Posted by: sean | December 24, 2007

Can Christians Use Violence to Protect their Family? (2)

This response to is from pages 70-74 of The Kingdom that Turned the World Upside Down © David Bercot. Used by permission. Copies can be obtained from Scroll Publishing Co., P. O. Box 122, Amberson, PA 17210 or see their website at http://www.scrollpublishing.com.

What if someone were to break into your house and were about to harm your wife and children? Surely you wouldn’t just stand there and let them do it!

This question naturally plays on the strong protective instinct that men have toward their families. But the answer a kingdom citizen must give to that question is the same he would give to any other question concerning breaking the commandments of Jesus. Let me ask you. “What if your government told you to deny Jesus Christ and offer a sacrifice to Satan–or else they would violate your wife and kill your children? What would you do?” For kingdom citizen, the answer is quite clear. Jesus has already told us that if we love our families more than Him, we cannot be His disciples. And He has also told us, “Whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 10:33).

Now, what if, instead of denying Christ, my government ordered me to murder my next door neighbor or to sexually assault his wife? And if I didn’t, they would harm my wife and children? Would the situation be any different from offering a sacrifice to Satan? In one instance, I would be denying Christ with my mouth. In the other, I would be denying him by my actions.

What if a foreign government ordered me to drop a bomb on a United States city, or to assassinate the American president–or else they would harm my wife and children? What should I do? I think most Americans would allow their wives and children to be harmed, or even killed, before betraying their country.

So how is the situation any different when it concerns loyalty to Jesus? Jesus’ teachings on nonresistance are quire clear. It’s a matter of either denying Him or denying my family. To be sure, that’s a very difficult choice, but I already made that choice when I gave my life to Christ.

Does that mean I would do nothing to protect my family? Of course not. I have already done the best thing that I could possibly do to ensure their safety: I have entrusted my home and family to the care and protection of Jesus. And that isn’t some naive trust. There are tense of thousands of other Kingdom Christians who have similarly beat their swords into plowshares and entrusted the safety of their families into the hands of their King. And although Jesus has not promised that no harm can ever come to our families, I can say this: that, except in times of religious persecution, it’s very rare for kingdom families to be harmed by ordinary criminals.

One example that comes to mind is the encounter of the desperate criminal fugitive, Stephen Roy Carr, with a nonresistant Mennonite family in Pennsylvania in May of 1988. Earlier Carr had fled from Florida, where he was wanted for grand theft. He was hiding out in the Appalachian mountains, ready to kill anyone who threatened his freedom. Before long, he met two female campers on the Appalachian Trail, and he shot them both–killing one and seriously injuring the other.

Fleeing from the scene, Carr found an abandoned cement-mixing tub and used it to float down the Conodoguinet Creek to the farm of of Chester and Esther Weaver. As conservative Mennonites, the Weavers had no television or radio, and so they had heard nothing about the murder. The fugitive Carr asked the Weavers for food and shelter, which they gladly provided him. Carr stayed in the Weaver home for five days–and yet he neither harmed them nor stole from them. Carr would have stayed longer, but the police finally caught up with him.

Wheelbarrow Faith

It reminds me of the account given by the Christian author and speaker, Winkey Pratney, concerning the Great Blondin, an incredibly gifted tightrope aerialist of the nineteenth century. To demonstrate his abilities, Blondin stretched a 1100 foot rope above Niagara Falls. To the thrill of huge crowds, he walked across the Falls on his tightrope, performing various spectacular stunts. He even did a back somersault in the middle of the rope. Yet, Blondin had no net underneath to save him if he fell.

A newspaper reporter who had come to witness the spectacle was awe-struck. “I bet there isn’t anything you can’t do out there on the tightrope,” he told Blondin.

“Do you think I could cross the rope pushing a wheelbarrow?” Blondin asked the reporter.

“Oh, I’m sure you could.”

“Do you think I could cross the rope while pushing a wheelbarrow with a man in it?” Blondin asked the reporter.

“Undoubtedly!”

Looking the reporter straight in the eye, Blondin then asked, “Do you think I could cross the rope pushing a wheelbarrow with you in it?”

“Well, uh…”

But that’s what genuine faith is all about–getting into the wheelbarrow for Christ. Any other kind of faith is not really faith. It’s just words. Most Christians will readily acknowledge that God is all-powerful. They will proclaim that God is in charge of the universe. They say nothing can happen outside of God’s active or permissive will. They’ll plaster bumper stickers on their cars saying, “His angels are watching over me!” But, no, they won’t get into the wheelbarrow. They won’t entrust their family’s safety to God.

Sadly, every year Christian families suffer death and injury from their own weapons because they didn’t put their trust in God. One of the most heartbreaking episodes occurred a few years ago when a man and his wife returned home from a trip. Their daughter was staying at a friend’s house. However, the daughter thought she would surprise her parents by coming home early and hiding in their bedroom closet. When her parents came home, they heard a noise in their closet. Thinking it was a burglar, her father got out his loaded pistol and slowly approached the closet. When the closet door suddenly burst open, her father instinctively pulled the trigger. He immediately realized it was his daughter, but it was too late. She murmured, “I love you, Daddy,” and fell over dead.

