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The Bible and Armed Self-Defense - Summary

Continuing from the Truth Summary, below are more details and quotes on the Catholic Church’s teaching on Self-Defense from the Bible.

  • There is a Biblical obligation to preserve innocent life, so self-defense is the first natural human right given by God. All human law must recognize this. You must protect your life, the lives of those you are responsible for, and the lives of other innocent people. (Genesis 9:5-6, Psalm 82:4, Proverbs 24:11, Sirach 4:9 & 28, Matthew 22:39, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 1 Timothy 5:8)

  • The prohibition against murder in the Ten Commandments does not apply to many cases where a person’s death results from reasons other than malice. (Exodus 21:12-15, Leviticus 24:16-17, Numbers 35:6-34, and Deuteronomy 19:1-13, Deuteronomy  24:7)

  • Armed citizens, not soldiers, were stationed "people by families" around the city as guards. These were not trained soldiers or law enforcement officers. They were merely concerned residents and settlers. Note that these families were armed, with swords, spears, and bows. This is a situation where they are willing to apply lethal force to defend themselves. (Nehemiah 4:13)

  • Under threat of deadly violence, we are permitted to use lethal force in self-defense, and widespread use of weapons in self-defense, in non-wartime, non-law enforcement scenarios. (Esther 8-9)

  • Self-defense against trespassers is allowed, even if the trespasser dies in the defensive effort, but if it comes to light later (sun rising) that someone is a thief, the thief should not be hunted down and killed. After the threat to life is no longer present, apprehension and restitution is the correct punishment for stealing. (Exodus 22:2-3)

  • Self-defense is a requirement, made a necessity by The Fall and human sin, because those who do grave evil should not be allowed to dominate innocent people. (Proverbs 25:26)

  • There is an appropriate time for the use of force in self-defense. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

  • Gospel values do not mandate that those who use physical force in their jobs must stop using deadly force, namely soldiers and police and bodyguards. (Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 3:14, Luke 7:1-10)

  • Jesus told his disciples to buy weapons. (Luke 22:36)

  • We are encouraged to have spiritual protection and physical protection, both. (Nehemiah 4:8-9)

  • Providing for your family includes having protection against rapists, kidnappers, muggers and robbers. (1 Timothy 5:8)

  • To distinguish Christianity from absolute Pacifism, notice that Jesus used offensive violence. Jesus made plans and preparations before attacking. Jesus acts with pre-meditated force and violence. This is what Jesus did against evildoers. (Matthew 21:12–17, 21:23–27, Mark 11:15–19, 11:27–33, Luke 19:45–48, 20:1–8, John 2:13–16)

  • What is the wisdom of a serpent that Jesus commands us to imitate? A small amount of reflection on the anatomy of a serpent will reveal great meaning in this passage. Also, how a snake treats a violent offender is worthy of deep consideration. (Matthew 10:16)

  • A person who is prepared to protect innocent life is more likely to have a better outcome if they are attacked. (Luke 11:21)

  • The Gospel call is not to “peace at any cost.” The Gospel is also about truth and justice. (Matthew 10:34-39)

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