caesar. When they act contrary to the powers delegated to them by the Constitution, they are usurpers to the rightful ruling authorities and it becomes treasonous to obey them. And if the Constitution ever dictates contrary to Natural Law and God, its authority must be denied by free, thinking men.

There are those nations whose earthly authority is a person of flesh and blood. But the ruling authority in our nation is Natural Law and God as interpreted by free men, delegated to the care of the Constitution and executed by servants in three branches of government.

And so, is a Christian obligated to register his firearms if he feels it unconstitutional? I submit to you that a Christian must not register his firearms if he feels it unconstitutional. We mustn’t commit treason against our rightful ruling authority. And if the Constitution were to one day change (or be re-interpreted by an activist judiciary), the founders who established our ruling authority also established a precedent by which free men separate from those political ties and instead submit to Natural Law and to God – the very same God that requires us to protect and defend our families in 1 Timothy 5:8  (which I would argue requires firearms that aren’t subject to government seizure).

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22 Responses

  1. Pablo says:

    Amen and Amen! What kills me is that so many Evangelicals today, while espousing freedom and liberty, are the first ones to capitulate. Romans 13 seems to be a cop out verse that is thrown out there. I’m a Presbyterian (PCA) and more conservative still. And our history has a bad wrap. Back in slave days, a lot of ministers did not speak out against the atrocities that were being committed because of Romans 13!

  2. shadowlilies says:

    I agree with your post here, except for your use of Caeser having anything to do with America. I don’t think we should even use that word for a system of law that was founded on the premise of having a free people under God. We have no Caeser.

    I’d also like to add further in Romans 13 verses 3 and 4 …”For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid ; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

    We know from scripture what is good and what is evil. Those in true authority would be ministers of God knowing what is good and evil. Now a days good is called evil and evil good. I would say that anyone who has these twisted up would not be ministers of God and therefore would not be a proper Biblical authority.

    • Wayne says:

      It is not inappropriate to call the Constitution our Caesar.
      God acknowledged that Caesar, as the rightful ruler, was the authority to which the citizens should submit – up to the point where Caesar conflicted with God’s Law.
      Our Constitution is an absolute authority in our land, exactly as Caesar was; The difference is that our Caesar is not a man, subject to whims and fancies. It is a document that spells out the law and cannot be changed in secret, or for “light and transient causes.”
      Unfortunately, as happened with a few of the Roman Caesars, the men who are charged with supporting and enforcing the Caesar’s laws can become corrupt and “interpret” or ignore the laws and do what they want, rather than what the legitimate authority wants.

  3. Shea Bobiney says:

    “Shall not be infringed”

  4. Sean Banks says:

    The intent of Romans 13 is not the constitution. And if there is a law passed we should obey it as long as it does not violate the Scriptures. I do not believe the Holy Spirit would lead a believer to resist with force so they could keep their guns.

    Our marching orders are found in Matthew 28:18-20, which does not take the use of guns or ammo.We are pilgrims and sojourners who are called to proclaim the Gospel not the constitution, while I think we should use our freedoms for the sake of the gospel, most people who want to keep their guns are more concerned about the bill of rights than the Scriptures.

    I also think it sad that some believer get more fired up about the law of the land when it effects their gun rights than, they do about sharing the gospel, very sad and I think this grieves the Holy Spirit, and shows that many american Christians are more citizens of american and comfort and self, than they are messengers for the King of Glory.

    And are they violating the constitution by telling people they need to register? What about 1st Peter 2:13-17? It specifically says the King, which would imply the governing authority. Unless if violates the Scriptures and this one does not; we are obligated to obey it.

    And the post says if the person “feels” it is unconstitutional, we must not go off feelings here, but the clear written law, which is not be violated. The Scriptures are clear we need to obey and submit and who cares if they take our guns any way, does that hinder you from obeying Matthew 28:18-20? I think not and most don’t obey the command from the King of Kings in our great commission and yet they are worried about the 2nd amendment, which is not being violated, again, very sad.

    This comment is not meant to be attacking, but rather an encouragement to think through the filter of the Scriptures with the guidance of the Holy Spirit; while I think it is wrong and sad what is happening in our country, we are duty bound to obey the Scriptures and I think they are clear about this and the overall message of the Scriptures is clear that we are to submit to the governing authorities. Not one time do we get the impression from Scripture to rise up and defy the governing authorities for the sake of the Gospel, if they are not violating the Scriptures, but rather it is the exact opposite, and that is the difference between thinking like an American or like a pilgrim and sojourner.