This was not some rare occurrence. A gun kept in the home is 22 times more likely to kill a family member or a friend than to kill or wound and intruder. Evil can be confronted with less dangerous methods than guns.

A number of years ago, some Christian friends of mine, Decio and Olivia, were staying at a motel in Atlanta. There had been a number of armed robberies and murders in the city. In these robberies, the assailants had ordered their victims to lie face down on the floor and then shot them in the backs of their heads. So Decio was on his guard.

It was a mild October evening, and Decio and Olivia had momentarily left their motel door open for a friend. Suddenly two teenage thugs appeared in the doorway with guns. They ordered everyone down on the floor. Decio hesitated and then knelt down, praying and trying to think of a way to foil the robbery.

His wife, Olivia, thinking it was a Halloween prank, remained seated on the bed. So one of the young robbers waved his gun at her and ordered her to lie on the floor. Instead, she started singing out loud “Jesus Loves Me,” as she got up from the bed and slowly walked over to the two young men. One of them raised his pistol, pointed it at her face, and cocked it. But when she continued singing and walking toward him, he suddenly yelled to his partner, “These are a bunch of Jesus nuts! Let’s get outta here!” And with that, the two young men vanished into the dark.

Over the years, I have heard and read many other accounts of how a prayer, a hymn, or a testimony effectively disarmed a would-be bruglar or assailant. There’s no point singing “Our God Is an Awesome God,” if we don’t really believe that He is.

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Responses

  1. I’m 75-80 % in agreement with you. People of faith
    should be people of faith!! Let me also add. . .

    I FERVENTLY believe in the 2nd Amendment – the
    right of the citizenry to bear arms. I find it tellilng that
    states/cities that really honor that right have the lowest crime rate! The U.N. would like us to surrender our arms. God forbid, we move more and more into a police state, the government would disarm us.

    Let us look at Luke 22;35-38. After the Last Supper,
    Jesus was cautioning His disciples. “…and he who
    has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.”
    They answered that they had two swords. “And He
    said unto them, ‘It is enough'”. It is my humble
    opinion that the disciples would be most vulnerable
    at this time. My humble opinion is, that Jesus didn’t
    want them to be aggressive, as Peter became. (I’m
    supposing it was Peter who cut off the man’s ear).
    But Jesus wanted His little flock to be able to
    defend themselves.

    I imagine that after Pentecost, if not before, they
    lay aside their swords and took up the sword of
    the Spirit. Jesus had told them that he who lives by
    the sword dies by the sword.

  2. On Luke 22.35-38, see our post here. Jesus asked them to grab a couple of swords precisely so that the Scripture would be fulfilled that he would be numbered with the transgressors. If Peter could not justify using violence to defend the Messiah, then can we not all agree that violence is unjustified in every other condition?

    Also, when you say you believe FERVENTLY in the right to own a weapon for killing do you also FERVENTLY believe in obeying Jesus who said, “love your enemies?” We cannot disregard Jesus’ commands and yet call him “lord.”

  3. I found this page Googling for “is it right for Christians to use violence”, and Google gives virtually no pertinent resilts, but include “Christian Terrorism” in it’s top results!

    It is telling that the enigmatic Luke 22:35-38 is the only explicit verse that can be invoked in defense of using carnal force for personal defense, and even if that were allowed then it would only be for personal defense, and 2 swords at that, not to raise up church armies as in the Crusades. In fat, Paul disallows the Church disciplining those without in 1 Cor. 5:12, 13. while sanctioning the use of the sword cf. by the Stare for just use (Rm. 13:1-7; 1 Pt. 2:14-16).

    While i disagree that Peter’s use was in order to fulfill Is. 53:12, as that is most clearly fulfilled in Jesus being crucified btwn two thieves. But in addition to Jesus own warning in Mt. 26:52 (which perhaps could be placed after Lk. 22:51), this instance was b4 the establishment of the New Covenant, which institution required the death of the testator (Hebrews 9:16), and in which Christian non resistance is further exhorted (1 Peter 2:19-24).

    But while the exclusion of carnal force for personal defense is clear, and the charter of the church is to bring souls to be controlled from with, by God and conscience, so that they need not be gun controlled by the gov, i do not think it disallows the use of force entirely against humans by Christians, which extreme position some take.

    It sees reasonable that Christians can be employed in Caesar’s household, in which such servants force may be required in helping the gov, fulfil it’s mandate. And when you call the police on someone you may be threatening the use sword against them, as that is what they ultimately rely on.

    Also, i do not think believers cannot physically restrain or spank their children if needed. Or even restrain a man intent on doing himself harm, like jumping in front of a train. sometimes there is not time to pray.

    And while Christians should understand that faith in Jesus entails personal non-resistance, and the same as a community, it is whether laying one’s life down for his friends allows force in order to protect the innocent, such as are not in covenant with the Lord, from a clear and immediate danger, that is perhaps arguable.

