What is the Bible’s standard regarding “self-defense?”

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What is the Bible’s standard regarding “self-defense?”

Post by Admin on Tue Jan 26, 2016 1:37 am

Whenever we look at standards of behavior for Christians, we have to start with Christ: How did He act, how did He respond? Jesus Himself told us that should be our starting point: I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you—Jesus Christ, John 13:15. What did Christ teach? You have heard that it was said, ‘EYE FOR EYE, AND TOOTH FOR TOOTH.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?—Jesus Christ, the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:38-47. And the apostle Peter makes note of the fact that Jesus practiced what He preached; as he says, For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. . . . When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly—I Peter 2:19-21, 23. I think those last words are key: He (referring to Christ) entrusted himself to him (God, His Father) who judges justly. We are called to do the same thing—to trust all our moments to God. It is on that basis that Paul connects Old Testament to New in this issue; writing to the church at Rome, he says, Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “IT IS MINE TO AVENGE; I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM; IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM SOMETHING TO DRINK. IN DOING THIS, YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good—Paul, Romans 12:16-21 (quoting Deuteronomy 32:35, Proverbs 25:21-22). The fact is that the world expects retaliation, almost as the norm. It can say something profoundly different if our responses do not reflect the world but rather reflect our Savior. Remember several years ago when an Amish school was assaulted by a gunman and several kids were killed. The world was in awe when the adults of that community expressed love and forgiveness for that man. When I was researching this question, I found that most of the responses reflected from the Old Testament—much in keeping with the “eye for an eye” idea. And I would certainly do everything I could to protect my family in terms of keeping them safe by blocking them from danger. But I feel quite sure that does not mean turning to offensive tactics—in other words, attacking someone. I can keep someone away without resorting to their behavior. And again, back to that idea of trusting God: Who am I trusting? Someone who is ever present (omnipresent), all-knowing (omniscient) and all-powerful (omnipotent). If I am seeking protection, who can provide for me better than God? This certainly may not be a complete answer but, for Christians, starting with Christ as the role model for our attitudes and actions has to be where we begin too. And we are called to be ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all men—friends, acquaintances, strangers . . . and enemies. The fact is that, in God’s view, while people may consider us enemies, we are to consider no one that way. The love that God proclaimed through Christ is to flow from us to everyone, even as that love flowed to us once upon a time when we were God’s enemies. We also must always have an eye toward eternity in all our perspectives, that there is a much bigger, larger, longer-lasting picture of reality than what we view here on earth. We must always have a view toward how we can make a moment reflect Christ versus anything else. As Paul said so simply and yet so clearly, [O]ur citizenship is in heaven—Paul, Philippians 3:20a.


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