The Biblical Doctrine of Self-Defense (Part 3)

The Scriptures are full of examples of self-defense and the preservation of life. Whether we read of the midwives, the Red Sea, or the multitudes of personal and military clashes of the people of Israel, it’s not hard to find examples of self-defense. There are, however, some common objections to Christians holding strong positions on gun rights and personal protection. Let’s look at a couple.

God now calls us to live by love and turn the other cheek.  While it is certainly true that God commands us to love our enemies and to suffer wrong, when necessary, on a personal level, we must remember that the Bible addresses realms of government.  Everywhere you go in the Bible you run into governement of some type–self government, family government, church government, or civil government.  All of these spheres of operation are clearly defined in Scripture.  A command to personally suffer wrong as a rebuke to the offender is never a command to allow individuals to aimlessly harm us physically.  It is true that God may bring us to the stake or to suffer even death for His sake.  In such circumstances, it must surely be a great comfort to know we are suffering and dying for Him.  But just as much as it is a command, in the realm of personal offences, to let love cover a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8), so it is also a stiff warning not to shut our hearts, ears, or actions from those brought close to death (Proverbs 24:11-12).  Let us not forget that love has been defined by Scripture as the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10).  Both suffering evil and protecting the oppressed are commands of God’s law.  Scriptural discernment should be prayed for and studied after so that we might know God’s mind in every circumstance.

All the Christian examples in the New Testament are without arms.  This type of argument ignores at least two facts of Scripture and history.  First, the Bible tells us that all Scripture is useful for every aspect of life (2 Timothy 3:16).  When this verse was penned, all that was available was primarily what we call the Old Testament, which obviously then served as the majority of their proof text.  Second, the very fact of the difference of where Israel was at nationally, and the history of Christian nations since, validates a strong self-defense.  At the time of the birth of Christ, Israel was a conquered nation because of their sin.  The early church started as primarily Jews.  This is why there were so many early church martyrs–they had none in political power to defend them.  True, God led them all the way and the seed of the martyrs is the seed of the church, but do not their cries and tears, along with the Psalmist, beg for relief?  Just as national Israel in the days of David and Solomon, so Christian nations today enjoy freedom and prosperity only because our fathers have died in the defense of biblical truth.  They had the means to throw off tyranny, an abuse of God-ordained government, and restore governemnt to its good purpose: just obedience to God’s Law (Romans 13:4).

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