Disciple Hour: Chapter 8- Self Defense: a Biblical Response

Our study ends with the final chapter, which is a biblical response to those who say we should always practice pacifism and we, especially as Christians should disarm. 

Pacifism- belief in a peaceful resolution of conflicts.  For some it means a refusal to participate in war. 
We should, of course, work for peaceful resolution to conflicts and we should work for peaceful resolution to war.  We should seek peace.
What we are going to study today is to seek a biblical view of the times when these preferred responses to conflict are not possible.  Can we, as Christians biblically and with God’s endorsement and blessing engage in self-defense even when that means violence on our part?

1.  Turning the other cheek
Matthew 5:38–39 (ESV) 

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 

Many will bring up this passage as their proof of pacifism.  The problem is that is not what Jesus was teaching.  A slap on the face was a way of insulting someone else.  The Greek literally means a sharp slap given in insult.  This was a backhanded slap.  If we were to be slapped in insult we are not to retaliate.  The idea of a violent attack to physically harm or even murder someone is not in view here.
So, this passage is not even in the slightest way talking about self-defense.

2.  We are to always try to escape danger first

1 Samuel 19:10 (ESV) 

10 And Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he eluded Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night. 

Many times in this section of the OT we have examples of Saul seeking to kill David.  In many examples David could have went after Saul but that would be retaliation not self-defense.  In stead David ran away and escaped.

3.  The Bible, in many places, teaches self-defense

This is by means of physical force

1 Samuel 17:34–37 (ESV) 

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” 

1 Samuel 17:44–47 (ESV) 

44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 

46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.” 

It is very clear the Law of God prohibits murder.
Exodus 20:13 (ESV) 

13 “You shall not murder. 

Murder is forbidden, killing in self defense is not murder.  Also killing in a combat setting is not murder.
Exodus 22:2–3 (ESV) 

 If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him. He shall surely pay. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. 

In darkness when someone breaks into your house there are so many unknown factors because you cant see.  During the daylight hours fleeing is easier; he can be identified etc.

When Nehemiah was leading the people to rebuild the wall he made sure that everyone who was working on the wall had a sword to defend themselves from attacks.
Nehemiah 4:17–18 (ESV) 

17 who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. 18 And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 

We are not seeking to harm anyone and yet we are called to if our lives are threatened.
Proverbs 25:26 (ESV) 

26    Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain 

is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked. 

Scripture teaches that it is lawful to physically defend the weak and helpless.

Here we have the assumption that if someone would have been there, they would have tried to rescue the young woman.
Deuteronomy 22:25–27 (ESV) 

25 “But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. 26 But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor, 27 because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her.

Psalm 82:3–4 (ESV) 

   Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; 

maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. 

   Rescue the weak and the needy; 

deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” 
Why would the weak and fatherless need additional help?  No father to step in to defend.

4.  Jesus teaches to have a weapon for self defense.
Luke 22:36–38 (ESV) 

36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.” 

Many of Jesus’ disciples already carried swords for self defense against attackers and robbers Jesus did not forbid swords.

It is true in Matthew 26 Jesus did forbid Peter from using his sword to defend Jesus from the Roman army that was coming to arrest and take Him.  In this case, Peter was working against God’s plan that Jesus would be arrested, tried, and crucified.  Jesus was not saying don’t defend yourself but I came for this purpose.   

Matthew 26:50–54 (ESV) 

50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 

5.  What about persecution?
We should expect persecution as Christians.  Our Lord and the Apostles teach us that we will be persecuted.  
1 Peter 3:14 (ESV) 
14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 

1 Peter 4:13 (ESV) 

13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 

People might say, what about Jesus’ example of not defending Himself?
1 Peter 2:23 (ESV) 

23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 

This is a completely different situation.  Jesus didn’t defend Himself before the Roman army nor before Pilate because His mission was to die on the cross.

For Christians, persecution differs in degree.  Most is not life threatening but some is.  I think there is a good rule of thumb.  If you are in a life threatening situation and it would be appropriate to call the police if you had that chance, it’s also appropriate to use force, even lethal force if necessary.  

Is it right to use a gun for self defense?

We have learned today that the Bible authorizes the general idea of self-defense.

Jesus endorsed the idea of His followers carrying swords for self-defense.
Today, that would include using a gun also for self-defense.

Guns are a great equalizer when attacked.  They greatly and quickly offset the differences in physical strength.  A 225 pound male attacker can be quickly and effectively stopped by a 110 female victim.  
Some will say, what about pepper spray?  Pepper spray is good and will ward off many attackers but it’s not always effective.  I many cases, pepper spray is not effective.  There are many examples of attackers fighting their way through pepper spray. 

Often simply brandishing a weapon will ward off an attack. 

There are many factors to consider…What weapon is right for you?  Perhaps pepper spray is best?  Perhaps a firearm is best?  Whatever weapon, if any, you choose you should seek proper training in its use.  You should be trained in safety and you should practice in using it in various situations.  You should know the laws in your area.

We don’t trust in a defensive weapon but we trust the Lord.  While we trust God, we still wear seatbelts, lock our doors at night, have emergency numbers ready, ect.

What about Gun control laws?

6.  Mankind is sinful not the gun. 

There has been murder since the beginning.

Genesis 4:8–10 (ESV) 

Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 

It seems that Cain used a weapon of some kind, perhaps a knife.  Because there was blood involved.

7.  Misconception that fewer guns would equate to fewer murders

One recent example comparing two cities.  One city with guns and another where guns are illegal.  Often times New York City and London are compared.  What’s astonishing is that London has as many murders as NYC and in some months has more.  In London the population is not armed.  Both cities have approx. the same population.  
Another astonishing fact is that NYC’s murder rate has greatly dropped in recent years, coinciding with CCW permits.

In fact, “since 2007, the number of concealed handgun permits has soared from 4.6 million to over 12.8 million, and murder rates have fallen from 5.6 killings per 100,000 people to just 4.2, about a 25% drop”

The clear evidence is that more guns equals less crime.  
In many interviews with felons in prison they admit that they are not afraid of the police because on average it takes 6-8 minutes for the police to arrive at the scene.  In that amount of time the criminal can be long gone.  No, what the criminal is most concerned about is an armed home. 

Biblically, it’s important for us to see that a Christian can be armed and God endorses their taking up arms for self-defense.  Christians can be armed and still put their trust in God.
Psalm 144:1–2 (ESV) 

   Blessed be the Lord, my rock, 

who trains my hands for war, 

and my fingers for battle; 

   he is my steadfast love and my fortress, 

my stronghold and my deliverer, 

       my shield and he in whom I take refuge, 

who subdues peoples under me. 

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