Last week, in pointing out the problems with Jill Lepore’s attempt to undermine the Second Amendment and justify more gun control, I focused on the fact that our right to keep and bear arms is a God-given right. As such, it preceded not only the Second Amendment but also the founding of the United States. In other words: We don’t have the right to keep and bear arms because the Bill of Rights says so; rather, the Bill of Rights says so because the right to keep and bear arms is intrinsic to our very being: it is a right with which we were endowed by our Creator.
In response to this point, someone emailed and asked for an explanation regarding the claim that this right is “God-given.” Far from being argumentative, the individual simply stated that he could not find any explicit reference to the right to keep and bear arms in the Bible and wondered where the justification was for claiming that God himself endowed us with such a right.
The email raised a great question. And the short answer is that part of the foundation for keeping and bearing arms rests in laws that lend order to nature. These are laws that God ordained and implemented just as certainly as he implemented and ordained the moral law (the 10 Commandments). This point is worth explaining because it’s fundamental to an understanding of how our inalienable rights flow to us from God rather than from government. As such, the foundation of those rights transcends government, which is why the right to keep and bear arms “shall not be infringed.”
There are two sets of law authored and maintained by God: Divine Law, consisting of the 10 Commandments and the outworking of those commandments in the New Testament, and Natural Law, consisting of the order intrinsic to nature and the universe around it. We know Divine Law from reading the Bible, and we know aspects of Natural Law because it is written upon our hearts and consciences. The Apostle Paul indicated this in Romans 2:14-15: “When Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness.”
And because Divine Law and Natural Law both flow from God, they are in agreement with one another. Thus, whereas Divine Law teaches “Thou shall not kill,” Natural Law provides us with the intuitive knowledge that killing in cold blood is wrong. And whereas Divine Law teaches “Thou shall not steal,” Natural Law provides us with the intuitive knowledge that stealing is wrong. This explains why people who have never read a Bible or heard a sermon on the Bible do their stealing in secret or in the cover of night — for they have an intuitive knowledge that it’s something that must be hidden.
Yet it goes much deeper. For the same laws of nature of that warn our consciences against killing in cold blood or stealing, also incline us toward owning our own things and protecting the things we own. And perhaps most importantly, they also teach that our greatest property is our own life, and that such a property must be defended. In fact, because God has given us life, we have a duty to defend it.