  4. I hope readers have the gift of “discernment of typos” and such like.

  5. Surely, saving a life must count for something. Please tell me it counts for something.

    Are you telling me if someone busted into your house and pointed a gun at your family and told you deny God or your wife/child/ or whoever dies that the only option available to someone who is loyal to Jesus is to let that person kill their family? Seriously?

    What if you could disarm that person successfully without killing them?

    Doesn’t the bible talk about the man being the head of the household and that the man should be willing to die for the wife, just as christ died for the church?

    Likewise, if you are on the street and you see a mugging and the mugger is just about to kill the muggee are you seriously saying that you have no responsibility to step in and try to save that person’s life by using physical force if neccessary? What are you supposed to do… walk over and pray over the victim?

    (Now if you respond to this comment I do not want any unrelated government examples because we all know that our only authority should come from christ. )

    The bible goes into great length about not being an aggressor and while it does talk about turning the other cheek it is usually in reference to one’s self. So for example, if I was getting mugged and the person told me to give them my wallet. I should be willing to give my wallet and my coat AND to take him into my house to feed this person.

    Another example, if a person just walks up to me and stabs me (with no warning) and I live i should be able to forgive that person and minister onto them.

    But IF a person puts it in the newspaper, calls me up everyweek, sends me telegrams that next year on the 17 of March he is going to knock on my door and kill me and my family. (And yes this is an exagerated example but what if I am caught in a situation where I see something unfolding and I know that there will be no time to apply reason and that force is neccessary to save lives.) I can not find any scriptural evidence saying i should just accept that.

    Now yes you can say the story of jesus suggests that I should but I am not here to take the sins of the world. Jesus is not me and I am not Jesus. I have ever scriptural right and human right to find ways of protecting the well being of first for human life and then myself from anyone.

  6. NoOne,

    Thanks for dropping by. I’ll try and handle your points one by one:

    Are you telling me if someone busted into your house and pointed a gun at your family and told you deny God or your wife/child/ or whoever dies that the only option available to someone who is loyal to Jesus is to let that person kill their family? Seriously?

    No, I’m pretty confident we are not saying that. The article agrees: “Does that mean I would do nothing to protect my family? Of course not”

    You use two examples that I Just Love:

    The bible goes into great length about not being an aggressor and while it does talk about turning the other cheek it is usually in reference to one’s self. So for example, if I was getting mugged and the person told me to give them my wallet. I should be willing to give my wallet and my coat AND to take him into my house to feed this person.

    Another example, if a person just walks up to me and stabs me (with no warning) and I live i should be able to forgive that person and minister onto them.

    This is exactly the kind of attitude, the kind of heart, we are talking about having. That is the kind of attitude and heart Jesus had and has for others.

    With that said, I am perplexed how you can flip over to this:

    But IF a person puts it in the newspaper, calls me up everyweek, sends me telegrams that next year on the 17 of March he is going to knock on my door and kill me and my family. (And yes this is an exagerated example but what if I am caught in a situation where I see something unfolding and I know that there will be no time to apply reason and that force is neccessary to save lives.) I can not find any scriptural evidence saying i should just accept that.

    Why aren’t you thinking of doing what you did in the other two examples? What does the story of Jesus suggest to you???

    • Your examples remind me of the old saw ” can God make a rock so big He can’t pick it up”. Silly. When was the last time you actually heard of any of these scenarios happening. If someone breaks into your home and threatens your family, you are obligated to protect them with all means necessary. Pray, aim, shoot,,simple.

      • Duke,

        How can you be so cavalier in dismissing Jesus’ commands? He taught us to love our enemies. Is it loving to “pray, aim, shoot, simple?”

  7. nooneinparticular,

    (1) Why aren’t you using your name?
    (2) Are you a follower/disciple of Jesus the Messiah?

  8. Hi, Sean. It’s me again!

    The reason I did not put my name in my comment is because I do not trust the internet with my personal information. I’m sure there must be a way to check my ip address or something to show I’m not some sort of stalker/hater but rather a person who happened to fall upon this blog today for the first time.

    As for whether I am a follower of Jesus Christ –yes. If you wish to know which denomination I would lean towards to gauge my beliefs, I would say I am a combination of a Seventh Day Adventist and COG-IA.

    Anyways… JohnO. Yes I saw that you said, “Does that mean I would do nothing to protect my family? Of course not,” but you didn’t say what you would do.

    You kinda just said what I thought you would say, ‘look to the example of Jesus.’ But again I suggest that because Jesus came to the world for the specific purpose of saving the world not everything he did can be used as an example. For example, I can not and should not say, “I am the first and the last” or “before Abraham was I am.” Those are characteristics that belong to Jesus.

    To understand how one should live we have to look at how Jesus tells us to live. Which is why I gave the first two examples or providing for those who steal from you and forgiving a person for the things they do.

