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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Did Jesus Mean This Literally?

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Joined: 2011/10/23
Posts: 1863


2HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH. the leter of eph

 2014/8/12 5:02Profile

Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 5610


Q & A: Can Christians defend themselves?
In light of Jesus’ instruction to turn the other cheek in Matthew 5:38-42, is it right for Christians to defend themselves and their families such as if an intruder breaks into their homes.

This is an important issue for followers of Christ to consider because it not only impacts self defense but also service in the military and war. The short answer is that it is permissible indeed for Christians to defend themselves and their families and to serve in the military even if that requires the shedding of blood. Let’s interact with the teaching concerning turning the other cheek first and then we will present a biblical case for self defense and military service.

Turn the Other Cheek
Most often people read this instruction in Matthew 5 and believe it means that if anyone ever wants to do any sort of physical harm the Christian response is to allow it to happen (pacifism). However, that is not what Jesus was saying in this passage. In Jewish culture, slapping a person’s cheek was a serious personal insult. That is what Jesus is addressing. If your pride is injured, allow it. Don’t retaliate in kind. Consider the following commentaries on this passage:
“In verses 39-40 Jesus is speaking in hyperbole. We are to resist evil as such (cf. Matt 23), but are not to retaliate for evil done to us. Jesus Himself protested when struck on His cheek (John 18:22-23), but He did not strike back.” (Herschel Hobbs, An Exposition of the Four Gospels)

“[Jesus] does not teach, as many have claimed, that no stand is to be taken against evil and that it should simply be allowed to take its course. Jesus and the apostles continually opposed evil with every means and resource. Jesus resisted the profaning of God’s Temple by making a scourge of cords and physically driving out the sacrifice sellers and moneychangers.” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7)

“I don’t think that Jesus is telling us never to respond to evil with force (such as in self-defense) or always to literally turn the other cheek when we are slapped any more than his command later in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:6 means that we should only pray when we are completely alone or his command in 5:29 means that some should literally gouge out their eyes.” (John Piper, Did Jesus Teach Pacifism?)
When it is understood in its rightful context, the “turn the other cheek clause” cannot be used to refute self defense.

The Argument for Self Defense
Even if the “turn the other cheek” clause does not disallow self defense, can a biblical case be made to support it? Indeed one can. Consider five pertinent factors:
(1) We are to care for our bodies (1 Cor 6:19-20). While this is certainly not the most persuasive argument, it is not without merit. We have a biblical mandate to take care of our bodies, Christ’s present temple on earth, and certainly being passive while being beaten or worse would not fulfill this command.

(2) We are to protect the innocent. One does not need to read the Bible long before one finds God’s clear heart for the innocent. (By “innocent” I do not mean innocent of sin, I mean the defenseless such as widows, orphans, the infirm, etc.) God clearly cares for those who cannot care for themselves. The church must follow God’s heart and be champions for the weak and defenseless: battered women; the unborn; oppressed minorities, etc. What would you suppose God’s heart would be if a criminal broke into a home with a family that included young children? Do you suppose God seeks glory in the husband/father passively allowing his family to be brutalized and slaughtered? Or do you suppose God’s heart would be for the husband/father to protect his family?

(3) Jesus clearly allowed self-defense (Luke 22:36). Jesus instructed his disciples to buy a sword if they did not already have one. While some try to spiritualize this instruction, it makes no sense to do that.

(4) Self-defense does not mitigate trust in God. While some contend that self defense negates our need to trust in God that does not have to be so. Wayne Grudem argues that taking the proper precautions in life is in accordance with trusting in God. He illustrates by saying he trusts in God to watch over him, yet he uses his seat belt, buys life insurance, locks his door, etc. One can easily refute the argument presented above if it is followed to its fullness. Would a person offering the above argument take medicine? Hold a job? Jump off a skyscraper?

(5) Self-defense prevents and restrains evil. Let’s go back to the illustration of the family and the home intruder for a moment. Suppose the intruder intended to break into the home, sexually and physically assault them and then murder each family member. Surely that would be evil. Now suppose the husband/father stopped the intruder by the use of physical force. Evil would have been restrained.
Clearly one can see the Bible condones self defense and followers of Christ don’t just have liberty to do so, but have an accountability to do so as well.

