I have seen a good many articles, blogs, thoughts, debates, and arguments floating around as of late discussing the topic of self-defense and the Christian faith. This is a huge topic to undertake in this venue. I will do my best, but it will be two parts, and still long. I promise, it is worth it. This is my two cents.
Before we get into this there are a few of points of clarity I would like to address.
First point of clarity: There are three mindsets when discussing this topic, Sheep, Sheepdog, and Wolf. As you would expect, the sheep are the majority of people. Sheep go about their lives and business happy as a lark until there is a problem, then, they are the “victim”. When we say sheep here, we mean in this context, not the Shepard/Flock relationship we have in the Church.
Sheepdogs stand between the wolf and the sheep. They are always on the lookout, and they are few and far between. Sheepdogs are born, not taught, this mindset is instinctive.
Wolves. These are the “bad guys”. On the hunt for sheep, and always wary of a sheepdog. The ones who operate outside of the rule of law and society. They are few, but they are dangerous.
Second point of clarity: Most of the theological points made and discussed that I have seen on this topic are from the view and stance of a sheep. With all love; you cannot understand what drives a sheepdog, unless you are one… That is ok, to a point. You cannot accurately discuss a topic in which you do not understand. As a sheep, I do not expect you to understand the mindset of a sheepdog, a warrior. I will do my best here, but I do not expect to change minds. The purpose of this writing to explain how us warriors think, and justify who we are Biblically.
Final point of clarity: I am not going to address and debate the points made by many articles I have seen. I am simply going to Scripturally support my warrior sheepdog mentality.
Ok, moving on the point. There is no way to write a reasonably short article and address ALL the points of scripture for this. If you would like to expand the discussion, please comment below.
No where in scripture, that I have been able to find, is there explicit direction on the topic of self defense. There are some instances that we can look at, and a vast amount of topical text and context.
I believe I can support the stance that the three most discussed topics in the bible are: Money, Love, and War. You cannot discuss war without warriors. That, is where we start our conversation. I believe we must start at the beginning to get a clear look at this topic.
The first look we have of a warrior and warrior is Jesus is Genesis 3:15. ” he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The context is the Lord cursing the serpent in the garden of Eden after the Fall. He is telling the serpent that his day will come, and he will die at the hand of Jesus.
Next we move to Exodus 15:3: “The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name.” The context here is Moses and the people singing praises to the Lord for bringing them out of Egypt and defeating the Pharaoh and his army. The Hebrew word for war here is: “milhama”, meaning: fighting a particular battle or engagement, or as an ongoing event.
The Lord here, is being characterized as a warrior. This is no small thing. For something to characterize someone, it cannot be based on a single action, or event. It has been an integral part of who they are and what they do for a long time. The Lord is indeed a warrior.
Moving forward, we see a huge amount of warriors. Arguably some of the best in history. To name just a few: Abraham, Joshua, Caleb, Sampson, Gideon, David, David’s mighty men ( about 30 of them), the list goes on and on… If you are unfamiliar with the warrior actions of those I have listed, please, read up on them, each one is a warriors warrior. What’s more? Each of them had a personal relationship with God, often speaking directly with Him, or angels. David was called a man after God’s own heart, BY GOD! The only man in history to claim such an honor.
These men we legends in their day, and still in our ours, for their warriorship. There is no telling how many men each one of these men killed; but I am comfortable saying that most of them surpass a thousand each. And yet, God blessed their actions. There was no way that they could have done what they did without the direct help of God. Some of their accounts are truly unbelievable without the hand of God front and center.
Time and time again we see the Lord using war and warriors to accomplish his task. Yes, justice is the Lord’s to enact and he often uses us, his servants, to do this.
How does this relate to self defense? Killing. Killing is the point here. I have seen references to justice and revenge, and how they belong to the Lord. Again, I think this a a sheep’s view. I do not know of one single Christian who prepares for defense whose purpose is revenge, or even justice. Self defense is just that, self defense. I am looking to protect the precious life of my baby girl, and wife, and mine too of course. How is this revenge or justice. I am a sheepdog removing the threat of a wolf from my flock.
In the 10 Commandments we indeed see the Lord command not to “Murder” which is different from killing (a whole other topic). God sanctions and commands killing, nay, genocide, on more than one occasion.
Additionally, there are several laws in the Old Testament that discuss justice, of violent crime in particular. So, how can we reconcile scripture? God tells us to love our enemy, and yet, we are to punish him for a crime. How can God love us all enough send his son to die for us, and yet still have hell?… Love and justice are a complicated mix of cohesion and mutual exclusivity. When someone breaks into our home and steals things; we can forgive him, however, he still receives his punishment.
In the realm of self defense: You or those you love may be killed without action. I am a firm believer in God’s sovereignty. I am also a believer in man’s responsibility. My dad always said: “God can’t steer a parked car.” God can only use our actions, not our inaction. How can God guide a situation with no action? He can’t.
The Church is the bride of Christ, he cares for his church, guides and protects her. Given our earthly marriage is a direct design from this concept, I am to protect and guide my family. How can I do that if one of us are killed? I do not turn every corner expecting to kill or be killed, again God’s sovereignty. I am however, prepared just in case there is a threat. I make no apology for this. Given God’s support of His physical warriors (those who spilled blood) I firmly believe that he supports my stance on this topic.
Wow, this was too much to undertake in this venue… I apologize, There is no way I can cover half of what I would like here; even with a second part coming later. Maybe I will write a book… We will continue this discussion in the second part of this topic, starting in the New Testament. We will look at Jesus, Peter, and Jesus again.
All Scripture quotes come from the ESV unless otherwise noted.