    If I can expound on my example that you liked (of someone sneaking up to me and stabbing me) again if I see the person running up to me and he indicates that he is going to do me harm. Imagine, for the sake of this conversation, that I say to him as he approaches, “whatever happens I love and forgive you.” Now also assume that I indicate that I do not want this person to harm me. Is it wrong to disarm this person and defend myself (using force if neccessary)?

    Now, again to remind you, the reason why the question, “what would jesus do?”, would fail to be an adequate response. Simply put Jesus came to die, that was his purpose, not ours.

    (If I may also go further in to why I am plaguing you with questions this afternoon. Is that I believe that Jesus is our authority. So as he instructs it IS wrong to use violence on another person as an aggressor as well as seek vengeance. But I still can not think of examples of where Jesus tells you to just to accept violence. I’m sure your thinking of the turn the other cheek, but the context of that verse is about using an “eye for an eye” and if I am not mistaken the Mosaic law that Jesus referenced discussed seeking vengeance and had nothing to do with self defense.)

  9. nooneinparticular,

    I don’t think it will compromise your personal information policy to use your first name. But, regardless, the reason why I asked if Jesus was your Lord was to determine if you were a non-Christian criticizing Jesus and Christianity as absurd. I’m glad to hear you have already made the decision to obey Jesus by life or by death. In this case, I would ask for your reason for premeditating disobedience to Jesus’ command, “love your enemies,” Paul’s instruction to “Never take your own revenge…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”, and Peter’s admonition to “not return evil for evil”.

    Not only is the doctrine of “enemy love” part and parcel to New Testament Christianity, it is also well documented throughout the first three centuries of church history. If you don’t believe me, then click here to read quotations from these early 2nd, 3rd, and 4th century Christians.

    When it comes to self-defense, no one is suggesting total passivity. In fact pacifism has NOTHING to do with passivity. Those two words just happen to sound alike. (click here to read more about how we understand confrontational non-violence). Furthermore, as is almost always the case, the third option is left out. If Jesus is our example, and the holy spirit has come to enable us to live like Jesus, then we should not merely limit ourselves to the same options as a pagan. I say, in the event of attack on your loved ones, don’t run, and don’t blow the guy’s head off with your concealed bazooka, but rather trust in God to give you the wisdom to diffuse the situation. Obviously, you cannot let some monster attack your family and just stand there…that would be morally repulsive. Check out our short article called The Third Option.

  10. “but you didn’t say what you would do. ”

    I don’t feel it necessary to have planned out my response for every evil situation that could befall me now or in the future. That is like asking, “What would you do if both you and your wife lost your jobs, and had three kids to feed. And it was impossible to get another”. There are tons of things one *could* do – but why press to make a plan now?

    Unfortunately people look for the “behavior codes” that they can obey – without realizing the motivation and love behind them. Therefore they can (if they even can) conform to the “behavior codes” and be “right in the eyes of God”.

    Rather – we are here promoting this issue that we see in Scripture, and early Church history. We are attempting to explain what in the world would motivate these people to act as they did (there is no denying what they did). And we have found a deep resonation with their Scriptural reasons. So anyone (not that I am concluding you are) is coming from the “what are the appropriate behavior codes” angle will be thoroughly confused.

    We have come from “what is the intense amount of love I should have for someone else – because of Jesus?” And have ended up here. Refusing to do to others what some might, even in dire circumstances. This is not a discussion of “what is against the rules”, or “what is permissible”. It is a discussion of “what does love look like”.

  11. I’m curious if anyone sees anything in the New Testament that says a Christian SHOULD protect his family, though it would be by violence. Is there any passage that would indicate a recommendation of protecting them, other than providing for them?

    We know that Jesus criticized and scolded the person who cut the ear of the servant of the high priest (John’s gospel says it was Peter) when they came to arrest him on their trumped-up charges. We also see that Jesus used only words to disarm the people wanting to stone the prostitute, but did not offer any physical defense—they ended up walking away and he did not accuse her.

    Is there any report of self-defense or defense of others by physical means in the New Testament? (Yes, there would be some in the OT, but Jesus revised that aspect of worship of God.)

  12. It’s noone again.

    To SteveA

    Revisions? Only the things that were shadows of Jesus’ coming were done away with by his death. Jesus, in his earthly ministry, expounded on existing laws and beliefs from the OT and rejected man made traditions (which are invalid anyways). So for example, Jesus did not revise the passover it was done away with with the communion service. Also, Jesus did not just make up love your enemy, that ‘idea’ already existed in the mosiac context, there is no revision here just a dialogue about what already should be done. Lastly, Jesus didn’t have to wash his hands before he ate because that religious custom was man made.

    I would love you to point out a ‘revision’ that is directly related to the topic of self-defense. Which special consideration to the following verses 2 Timothy 3:16, heb 13:8, exodus 22:2 and matthew 24:43 which outlines that you can not ignore the OT, existing self defence practices, the fact that jesus just doesn’t change his mind for no reason, and the potential of stopping a thief. (And yes I know matt 24:43 is not a command (but a parable) but if the analogy was not valid it wouldn’t have been used.