The Argument for War
The argument for war (serving in the military) is similar to that of self defense, however, a handful of other pertinent verses deserve mentioning. The clearest passage for supporting the military is Romans 13:3-4 where we read that the government is an agent to do good and it was given the sword for a purpose. The context allows for capital punishment as well as military interventions. First Peter 2:13-14 echoes this passage.

Another important passage is Luke 3:14 where some Roman soldiers approached John the Baptist and asked what they had to do to be right with God. John’s response included their need to be content with their wages which assumes their profession was not a problem.

Beyond these passages that are proof texts for the military, Romans 12:21 instructs the church to overcome evil with good. In most cases that might included living righteously so that unrighteous living is overshadowed, but at times doing good to overcome evil requires military force. What would have happened had the world allowed the evil of Hitler to continue? Al Qaeda? Consider what MacArthur says:
“Not to restrain evil is neither just nor kind. It fails to protect the innocent and has the effect of encouraging the wicked in their evil. Proper restraint of evil, however, not only is just but is beneficent as well.”
Principles for Self Defense
Now that we have seen the biblical case for self defense and the military it is time to consider some basic principles in their use. First, when it comes to self defense the idea is to protect oneself and others from physical harm, not the loss of property. Second, the least amount of force necessary should be used. Third, physical force should be the last resort.

Principles for a Just War
For centuries, theologians and church leaders have been hammering out the concept of a “just war” which means a military action that is morally justifiable. The argument is that not every war is just and grounds must be developed to gauge the justness for the follower of Christ. Some of the early champions of the faith such as Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther (who said, “without armaments peace cannot be kept; wars are waged not only to repel injustice but also to establish a firm peace”), and John Calvin have weighed in on this topic. The following five tenants of a just war are widely recognized:
(1) Competent authority – the leaders making the decisions must be competent.
(2) A just cause – the cause must be noble.
(3) The proportionality of proposed means – the military response anticipated must be in proportion to the issue at hand.
(4) The probable costs weighed against the probability of success – The cost of the war (most notably loss of life) must be considered in terms of how likely success will be.
(5) The exhaustion of peaceful means of resolution – Just as in self defense, war must be the absolute last option.
Brian Dembowczyk at 9:00 AM


 2014/8/13 15:44Profile



Bro I wound commend to you Dean Taylor`s book A Change of Allegiance. In this book Dean chronicles his he and his wife came to New Testament convictions on non resistance to evil based on the teachings if Christ.

The unique thing about this book is Dean and his wife served in the U S Army as they were wrestling out their convictions on non resistance. This is not a book written by theologians detached from reality. But a book written by a follower of Jesus living in the real world. If you are truly open to having your paradyne challenged on some things then get the book.

Regarding the home invasion scenario. I emailed a sister in the Mennonite tradition and asked her how many Mennonites owned fire arms. Except for hunting she was not aware if any Mennonites who owned fire arms for personal protection. She went on to say that there were very few break ins and she e as not aware if any home invasions where people were injured or murdered. It seemed those in the Mennonite tradition commended their home and family to God`s protection.

It seems those who cry the loudest for a fire arm for protection often are the ones who are the target of home invasion. Probably to steal the very gun to protect the home.

My thoughts.


 2014/8/13 16:08

Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 5610


Hi Bear-

I have never been a victim if crime or home invasion. I try not to live in areas where this is a huge problem but certainly no place is absolutely safe.

I doubt seriously that most Mennonites live in high crime areas but I may be wrong about that.

I confess, though, that I don't want my paradigm changed because I don't think I am wrong. Nor do I necessarily think that those who disagree with me are wrong. I think it is a matter of conscience and interpretation of scripture which as we know sometimes differs from believer to believer.

The article I posted below essentially outlines how I feel about this issue which is why I posted it.

That being said, I do pray that if I am ever confronted by evil that the HS will guide me accordingly. But He will gave to work fast!


 2014/8/13 17:49Profile

Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3777


this big mistake cause people to elevate love you enemies to the same position as love you neighbor

I have some grave concerns in this understanding:

I think that a truncated understanding of love is at the root of this.

Jesus made NO distinction between our obligations to love our neighbour and to love our enemy. This view arises out of human rationale. It’s a clever way to justify one’s uncharitable behaviour to one’s perceived enemy (which could be anyone at anytime).

