Tag: self defense
The left, in it’s full bore, fully automatic attack on firearms, has slipped it’s ropes — probably unknown to them, their true disrespect and disregard for human life are showing through. Take this little gem, for instance:
In a new tact to dissuade American gun owners from purchasing AR-15s, Vice President Joe Biden told an Facebook Q and A audience today it’s easier to hit people with an shotgun than with an “assault rifle.” Moreover, Biden believes the very sound of a shotgun being fired is so frightening that he said he instructs his wife to fire two round rounds in the air, from the balcony of their, to scare off intruders when he’s gone. Biden said if you do that, “I promise you whoever’s coming is not gonna. You don’t need an AR-15. It’s harder to aim, it’s harder to use, and in fact you don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself.” –Big Government
Note this is horrible advice. First, you should never tell an assailant you’re armed, only to stop what they’re doing — now! Second, you’ve just said, “I fired two rounds out of a shotgun that has, a most, six rounds, so I only have four left.” Third, in assuming you only need six rounds to defend yourself, you’re assuming on the number of people who are attacking you. This is never a good assumption — think riots. Fourth, firing a “warning shot,” can still be understood as a threat; in many instances you could be “putting the shoe to the other foot.” Now that you’ve fired, exposing the reality that you’re armed, you’ve also made you attacker the attacked. It’s quite possible that you’ve just given them a good reason to shoot back in self defense.
To get back on topic, perhaps this one:
Be realistic about your ability to protect yourself. Your instinct may be to scream, go ahead! It may startle your attacker and give you an opportunity to run away. Kick off your shoes if you have time and can’t run in them. Don’t take time to look back; just get away. If your life is in danger, passive resistance may be your best defense. Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating. Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone. –quoted on Bookworm Room
And they’re not afraid of self defense because of the many ways in which self defense can go wrong. They’re afraid of self defense because they’re afraid of you harming your attacker.
Since that attacker is likely male, what the left is really doing, right now, is screaming about how too many men are injured or killed in the commission of a crime. Yes, it’s insane, but it’s ultimately true — in their rampage to stop people from owning guns, the left is essentially saying that the life of someone bent on raping, killing, or stealing is more important than the rights or life of the person being attacked.
They’d rather see a woman raped than a man hurt in the process of trying to rape.
Let that soak in for a while. The end run of that logic isn’t pretty at all.
Wayne Grudem has an excellent outline on Christians and self defense here, as well as an mp3 of a class where he teaches through the outline. It turns out that the reasoning and logic I used in my series of Christians and self defense, starting here, weren’t so insane.
The mp3 file is well worth listening to. Mr. Grudem is the author of a well known and respected systematic theology—in fact, the systematic theology we use at Shepherd’s Theological Seminary. Some points from the outline:
It is right to defend ourselves and others from physical attacks when we are able to do so.
Prohibits individuals from taking personal vengeance to “get even” with another person.
It is right to try to avoid being harmed by a violent attacker.
God wants us to care for the health of our bodies.
If the Bible authorizes self-defense, and Jesus encouraged his disciples to carry a sword for protection, then it is also right for a person to be able to use other kinds of weapons for self-defense.
There is room for Christians to differ about that question & for individuals to decide what is best in their own
Consider the implications of these two videos on your life, specifically your ability to see not only what’s really going on in the physical world, but also your ability to see what’s going on in the spiritual world. While the researchers are still pondering why some people notice this sort of thing, and others don’t, there’s already one thing I know for certain: you can teach yourself to pay attention to things around you to a higher degree than you normally would. This is a matter of learning to really see. In fact, any really good artist will tell you the difference isn’t in learning how to paint, but rather how to see. The one way to kill off your ability to “see,” is to consume lots and lots of visual entertainment, especially entertainment that confuses reality with unreality through “special effects.”
In the spiritual world, the ability to see things change is called discernment. And here again, the best way to mess up your discernment is to fill your mind with unsound thoughts. You must learn to think, it’s not just something that “happens.”
Learning to see is important in both your physical life and your spiritual life.
Some time back, I observed a long email exchange between various folks on a political mailing list. This paragraph, embedded in one of the emails, caught my attention, because it describes the modern condition so completely.
There’s also the “good” people that occasionally loose it: it’s better they don’t have a gun in their hands in those moments. Let’s admit it, we are all “good”: we have friends, and family (and maybe children) and we pay taxes and occasionally do social works and give money to charities. But deep inside our mind, is there a single crime we haven’t committed? You know, it’s not the drug dealers (or the nice guys that write on politics) I have in mind when I’m thinking about making it more difficult to get a weapon for the average Joe: it’s the neighbor next door that really scares me…that I may one day scratch his car, and he comes out of his house and freezes me with a bullet in my back.