    Also the fact that something can’t be found (directly as a command) doesn’t mean it isnt true or that it is false. We have to look at each situation and see what does the bible as a whole say about it…what principles can be found. Not, “the bible doesn’t say anything about it in this small section” so whatever I feel is right.

    To JohnO..

    I don’t know how you can say that people are ‘unfortunately’ looking for behaviour codes when thats exactly what this blog stands for. By answering the question, can christians use violence to protect their family, a behaviour code of non-violence/resistance (what does love look like) is created.

    I’m not asking for a detailed plan of how under presure you will use X karate move or that gun under your pillow. Nor am I asking for you to not trust God and pull a rambo or john McClain to handle a bank robbery.

    I believe my original question was, if necessary, and you know X alternative options either did not work or will not work isnt saving a life more important than using violence to solve a problem.

    Let me use an analogy here. You have a child. You were just playing with this child. But the child did something that put everyone in the room in danger (eg. light a match by rags soaked in gas). And you see that he/she is going to do the same thing again. And you grab the kid by the collar and you ‘straighten’ him out and get his attention and physically stop the action. Was the use of force (which saved lives) the right thing to do.

    To break it down does loving your enemies mean you can not stop them from making mistakes. (Knocking out the bad guy instead of letting him shoot up a room while you pray.)

    To Sean..

    Loving your neighbour and your enemies is not a new thing it is a theme throughout the bible not only the NT.

    Anyways, in the above example of knocking out the bad guy… I do not see self-defense as a pagan thing and I don’t think you can prove that it is.

    To respond to your question, “I would ask for your reason for premeditating disobedience to Jesus’ command, “love your enemies,”” As you can see from the examples I suggested in earlier comments no one’s first option should be violence. If i person busted into my home now I wouldnt start shooting. You have to assess the situation as fast as possible sometimes that allows for communication, sometime that means ignoring the threat and focusing on god’s intervention and I believe sometimes that means sacrificing yourself and/or saving the day for the sake of otthers.

    Just as Jesus did, he laid down his life for us. We should be willing to do the same for others in violent situations. And if that means that I need to “buy” time to have my child or friend or stranger get out of the room I will grab at the attackers weapon and wrestle them for it. I would say, so be it.

    I mean did not jacob wrestle God for like a whole day and didn’t god like break jacobs hip.

  13. Nooneinparticular—

    Thank you for your response. In some of my writing for other essays, I am trying to understand and handle objections to the thought that Jesus was teaching a nonviolent pacifism. That is the reason for my earlier comment.

    Revisions? I think Jesus told plenty of them in His summary of His new style of morality in the Sermon on the Mount and Plain. e.g. He told things like “you have heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,’ but I say do not resists an evil person. Whoever hits (or strikes or slaps as other translations say) on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” At least my engineering mind would call that a revision—and there were plenty others. Jesus’ revisions, changes, or contradictions in the Jewish law, which he probably knew better than all of the elders of His day, were the reason why they felt the need to kill Him. The Romans (Pilate) didn’t.

    But since you mentioned that “Love your enemy” existed in old Mosaic law, I don’t see where there is a reference or hint to it. I’ve always considered it an original of Jesus. Can you get me closer with a Book of the Bible, perhaps even its chapter? Yes, he adapted it from Deuteronomy and Leviticus’ “Love God with all your might. . . “ and Love your neighbor as yourself,” but I thought it very original and different to apply it to enemies, changing it’s whole meaning; He even said it would be easy to love friends. It may be his biggest contribution to humankind, though we have ignored it for the last 1700 years. I don’t see “Love your enemies” as a theme at all in the OT like your opening sentence to Sean—I see a very different OT Jew and a whole lot of wars and continued hostility and enmity in their history. E.G.,the Samaritans, relatives of the Jews who broke from their faith (almost like protestants to Catholics), were barely tolerated during 200 years living in the same land and not talking to each other. Why are you seeing that “Love your enemy” existed in old Mosaic law? What is your basis for saying it? Please explain a little more to enlighten me.

    Your references to: 2Tim 3:16, the subject of Jesus’ sentence is scripture. Hebrews 3:18 is about earning eternity without sin, Exodus is old testament so it does not apply to my question on Jesus, Matthew 24 is about Jesus’ return, but I cannot see anything in it that suggests physical self-defense is acceptable behavior, like the dilemma I posed. I can’t find that in anything New Testament—Gospels or Epistles.

    Yes, I realize the logic of “if we cannot find a contradiction, it doesn’t make it true,” I am trying to find the basis of the facts to be applied in the equation. I do see several places where He forbids physical violence in a very direct manner, though—even in his own self-defense. If there is any piece of “whatever I feel is right,” as you say, it would seem to apply to the self-defender who’s thinking only for his preservation in the moment—not the eternity Jesus must have felt on the cross thinking, “Father forgive them-they don’t know what they are doing.”

  14. Hi SteveA, it’s noone again.

    Love your enemies as found in the OT:

    What about Jonah being rebuked by God in chapter 4, straight up!

