Violent crimes are committed every day against unborn babies when abortions are performed all over the world.  Statistics show that there are hundreds of fetuses aborted every hour of the day by people who got pregnant and then opted not to have that precious child that God gave them.

Turn on the news and you will see stories about children that are murdered by their parents and parents that are murdered by their children.  Spousal abuse claims many more lives around the world.  Many of these murderers of the innocent are people who claim to be Christian.   Such a claim could not be farther from the truth.

The word “Christian” means Christ-like; a follower of Christ.  Can it truly be said that these murderers are Christ-like?

All this is important for the child of God to ponder, but the topic I would like to address today is the topic of “self-defense.”

Does God’s Word allow His children to strike back at another human being who is threatening their life?  What about if another family member’s life is threatened, should a saved person execute justice upon one who is threatening a spouse? A child? A parent?

While many would automatically state that it is ok for a saved person to protect his family or property and the laws of the land seem to give allowance for such, what does God’s Word say?  After all, according to the Word of God, we are to obey God rather than man. (Acts 5:29)

In the Old Testament, Mosaic Law gave permission for man to protect his home.   Here are a few verses that would indicate that one could indeed protect his home and family:

Exodus 21:24-25 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Exodus 22:2-3 If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.

Deuteronomy 19 even allowed for the killing of someone who had accidentally killed another person, provided that person was caught by an immediate family member who was appointed by the family as “the avenger of blood” before that person could flee to a ‘city of refuge.’

So, at first glance, it would appear that one is given authority by the Word of God to retaliate (even to the point of death) when his or her home is broken into or a family member is killed.

To find out if we indeed can act as judge, jury and executioner in these situations, we must also look into the New Testament.  After all, it too is God’s Word.

The New Testament appears to put man on an entirely different path of understanding what he should do when attacked or when his family is attacked.   Jesus brought a different message to those who would follow Him.  Notice the following verses:

Matthew 5:38-39  Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Here, Jesus teaches His Disciples the exact opposite than that which was given to the Israelites by Moses.  Jesus tells His Disciples to turn the other cheek when they are struck by their enemy.

He goes on to say:

Matthew 5:43-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Do good to those that persecute us?  Is He kidding?  Of course not!  Jesus clearly tells us that if we are being persecuted, we are not to hate our enemies.  Instead, we are to love them and pray for them.  It would be hard to pray for someone while shooting them or killing them in some other manner.

Paul, as well as all of the other Apostles, was persecuted by the world.  In his epistle to the Romans, Paul echoed the words of David who said, “For Thy sake, we are killed all the day long.”

Paul taught the very same message that Christ taught, a message of love toward those that persecute us and our families.  Notice:

Romans 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Is the Apostle saying we are not to strike back when we are threatened?  Well, there it is in black and white… we are not to recompense evil for evil, but rather we are to love our enemies.  We are to do good to them.

The Apostle Peter also carried the same message of meekness in spite of persecution.  He writes:

1 Peter 2:21-23 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
Christ was our example, Brethren.  When they threatened Him, He did not threaten back.  When they struck Him, He did not strike back.  He committed Himself to that one that judges righteously, the LORD God.

Are we truly patterning ourselves after Christ when we strike back at our persecutors?  I cannot see how we would be.  Christ called His Apostles to peace, He did not appoint them to war.

One last thought to reflect on…

We are supposed to give the Gospel to all men.  How can one give the Gospel to someone, a Gospel of love toward mankind, when one has a gun pointed at that person?  The sword that Christ came to bring was not a sword of violence, it was a sword of Salvation; Salvation toward all men.

Where is one’s faith?  Is it in God for protection?  Or is it in self-preservation?  The flesh is weak, just as the Word of God declares it is.  The heart is deceitful above all others and desparately wicked; who can know it.  Can we really trust our heart that wants to seek vengeance on one who threatens us?  Jeremiah didn’t seem to think so.  He said, “Who can know it?”
Jesus showed us a better way.  It would be wise to walk in that way.