Should a Young Man Buy a Handgun? WWSS?

This is a controversial question in American political culture right now. Some strongly advocate for legal restrictions on gun ownership and possession. Others strongly favor the restriction of the legislature and the rest of civil government to the dictates of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights. As they see it, an armed populace is ultimately safer from crime and can’t be controlled as easily by domestic or foreign governments.

But even if a young man believes in the Second Amendment in this way, it may be a stupid decision to purchase a gun. His thinking may be clouded with slogans and visions from action movies rather than a sober evaluation of his actual circumstances and risks.

My argument for this is simple and two-fold. The first reason is that handguns are expensive to purchase and also expensive to keep since practice with them requires the cost of ammunition and usually a designated place. The second reason is more important and universal: A growing stash of saved wealth is usually the main tool of personal freedom and independence, not a handgun.

  • “Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich” (Proverbs 21:17).
  • “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it” (Proverbs 21:20).

Undoubtedly there are circumstances in which a handgun (along with discipline and proficiency in using it) is more valuable than all the money in the world at that particular moment. But much of the entertainment industry is concentrated on people facing such scenarios, making them seem common. Outside of fantasy, those circumstances are quite rare for virtally anyone who is reading these words. As far as “resistance to tyranny” goes, the government has its citizens outgunned. Practically speaking, after the skill of staying out of trouble altogether, the most important tool one can possess in dealing with government hostility in the U.S. is the ability to afford a lawyer.

The most common villain every person faces throughout all the world and all history is poverty. It is a “robber” and an “armed man” (Proverbs 6:11; 24:34). This is true even in affluent societies. Financial emergencies and setbacks, personal and societal, are a hazard of life. Thus, the most important weapon to defeat that villain is a growing stash of cash, and/or an expanding bank account, and/or a compiling collection of assets designed to produce income or at least be liquidated (not things you acquire to consume, but things you acquire to sell or make money from). If, while doing that, you believe you can own a handgun responsibly, go ahead and get one. But without amassing some wealth, purchasing something that unnecessary and expensive is stupid.

The fantasy of needing to be able to deal with an armed opponent is distracting you from the real threat you face. The Second Amendment’s vision of human life may be true, but that doesn’t make a young man’s decision to purchase a handgun wise. Being distracted into giving up money you will probably need to acquire something you probably won’t need is irrational.

  • “The discerning sets his face toward wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth (Proverbs 17:24; ESV).
  • “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense (Proverbs 12:11; ESV).

If you are dependent on and responsible for a car, for example, the ability to repair or replace it is probably a more pressing need than to deal with hostiles who have taken over Nakotomi Plaza.

The problem is that, one either gets in the habit on saving money or of spending all one’s money. Many people get set in this habit at an early age. If you have the wrong habit, it is human nature to accept it as normative and rationalize it. Instead of figuring out what is the best way to live, we utilize all our brain power to justify what we have already been doing.

When many American teens get jobs, they do so to be able to buy things they want over and above what their parents are willing to spend on them. This seems responsible but it means they get habituated to earning money for things they want to immediately purchase and use. That habit is insufficient for a productive adult life.

Many realize that they need to save, and assume that they will change their behavior when they get a “real job.” But a lot of people find that the “real job” barely covers real expenses. Unless they’ve already cultivated the habit of saving money, it will be very difficult to change their behavior. It is much better to have already developed an obsession to save rather than an obsession to have things you don’t need at the expense of saving. You need to get to the point where depleting your savings causes as much mental pain as not having some luxury you want.

As always, God wants us to be wise in order to empower us. Nothing in Proverbs indicates that it’s actually wrong to acquire and enjoy luxuries. But that enjoyment needs to be done in a way that doesn’t sabotage you as a person and rob you of financial freedom.

Matthew Henry Said It BEFORE Benjamin Franklin!

I find I need to add a footnote to my post concerning Benjamin Franklin and the quotation, “God helps them that help themselves.” I mentioned that some Christians hold the quote to the epitome of “the American religion” that is opposed to authentic Christianity.

But this blog post demonstrates that the saying isn’t original with Ben Franklin.

…this statement can be taken in an orthodox way and actually comes from the pen of the famous Bible commentator, Matthew Henry. Henry writes,

“God will help those that help themselves. Vigilantibus non dormientibus succurrit lex—The law succours those who watch, not those who sleep.” (Commentary on Joshua 5:13-15).

In another place, Henry writes: “He gives strength and power to his people, and helps them by enabling them to help themselves…He will help the willing, will help those who, in a humble dependence upon him, help themselves, and will do well for those who do their best.” (Commentary on Isaiah 40:27-31).

So the saying may well represent the influence of a Christian heritage on Benjamin Franklin, rather than a deviation from it.

No, Really: God Helps Those Who Help Themselves!