    What about King David not hating Saul even though Saul wanted to kill him several times over.

    What about Joseph and his relationship to his brothers who betrayed him, and the countless others who abused him.

  15. NoOne,

    I don’t know how you can say that people are ‘unfortunately’ looking for behaviour codes when thats exactly what this blog stands for.

    Not quite. This blog stands for a principle. Love Your Enemies (with the presupposition – Like Jesus)

    I’m not asking for a detailed plan

    That is a behavior code. And that is why I will not answer this:

    By answering the question, can christians use violence to protect their family, a behaviour code of non-violence/resistance (what does love look like) is created.

    Because I refuse to believe that we should create a finite list of what to/not to do – or that such a list exists.

    I believe my original question was, if necessary, and you know X alternative options either did not work or will not work isnt saving a life more important than using violence to solve a problem.

    Our whole point is – you never know what will or won’t work. I really appreciated the section in Gregory Boyd’s book Myth of a Christian Nation where he laid out everything one must know in order to “know” that a war is “just” (although both he, and we, object that there is no such thing as a just war). I would suggest that those same principles apply personally. If you haven’t read the book I highly recommend it.

  16. Response to nooneinparticular—

    Jonah did get the city of Nineveh to repent—but they did so in fear of God, recognizing their evil ways. God saw their repentance and that they were turning from their wicked ways and relented, according to the last verses of Jonah 3. But that did not indicate love of their enemies—just that they changed their ways. I don’t see your point in Jonah 4, except that God justified his compassion for Nineveh to Jonah. Can you be more specific?

    Regarding King Saul and David: Yes, Saul was trying to kill David, probably out of jealousy because he had the favor of the Lord and kept doing things right. But David served him out of obligation and spared his life saying he had pity on him. It was not out of love. Love is much stronger than that. Jesus’ Love your enemy principle was much different than what David felt, though David gave human respect towards Saul which he didn’t deserve.

    Joseph and his brothers is much the same. While they betrayed him and sold him into slavery, ultimately the blood ran pretty thick. When Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers in Egypt, he said, “It was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” Joseph was favored by his father, Israel, and David was favored by the Lord. It wasn’t necessarily the “Love your enemy.”

    Jesus certainly knew these stories and perhaps they were the seeds for his “Love your enemy” command, but there were other relationships besides love of a fellow human being that created their attractions. These “underdogs” fared well in spite of their rival’s jealousies and efforts to harm them. But Jesus command came out of the blue in a sermon, and he seemed to even be talking about returning love to strangers who were going to hurt you, not just honoring your own royalty or family.

  17. born again christians have always taken up arms to protect their family and country.sergeant york ,is just one example.i think cowards often hide in this false teaching.what’s so wrong with sending a monster to hell a bit early.remember God ordained the death penalty.i wonder if your wife is aware ,you’d alow her to be gang raped.your doctraine is early catholic.

  18. born again christians have always taken up arms to protect their family and country.sergeant york ,is just one example.

    I hope you realize that NO Christians for the first three centuries used the sword for violence. You are simply misinformed about the facts. The only time a Christian is ever mentioned using a sword was Peter and he was directly rebuked by our Lord.

    i think cowards often hide in this false teaching.

    Is it more cowardly to obey Jesus’ teaching on non-violence or to return evil for evil? Which takes greater faith?

    what’s so wrong with sending a monster to hell a bit early.

    because we are not God and he may repent (just look at the Apostle Paul)

    remember God ordained the death penalty.i wonder if your wife is aware ,you’d alow her to be gang raped.your doctraine is early catholic.

    God ordained the death penalty for Israel, but the Messiah has now come…would you expect everything to be the same? Do you believe we should stone homosexuals and disobedient children? My wife is aware of Jesus’ command to love the enemy and she is also aware that so long as there is an ounce of blood in my veins I will protect her self-sacrificially and in accordance with the commands of our Lord. Do you believe that God can protect his people if we trust in him…or is that too scary for you?

    David, your second comment was too vitriolic, mean spirited, foul, and unchristian to allow for this christian website. Please reword it and I will approve it.

  19. I’m glad I came across this. I’ve been struggling with this too and often look to the early Christians on what to do.
    I think Jesus for President is good read too.

  20. To, SteveA.

    I know your conversation between the authors of this blog and nooneinparticular seem to be dead but, I would like to lend support to noone.

    You (SteveA) said, “But since you mentioned that “Love your enemy” existed in old Mosaic law, I don’t see where there is a reference or hint to it.”

    In Exodus 23:4-5, is an example of where in the Mosaic Law we are to ‘Love your enemy’.

    Thoughts?

  21. Thank you. I was looking for a verse like this (Ex 23:4) but had been unable to discover it on my own. As you know, all of the new principles that Jesus taught had their seeds in the Old Testament,—even Jesus’ great commandment to love your neighbor as yourself came from Lev 19:18. Perhaps this verse in Exodous was the seed for Jesus “Love your enemy” command.

