If an emotionally disturbed person with a gun asks me if I am Christian with the intent of killing me, if I answer yes, is it denying Christ if I say no? A family member argued that I would be under no obligation to a crazy person, one who is willing to take my life, to say I was Christian. Gramps what are your thoughts on this situation? I would never want to deny Christ, but am I obligated to die at the hand of an unstable person to prove it?
I admit my first thought is how would you even know, in that situation, that the gunman is mentally ill? And second what is the likelihood that you would ever find yourself in such a situation? But since you asked, I’ll share a couple ideas.
While it is interesting to imagine yourself as courageously able to make a decision in a moment like that, I think the truth is some of us (myself included) would be reduced to a sobbing mess and the ONLY thing that would come out is what is truly in the heart.
If one truly believes in Christ, one would be likely be turning to Him for help and comfort in that moment. Denying Him would be the last thing you would do for any reason since you may be about to see Him in person.
If though deep down your faith is not so secure, you would likely say anything you thought would save your life. See how the emphasis here is that you relying on your own wits.
It may be that the Lord would accept either response. Remember, Peter denied the Savior three times. An argument could be made that he felt His life was in danger Roman rule being what it was. He sorely regretted it and repented, and he was forgiven.
More importantly though, consider these words from Brigham Young, who lived in a day where this scenario was far more likely to happen than nowadays:
“The most effectual way to establish the religion of Heaven is to live it, rather than to die for it: I think I am safe in saying that there are many of the Latter-day Saints who are more willing to die for their religion than to live it faithfully. There is no other proof can be adduced to God, angels, and men, that a people faithfully live their religion, than that they repent truly of their sins, obey the law of baptism for the remission of sins, and then continue to do the works of righteousness day by day.” Chapter 11: Choosing to Walk in Obedience
Finally, to answer your question more directly…if you ever do find yourself in that situation, and you somehow know the person is mentally ill, and you have the mental capacity to make a clear decision, then remember these scriptures:
35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
Trust the Lord, and do your best to follow Him while you are living. As Brigham Young said, THIS is the harder test.