Yes, I know the proposition is not found in Scripture.

And, yes, I know that Benjamin Franklin was not a Christian.

And I agree the aphorism might be used to justify unchristian attitudes toward success or poor people, etc.

But plenty of genuine Bible verses can be used to justify unchristian attitudes and behavior. Many of them have been.

And Benjamin Franklin being wrong about orthodox Christianity doesn’t prove he was wrong about everything. It doesn’t even prove he was less influenced by the Bible on a particular topic than are his Christian critics.

The fact that a proposition is not found in Scripture does not prove it is not derived from Scriptural teaching!

The report that some people think that “God helps those who help themselves,” is found in the Bible shows a lamentable level of ignorance. It also shows a hopeful level of awareness of what the Bible sounds like.

Some Christians in the Reformed tradition are the worst since they accuse the statement of teaching Pelagianism. But it does not do so. All we have to do is look at the context:


I have heard that nothing gives an author so great pleasure, as to find his works respectfully quoted by others. Judge, then, how much I must have been gratified by an incident I am going to relate to you. I stopped my horse, lately, where a great number of people were collected at an auction of merchants’ goods. The hour of the sale not being come, they were conversing on the badness of the times; and one of the company called to a plain, clean, old man, with white locks, ‘Pray, Father Abraham, what think you of the times? Will not those heavy taxes quite ruin the country! How shall we be ever able to pay them? What would you advise us to?’——Father Abraham stood up, and replied, ‘If you would have my advice, I will give it you in short; “for a word to the wise is enough,” as Poor Richard says.’ They joined in desiring him to speak his mind, and, gathering round him, he proceeded as follows:

‘Friends,’ says he, ‘the taxes are indeed very heavy; and, if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly; and from these taxes the commissioners cannot ease or deliver us by allowing an abatement. However, let us hearken to good advice, and something may be done for us; “God helps them that help themselves,” as Poor Richard says.

Benjamin Franklin, The Way Of Wealth

Obviously, this wasn’t a discussion of eternal salvation or of why some respond to the Gospel and others don’t. This was a frank challenge to people who wanted to blame others for their financial woes. For this reason, they were also prone to think that only others could make their financial lives any better. All that Father Abraham and Poor Richard can do for them is offer advice. It is up to them (humanly speaking) to follow it. He ends on the same note:

‘And now to conclude, “Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other,” as Poor Richard says, and scarce in that; for it is true, “We may give advice, but we cannot give conduct.” However, remember this, “They that will not be counselled cannot be helped;” and farther, that “If you will not hear Reason, she will surely rap your knuckles,” as Poor Richard says.’

And Solomon agrees,

Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,

and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.

Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;

reprove a wise man, and he will love you.

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;

teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,

and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

For by me your days will be multiplied,

and years will be added to your life.

If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;

if you scoff, you alone will bear it.

Proverbs 9:7–12; ESV

I’ll try to write more about “Poor Richard” soon. But my advice is to read him for yourself.

So You Forgot Your New Year’s Resolution… What Now?

Here’s the key point: if your resolution doesn’t have failure built into the plan then you will probably fail to keep the resolution.

Some people make New Year’s resolutions and others don’t. Some forget their New Year’s resolutions before February comes. Some realize two weeks into January that they forgot to make any resolutions and feel they missed an opportunity.

So are those who opt out of New Year’s resolutions the rational ones? I’ve been tempted to think so. But recently a friend posted a quotation from G. K. Chesterton and it caused me to think differently:

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.”

I don’t understand everything Chesterton says here (Why should any resolution depend on making New Year’s resolutions? [but see note below]), but it does give me pause about scoffing at the custom. Some holidays are meant to commemorate important facets of life. While one cause of Mother’s Day and Father’s day is an economic need to sell greeting cards, another is to commemorate the value of fathers and mothers. Likewise, New Year’s Day serves more than one purpose. While New Year’s Day is used to track the years and dates by calendar, it has also become a commemoration of the value of a fresh start in human life.

Human beings need to pull themselves together and start anew in order to get better.

So let’s say you normally make New Year’s resolutions but this year you got caught up in holiday drama at the end of 2018 and it distracted you. Now you realize that it is over a week into January and you haven’t even thought of what improvements you should make. Well, so what? The point of the holiday is to remind you of your need to become a better person. It’s not the date by which you MUST begin!

In other words, it is rational to use the customary holiday to remind you to improve yourself, but it is superstitious and irrational to treat the holiday as a deadline to begin a resolution. That would actually do more to discourage people than to encourage better habits.

“Failure” to “keep” a resolution involves a similar misunderstanding. The object of New Year’s Day is not to get a “perfect” year with an unbroken record. Human behavior doesn’t change overnight. You don’t wake up with new habits in 2019 because you wished for them at bedtime on New Year’s Eve 2018.

