Turning cheeks or bearing arms? Did Jesus really endorse gun ownership?

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/03/29/turning-cheeks-or-bearing-arms-did-jesus-really-endorse-gun-ownership.html


Same old story:


Jesus, assuming he existed as a single person (and I don’t mean that to be an outlandish claim, just that legendary people attract stories to them, it’s what it means) had to walk a very fine line of objecting to the Jewish collaborationist state while not criticising the Romans. He avoided being a bandit and avoided contact with the Romans. If you map the places he visited you can see he walks around and through the decapolis in Galilee while not actually going to any of those Roman towns.

I guess he might have wanted armed insurrection against the occupation but he would have known that would lead to mass crucifixions and destruction.


Not Jesus, but a prophecy from the Old Testament often thought to be referring to Jesus:

Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.


I miss Kreider.

By the way, the passage in the Bible this asshole is referring to is this one:

Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.” So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.”

The typical interpretation is not that Jesus was telling his disciples to take up arms. After all, what good would two swords do? It was about looking like bad guys. The prophecy said he would be “numbered with the transgressors.” They had to look like bad guys. Like terrorists. They needed to be armed. He didn’t actually want them to fight. He just wanted them to look like fighters. It certainly wasn’t an instruction for modern Christians to arm themselves. That’s asinine.


Republicans: Life begins at conception, but ends at the second amendment. No exceptions.




Exactly the quote I was thinking of too.


One of these preparations involved arming themselves for self-defense.

Echoing what others said, when using the verse where Christ commands his followers to sell their cloaks and get some swords, it is to fulfill the prophecy. At no point did he command them to defend themselves or Christ from being arrested.

The whole point of Christs sacrifice would be moot had he or his followers fought off the soldiers and escaped.

The Bible is RIFE with quotable verses that completely change context when you either 1) read the surrounding text and/or 2) analyze the context and meaning.

One can still believe in a natural right to protect oneself, and the Old Testament is full of righteous retribution, but don’t use Christ as support for this idea.


I think there is consensus amongst most scholars that someone named Jesus existed - but that that none of the events in Jesus’ life can be corroborated outside the bible other than the crucifixion by Pilate. Could be wrong though - I’m not a historian or scholar.

I think what’s more relevant is how fanatics have twisted the original message over time to suite their own agendas. Of course this isn’t limited to Christianity - take your pick of any major faith to see how it’s interpretation of source material has evolved.


I was reminded just a couple days ago of this interview with a Southern Baptist leader who got the boot after criticizing Trump.

Particularly relevant:

It was the result of having multiple pastors tell me, essentially, the same story about quoting the Sermon on the Mount, parenthetically, in their preaching — “turn the other cheek” — [and] to have someone come up after to say, “Where did you get those liberal talking points?” And what was alarming to me is that in most of these scenarios, when the pastor would say, “I’m literally quoting Jesus Christ,” the response would not be, “I apologize.” The response would be, “Yes, but that doesn’t work anymore. That’s weak.” And when we get to the point where the teachings of Jesus himself are seen as subversive to us, then we’re in a crisis.


Absolutely. I agree he existed I was just alluding to the way stories and sayings get attributed to people. That is what is meant by legendary: mythical elements accreting around a historical figure or event. So I assume much attributed to him was said by others.

That said the Q core of the synoptic gospels and the sayings gospel of Thomas are, I would be fairly sure, accurate transcriptions of Yeshua Ben Yosef’s from scribal followers of Jesus.

John is made up bollocks of course.


(Well. . . he was a carpenter, so. . . . )


If one were to go with Matthew 10:34-36

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household

Or Luke 22:36

He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one."

A person who was already so inclined could easily use these passages to argue that Jesus would be 100% behind gun ownership. But that’s the problem with the Bible and most religion in my opinion – it does a suspiciously good job of confirming the conclusions the reader have already drawn.

edit: removed a generic “you” that could have been misread as an personal “you”



I’m Catholic. I’m very pro-Second Amendment. While self-defense is certainly a moral application of force it’s a mighty big stretch to think that Jesus would have endorsed, say, Ballistas as a way to exercise that right.

The Church certainly recognized a right to self-defense against brigands and highwaymen and whatnot. Turning the Other Cheek was at least partially about civil disobedience and not so much self-abnegation.

By the way, for all you old DnD Grognards, the reason clerics couldn’t use edged weapons is that edged weapons created wounds which would fester, which was deemed as unnecessary suffering – and therefore evil – but you could bash someone’s head in since internal bleeding was either going to kill you quick or fix itself; not so much with the lingering.


This book details many of the stories and myths, dating from well before Jesus’ time, that the early Christian church attributed to Christ. Harpur argues for emphasizing the spiritual aspects of Christ’s teaching rather than a literal interpretation of the Bible.


Thanks for the suggestion. Looks right up my alley.

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As to the quoted tweet itself:

They’re asking an absolutely bizarre question about Jesus having a favorite gun and they’re getting offended by an answer, any answer? It’s a nonesense question in the first place, you may as well answer “Shimmer Floor Polish.”