Here we have one of the most complete explanations of the liberal worldview in one paragraph I’ve ever seen. The person writing this doesn’t trust his next door neighbor with this life, so he would turn to government, as an authority over people, to remove his neighbor’s ability to harm him.
The writer has imbued the government, in his mind, with a quality of reality that doesn’t exist. Governments are abstract things, like the set of all green vegetables. For a government to exist in the real world, it must be instantiated with people. The irony is the people who make up the government are the writer’s next door neighbors. The writer doesn’t trust his neighbor with a firearm, but he trusts them with the power of government.
Since the government is force, what, precisely, is the difference between these two?
It’s always easier to trust an abstract over an absolute. The grass is always greener on the other side. The apple is always good to make one wise, and for food. The picture of the resturaunt’s dinner is always better than the actual dinner they serve. It is far too easy to become so involved in the abstract, chasing the abstract, that we lose touch with reality. We can imbue the abstract with values and morals we, as people, could never hold ourselves to, and would never want to hold ourselves to.
And maybe this is the key. Perhaps the point is that we want government to be good, so we can let it all hang out. We want government to be good, so we can “have fun,” and not worry about the consequences. Perhaps the point is to shift responsibility from our own shoulders to the shoulders of others, believing as hard as we can that they will accept that responsibility, they will protect us, and take care of us.
We choose the abstract because it is comforting to think that we can do whatever we like, and we can believe that someone, someplace, will take care of us. We are in mortal fear of reality, so we shroud reality in the abstract, hiding it from our eyes.
Reality, in the form of Yeshua, stares back, trying to break through the cloud of abstractions. God loved the world in this way: He gave His only Son to die so that our collective sin, through Adam, and our individuals sins, might be covered, and we might be able to choose spiritual maturity. God covers our sins, so we might live, and grow, and choose the good. But choosing the good also means facing our mortal fears, rather than making God into yet another abstraction. It means learning to take individual responsibility for our own actions, understanding the worst about our fellow travellers, and preparing for the actions of others.
The last seven parts of this series have dealt with the various objections to Christian self defense. This last one covers a bit of new ground, looking at why Christians should defend themselves.
And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 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. Luke 22:35 (ESV)
Many would like to interpret the sword as a printed copy of the Scriptures, since a sword often symbolized the Word of God, as in Paul’s description of the complete armor of God. The problem with this theory is that you couldn’t buy a set of the Scriptures for the cost of a cloak in those days. There were few copies of the Scriptures available, not many of which were in private hands, until the invention of the printing press. There is only one meaning you can assign to Jesus’ statement here: He meant for those listening to Him to go buy a literal sword.
Why? Jesus says that up to that point, they have traveled without a moneybag, and without a knapsack, and yet they have lacked for nothing. They lacked for nothing, of course, because Jesus, Himself, was with them. Now that Jesus is to be gone, He is telling them they need to take care of themselves once more. In the same way, while they were with Him, they had no need for personal protection, in the form of a sword. Now that He is leaving, He expects them to take responsibility in this area, as well. Thus Jesus is placing self protection back into the real of personal responsibility.
There is, finally, a strong argument to be made that life is a gift from God, and we should not treat it lightly. That by not defending ourselves, we are spurning the gift of God, just as much as if we refused to eat, or refused to take care of ourselves medically. This argument is often used in the abortion debate—for instance, from the web site of a ministry that provides counseling services to those considering abortion:
Nebraska Christian Services (NCS) provides pregnancy counseling and adoption services that are a positive alternative to abortion for those who choose to give the gift of life.
Here we find the concept of life as a gift. When you refuse to defend yourself, you are spurning that gift. This was a common enough line of reasoning years ago, but it has fallen from favor in recent times, probably because of the constant harping on “social justice” issues. But the remnants of this argument are still there, in the abortion debate.
It’s time we bring this line of thinking back into the self-defense debate, as well. It’s time we realize that our lives are precious, and that by not defending them when it becomes a nessecity, we are spuring a gift of God.
In the end, it is not the State’s responsibility to defend us against criminal attack. It is not “taking justice into your own hands,” to defend yourself against criminal attack. It is permitted by the Scriptures to defend yourself against criminal attack, and it is the right thing to do. Christians need to rethink their position on self defense.
Christians need to stand for law and order, against the increasing lawlessness in our society, and we need to do it on a personal basis, not counting on the collective to save us. Let’s stop putting our heads in the sand, and abdicating a responsibility God gave us.
I have been in many extended discussions on various discussion boards about Christian self defense. In most of these discussions, one of the people opposed to Christians owning firearms always says:
Don’t you trust God?
