Buy a Sword

There is an ongoing search for the lost Honjo Masamune, the legendary samurai sword said to be so supernaturally powerful it could split light itself. The blade was an unparalleled masterpiece crafted by the priest whose name it forever bore. Considered sacred, it was made to fight against evil. The perfection of sword design, the Honjo Masamune was, as were other samurai swords, the symbol of Japan’s powerful warrior class as well as the pride of the nation. 

But as time wore on, Japan decided to modernize during the Meiji restoration. The samurai were forbidden to wear the katana in public. The samurai class was essentially disbanded, though families were permitted to keep and to revere their ancestral swords. 

But at the end of WWII, after the detonation of two atom bombs, one over Hiroshima and one over Nagasaki, American victors demanded total surrender, including the surrender of all weaponry. No exceptions were permitted. Even family katanas were not exempt from confiscation, so the Honjo Masamune was surrendered to the occupiers. 

The surrender of the ancestral blades as well as the revocation of divinity by the Japanese emperor Hirohito signified more than surrender to the Allied forces. It signified the disarmament of the entire populace, the demolition of a centuries’ old code of honor, the absolute annihilation of the warrior class and the total reconstruction of Japanese society from top to bottom. The surrender of the Honjo Masamune was a symbolic and real indicator of a cultural revolution to be achieved overnight, one that augured a completely disarmed and pacifist society.

But the symbolism and meaning of legendary weapons and the mighty men who bear arms is not so easily achieved. Behind legendary blades and golden guns lie a host of ancient cultural constants not so easily revoked and changed. One of those constants is the legend of the strong warrior who, armed with a deadly weapon, defends others against evil -- a man who is dedicated to protecting the innocent even at the cost of his own life.

The swords themselves tell the stories of those who fought for the right, who used their weapons as a force against evil.

The storied past has it that even the ravishingly beautiful and deadly Honjo Masamune was rivaled by the blades of Sengo Muramasa. But it was also said that the owner of a Muramasa blade could destroy everything his sword touched, whereas Masamune’s sword cut only some things. A wandering monk explained the difference between the uses of the weapons, saying that Masamune’s sword was superior as it did not cut living things unnecessarily; whereas because Muramasa’s sword cut everything to pieces, it was inherently evil.

Other renowned blades tell tales similar to that of the Honjo Masamune. Durandel, sword of the paladin Roland; Joyeuse, the blade said to have belonged to Charlemagne; the sword of King Goujian, said to have been so magnificent it could only have been made by earthly powers working with heavenly forces; Excalibur, the legendary sword of King Arthur, which was said to have magical powers going beyond the power and welfare of the individual who wielded it, as it stood also for the rightful sovereignty of the king and Great Britain.  

The idea was that the struggle between good and evil was inherent in the cosmic order, that there was something mysteriously and inherently virtuous about a weapon dedicated to the worthy pursuit of good, the protection of the innocent and the preservation of a just and righteous societal order.

There was a comprehension in the societies that revered the weapons and those who wielded them not as mere actors in the realpolitik of the age, though the reality of earthly politics and skullduggery was and is always present wherever weapons are found; but as fighters allied with the cosmic war between good and evil. There was something beyond mere heroics and posturing. There were real heroes whose combat pointed to a warfare transcending the earthly battles in which mortals were engaged.

It is not for nothing that in Robert de Boron’s Merlin, written during 1190s at the height of the Crusades, the wizard Merlin creates the Round Table in imitation of the table of Christ’s Last supper and Joseph of Arimathea’s Holy Grail table. There was in Boron’s mind and others likeminded an echo of the war in Heaven mentioned in Revelation, battles imitative of but also real earthly enactments of the larger cosmic war described in Revelation 12: “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.”

In other words, the sword can be associated with the sovereignty of the Kingdom of God and wielded for righteousness or it can be linked, as Marasuma’s swords, to satanic evil of total and wanton destruction. If only Marasuma’s swords prevail, evil wins every time. But if heroes employ the sword to protect and defend the innocent, evil is defeated.

How grand are the stories of heroes, whether of the individual or of bands of mighty men. Armed heroes of legend are imitated and revered in every age and every culture. 

No society that gives up on legendary or contemporary heroism can survive against the daily onslaught of evil. No society can live without armed heroes. To disarm heroes, be they members of a mighty band or a man who seeks to protect his family or the innocent stranger from attack, is to see righteousness defeated and Marasuma swords prevail.

It is King David and the Three and the Thirty Mighty Men; the Seven Samurai and the Benghazi Six who come into the fray against those who would destroy everything. It is they who draw the sword allied with might and right, and who sound the alarm, “To arms; to arms” as they rush against the murderous.   

Christ recognized this when he said to his disciples that he sent out into the rough and dangerous world of the Roman Empire, “Sell your cloak and buy a sword.” He knew full well the sicarii, those assassins whose daggers would penetrate the bowels of those they were hired to kill, were not only at large, but completely unpredictable as to whom they might target. In Judea of that time, an unarmed man was an easy target for men with stilettos.

Christ’s command to his disciples is perhaps puzzling and disturbing to those Christians who are radical pacifists and thus do not believe in armed defense of anyone, be it their fellow Christians facing genocidal maniacs, their own families should they be threatened by a murderer; or innocent children who are raped, burned and crucified by such monstrous bands of devils as are gathered in ISIS.

For the ultimate outcome of radical pacifism that demands disarmament of citizens and thus the demolition of individual heroism accompanied by the inevitable burgeoning of evil is this: It is to follow the logic of Gandhi, whose advice to the 600,000 Jews living in Palestine was that they “offer ... themselves to be shot or thrown into the Dead Sea without raising a little finger...” It is to promote total defenselessness and the willingness to allow one’s self and everyone else to die at the hands of those wielding a Marasuma sword. It is to believe there should be no heroes, no men and women of valor; no fighting because war is always wrong. There remain only the nihilism of Don Quixote and the essentially humorless reductionism of the The Ridiculous Six.


There are those like the Benghazi Six, who believe it is wicked to stand down, morally debased to stand by passively while those you have sworn to defend are tortured and murdered. There are those like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who believed it is heinous to say and do nothing in the presence of evil. There are those who acknowledge along with Edmund Burke that "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

There are those who believe the defense of the innocent here on earth is part of the cosmic battle between good and evil, a battle in which heroes on earth are allied with the very angels of Heaven -- fellow warriors slaying the dragon along with the archangel Michael.

To such men and women living in today’s tumultuous and dangerous world, those who are daily battling for the good, Christ may well be saying:

“Buy a gun.” 

Fay Voshell is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. She holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her its prize for excellence in systematic theology. Her thoughts have appeared in many online magazines such as National Review, CNS, Fox News and RealClearReligion. She may be reached at

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