A Biblical Argument for Self Defense
A Biblical Argument for Self Defense


I think Christians often wonder
what it means to turn the other cheek. Jesus taught in Matthew 5, ‘You
have heard that it was said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a
tooth. But I say to you do not resist the one who is evil. But
if anyone slaps you on the right cheek turned to him the other
also.’ If we pay careful attention to
the wording of that verse Jesus teaching about turning the other
cheek has a specific meaning. If I’m facing someone and I slap
that person on the right cheek it would require me to slap the
person with the back of my hand and that would be that person’s
right cheek. So I think what it means is that
Jesus is telling us not to hit back when someone slaps us as an
insult. I don’t think it is really
talking about escaping or defending ourselves against a
violent attack that would do us bodily harm or even kill us. There are a number of other
passages of scripture that encourage escaping from danger
or even using force in self-defence if necessary and
encourage us to defend other people against wrongful attacks. Jesus disciples carried swords
even after three years of traveling with Jesus in the
garden of Gethsemene they had swords and swords in the first
century were used for self-defence. So I think there are times in
which self-defence to prevent us from suffering significant
bodily harm is justified. However I need to specify also
that Christians shouldn’t retaliate when persecuted
specifically for their Christian faith but should take that as
part of what God calls them to do this suffer for the sake of
the testimony of the Gospel. Another question comes up with
regard to self-defence and that is what should children do when
attacked by a bully on a playground. Children should be taught to be
peacemakers of course in Matthew 5:9. But if a bully continues to
escalate his attacks or her attacks and if no parent or
teacher will intervene, which sadly happens, then I think
children should be taught to fight back and defend themselves
with courage and determination as well as to pray for and
forgive those who attack them. Otherwise they could continue to
suffer physical harm and internalize a deep sense of
injustice and bewilderment at why no parent, no teacher, and
no other authority is protecting them and I think that can be
very harmful.

1 thought on “A Biblical Argument for Self Defense”

  1. Charlie Ennis says:

    I'm hearing this more and more, I don't God who values us would want us to sit there and get beat on.

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