When seconds count and the police are minutes away
A Biblical Perspective on Armed Self Defense
As a CCW instructor, I am asked a lot of interesting and thought provoking questions. Recently, I have been doing a lot of my classes for church groups, and many of the questions have centered on whether or not it is appropriate for Christians to use deadly force in the defense of their lives and the lives of their families, friends, and other innocents.
The answer is, unequivocally, yes it is appropriate for a Christian to defend innocent life. Not only is it appropriate, it is an obligation.
In Psalm 82:4 it says that we are to “Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.” In Nehemiah 4:14 we are told to “…fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” These passages show us that we are required by biblical principles to defend innocent life, be it our families or merely the “weak and needy”.
I Timothy 5:8 states that “…if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” What greater provision is there than the provision for the defense and safety of our loved ones?
Not only is an armed response to life threatening evil condoned in scripture, but skill at arms is presented in a positive light. We are expected to have the tools and to acquire the skills needed to fulfill our obligation in protecting innocents from the evil that is loose in the world. This is clearly demonstrated in Psalm 144:1 “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war and my fingers to fight” and again in Psalm 18:34 “He teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze”.
Luke (11:21-22) tells us that “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.” This passage of scripture not only allows specifically for armed defense, but serves as a model for the Castle Doctrine (or perhaps the “Palace doctrine?”).
I want to be clear at this point that I only advocate the use of deadly force for the preservation of innocent life. I stress this strongly in all of my classes. I have never had a car that was worth a human life, and I have never had enough money to kill over. I know for a fact that the finest of worldly possessions does not have the value of the basest of human lives. I would not use deadly force in defense of property, but I would not hesitate to use it to save the lives of my children or anybody else’s children from a person of evil intent. Make no mistake, those people are out there these days, in droves.
The New Testament affords fewer references to arms and an armed defense. But Jesus does give us some insights into his thoughts on the matter:
“And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” So they said, “Nothing.” Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. “For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.” So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.” Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him.”Luke 22:35-39
We see that Jesus wished for at least some of the Disciples to be armed, presumably for the purposes of defense. It is Important to note that the sword was the assault rifle of the day, so Jesus not only wanted his men armed but well armed.
Even when Jesus allowed himself to be taken by the Pharisees, and stopped his disciples from using their weapons to defend Him, he did not condemn arms.
”Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” John 18:10-11.
Simon Peter was told to sheath his blade, not to abandon or relinquish it. Armed defense, although appropriate at times, was not the order of the day. Jesus had other things to do on our behalf.
So, is it appropriate for Christians to keep arms for the purpose of defending innocent life from evil people? It most certainly is. God in his infinite wisdom has seen to it that we are cleared to use this option should it be necessary. There is no inconsistency in followers of Christ, while striving for peace, using arms when called upon to do so. The use of deadly force is, however, a huge responsibility which should not be entered into in any but the most pressing of circumstances