Yeah, I wrote that. Flame on.
Seriously, though. There seems to be an inherent misunderstanding about this, so let’s walk through things a bit. What would you say if I offered you, not only self-defense but a Biblical case for the situational awareness that will often steer you away from scenarios where stopping a threat is probable?
We can cite examples like Luke 22:36 as more famous and oft-quoted means of showing self-defense to not only be considered but dare I say, endorsed by Christ. And if you take Luke 22:36 into context, Jesus is warning the disciples, that they need to know their journey is fraught with peril, and their lives will certainly be in jeopardy. In Genesis 14:13-16 Abram rescued Lot and smote (KJV word and among my Old Testament favorites) them to recover Lot, the family, and the servants. Yes, “smote” means they were dispatched, expired, or otherwise killed or severely injured.
But for our purposes, I really like Exodus 22:2-3 for thorough understanding.
2 If the thief is caught while breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there will be no guilt for bloodshed on his account. 3 If the sun has risen on him, there will be guilt for bloodshed on his account—A thief shall certainly make restitution; if he owns nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.Exodus 22:2-3 (NASB)
How are we to discern this? Thou shall not kill, right? Well, I think I can make this simple for you if we take the above bit of scripture from Exodus into context. When the thief breaks into your home at night, you’re surprised. You have an unknown person(s) in your home, under cover of darkness, with who knows what intent. You’re justified in the defense of yourself and/or others. But pay special attention to the latter portion of the text… If this thief has already stolen, you ARE NOT justified in self-defense. In Exodus 22:3, the sun having risen on the thief conveys to us that the act has come to pass, and you’re then dealing with the aftermath. You could reasonably infer, that revenge isn’t allowed if you think through this.
When the event is unfolding, you can make a solid case to defend yourself and others. But after the fact? Nope. I could impart thoughts on what constitutes the legal application of necessary force, but you’d better consult man’s law for that in each state. Don’t forget, however, that our mandate in self-defense is to stop threats. Not kill. Rather, we intend to stop gratuitous harm from taking place. When the situation before us is safe, we need to be prepared to immediately pivot to life-saving mode and administer first-aid for anyone hurt, including the former threat. This is an important distinction to make. We need to come to terms with the fact that stopping a threat can lead to death. FBI’s statistics over several recent decades show an 11% mortality rate when firearms are used in self-defense. 70% when edged weapons are used.
If you’re paying close attention, the timing and situation, both directly lead to the choices you’re able to make. I believe it is logical to then ask what things we can do in order to avoid the “thieves in the night” and other circumstances that are all too often manifesting themselves today in western culture. IE, is there a biblical case for situational awareness? Yup, you guessed it, I wrote about that HERE…
I pray I can become better salt and better light, my brothers and sisters. I pray you may be as well.