Consider the lawyer who asked Jesus the question “Who is my neighbour?” This lawyer was trying to justify himself – and his own narrow understanding of “neighbour” . By his day the Jews had put very restrictive parameters around the meaning of “neighbour” – and Jesus burst it apart by having the “neighbour BE the enemy. But more! It was “the enemy” (in the lawyer’s mind) who understood the meaning of love better than that lawyer himself.

In Paul’s teachings who is the “enemy”? (See Eph. 6:10ff)

I am convinced that the best way to get past this barrier here is to examine the lives of beleivers who lived in a "high crime" area - whose lives were constantly under threat by "enemies".
Here is an example: "God's Double Agent" by Bob Fu - an amazing testimony!!!!



 2014/8/14 8:31Profile

Joined: 2011/10/23
Posts: 1863


hi there ,,the reason why we make the distion between those laws of ones ememys and neibour is becasue jesus made the distion and said those tw9o were the greatest laws

the samaritins were brothers and neibours of the jews partly from the twelve tribes jesus went them and preached the gosple and proved that and never any further mmpaul and peter were the first to go to the gentils

the samaritins like there jeiwsh neiboure read form moses and was waithing for there christ

jesuus didnt in any way mince the comandments and make love your enmeys equal to love you god and love your neibour ,,he never taught that that my sister is a tradition form men by doing so in practice one can pit the law to love you enemy againts the law to love you neibour ,,by elveating it over empesising it and and favouring it ,in so doing one refuses to protect and love a presious neibour from an evil person one would rather shrink bake in fear and let them be molested in the name of god and call that loving the molester and abuses over the weak neibour and weaker sister or brother

 2014/8/14 15:57Profile

Joined: 2011/10/23
Posts: 1863


hi Dian in the same place we find the command from god to love or neighborers as our self , we find this group of commands

numbers 35.לָכֶם וְנָס שָׁמָּה רֹצֵחַ מַכֵּה נֶפֶשׁ בִּשְׁגָגָה:

12. These cities shall serve you as a refuge from an avenger, so that the murderer shall not die until he stands in judgment before the congregation. יב. וְהָיוּ לָכֶם הֶעָרִים לְמִקְלָט מִגֹּאֵל וְלֹא יָמוּת הָרֹצֵחַ עַד עָמְדוֹ לִפְנֵי הָעֵדָה לַמִּשְׁפָּט:

13. The cities that you provide shall serve as six cities of refuge for you. יג. וְהֶעָרִים אֲשֶׁר תִּתֵּנוּ שֵׁשׁ עָרֵי מִקְלָט תִּהְיֶינָה לָכֶם:

14. You shall provide the three cities in trans Jordan and the three cities in the land of Canaan; they shall be cities of refuge. יד. אֵת | שְׁלשׁ הֶעָרִים תִּתְּנוּ מֵעֵבֶר לַיַּרְדֵּן וְאֵת שְׁלשׁ הֶעָרִים תִּתְּנוּ בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן עָרֵי מִקְלָט תִּהְיֶינָה:

15. These six cities shall be a refuge for the children of Israel and for the proselyte and resident among them, so that anyone who unintentionally kills a person can flee there. טו. לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלַגֵּר וְלַתּוֹשָׁב בְּתוֹכָם תִּהְיֶינָה שֵׁשׁ הֶעָרִים הָאֵלֶּה לְמִקְלָט לָנוּס שָׁמָּה כָּל מַכֵּה נֶפֶשׁ בִּשְׁגָגָה:
16. If he struck him with an iron instrument and he dies, he is a murderer, and the murderer shall be put to death. טז. וְאִם בִּכְלִי בַרְזֶל | הִכָּהוּ וַיָּמֹת רֹצֵחַ הוּא מוֹת יוּמַת הָרֹצֵחַ:

17. If he struck him with a fist sized stone which is deadly, and he dies, he is a murderer, and the murderer shall be put to death. יז. וְאִם בְּאֶבֶן יָד אֲשֶׁר יָמוּת בָּהּ הִכָּהוּ וַיָּמֹת רֹצֵחַ הוּא מוֹת יוּמַת הָרֹצֵחַ:

18. Or with a fist sized wooden instrument which is deadly,and he dies, he is a murderer, and the murderer shall be put to death. יח. אוֹ בִּכְלִי עֵץ יָד אֲשֶׁר יָמוּת בּוֹ הִכָּהוּ וַיָּמֹת רֹצֵחַ הוּא מוֹת יוּמַת הָרֹצֵחַ:

19. The blood avenger shall kill the murderer; he may kill him when he meets him. יט. גֹּאֵל הַדָּם הוּא יָמִית אֶת הָרֹצֵחַ בְּפִגְעוֹ בוֹ הוּא יְמִתֶנּוּ:

20. If, out of hatred, he pushed him, or threw something at him with premeditation, and he died, כ. וְאִם בְּשִׂנְאָה יֶהְדֳּפֶנּוּ אוֹ הִשְׁלִיךְ עָלָיו בִּצְדִיָּה וַיָּמֹת:

21. or if he maliciously struck him with his hand and he died, the assailant shall be put to death; he is a murderer; the blood avenger may kill the murderer when he meets him. כא. אוֹ בְאֵיבָה הִכָּהוּ בְיָדוֹ וַיָּמֹת מוֹת יוּמַת הַמַּכֶּה רֹצֵחַ הוּא גֹּאֵל הַדָּם יָמִית אֶת הָרֹצֵחַ בְּפִגְעוֹ בוֹ:
22. But if he pushed him accidentally, without malice, or threw an object at him without premeditation, כב. וְאִם בְּפֶתַע בְּלֹא אֵיבָה הֲדָפוֹ אוֹ הִשְׁלִיךְ עָלָיו כָּל כְּלִי בְּלֹא צְדִיָּה:

23. or, with any stone which is deadly, and without seeing [his victim] he threw it down at him and it killed him, but he was not his enemy and bore him no malice כג. אוֹ בְכָל אֶבֶן אֲשֶׁר יָמוּת בָּהּ בְּלֹא רְאוֹת וַיַּפֵּל עָלָיו וַיָּמֹת וְהוּא לֹא אוֹיֵב לוֹ וְלֹא מְבַקֵּשׁ רָעָתוֹ:

24. Then the congregation shall judge between the assailant and the blood avenger, on the basis of these judgments. כד. וְשָׁפְטוּ הָעֵדָה בֵּין הַמַּכֶּה וּבֵין גֹּאֵל הַדָּם עַל הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים הָאֵלֶּה:
25. The congregation shall protect the murderer from the hand of the blood avenger, and the congregation shall return him to the city of refuge to which he had fled, and he shall remain there until the Kohen Gadol, who anointed him with the sacred oil, dies. כה. וְהִצִּילוּ הָעֵדָה אֶת הָרֹצֵחַ מִיַּד גֹּאֵל הַדָּם וְהֵשִׁיבוּ אֹתוֹ הָעֵדָה אֶל עִיר מִקְלָטוֹ אֲשֶׁר נָס שָׁמָּה וְיָשַׁב בָּהּ עַד מוֹת הַכֹּהֵן הַגָּדֹל אֲשֶׁר מָשַׁח אֹתוֹ בְּשֶׁמֶן הַקֹּדֶשׁ:

26. But if the murderer goes beyond the border of the city of refuge to which he had fled, כו. וְאִם יָצֹא יֵצֵא הָרֹצֵחַ אֶת גְּבוּל עִיר מִקְלָטוֹ אֲשֶׁר יָנוּס שָׁמָּה:
27. and the blood avenger finds him outside the limits of his city of refuge, and the blood avenger slays the murderer, he has no blood

sorry about the length of that

what needs to be seen is that if loving your neighbor means the same as to love your enemy's ,,god would not had contradicted him self and allowed and commanded these verses about the blood avenger ,, that means the blood avenger would have been breaking the command to love his neighbor when he carried out vengeance according to the law

god him self would have been guilty of deceiving the blood avenger to vengeance

im trying to be honest with the bible and it is imposable to say then that the command to love or neighbor is the same as the command from the new covenant to love our enemy's

even the parable of the good Samaritan must be interpolated use sing proper exegesis and in saying that uses Scripture to interpret scripture

no where in the teaching of the good Samaritan is it even employed that that this is a teaching to love our enemy's

