The Christian and Self-Defense

Ask moral related questions. What things are right and wrong? What should we do and not do?

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The Christian and Self-Defense

Post by approachable » Thu Jul 17, 2008 11:31 pm


You know, I've been thinking for a while about the Christian and self-defense. What I mean is, do you think that when a Christian stands for the truth, and it ends with someone getting angry and possibly lead to a physical attack, that the Christian has a right to fight back physically? I look at Jesus sufferings (Matthew 26:67), Paul the apostle's suffering (2 Corinthians 11:23-28), and Stephen, the first Christian martyr's suffering (Acts 7:54-60), and then I ask, "are these supposed to be bore the same way today"? You know that enduring physical attack is something we rarely see today (of course because of our law in this country toward freedom of religion).

So, are there any thoughts on this? The only thing I can think of now is that if I see that someone around me is in real physical danger, then I will probably fight for them, and pray that I didn't go to far. But, as far as it happening to me "personally", I haven't come to a complete conclusion as to whether God will hold me accountable.

Thank you, again.....

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2 cents, and arguably less :-)

Post by m273p15c » Wed Jul 30, 2008 11:35 pm


This is a very good question. I have known good people on both sides of this question. Personally, this is still a troubling question to me also. For the little it's worth, I'll offer my current thoughts:

As I see it, there are 3 related questions. At least 1 of these belong in another thread:
  1. Does the Christian have the right to defend himself, his family, etc. during a social attack? (Example, a murder breaks into your house at night to do harm to you and your family.)
  2. Does the Christian have the right to defend himself physically to persecution? (Example, someone attacks you because you are a Christian.)
  3. Does the Christian have the right to serve as a solider and go to war?
I believe question #2 is the only one you are asking; however, my answer to question #1 influences it.

I believe the Christian has the right to defend himself from social, physical attacks (mugging, murder, molestation, etc.) up to a point. Please consider this verse from the Old Testament:
Moses wrote:"If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. (Exodus 22:2-3)
Admittedly, this is a regulation of the Old Testament, so it may offer some complications; however, I think it illustrates a principle that transcends both covenants. If someone is killed while trying to perpetrate evil that jeopardizes the life of an innocent, then the defender is guiltless. This necessarily means he can defend himself. ... I think it transcends both covenants, since both covenants admonish trust in the Lord and denounce rebellion against the authorities (Ezra 8:21-23; Acts 23:1-5). Therefore, such actions would not conflict with commands to trust in the Lord found in the New Testament, since they did not conflict with similar commands in the Old Testament.

Furthermore, do we not have a responsibility to discourage evil, wherever we have opportunity? How can we love someone, if we offer no resistance to his evil intentions, where we alone have opportunity to deter him?

However, going back to Exodus 22:3, we should not exploit the defense as an opportunity to extract vengeance. If opportunity permits us to spare his life while stopping him, then we are never to seek vengeance or the fruit of wrath (Romans 12:18-19). To kill someone in defense (preventing an evil consequence) is not the same as killing for vengeance (repaying for an evil consequence).

Now in regards to spiritual persecution, suffering as a Christian, I understand that we are not to struggle against the authorities, be they master or king (I Peter 2:13-23; 4:12-19; Romans 13:1-7). However, we do have the right to evade persecution, if possible, even from governments (Acts 9:23-25; II Corinthians 11:32-33). And, we have the right to take advantage of every legal opportunity to resist persecution (Acts 22:24-30; 25:6-12). But, we do not have any right to fight or retaliate physically.

I will stop here, because I have many questions still myself, but I offer these as a starting point.
May God help us to love truth sincerely and supremely (II Thessalonians 2:11-12)

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Re: 2 cents, and arguably less :-)

Post by foc » Mon May 25, 2009 10:37 pm

m273p15c wrote:....
Very well thought out response.

My view is that there is a time to defend ourselves and those around us possibly, and there is a time to die which all of us must do some day.
We see that Jesus evaded attack in Johns gospel, as did Paul in Acts. If EITHER of those men had died before it was 'time' then their missions would not have been accomplished as needed.

I believe its the same with our lives. Sometimes God intervenes miraculously to prevent our demise because there isnt any other way, and sometimes simple self defense/preservation is what is used to do so.
We ALL have a time to die. When that time comes there will be nothing on earth that will stop it. Until then we very will need to stay alive, whether its by hiding ourselves...being lowered in a basket over a wall.....or simply having a handgun on our person to 'deter' someone from doing us harm or killing us (or those around us).

God VERY often uses the natural to accomplish His will. The natural could very easily be an armed man who is able to keep a murderer from taking a life at that given moment..

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