The effort required to adopt a new behavior or habit isn’t a session of intense “willing” it to happen. It takes the diligent tracking of your behavior over time and a commitment to keep trying despite failure.

That is why not planning for failure is commonly fatal to a New Year’s resolution.

And it betrays a wrong mindset. You are basically saying to yourself and God, “Unless I can be a disciplined writer, or healthy eater, or swole gym rat, a daily intellectual reader, or regular early riser, a faithful prayer warrior morning and evening, or a weekly Bible verse memorizer, etc, then there’s no point in bothering. And by “no point in bothering,” you mean you should be left alone to remain the subject of inertia as your unchanging (or, actually, slowly deteriorating) self.

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,

while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle,

but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.

Proverbs 13:4, 11 (ESV).

So don’t get discouraged about imperfect improvement. Track what change you are able to make and then make another, better resolution when the time comes. Or whenever you think it is appropriate.

[A reader contacted me and suggest that “a particular man” means a certain type of man. There are some men who won’t make resolutions unless prodded by a tradition like New Year’s Day. That seems obvious now, but I didn’t think of that option when I read it.]

John Locke on the authority of mothers

It may seem strange to quote a political philosopher on a website dedicated to Biblical wisdom. But John Locke’s First Treatise on Civil Government was essentially a Bible study. A book had been published arguing that the Bible demanded absolute monarchy, reasoning that there was kind of authoritarian succession from Adam to kings. Locke exposed many flaws in the author’s argument. One of those flaws was that he left out the role of Eve and all mothers.

Thus, Locke points out:

“My son, hear the instructions of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother,” are the words of Solomon, a king who was not ignorant of what belonged to him as a father or a king; and yet he joins father and mother together, in all the instructions he gives children quite through his book of Proverbs.

This has ramifications outside (or perhaps before) politics. It means a young man who only respects his father is probably not on the path to wisdom.

Continue reading “John Locke on the authority of mothers”

REPOST: If You Don’t Learn To Obey Orders You Will Never Be Free; Here’s Why:

Let me start with a brief story about a society in which some people had slaves and attempted to use those slaves for income:

David thought the interview had gone well so far. Huxley Industries needed a slave to answer phones, keep records, and do other office work. David needed some better income and he had a slave to rent. His slave could easily do the jobs that they needed to be done.

“So can your slave be here by 7:30 am every weekday morning?”

David’s heart lurched. “You start that early?”

Well, we need him ready to go before others come to work. We found this position works better if he starts a half hour earlier.”


“Is that a problem?” Sharon, the interviewer sounded completely non-judgmental about David’s slave. He was thankful for her professionalism.

“Well, I have my slave during most of the day,” said David, hating to have to admit the truth out loud. “Body is a good slave and I’m sure he could do the work here.”


“But I’m not completely his sole owner. His other master may make that 7:30 start time difficult to meet.”

“Someone else has ownership that early in the morning?”

David shook his head. Not in the morning, but usually late at night. Wine, Women, and Song are part owners from about 9 p.m. until pretty late. Getting up that early might be a problem.”

Sharon nodded. “That was actually why this position didn’t work with the last slave we tried to rent from someone.”

“Did Wine, Women, and Song have part ownership?”

“No,” said Sharon, “I think it was Late Night Television. It kept the slave up at night and when the other owner got full control back in the morning, the slave was too groggy to work for us effectively.”

David sighed.

“I appreciate talking to you about the job,” said Sharon. “But you have to understand lots of slaves can do the tasks we need done. Our problem isn’t the tasks themselves but the simple fact that the owners are not really total owners. You can’t really rent out a slave if you already share him with other masters.”

Continue reading “REPOST: If You Don’t Learn To Obey Orders You Will Never Be Free; Here’s Why:”

Ruling Your “Angels”

One of the strangest (yet obvious) facts to discover in Scripture is that the Spirit hovering over the waters in Genesis 2 at creation is the same as the pillar of cloud and fire that led Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground. That theophany occurs several times in Scripture, and is identified with Jesus’ own body.

Meredith Kline did the work to show how it all comes out in Scripture.

The Spirit/Cloud manifestation led Israel to Sinai where it touched down. And one of the components of this cloud was the heavenly host–an army of angels. We’re told so unambiguously in Psalm 68:15-17. Continue reading “Ruling Your “Angels””

God Loves to Give Wisdom

Solomon famously asked for wisdom as he was given kingly authority to rule Israel (1 Kings 4). God gave it to him.

Does that mean Solomon had not been taught wisdom before?

No! A child should be taught wisdom, and a young man should remember what his parents taught him, but he needs to acquire apropriate wisdom as an adult with new responsibilities. Continue reading “God Loves to Give Wisdom”