Is it “Christian” to Defend Oneself?

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I think people fundamentally misunderstand much of the nature of Christianity; especially when it comes to combining faith and political activism. The difference is found in the nature of behavior and separating what one does from what one is. What does it mean to “love one’s enemy?”

The “Love the sinner, hate the sin” argument is valid at all times. It’s easy if the sinner is neutral towards you or actively pursuing Christ. It gets dicier if the sinner is your enemy and actively pursuing your destruction. There’s a difference between sinners and enemies. Self defense is not ungodly or immoral. Neither is meeting an attack with superior force of the same kind in order to defeat your enemy.

Queen Esther saved the Jews from an evilly obtained government mandated destruction by righteously obtaining a separate government mandate to meet force with force. Esther’s “granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.”

Examples of godly men opposing their enemies are found across the Scriptures. David, Joshua and Moses all come to mind. Others opposed godless government edicts at great personal risk; the first to “speak truth to power.”Remember the back story of Daniel and the lion’s den? Remember the back story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the fiery furnace?

It’s true that at times, God has instructed one of His children to surrender His right to self-defense as part of a greater strategy. I know of testimonies of exactly that. However, this is a specific request for sacrifice and surrender of a right from an individual, not the building of churchwide doctrine on how to deal with enemies.

Consistent biblical doctrine is that, whether they be individuals or nations, the right to defend oneself from enemies exists and is not sin. Sin enters when our motivation ceases to be love of the life God gave us and becomes hatred of the one trying to take it from us. Sin enters when we name the motivation and character of our enemy. We cannot call our enemies evil men. We can only call their actions evil. The man trying to kill me is acting evilly. But he may not be evil; he may simply be deceived.

Such is the nature of our struggle against our Islamic enemies, for example. Only God knows the heart and may accurately judge it. For us to do so is sin. But their threat is no less real for all their deception. And it may be met with godly force and destruction, even on a massive scale if that is what is needed to defend oneself. Evil or deceived in motivation is irrelevant. Trying to kill me is an evil act regardless. I may oppose it and be on the side of righteousness. This is true if the attack is an armor assault or just a blog post.

Doing so isn’t seeking revenge; it is self defense! Doing so doesn’t violate being at peace with all men as much as is dependent on us; we are reacting, not acting. Doing so doesn’t mean we are not praying for and serving our enemies; US military hospitals routinely treat wounded Taliban. Doing so is not repaying evil with evil, it is, in fact, overcoming evil with good. Some forget such overcoming is not theoretical or hypothetical or, worse, spiritual. The overcoming is often dirty, brutal and deadly in the very real world.

The difference is found in the “Why?” and not the “What?”  The difference is found in who starts a fight and who ends it. Fighting back against enemies is not just godly, it’s required. The danger is in becoming what we are fighting. For Christians, that is the struggle. To destroy the works of the devil; the lies, killing and destruction – while remaining pure in heart and peacemakers. No one said it was easy; just that it needed to be done.

Be angry – sin not. Fight your enemy – don’t become him. Do not repay evil for evil. Overcome evil with good. But be angry at evil behavior; fight, and; overcome. The alternative is unthinkable.

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Blue Collar Muse
Ken is an experienced 50-Something and has been married to The Much Younger Trophy Wife for 25+ years. They have 5 children, the oldest of which is currently serving tour #2 in Afghanistan. The rest share a home in Tennessee with their tyrannical dachshund, Rusty and an assortment of teens, friends, political crazy people and relatives ... His views are his own but he highly recommends they become your views ... No, really ...
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Ken is an experienced 50-Something and has been married to The Much Younger Trophy Wife for 25+ years. They have 5 children, the oldest of which is currently serving tour #2 in Afghanistan. The rest share a home in Tennessee with their tyrannical dachshund, Rusty and an assortment of teens, friends, political crazy people and relatives ... His views are his own but he highly recommends they become your views ... No, really ...

