by Al Maxey

A Special Request
March 27, 2008

Dear Reflections Readers,

Once again I am coming to you for the purpose of "picking your brains" on an issue that I personally believe to be of great significance in our perilous times. As you may or may not know, most places within our nation authorize responsible citizens, who have undergone the appropriate training and who have been cleared by state and federal background checks, to carry a concealed weapon. Being issued such a permit by your state police authorities involves quite an investment in time, training, energy and money. It is a somewhat rigorous process ... and it clearly needs to be. The state police and FBI will both examine your past in some depth, and if any red flags are raised, you will most probably not be issued a permit, unless you can satisfactorily address all their concerns. Nevertheless, in spite of the rigors of the process, many thousands within our nation are being issued permits to carry a concealed weapon. Whether you agree or disagree with the concept of citizens bearing arms (a vital part of our 2nd Amendment rights), the reality is: it is happening. Yes, some are indeed seeking to greatly restrict this constitutional amendment, if not abolish it altogether, but thus far this has not happened (and I personally pray it never does).

My question of you, however, is not of a political nature. Your view (or mine) of the practical scope of the 2nd Amendment is not at issue here. At issue is the fact that thousands within your state are carrying concealed weapons ... and doing so legally. Needless to say, not a few of these people are Christians. The likelihood is great that some may well be carrying a concealed weapon during your Sunday morning worship assemblies. This raises some interesting questions for all concerned. With school and church shootings on the rise (as well as crazed killers shooting up other public areas as well, such as malls, restaurants, etc.), many feel the need to arm themselves so as to be a first line of defense in such critical situations. Let's face it -- by the time the police arrive in such settings, the rampage is usually over.

The question to each of you is simply this -- what are your feelings about members of your congregation (or perhaps even some within the leadership: elders, deacons, ministers) carrying a concealed weapon? In most cases you would probably never know, for no person carrying a concealed weapon is obligated to inform you of the fact. But, I would be interested in your feelings as to the appropriateness of some Christians choosing to carry a weapon into your assemblies. Perhaps some congregations have already considered it, and you've formulated policy addressing it (either pro or con). If you're aware of such policies, I would be interested in receiving a copy of them. I will take all of this information, compile it, and then do a special issue of Reflections in the next month or so on this matter. Thank you in advance for your insights and comments (whether they be pro or con). I can tell you up front that I have strong feelings on this, but will, as I always seek to do, be "fair and balanced" in my presentation of all sides of the debate.

May God richly bless you!!