    • JD Hall says:

      1. The intent of Romans 13 is the RULING AUTHORITY. Our ruling authority is the Constitution. It’s really not that complicated. If you think our ruling authority is the government, I hope you’re outsourcing the government and civics part of your homeschool curriculum to someone else.

      2. No one has implied, as you suggest, that we are to fulfill the great commission through the use of firearms. To say “most people who want to keep their guns are more concerned about the Bill of Rights than the Scriptures” is true, because most people who want to keep their guns are lost (because most people are lost in general). Do you then mean to imply that Christians that want to keep their guns in accordance to Natural Law and the rightful ruling authority of the land don’t care about the Scriptures? Because if so, that would be an unfair and untrue and slanderous accusation.

      3. Some definitely, as you say, get more worked about about keeping their guns than sharing the Gospel. So what? What’s your point? In the mean time, the next time you go share the Gospel in the park you can thank the rest of us for maintaining our firearms so that you have the freedom to do that and expect to still make it home to your family at night.

      4. We have to go off “feelings” (use a different word if you like, aka the human conscience) in following the written law. What is written clearly in the law is that our gun rights “shall not be infringed.” If we “feel” it is being infringed, we are not to obey it.

      5. Finally, and over and over again….no one is suggesting we not obey the Scriptures. What we are saying – and you might agree if you spend time to think about – is that Romans 13 tells us to obey our governing authorities. In the geographical area where you were born and now live, Sean, your governing authority is the Constitution of the United States as interpreted by men in light of “Natural Law and Nature’s God.”

  5. Born4Battle says:

    I find this an interesting discussion. I never thought about ‘governing authority’ in terms other than ‘people’ who govern, but the point about the Constitution is I think very well made. Those who govern ought to be governing in light of what the constitution’s authors meant and not be changing it to suit their own ends.

    Concerning guns, we have them but didn’t until about a year ago. I spent 28 years in the military (Spec Ops), retired in 1996 and just didn’t bother to go buy any. Things have changed and we now own them. Believe me, owning firearms for personal reasons in no way hinders our zeal for presenting the gospel. Personally, if I didn’t have a wife here with me (our children are grown and out on their own), if someone broke into the house I would probably offer the gospel rather than a hollow point. Having the responsibility of protecting those under my roof however, that same intruder would most likely feel great pain.

    What if the authorities wanted to confiscate my weapons? They would be violating the constitution. That would in turn bring up the question of when it is appropriate for a Christian to resort to disobeying the authorities.

  6. Sean Banks says:

    Can anyone honestly say, they think the Holy Spirit, would lead them to rise up with their guns and bibles at the same time and resist people by force for taking away their guns, if they passed a law?

    Do we really think that the Scriptures would support that? If so, that again is extremely sad and shows that most people read the Scriptures through the filter of their “American Christianity” more than through the filter of the Holy Spirit, solid exegesis and the rest of the New Testament.

    I wonder when the 10 original apostles who died as martyrs(save John), if they said things like “we really missed the boat, we should have pulled out our swords and proclaimed our rights, so we could further the gospel of peace, by raising our swords and then say that we just needed to protect our families by resisting by force”….. I think not; matter of fact according to church history, when the apostle Peter died and watched is wife being crucified, as he was being crucified upside down, he told his wife to remember the Lord. No doubt remembering back to when Jesus told Peter that he would glorify God by His death.

    If our Kingdom was of this world than we should fight for it, but I think I remember Jesus saying something like His Kingdom is not of this world…… and if it was His servants would fight. Or how about the book of Revelation, do we find John telling anyone at any time or even hinting to some of those believers that they should fight back? No we find him encouraging them by telling them not to love their life unto death.

    But because many Americans are more concerned with the here and now, they are worried about gun laws, which by the way are still legal, and no one has violated the constitution right?…..

    There is no were in Scripture to even hint that we are to take up arms, like not even one, a person has to do some serious exegetical gymnastics and basically ignore the entire rest of the New Testament, to get around what the Scriptures clearly teach about submitting to our government, just so we can keep our guns. I find people who feel this way are people who are really into guns and have the predisposition, to proclaiming their rights and therefore twist or try to read what they want into the clear meaning of a text. No matter how sincere a person might be who does this, they are sincerely wrong.

    I also see that no one respond back to 1st Peter 2:13-17 , most likely because it says what is says and is even more clear. And by the way they were burning believers at the stake during 1st Peter, and yet Peter told them to submit. It does not take a high white ivory tower theologian to figure out what those verses are plainly teaching. It just takes someone who is willingly to put aside their passion for guns and give way to the clear teaching of Scripture.

