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What does the Bible say about self-defense?"

Under what circumstances is self-defense appropriate?

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I find it interesting that the same people who freely use the Old Testament to justify the keeping of the Seventh-Day Sabbath (a practice with which I completely agree), tell us to swear off the Old Testament when it comes to this question.  Folks, the answer is not in ignoring the Old Testament, it is in finding what both the Old Testament and New Testament are saying.  Both are from God. 

And it is clear that, at times, God allowed and even instructed His People to use violence for defense.  Did Jesus overrule His own instructions during His time on earth?  Remember that it was Christ Himself who was interacting with Israel (according to Mrs. White), so it was Christ Himself who instructed the Israelites to protect themselves with weapons, and even to wipe out whole nations.  So what did it mean, and why did He command it?  Was it only for that time?  Was it only at the direct command of God, and only then? 

My point is that honest Christians can differ in their interpretation of these scriptures, and while it is fine for each of us to have our own beliefs on it, it behooves us in cases where the scripture is mixed, not to take the role of instructing others that if they don't share our exact belief, then they are wrong and misguided. 

Thank you for your eloquence.  In my walk with Christ before I knew Jesus, I have had humbling lessons on violence as a misguided youth.  I have also seen where people's violent and murderous ways have lead to there own death.  The assumptions made about police, soldiers, and most but not all firearms owners is misguided.  My time in the military was a lesson in what chaos and murder and how quick nations can fall leaving a vacuum for crime and criminals to consume the innocent.  I don't have a fascination with firearms as some would more than assume and it is the same with all of those I served with.   When I get to heaven firearms will not exist and that is a wonderful thing but the reality of violence is ever present in the world today.   I guess if we go by the logic given here, then when we call the police about a home invasion of armed intruders we need to ask for the police to come armed only with night sticks otherwise our faith is lacking.

Jack asked, "Did Jesus overrule His own instructions during His time on earth?"

The Bible quotes Jesus as saying, "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." (Matthew 5:38-39 KJV)

So your response is that Jesus DID overrule His own instructions?  So how do you justify the many, many defensive and even offensive actions that Jesus Himself authorized in the Old Testament?  That He thought about it, and changed His mind?  That it was appropriate to that time, but not to His time on earth?  That it was okay because He specifically authorized it?  I'd be interested in your Biblical support for His apparent overruling of His past approach.

Jack said, "I'd be interested in your Biblical support for His apparent overruling of His past approach."

Seriously? My sole response is to quote the Bible and you ask for Biblical support? Well, I thought that Matt. 5:38 was not only Biblical but also self explanatory.

However, points to consider would be:

1. Much of what you refer to was when Israel was a theocracy - directly ruled by God. They were used by Him as the instrument of His punishment. That is not the case now.

2. You appear to be referring to corporate actions, not personal ones.

3. God dealt with the people where they were at that time. This goes back to the point about the Cities of Refuge being introduced as the Israelites had brought some things out of Egypt that God had to deal with.

4. As per point #1, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." (Romans 12:19 KJV)

5. I refer you to: Gen.4:15; 15:1; Deut.32:35,41-43; 33:29; 2 Sam.22:3; Judges 11:36; Ps.3:3; 5:12; 7:10; 28:7; 31:2; 33:20; 59:9-11,16,17; 62:2; 84:9-11; 94:1; etc., Isa.34:8; 35:4; 47:3, etc.; Jer.51:6,11,36; Ezek.25:12-17; Mic.5:15; Nah.1:2; etc., etc.


Where does the Bible say #1?  Or is that your opinion?

Where does the Bible refer to a difference between corporate and personal, per your point #2?

Where does the Bible say that God has different rules for humans today versus the past, per your point #3?  Yes, the sacrificial system is gone, which is the only item I can think of (although in reality, the sacrificial system was about righteousness by faith, just like today).  What about “I am the Lord, I change not”?  And if human conditions made it necessary for Christ to allow defensive actions in His followers, is it then impossible for those conditions to arise again?  (Since your argument in point #3 is basically “the times called for it”)?


#1 - read from Exod.12:42 through to Acts 7:60. It is the account of Israel guided by God.

#2 - read from Exod.12:42 through to Acts 7:60. It contains the account of God dealing with Israel as a nation. Interspersed within this account are examples of God dealing with individuals, e.g. Joshua 7:10, etc.

#3 - Matt.5:38

A difficult question, and one in which Christians may differ.

1.  God allowed his nation, Israel, to defend itself.  That much is clear. 

2.  God's preferred method of defense was for us to be still, and wait for His salvation.  And yet there were many times where He also commanded the Israelites to attack.  There were other times (Elisha and the surrounding Ammonites who were struck blind) when He did the entire defense, and no one was killed.  Gideon was commanded to attack.  David was commanded to attack.  Was that the times, or has God changed His mind about it?

3.  The Bible has texts which tell us to make our "swords and spears" into "plowshares".  There are other texts which tell us to do the opposite.

4.  Jesus told His disciples to "put up your sword", and at other times, He said to "sell your garment and buy a sword". 

What are we to do with this?  Especially when we realize that the Ten Commandments say "Thou shalt not murder" (not "Thou shalt not kill", as I was brought up with).  Just pulling out the texts that argue our preferred conclusion is not valid.  How does the Bible explain itself on this topic?

It is clear that there have been recent times where it took violence to prevent evil from swamping civilization.  No one would argue that resistance to Hitler was a good thing.  Or that resistance to the Japanese aggression was a good thing.  What are we to do?

Killing is to defend yourself or another.  Murder, is to kill someone for the sake of taking a life for entertainment or convenience.  Thousands of women murder babies for convenience on a regular basis.  In essence, one gender in the United States has been given by the Government a license to Murder.

That is an interesting point. Many in the SDA church are very vocal when it comes to an object like a fire arm which has no life and does no harm unless the trigger is pulled by someone who has murder in their heart. It would seem these vocal Bible students are not up on the causes of sin. You can murder someone with yarn and two sticks very easily if you choose to do so but I don't see the call for removing yarn from homes.

What is saddening is how non-vocal many SDA members are to abortion. If you want to talk about the innocent being murdered that is where it is at. If anything there should be no abortion anywhere at SDA hospitals or clinics. I guess the sight of firearm is causes more emotion than a doctor in a lab coat with forceps and a vacuum cleaner.

Yes,  it is difficult for me to take seriously strong negative opinions about whether or not it is okay to defend one's self from someone who does not condemn abortion equally as vigorously.



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