    Obviously, loving your enemy goes far beyond following simple property laws and returning a straying donkey to him. These “Sundry Laws” (the subheading in the New American Bible (Ex 23:1-9)) are very interesting in their application to a wide variety of peace and justice issues—even the currently-hot topic of immigration is in verse 9. I want to take some time and digest them. Thank you, again.

  22. Grace and peace to you:

    I am happy to see that Christians continue to discuss these important questions and applications for the Christian life in the NEW Covenant age. I actually don’t have much time to write a detailed paper, but I still hope and pray that some of my expositional thoughts will fall on good ground so that God’s Word alone will produce true fruit for His glory and our good. May my little response be an encouragement for the reader to finish the race well and to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

    Please consider first that we are all called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark12:30). As Christian husbands (1Cor7:33) we are also called to love and protect (John18:6-11; Acts9:4 etc.) our God-given families as Christ loves His church (Eph6:25-33 etc.). It is also correct that we are called to love our enemies (Matt5:44 etc.)

    Please note that we are not called to protect our country since our citizenship is in heaven (see Phil3:20 etc.). But we do continue to have the natural and God-given reflex to love and protect our own bodies and therefore the physical well being of our loved ones (see Eph6:28). This natural action of self protection (if really necessary) does not violate or contradict the command to love (feed, pray etc.) our enemies.
    We must understand that there is a difference between individual Christians taking care of enemies and violent criminals that want to harm our families. In the case of Matt5:44 that meant Roman soldiers invading the old covenant and theocratic nation of Israel. We must always consider the historical context in which the Bible was written before we apply the text to our current cultural situation. The important truth to remember is that God’s people must always view every person – including national enemies – from every nation (man, woman, boy and girl) first as created beings in God’s image and not as political or religious enemies who threaten our so called government given rights and earthly freedoms.

    • The real question we have to ask ourselves is, who is our enemy and how does the Christian love his enemies biblically?

    One of the best biblical illustrations of how to love God and men is recorded for us in Luke 10:25-37. Loving our enemies does not mean that we allow a crazy person to harm our families (which we also love) and do nothing while we watch and pray that God sends someone else to protect our loved ones. That has nothing to do with the command to love our enemies since how can we love our enemies if we do nothing? How can we feed them if we are dead? How can we give them something to drink if we are dead? How can we overcome evil with good when we are dead? How can we heap up burning coals upon their heads if we are dead? And who will pray for them if we are dead etc.? Brethren, we are not Gnostics (or stoics, etc.) who do not care much about their body. We are not Muslims either who think they might enter heaven through martyrdom, etc. As Christians, we care about our lives on earth and we care about our bodies as well (Phil1:23-26).

    If the current governmental laws (Rom13:1-7) allow self-defense of their citizens (see also Paul’s use of his earthly rights as a Roman citizen in Acts16:37-40; 22:25-29; 25:11-12) then it is our responsibility to protect our God-given family from unrighteous and violent attacks (if truly needed).

    Please listen brethren, we are not talking about vengeance, (Rom12:19), fighting for political freedom, (John18:36) or dominion theology, etc… But we talk about self-defense and that is biblical speaking overcoming an evil act with a good thing. There is nothing wrong about protecting your loved ones in the name of Christ and for His glory (1Cor10:31-33). I am sure it will not please my wife and my kids if the head of the family will do nothing other than pray for them (James2:15-16).

    The Christian must not fight for an already accomplished spiritual freedom or even a future realized and visible kingdom here on earth (Rev20)! Christ will accomplish this at His second coming when He will establish His visible earthly reign and every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father! But the Christian (the head of the family) man has the New Covenant freedom and right to defend (with words and if necessary with physical force to protect …) his God-given family against unjustified and physical force.

    I guess it doesn’t matter what position you take in regard to the original question posted above (“What if someone were to break into your house and were about to harm your wife and children?”), since we can at least agree on:

    “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (ESV – 1Cor.10:13)

    And,

    “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (ESV Bible – 2.Cor. 10:3-5)

    Much love in Christ Jesus – your fellow slave for Christ,

    dirk

  23. If you use force that does not mean that you don’t love your enemies. That is a horrible assumption. And with how things are becoming, many people are acting like wild animals and have to be calmed down by force.

    If a burglar comes into your home and you call the police, if they are there in time, they will use force. And if the cop is a christian then your saying that hes guilty of not loving his enemies because he is doing justice. (Which I know of a Christian cop in my church)

    Let me clear this up, I do not believe that a Christians first line of defense is always forceful, I don’t own guns, and I am totally opposed to corrupt governments and their unjust wars (Read Smedly Butlers War is a Racket). At the same time there has to be BALANCE. The Lord is coming back in war, and he will crush his enemies. The Lord in the old testament used war many times to judge the wicked. I believe that if you had a chance to stop Hitler, Mao, or Stalin and you didn’t because you thought it would be considered hate, then you’d have a lot of blood on your hands.

    I don’t care about my own body, but I would never allow anyone to ravage my wife or children. If I did allow that to happen, then honestly I have failed to provide for them.

