Pulpit & Pen
Just because we’re good people doesn’t mean we won’t kill you – Rick Grimes
Right. So, maybe a Biblical defense for self-defense shouldn’t begin with quotation from the protagonist in a televised Zombie apocalypse set in the dystopian near-future. But, when I heard Rick say that, it was real. There’s no room for pretense when zombies are kicking down the doors to your rickety old barn.
We may not have zombies kicking down our barn doors, but like Rick Grimes, we live in a world where pretense will get you killed. Normalcy bias will get your killed. Pacifism will get you killed. Your pretty little philosophies and pontifications will get you killed. We live in a world of bad guys, albeit they’re not the walking dead. But, they are dangerous. And frankly, it’s time Christian leaders recognize that danger and stop being such metrosexual nancies without a modicum of moral clarity when dogmatizing our followers on the WWJD of martyrdom. In short, Christians leaders need to look less like Reverend Lovejoy and more like the Machine Gun Preacher. What you may not realize while locked away in your pastor’s study is that our world looks more like Rick Grimes’ than Homer Simpson’s. Sometimes, people need a good killing.
What I need you to do, if you’re to stomach the rest of this article, is take any notion you have of a Big Lebowski-looking Christ who rides the clouds on Falcor the Luck Dragon, handing out puppies and skittles out of Santa’s bottomless gift bag and put that image into the dustbin of your mind. Stop tasting the rainbow, put down the Rachel Held Evans book, and gird up your loins like a man. Instead, focus on the actual Christ, the one whose feet were caked with mud and muck and suggested his disciples go out and buy a sword on the night of his crucifixion, knowing they would soon be outlaws and in need of protection (Luke 22:36). Yes, focus on Christ, who is the second person of the Trinity and who transcends in ancient divinity the temporality of his earthly walk, and let us develop a Bible-long systematic theology of martyrology and self-defense.
As much as Jesus Seminar liberals would like to limit the teachings of Christ to his three-year ministry chronicled in the Gospel accounts, the reality for orthodox Christians is that every word of the Bible should be colored in Red. Being Trinitarians, we believe in a Triune God consisting of three Persons making up the Godhead (Acts 17:29, Romans 1:20, Colossians 2:9, KJV). The Persons of the Trinity, consisting of and being in themselves God, are at perfect unity and harmony together (Isaiah 61:1-2). Each one performs and acts according to the same will (John 6:38). In short, the words of God the Father, who inspired the Sacred Texts through God the Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16), is indeed the will and word of God the Son (John 1:1,14).
What this means is that to understand the teachings of God the Son, without juxtaposing his teaching with the teachings of God the Father, requires a systematic teaching on the subject of martyrology and self-defense throughout the entire canon of Scripture.
While it is true that Jesus told Peter to put away His sword because he must be crucified for the sins of the world (Matthew 26:52), he told them that very night to buy a sword in advance of their coming persecution (Luke 22:36). While Jesus’ exhortation that we turn the cheek from insult (Matthew 5:39) has been taken by pacifists (defined by JD’d dictionary as “those who let others die for their lives and liberties”) to be the locus classicus text for passive non-resistance, a robust theology of persecution reveals that that the thrice-holy God has indeed called his people to self-defense, protection of the innocent through violent means, and promotion of the general welfare through war. There is no logical reason to believe that God’s call to arms throughout Scripture has been abrogated in this current dispensation, for God does not change (Malachi 3:6) and his Word is immutable (Hebrews 6:17). Furthermore, the call to martyrdom that we see repeated throughout the New Testament does not imply that our death for the sake of the cross be a peaceful surrendering of ourselves over to injustice or voluntary death.
A thorough analysis of God’s divine hand guiding the body-politic of ancient Israel reveals an understood right of self-defense. We are to deliver the innocent from those that seek them harm (Proverbs 82:4). While murder is clearly prohibited (Leviticus 24:16-17), the taking of a murderer’s life is not prohibited and neither is it murder (Genesis 9:6). The qualifying distinctions between killing and murder are found in places like Exodus 21, Numbers 35, and Deuteronomy 19. In the commonwealth laws of Israel, delivered by God, one had the right to take the life of one breaking into their home in the night (Exodus 22:2). The general equity of this Old Testament law (to use words from the London Baptist and Westminister Confession) – that is, what is moral, universal and perpetual in nature – is that it is morally acceptable to take the life of one who will harm the innocent.
Even though our enemies are not flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12), the same is true for the Israelites as they were rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls, when they were instructed to arm themselves for potential conflict (Nehemiah 4:17). The realization of spiritual enemies did not negate the reality that there might be some people in need of a good killing, and God’s people were to be prepared to fight back. When Haman’s plans went awry because of Esther’s obedience, God’s people were instructed to kill those who sought their lives (Esther 9:2-5). When Abraham’s family was in jeopardy, he raised an army and killed their captors (Genesis 14:14-18) and was later blessed by God for that action.
To die a victim in the name of martyrdom, when the perpetrator will likely go on to kill more innocent people, is not martyrdom – it is cowardice. A man that does not care for his own family, in particular, is worse than an infidel (1 Timothy 5:8) – and calling the police while your family is being assaulted falls short of the biblical responsibilities of manhood.
David’s hands were taught to operate a lethal weapon by God (Psalm 18:24). The limp-wristed effiminazi Intelligentsia calling for the disarmament of Christians today are a far cry from the man who was after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). And while we do not trust in our weapons, but in God (Psalm 44:7), this presupposes the ownership of weapons. On any given day, I may carry a number of different lethal weapons, but my trust is in God that they will fire properly, hit their target, or in God’s kind providence, I’ll find their use unnecessary.
Furthermore, we must understand that Christ’s martyrdom is wholly unlike our own. Christ’s death was a sacrifice, and offering it up bought the souls of men. Our life cannot be given in the same manner of Christ (for we neither lay it down nor pick it up of our own accord), and neither does it propitiate for any sins. Although we are, indeed, sheep sent out to wolves, the Good Shepherd never intended and neither does he ask us to provide a pacifistic buffet of mutton for any wolf that would seek to devour us.
That a martyr may resist, does not make him less of a martyr. That a man doesn’t resist when his family is in peril, does make him less of a man.
In light of the shooting at UCC, I call on all Christian leaders to stop the liberal pontificating on how guns caused this problem and call them to consider on why a lack of guns (along with a murderous, depraved heart as the root issue) caused this problem. Christ has called us to love our neighbor (Mark 12:31), and if you are unprepared to defend your neighbor due to dainty sensibilities or the irrational fear of using a firearm, I’d suggest you do not love your neighbors as much as you ought.
Used with permission.