This is almost always followed up with some sort of note saying you must not be a mature Christian if you have a gun, because, after all, you don’t trust God. I’m always tempted to just reply to this question with a question, like this:
Do you lock your doors at night? Do you save for the future? Don’t you trust God?
This gets to the general point, but let’s dig a little deeper into this topic.
There are a number of verses that discuss our trust for God. This is one of the perennial favorites:
Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! uke 12:27 (ESV)
This appears to be a rather absolute statement: Christians only worry about things like self defense because they don’t trust in God. Of course, this verse also argues that Christians should not bother with working to fulfill material needs, they should not bother with buying clothes, or with finding food, because all of this will drop into our laps, as long as we seek the Kingdom of God first.
But does this really means Christians should not work, not buy or make clothes, nor buy or grow food? And then there are counterpoints to this statement, such as:
And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack Luke 22:35 (ESV)
Or this one:
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:6 (ESV)
How can we reconcile these two apparently contradictory views? Perhaps the best reconciliation takes into account the one thing we normally don’t think of when reading the Bible: time. In the first instance, Jesus, the King, is actually with the Disciples, taking care of them. They should trust in His immediate presence, since He has shown the ability to feed the crowds and heal the sick miraculously. When you eat at the King’s table, you have no need of planting, harvesting, or cooking. However, when the King leaves, you need to go back to taking care of yourself, until He returns again.
This interpretation allows for both the complete reliance on Christ while He was physically present, and for Christians to take responsibility for our own well being, including self defense, now that Christ has left the Earth, until He returns again. This is a problematic interpretation for those who believe in Preterism, those who believe Christ is already reigning on the Earth. In this case, it is difficult to reconcile these two sets of Scriptures, where we should not work nor toil, yet we should work for our food, and we should take a cloak and a sack, to be prepared for our future.
From a Premillennialists view , we should trust in God, rather than our riches, but we should prepare for the future the best we can. We should trust God first, then our families, and then ourselves. But we must remember that our families are depending on us, and hence, we must work and be prepared for their needs, including self defense, buying food, etc–we should be good stewards of the money and means God has given us, which appears to be rather well accepted, but we should also be good stewards of the lives God has given us, by defending it when necessary.
Up to this point, we’ve seen that self defense is allowed by Christians, and that there is no real difference between active and passive defense systems. All self defense systems are ultimately active, because the person using them must choose to put them in place. The next question is: Is a Christian allowed to injure another person in the course of defending himself? In other words, is force allowed in self defense, or are only those things which would never cause injury to another person allowed?
The most common argument against using force, specifically lethal force, is based on a short statement taken from an incident described in Matthew 26:50.
Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 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. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” Matthew 26:50
“Those who live by the sword will die by the sword,” is the primary text people refer to here, since it appears to state that anyone who defends themselves with deadly force (lives by the sword) will die through deadly force (die by the sword). This is, of course, the strongest possible meaning you can attribute to this single statement, taken out of the surrounding context.
There are two possible arguments against this view. The first is that this applies to those who make their living by the sword—in other words, soldiers. This isn’t supportable, however, since we know of at least one Centurion who converted to Christianity, and we have no record of him leaving his profession because of any understanding that Christianity was opposed to his profession as a soldier. This story is recounted in Acts 10, with Peter’s encounter with Cornelius. However, if this view is not correct, then the view that you should not defend yourself with deadly force (live by the sword) also fails with it, for a soldier, in Roman society, was also the modern day policeman. The military was commonly used to pursue and arrest criminals, as we see in Jesus’ arrest, here in Matthew 26. We don’t often remark on this common practice of ancient times, but the entire concept of a police force is a relatively modern invention, designed to separate keeping internal order from national defense.
The second argument against this reading simply places the verse in its context. There are two specific contexts we must consider when reading this verse.
The first context is the actual situation being described, the arrest of Jesus. In the Scripture, Jesus argues that if He defends Himself, the Scriptures will not be fulfilled, that self-defense, at this specific point in time, is not the appropriate reaction. This does not argue against self-defense in general, only against self-defense at this specific point in time.
The second context is that of the Jewish culture in which the statement is made. If we examine the Old Testament carefully, we will find there are many instances of people becoming fixated on “living” by a specific thing. For one instance of this, lets turn to the story of Samson.
Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. Then he came up and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.” But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.” Judges 14:1 (ESV)
And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison. Judges 16:21 (ESV)
Samson lived by his eyes, and he died by his eyes. He trusted in his eyes to lead him correctly, and he found that his eyes only led him to death. This is a common principle throughout the entire Bible: if you trust in something other than God, God will use what you trust in to discipline you, possibly to the point of destruction. This leads us to another question about Christians and self defense: “Shouldn’t you trust God, rather than a lethal weapon, to defend you?” I won’t deal with this specific objection here, though, since it is a tangent to the original question. I will deal with it in a different section, below.