    • JD Hall says:

      “Can anyone honestly say, they think the Holy Spirit, would lead them to rise up with their guns and bibles at the same time and resist people by force for taking away their guns, if they passed a law?”

      Um…is that a serious question? Yes. Yes, of course it could be God’s will to raise up with weapons and resist people by force. I’m pretty sure that happened a time or two in God’s Old Testament theocracy. I thought that question was a parody at force. That very concept – that free men are allowed to assert their God-given freedom, has been a principle enshrined in Scripture and natural law from the very beginning. Furthermore, your ability to freely type that came from men, led by God, to rebel against an authority that would prevent them from enjoying the liberties that you used to type that sentence.

      You seem to be unable to distinguish martyrdom – for Christ – (which is defined by one “taking life” and I’m not sure you’re under the impression that if I FIGHT you and you kill me for Christ in the midst of that fight that I’m STILL a martyr) to any number of other struggles that brave men (not cowards affirming a theological pacifism that have never been affirmed by two-thousand years of Christian leaders) may find it necessary to raise up arms for just cause. As my post eludes, this position is of a person who can read the Scripture, but might prove himself without the type of wisdom to qualify him for any form of leadership.

      I’d also like you to take note your apparent unwillingness or inability to discern the difference between Roman ruling authorities (embodied in flesh) and American ruling authorities (embodied in law). It is wholly irrelevant how Peter submitted to his ruling authority, if your arguing that we are to submit to HIS ruling authority. I do not have to submit to the Roman Caesar, the Prime Minister of today’s Rome, or the Roman Pope. None of these are my authorities. My authority is the United States Constitution, undergirded by Natural Law. To act in a way contrary to these rightful ruling authorities is high treason against our ruling authority – and without firearms, you have no choice but to sit back and watch your emperor be deposed of power.

      Your citation of Scripture is excellent. Your ability to apply to your context is woefully lacking, and I would suggest spending some time in a hermeneutic course and a survey of Christian ethics.

  7. Born4Battle says:

    “There is nowhere in Scripture to even hint that we are to take up arms”

    Really?

    “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.” Luke 11:21-22

    “He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” Luke 22:36

    “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Tim 5:8

    Sean sounds like he would have supported Hitler.

    I might turn the other cheek if personally accosted on the street while completely alone, and there have a sound theological argument. However, if my wife and children were with me, or there were others threatened, I would defend them to the death.

    Sean, are you saying I am a bad Christian?

  8. TP says:

    Our authority is the laws created by the government not the Constitution. The Constitution is not a law or set of laws. The Constitution is a guidline for the creation of laws. The laws created are the authority. The Constitution is not a document to be followed by the people. It is a document to be followed by politicians when making laws. The Constitution is a document used to manage the rights of the citizens by the government. If JD Hall chooses to break any law (whether it be as small as the speed limit or as big mass murder) he is guilty and God is not pleased. Trying to justify sin on the shoulder of a historical document used primarily in the founding of our country is foolish.

  9. Anonymous says:

    You say the “governing authority” that Christians are obligated to submit to, in reference to Romans 13, is not the current presidency or government, but “the constitution” and then quote the founding fathers who said people can “freely dissolve political bands.”

    First of all, Romans 13 says “governing authorities” in present tense, not past, i.e., the current governing authorities. Nowhere in the text does it suggest that Christians are to pick and choose which segment of governing authorities (past, present, etc.) they should submit to. It says submit to the governing authorities, period.

    Secondly, the founding fathers can say whatever they want, their political ideology does not trump God’s commandments. Even if they said we could rebel against our government if it doesn’t satisfy some man-made tradition–and yes, the Constitution is a man-made document and form of government–God still commands Christians to submit to the governing authorities.

    1Pe 2:13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,
    1Pe 2:14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.

    • JD Hall says:

      The question is “what is our governing authority.” I can’t help it if you flunked civics class and think governing authority rests in a person in not the constitution. I can mail you some of my kids’ third grade social studies homeschool curriculum if you need a refresher (you also seem to think the Constitution is past tense, so I hope you don’t vote).

  10. G says:

    Yeah, you go ahead and try that. See how it works out for you. Foolish- the Constitituion is the governing document. The laws on the register have equal weight if they are not deemed unconsitutional in court. This is short-sighted, selfish, and foolish.

  11. Lburkhalter says:

    “The Constitution is a document used to manage the rights of the citizens by the government. ”
    Unfortunately, in practice this is true. However, clear original intent of the founders was that :
    The Constitution is a document used to manage the rights of the government by the citizens.

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