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”I know about Bible verses that teach forgiveness, loving enemies, trusting God and not killing another human, etc. But is there a biblical justification for self-defense when your home and family are threatened?”—Robert
There are several ways to approach this question:
The “natural theologian” would claim that in nature, the instinct of all animals is to protect the nest and the young.
One deduces from this fact that self-defense is hard-wired into our existence. This “instinct” is consistent with a biblical faith that places a high value on home and family.
The “pacifist” approach essentially holds that God is at work in every situation and can be trusted to carry out his will. His will, whether it involves life or death, is what is best and should be accepted without a fight (Ps. 11:4-7).
Non-retaliation is the best means for responding to evil and injustice because in so doing the failure of evil becomes clear (the principle behind “turn the other cheek,” Mt. 5:39; see also Rom. 12:17-21). “Love your enemy” is a godly means by which one seeks to transform one’s adversary (Mt. 5:43ff).
The “non-pacifist” view holds that one is responsible for protecting the weak and the helpless (Ps. 82:4; James 1:27).
The Bible takes seriously the value of human life (Gen. 1:26; 9:6; Ex. 20:13). One has, as a corollary of the seventh, eighth and 10th commandments, the obligation to protect one’s property and family.
Protecting one’s family from harm — not motivated by vengeance, hatred, or crimes of passion — is right and responsible (Neh. 4:11-18).
The biblical witness recognizes that defense of one’s family is justified, though there are limits (see Mt. 26:51-56).
Scripture also affirms the radical ideal of trusting in God more than in weapons (I Sam. 17:47; II Chr. 20:15-17; Ps. 33:13-22; 44:4-8).
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To send questions or to communicate with Pastor McCullough, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.