For the purposes of the following statement, I define self-defense as "the use of force, including potentially deadly force, as a last resort to protect oneself or others from the threat of imminent harm." This definition therefore excludes the use of force solely for personal gain, or out of a desire for revenge or vengeance. Also notice some key words of that definition - "last resort", "protect", and "imminent harm" - that suggest there are limitations upon the use of force in self-defense. Self-defense is not an excuse for the unlimited use of violence.
Statement on Self-Defense and the Use of Force
I strongly believe in the unalienable right of self-defense, including the defense of others. It is a biblical concept, which can be proved with numerous passages from both the Old and New Testaments. (see footnotes 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9)
I strongly support the Second Amendment. We have the right to possess the tools of self-defense, including guns and knives. (see footnotes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8)
I reject retaliation, revenge, and vengeance, because God's Word makes it clear that such belongs to the Lord, not man. (see footnotes 1, 6)
I reject unwise and inappropriate use of force in self-defense. This includes being too quick to anger, and lacking self-control. Defensive force should only be used as a last resort. "Employing potentially lethal force out of anger, hatred, jealously, or revenge is always wrong and is condemned by Scripture." (see footnote 7)
I reject unprovoked aggression (the initiation of force without just cause). Aggression (force) is necessary, and ethical, in some circumstances to protect ourselves (or others) from actions or threats against our lives, freedoms, rights, or property.
I reject the concept of absolute pacifism (the idea that force should never be used under any circumstances, even in self-defense or defense of others). In fact, I consider refusing to help defend those in legitimate need, when you have the ability to do so, to be a potentially immoral and cowardly act, because it suggests that life isn't worth defending.
1) See the website Biblical Self-Defense for a lengthy examination of dozens of Old and New Testament passages on self-defense.
2) See my article Jesus, Self-Defense, and the Pajama Boy for a study of Luke 22 in relation to self-defense.
3) Two books on the subject of biblical self-defense that may be of interest are Stand Your Ground: The Biblical Foundation For Self-Defense, by Steve Jones, and A Time to Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism, by Greg Hopkins.
4) The article The Six Things Americans Should Know About the Second Amendment, by Richard W. Stevens, contains an examination of self-defense within a Judeo-Christian framework.
5) See The Bill of Rights, particularly the Second Amendment, and parts of my article Fight Back! -- Defending the Second Amendment.
6) See the page Revenge and Retaliation on the Knowing Jesus website for 37 verses on retaliation, revenge, and vengeance belonging to the Lord, not people.
7) Quote is from The Biblical View of Self-Defense, on the Biblical Self-Defense website.
8) See the article Self-Defense by Fr. John Whiteford on the Orthodox Christianity website.
9) Watch the five minute video, Do Not Murder, by Dennis Prager.