The general concept we should take away from Jesus’ statement during His arrest is that we should not trust in what we think is right, or the right path, but rather, we should trust in God. Here, rather than trying to defend Jesus from death, Peter should realize that Jesus’ death is required by the prophecies, and trust that God will do what is the right and proper thing. John 18:1, which recounts this event as well, places the emphasis on the fulfillment of Jesus’ mission, rather than on the use of the sword, which shows us this line of reasoning, in context, is the correct one.
At this point, I see no remaining reasons to claim Christians cannot defend themselves from harm. The arguments against self defense, including the justice argument, the vengeance argument, and the doing good for evil argument, all fall flat in the face of what the Scriptures actually say. Assuming Christians should defend themselves, though, doesn’t really answer the entire question. For while defense may be permissible, we’ve not yet considered what forms of self defense are permissible.
In other words, what means can a Christian use to defend themselves?
We generally find self-defense broken down into four forms, or categories:
- Reliance on the State to defend you
- Passive self defense
- Active self defense with a less-than-lethal weapon
- Active self defense with a lethal weapon
I’ve dealt with relying on the State to provide self-defense above. The State does not claim any duty to defend you, personally; the state is tasked with the execution of justice, rather than the defense of individual citizens.
Many people turn, at this point, to the concept of passive self-defense verses active self defense, stating it is permissible to defend yourself through passive means, but not through active means. For instance, it is permissible to lock your doors, but not to try and stop someone who is breaking in through that door through any personal, physical act. This appears, to me, to be a distinction without a difference. First, locking a door is a personal physical act. By locking a door, you’ve already committed yourself, actively, to self-defense. There is no such thing as passive self-defense, in other words.
To illustrate this case more fully, lets take a more complex case. If a Christian hires a bodyguard, is that a passive or active form of defense? In other words, is putting an active form of defense in place a passive form of defense? Clearly, the person hiring the bodyguard is not taking an active role in the defense, but, at the same time, the defense itself is an active form of defense. To extend this analogy, calling the police when physically attacked is a passive defense in the form of calling an active defense into play. By calling the police in response to an immanent or ongoing attack, you are effectively treating the police as (paid) bodyguards.
Taking another example can show this even more clearly. Suppose you set up an electric fence just inside your door. When someone breaks into your house through the front door, they encounter the fence, where they are physically injured. Is this an active defense, or a passive one? It is set up before the attack is perpetrated, and it is something you don’t actually act on when the attack occurs, so it must be a passive form of defense, correct? And yet, even the staunchest believer in passive defense would object to this specific form of defense. Why? Because it causes physical injury.
All self defense is, in reality, active, because you must take some action to put the defense in place. Whether that action takes place before the attack, or during the attack, is generally immaterial. Hence, there is no difference between the two.
(continued in part 6)
This is the fourth in a series of posts dealing with Christian self defense. So far, we’ve discussed statistics, in part 1, the concept of justice, in parts 2 and 3. Now, let’s consider another argument, that Christians should return good for evil. A key verse here is found in Romans 12:
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (ESV)
There are two key points here: Christians should not be vengeful, and Christians should repay evil with good.
The problem of vengeance is the simpler of the two. Self defense is not vengeance any more than it is an execution of justice. Self-defense is the attempt to prevent a wrong from occurring while it is occurring, while vengeance is an attempt to “pay someone back” for a wrong committed in the past. These are two distinct categories of actions, similar to the way the State sees self defense as an action taken now, while justice is something done with due process, after the fact.
What about the concept of repaying evil with good? Feeding your enemies? Doesn’t that reject the concept of self-defense—we should allow those who want to take our material goods, or violate our well being, to do so, since that would be repaying evil with good? For those who want to take this interpretation, I would ask: Do you lock the doors on your house? If so, why? If you truly believe this interpretation, then you should not own any keys, nor any means of locking anything you own.
The counter to this is: “Well, I believe in passive protection, just not self defense, which is an active state.” We’ll deal with this distinction in the next section, but for now, note that passive protection is still a form of self-defense. This argument recognizes the difference between self-defense and vengeance, and allows the former, while not allowing the latter.
We must, in reality, frame the entire verse within the context of the generally ignored part of the verse: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Placing the rest of the verse in this context, then we see the entire point change—don’t be an aggressor, live in peace with others. If it is outside your power to live in peace with others, then you must do what you must do, but don’t start any war. Seeking justice is allowed, but seeking vengeance is not. Seen in this light, the message of this verse falls in line with other Scriptures throughout the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments—and since God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, this is a good result.