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beaglescout
Admin
May 27, 2012 3:44 pm

Exactly, it is not evil to punish evil acts even with the ultimate sanction of death. This weekend we somberly remember the American soldiers who gave their lives at war, many of them while punishing the Nazis’ and Shogunate’s evil acts. They did not die in evil’s service, but as lawful soldiers in (for the most part) just wars against our enemies. Though I have never killed anyone, I can’t imagine it’s possible to intentionally kill someone without feeling hate. Rather, it must be a prerequisite, for we Christian humans are wired to love our neighbors and even our enemies.… Read more »

Lady Penguin
Admin
May 27, 2012 3:57 pm

Outstanding and very helpful perspective, Blue. 🙂

I’m not an individual who hates, or even seeks confrontation, but I do understand right and wrong, and there is Evil in the world. Life is the tug of war between the two entities of Good and Evil. To my way of thinking, the only way Evil can be vanquished is to stand up to it. Standing up to Evil does not mean one becomes less of a person, but that you’ve at least attempted to do the right thing.

LadyImpactOhio
May 27, 2012 4:32 pm

I agree with Beagle in that it would be extremely difficult to kill someone without feeling hatred. If someone broke into my home and threatened my family it would take hatred and a major kick-in of adrenalin to physically take a life, otherwise I don’t think I could do it. I’ve always said that Conservatives are just “too nice” and can’t get down and dirty like the Libs do. In this case as BCM states if we could, this would be a reaction to evil. After all, the Obama admin is/ was responsible for all the major moves which are… Read more »

vassarbushmills
Admin
May 27, 2012 4:57 pm

Much of what the Left does to us is as the radical Muslims do to America, all predicated on the notion that we’re too soft, not too Christian, to resist.

Few Christians will argue that we’re supposed to lay back and take it.

“Pistol-packing Christians”…I like it.

eburke
Editor
May 27, 2012 5:23 pm

Great post, BCM! Those who equate ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’ with effeminate wimpdom don’t understand the passage, nor the entire context of the Bible. Christ absolutely believed in righteous wrath against evil. Whether it’s the OT commands to completely eradicate Canaanite or Philistine cities (including women and children), Christ chasing the money changers out of the temple with a whip (and upending their tables on his way out) or Christ calling the religious leaders of the day “white-washed tombs’ (which, if you know *anything* about OT ceremonial law, you’ll know was not exactly an endearing comment), He demonstrated… Read more »

bobmontgomery
May 27, 2012 8:53 pm

B.R.A.V.O.

TNJim
Editor
May 28, 2012 12:38 am

I’ve often interpreted Jesus’ admonition to turn the other cheek in the face of confrontation simply meant do not back down. Some interpret that as turn away from the confrontation. Of course, I also think he meant that as a response to your belief in God when others mock you. But I see no reason not to apply that to the attacks we get in the political arena, whether they be verbal, physical, or this SWATting thing that is happening to certain conservative bloggers. You all know that this call for civility after the Giffords shooting was merely the latest… Read more »

Pamela
May 28, 2012 12:53 am

I’m really an old school in the beginning believer when it comes to faith.

Soft and squishy are for stuffed animals and marshmallows, not people of faith willing to defend themselves from the spawns of evil. People of faith have been and are being exterminated by Evil disguised as tolerance, acceptance and God’s will.

You can try to defuse it, turn the other cheek if so inclined, call it out into the light again and again.

But sometimes you just need to pick a Bone with Evil.

mriggio
May 28, 2012 10:03 am

Consider your Template. Did the Savior negotiate with the demons infesting His people? Or did He command & destroy them? Did He cower before the temptations of the Evil One, who offered an escape for what was to come? No, He beat each temptation with Truth. Having righteous anger & action against evil really isn’t optional, but fighting and destroying the evil while loving the evildoers, despite their actions, is everyone’s extreme challenge. If you break & enter my home or car-jack me, I will fight your evil, with fear and sorrow for you, using marksmanship and 9mm slugs, summoning… Read more »

E Pluribus Unum
Admin
May 28, 2012 12:48 pm

There’s a time for a gentleman to open doors for ladies, for tipping your hat to a fellow gentleman, to speak civilly to a person, and to speak politely of a person.
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Then there’s a time for a gentleman to punch a person in the mouth who has besmirched the reputation of a good woman.