Posted by: sean | September 1, 2007

Isn’t Self Defense Part of Nature?

the following is taken from  pages 34 and 35 of War Inconsistent with the Religion of Jesus Christ by David Low Dodge (published in 1815).  Mr. Dodge founded the first peace society ever organized in America or in the world and was its first president (The New York Peace Society).  His book in its entirety can be read in .pdf or .html formats on the website.

Self-defense is the First Law of Nature

by David Low Dodge

Objection.  Self-defense, and, if necessary, with deadly weapons, is the first law of nature.  All of the animals in creation are armed with means of defense, and the principles of the gospel are not contrary to the principles of nature.  Therefore, self-defense is not inconsistent with Christianity.

Answer.  It is admitted that the laws of the gospel are not contrary to the primitive laws of nature, but it is by no means granted that they are consistent with the laws of corrupt nature.  In consequence of the revolt of man, the earth was cursed for his sake.  It appears probable that, before the fall of man, animals were harmless and docile; and it is not improbable that when the curse shall be removed, when the earth shall be filled with righteousness and peace, the lion and the lamb may literally lie down together.  At present, indeed, the dove, the lamb, and some other animals have no means of defense, unless flight is considered such.  And while warriors are figuratively represented by ferocious beasts, real Christians are represented by lambs and doves.  So far as nature is made to speak fairly on the subject, it speaks in favor of the doctrine that has been advocated.

But corrupt nature strongly dictates many things quite contrary to the precepts of the gospel, and no doctrine will be given up more reluctantly by corrupt nature than that of the lawfulness of war, because no doctrine is more congenial with the depraved feelings and propensities of unsanctified men.  “Their feet are swift to shed blood.  Destruction and misery are in their ways, and the way of peace have they not known.  There is no fear of God before their eyes.”



  1. Self preservation is not just nature, but it is your right to a free life of liberty, justice,and the pursuit of happiness.


  2. Ted, I’m curious if you are a Christian?

  3. The reason I ask is because if you are a Christian then you have already died. You no longer retain any rights. You are servant of all. You are one whose life is marked by coming under others to love them outrageously and self-sacrificially. Liberty, happiness, and personal justice get in the way of this. If my liberty is a priority then I will take away others’ liberty if they threaten mine. If my happiness is a priority then anytime someone else’s happiness threatens my happiness I take theirs away. If my justice is priority then any time someone does something unfair to me I will be obligated to treat them as they have treated me rather than how I want them to treat me. In short, we have no rights. That makes us both easy to oppress and impossible to control.

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