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Should a Christian Use Force to Defend Himself Against Aggressors?


As our government becomes increasing hostile to the family, Church and individual liberties, Christians need to be prepared to take a stand. The right to bear arms is the latest liberty which is under attack. This right is not granted by civil authority through our Constitution. The right of self-defense is a natural right or birth right granted by God. It is an unalienable right; a right that cannot be taken away by civil government since it was bestowed by God. The Bill of Rights merely affirms Natural Rights.

John Locke (1632-1704) considered the right of self-defense to be the first law of nature. He wrote, “And thus it is that every man in the state of Nature has a power to kill a murderer, both to deter others from doing the like injury (which no reparation can compensate) by the example of the punishment that attends it from everybody, and also to secure men from the attempts of a criminal who, having renounced reason, the common rule and measure God hath given to mankind, hath, by the unjust violence and slaughter he hath committed upon one, declared war against all mankind, and therefore may be destroyed as a lion or a tiger, one of those wild savage beasts with whom men can have no society nor security. And upon this is grounded that great law of nature, ‘Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.’ And Cain was so fully convinced that every one had a right to destroy such a criminal, that, after the murder of his brother, he cries out, ‘Every one that findeth me shall slay me,’ so plain was it writ in the hearts of all mankind.”

There are those of the Anabaptist tradition who would forbid Christians to forcibly resist evildoers. Their primary appeal is to the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus’ counsel to turn the other cheek and love your enemies.

When interpreting and applying the Bible, one should consider the Natural Law, which is the law of reason. Natural Law came before Biblical Law. God is not going to contradict the Natural Law in the Scriptures. Nor would Jesus contradict Natural Law in his most eminent message. There is much debate over the doctrines of non-resistance in the light of the NT. Jesus’ teachings are ultimately sensible and practical. I fear that there are those who reject the teachings of Christ since his doctrines have been presented as contrary to self-evident truths by Anabaptists.

Not only is an understanding of Natural Law necessary in interpreting the New Testament; but one must also know the Moral Law as revealed in the Old Testament. It is clearly moral to kill and go to war in the OT as we see through many examples, that are too numerous and well known for me to need to enunciate. God’s Moral Law is unchanging; it is essentially the same as the Natural Law. If it was moral in the days of old to kill (not murder), then it is moral under the New Covenant.

I appreciate the sincerity and the commitment of Anabaptists to follow what they perceive to be the example of Christ. We should be willing to defend them against violence even though they will not defend themselves. However, I think their views are very dangerous to the survival of Christendom. If Christians will not fight to uphold our rights, then who will? Of course, the Captain of the Lord’s host will fight our battles. But we need to be fighting with him; we should not expect God to do for us what we are unwilling to do.

 

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