    Please stop associating any use of force with sin, or with “hate”. Because its simply not true, and in many scenarios it would be proven to be unjust (and has been!).

    Also, the death penalty was not just ordained for Israel. God gave that command to Noah and those who got off of the Ark. (Genesis 9:6) However it was not the eye for an eye and tooth for tooth that God later gave to Israel. (I heard J Vernon Mcgee expound on that in his Through the Bible series).

    Thats my input for now, great article, and great comments guys much Love from your brother in Oklahoma City :).

    Blessings to all!

  24. First Christians we have to pray for jesus to protect their families.If no response we have to save them by surrendering enimies to save the to serve entire humankind. Wat;s the purpose of getting killed by a foolish man;s enjoyment.

  25. we can not let evil just dominating the world ,the person who wants to kill your family is certainly not from god so he’is influenced by the devil .protecting your family is a proof of love. jesus never says to favor evils .love your neighbor like yourself .the best example is the good samaritan.

  26. I would protect my family, kill the intruder, then pray to GOD. if God would not forgive me for killing the intruder, then God is not the God i want to worship.

    • Sounds like you are deciding what God should do rather than God deciding what you should do.

  27. DO NOT TAKE THIS MAN’S ADVICE, IT WILL HURT YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I am saying the following to protect people from being a victim.

    Sean- Your information is incorrect and misguided. You said the following

    “except in times of religious persecution, it’s very rare for kingdom families to be harmed by ordinary criminals.”

    In my line of work I have personally worked with several kingdom people who were victims of terrible crimes.

    If all people had to do to prevent an attack was rebuke people in the name of Jesus, then the government would just hire Kingdom members to be police officers and gave them no guns.

    The cop would just say I command you in the name of Jesus to stop.

    God tells us in his word to prepare for trouble, that the wise man prepares for trouble.

    A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

    A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

    This is God instructed us to take measures to protect ourselves and others. We must DO SOMETHING, not just have faith.

    The only time we lie down and die without a fight is if we are persecuted for being a Christian.

    Other than that we put up our best fight.

  28. Hey article writer who borrowed from David Bercot. I’ve read the early church, I’ve read the bible, and guess what “just praying” doesn’t always work like you want. I have a friend that WAS mennonite and he told me about some mennonites in Mexico were down there doing missionary work when some thugs broke into a meeting and rounded the men up who went willingly while they had rifles in the place for hunting/coyotes and could have overpowered this small group of thugs and guess what a couple of the thugs took a mennonite woman in the back and repeatedly raped her while the “men” just sat there!!! Is that Christian? You say love your enemy which Christ himself said but what else did he say “love your neighbor”. Were they loving their neighbor while she got raped when one of two might have been shot and or killed yet the others able to stop these men from raping this woman? This is cowardice not love. How about the numerous Amish that have been robbed and or attacked because the thugs new they were easy targets that wouldn’t fight back. You’d just watch and “pray” while this went on?? It’s amazing to me that you people won’t protect yourselfs, or family, friends, strangers etc. yet you are willing to have the police do it for you and or the military from terrorists while you bad mouth them for it. They have “good samaritan” laws in some states where you can be prosecuted for NOT helping someone in trouble when being attacked. There are so many holes in this theology it’s not funny. I read a webpage by some nonresistant guy about how non resistant people are less likely to be hurt. So does that mean the people at IHOP and other local places somehow had it coming?? This is ridiculous.

  29. John 15:19-21- If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.

    Years after Pentecost, Paul wrote in a letter to Timothy “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). This passage applies to our subject because it would be absurd to buy a house, furnish it with food and facilities for one’s family, and then refuse to install locks and provide the means to protect the family and the property.

    Luke 22:35-38 – 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.”

    Luke 12:39 – “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.”

    Proverbs 22:3 – A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it

    Proverbs 25:26 – A righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well.

    Zechariah 9:8 – But I will defend my house against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch.
    Isaiah 62:6 – I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night.

    2 Kings 11:5 – He commanded them, saying, “This is what you are to do: You who are in the three companies that are going on duty on the Sabbath—a third of you guarding the royal palace,

    Nehemiah 4:16-18 – From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.

    Ezekiel 33:5-6 – Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning, his blood will be on his own head. If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.’

  30. I guess that means that I would go to hell. I will die to protect my wife and family and my fellow man it need be. The world is coming undone like a cheap suit and although I love God and Jesus with all my heart, I WILL NOT allow anything to harm the woman that I gave my heart and soul to.

  31. On the claim that “a gun kept in the home is 22 times as likely to kill a family member or a friend as to kill or wound an intruder.”
    Please provide the source of this allegation.
    The effectiveness of having weapons for defense is not measured by the numbers of dead and wounded ruffians piled on doorsteps but in the crimes thwarted. In most known cases the display of a firearm is sufficient to discourage the criminal. In but a minority of home invasions and attempts is a shot fired in defense. Unfortunately your source does not count the use of a firearm without discharging it and striking the invader.


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