Jesus is not saying that that i say parable so that you will know that loving you neighbor means to love you enemy

we relay dont even know who the thief was where he came from ,,but we do know that Jesus would be contradiction the Commons he gave moses in the process of teaching about who our neighbor is and how we should love our neighbor

so in saying that it wasn't the good Samaritans enemy maybe it was a another Samaritan , and Jesus was teaching the Jews that this is how you should always treat your brother dont be afraid to touch and help him even tho he might have been dead ,and the dead body would have defiled you according to the law

maybe the thief was a Jewish man ,,and the Samaritan loved and treated the Jew as his own ,,so the message would have been to the Jew .treat the Samaritan like your self and love him like your own body because they are really your brothers being from the loins of Jacob,,,Jesus preached to the Samaritans and offed them living water long before the gentiles were grafted in to the plan of redemption through peter and Paul ,,this shows that Jesus regarded the Samaritans as related and chosen by god

or maybe the thief was just a a local gentile who lived there a or a sojourner ,,even the law of moses commanded then to be treated well and proper

but to say that the thief was the enemy in the parable ,has no biases in the message or the flow of scriptural context

i agree that we should help that person regardless but in this teaching it has nothing what so ever to do with loving your enemy just a fuller interpretation of the love you neighbor as your self command

the love your enemy was a new command that canceled out the above blood avenger and the eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth

the two greatest commands are still the same to love god with all your heart mind soul and strength ,and you neighbor as your self

and if we really want dig a little deeper

Pall said especially the house hold of faith
he place even more importance on good works to wards our own brothers and sisters ,,so did James in his letter when he said faith with out works is dead ,,he said if a brother or sister is naked or destitute of daily need extra
he placed the priority on loving on brethern ,so did john the emphasis was on loving our own brothers ,,that even being a fundamental litmus tests on weather you were a Christian

and so did Jesus that was the true test and how the world will no that we really are Christian ,that we love one another and lay our own life down as Jesus did his

now loving you enemy's important but the greasiest commandments are

love god with all heart mind soul and strength
and your neighbor as your self the rest of the commands hang from these two ,,and all the law and the Prophets are somed up in these two commands


oh all i can say about Maryjane is get rid of the gun for a woman better of locking your self in a room ,,, i wouldnt own a Gun for self neighborly defense the cops can handle that ,,,

peter walking on water has got nothing to do with the points i was making because i was not talking about loving my wife our neighbor in fear but love like Jesus loved the temple with a whip ,,he obviously knew what he was capable of,, like me,, and did only what needed to be done to get them out of the house of god ,,probably call it minimal force was his plane and thats all i plane to do
peter with the sword ,,dont tell me Jesus deceived peter and made him break gods law by caring a sword ,thats baloney ,,we no that he should no have attacked the authority's ,,but obviously caring the sword was fine considering the rebels in that area ,,,dieing as a martyr for our faith is a virtue ,,but getting mugged because you in a bad area of town is not the same as being martyred ,,stupid maybe ,but not a virtue

i wont see you my wife or my neighbors beaten and abused ,,if you tell me you want to be beaten for you faith maybe i might let that happen ,but i draw the line at rape ,i wont stand by and watch ,that would be a loving thing to do

Israelites handing in wine vats is that virtues ,,if you want me to through the bible and the old testament and give verse that show defending if need be harming some one to save others i can give many verse

can you show me any verse that show it is virtuous for a man to stand and watch abuses and injustice take place in the context of his weak and venerable neighbors ,, i know of not a single example

but i dont have any enemy's personally im blessed in that way so in reality if i was defending my lady neighbor who lives with 2 children ,,it would not be from any personally enemy's of mine

but john the baptist told the soldiers to be content with there wages , he called them to repent he cant be contradicting Jesus ,saying love you enemy's ,,,both were used by god john prepared the way and there is no way johns preaching was wrong and sinful so when he told the soldiers be content with your pay it shows god is not against national security ,and this would also men state security ,,and when those things aren't available then an able man should provide security for the weak

treat others the way i would want to be treated ,,if i was walking down the street and got mugged i hope some kind loving person would come to my aid ,,so ill do the same ,

 2014/8/15 1:24Profile

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