“There exists a law, not written down anywhere but inborn in our hearts; a law which comes to us not by training or custom or reading but by derivation and absorption and adoption from nature itself; a law which has come to us not from theory but from practice, not by instruction but by natural intuition. I refer to the law which lays it down that, if our lives are endangered by plots or violence or armed robbers or enemies any and every method of protecting ourselves is morally right.”
Cicero was a pagan but he was onto something that had been known to men and women since, well to at least us Christians, since the Garden of Eden. He refers of course to the instinctive belief that we have a right and a duty of self-defense. By the way, that conscience thought was placed there by an all-powerful creator.
In case you hadn’t noticed there is a considerable debate going on about firearms and whether federal and state governments should impose itself onto the right of citizens to own certain types of weapons. Perhaps there were demonstrations in your town. Some in the faith and many outside of probably wonder just where Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, would come down on the right to defend oneself? That’s why I wrote this article and I hope it might clear up any concern about the matter you may have.
His inspired word states that “Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood [meaning a capital offense] by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.” Genesis 9:5-6 (NKJV).
Straight from scripture it says we are made in the image of God, and each of our lives is sacred and therefore must be defended. Anyone who takes it from us without a proper reason will have his own life forfeited. That’s why animals that kill humans are destroyed and many nations and states have criminal sentences calling for the death penalty.
That’s because Christ intends for each of us to live the life he gave us to its fullest, in freedom, liberty and personal happiness, in short the pursuit of God’s plan and purpose for our lives. Remember, this does not come from any government or the church. The true well spring of the right of self-defense comes from the Lord. I might add that many who agree with me also believe that this includes the unborn but that’s another topic for another day.
For over two centuries our nation has practiced the duties of protecting the law abiding and innocent and punishing the offender, all based on His teachings on the fundamental right of self-defense. As an extension of that duty, our military, comprised of citizen/warriors fought a revolutionary war, a civil war, and two world wars. We practiced it in Iraq and we continue in Afghanistan; taking the fight against those who would injure or kill us by right of self-defense over there instead of over here.
When they return to civilian life, like the rest of us, they still have the same right and duty as all of us individually do- to exercise self-defense of our homes, families, businesses, and innocent third persons.
The Old Testament Authorized Self-Defense
“If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed.” Exodus 22:2 (NKJV).
Moses was saying that if your home is broken into and you don’t know their intentions or even if the intruder is armed that you have a right to defend yourself with deadly force.
After learning that there would be those who would try and stop any rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah ordered that all workers on the project were to be armed while working in case of attack. See Nehemiah 4: 13-17 (NKJV).
Jewish Law Allows the Use of Deadly Force in Self-Defense
The Torah and Tanakh both teach that the taking of a human life, while repugnant to all civilized people, is not only justified but obligatory in the frame work of biblical law.
The Old Testament Obligates Us to Protect Others, Not Just Ourselves
“You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19: 16 (NKJV). This means we are required to defend the lives of others when they are in danger.
“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19: 18 (NKJV). This means that if you love yourself enough to use deadly force to protect yourself then you shall use the same force to defend your neighbor if he or she is so threatened.
Christ Authorized Self-Defense
This will be a rather difficult matter for some who consider Christ to have been a meek and mild, totally non-violent type person. But he wasn’t. We get a glimpse of his capability to go beyond mere words when he gave a serious attitude adjustment to the money changers at the Temple. Even late in his earthly ministry and knowing that once he ascended into heaven his disciples would be subjected to violence, hostility and persecution, he told them: “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a sack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.” Luke 22: 36 (NKJV). This was no new concept. It was very much in line with the Old Testament teachings by the prophets.
Christ Was Pro-Self Defense & Concealed Carry
In Luke 22:38, one of his disciples, Peter, revealed what Christ very probably knew already; that at least two of his disciples carried weapons. Peter and at least some of the other disciples mistakenly thought that Christ’s kingdom was to be one achieved by man-made military force. Yet Christ’s reaction was not an immediate order for them to discard their implements of defense.
When He was apprehended in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter, still carrying his sword or dagger, pulled it and attempted to cut off the head of one of the Temple soldiers. But the weapon glanced off and instead cut off his ear. Christ replaced the fellow’s ear then told Peter to sheath the blade (implying for him to continue carrying it). He didn’t tell him to dispose of it for good. See John: 18: 10-11 (NKJV).
Some Hold Onto the Image of Jesus Meek & Mild Image
Sometimes, well-meaning but ill-informed individuals claim that Christ would not approve of anyone defending themselves. They often miss-quote a passage in Matthew:
“For all they that take the sword, shall perish with the sword.” Matthew 26:52 (NKJV).
This statement [by the Christ] concerns those that use the sword,  not in self-defense, but for private revenge; or engage in a quarrel, to which they are not called; and such generally perish . John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible.
They that take the sword before it is given them, that use it without warrant or call, expose themselves to the sword of war, or public justice. Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible.
The sword calls for the sword [and] offensive war is here given flat condemnation. Our American cities are often ruled by gangsters who kill each other off. Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament.
All they that take the sword – Without God’s giving it them: without sufficient authority [shall die by the sword]. Wesley’s Explanatory Notes.
Yeshua is not inventorying his disciple’s arsenal but saying, “You have taken me too literally. I’m not talking about swords. End the conversation! Enough already!” David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, 1992.
If you had any reservations about any biblical position on self-defense I hope this article will help to ease your mind about the topic and your relationship with Christ. He, through his teachings in the Old and the New Testaments, authorizes us to defend ourselves, our families, and homes and even strangers. That’s because all human life is precious in His sight. He has a life plan for each of us and he doesn’t want anyone attempting to cut it short unless they’re prepared to assume the risk of paying the ultimate price for it with their own.