by Greg Hopkins
Clash Daily Contributor
Some people will tell you that Jesus was a pacifist. These people are wrong for any of several reasons. They are either biblically ignorant, they believe the propaganda of their denomination on the subject, are politically motivated, or are simply liars. We can tell where Jesus stands on home defense by looking at what He did and did not say in the Gospels.
When Jesus spoke of binding Satan, He gives an example of a strong man who is ready to defend his home. “Or can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.” Matt. 12:29. Jesus refers here to God’s command that allowed the Jews to defend their homes from burglars, even to the extent of killing the burglar attacking at night. Exodus 22:2-3. To Jesus and his audience, home defense was common sense, sanctioned by God.
In Matthew 24:43, Jesus foretells His second coming. The analogy He uses is for us to be ready for His arrival, just as a homeowner should prepare to defend his home from burglars. On another occasion, Jesus describes the prepared homeowner as not only strong, but armed and armored as well! Luke 11:21-22. “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own homestead, his possessions are undisturbed. But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away all his armor on which he relied, and distributes the plunder.”
You see, if Jesus was a pacifist, all he would have had to say was, “Of course, these are analogies only. I forbid you to use force to defend yourselves, your families, or your homes, even though Moses allowed
you to!” But He did not! After all, where Jewish tradition conflicted with the Word of God, Jesus never hesitated to correct it by saying, “You have heard that the ancients were told…but I say to you….” Matt. 5:21, 27, 33, 38, & 43. He did not contradict the common sense from Exodus 22:2-3 in these home defense examples, nor at any other time where He could have injected pacifism. In fact, He endorsed defending our property with the ancient equivalent of burglar alarms (manned watchtowers, and locks (walls), in the Parable of the Vineyard. Matt. 12:1. If Jesus is a pacifist, why didn’t He order us to put signs out front that read, “Christians here! No locks, dogs, alarms, or guns! Everyone welcome! Take and do whatever you please!”
Instead, Jesus not only endorsed being strong and physically resisting home invaders, but states that the prudent homeowner will have arms and armor too. Therefore, He approves of having firearms for defense. “God made Man, Sam Colt made them all equal,” goes the 19th century saying. Colt invented the first practical multi-shot firearms. For the first time in history, no one, regardless of age, sex, or size needed to fear stronger or more numerous criminals. Jesus also recognized that we need defensive armor as well. After all, if you anticipate being in a gunfight, should you get ready for bullets coming at you? A bullet-resistant vest would be a good idea. Luke 11:21-22. In the Parable of the Vineyard, Jesus also upholds the right of private property and the death penalty. (Both subjects for another time, but just sayin’.)
The tower and wall of the vineyard are analogous to hardening our homes against burglars. The wall is like door and window locks, shatter-proof glass, cut-resistant screens, and outdoor lighting. The manned watchtower is like modern burglar alarms. “Alarm” means “a warning” and “a call to arms”. After all, what good is a bedroom full of guns if you wake up to a guy with a knife at your throat? Dogs make good burglar alarms and some good defense. (Though your feisty toy poodle will become a football real quick.) Keep your Doberman outside, though, and a Quaalude in a pound of hamburger will take him out in 10 minutes. An alarm backed up by dogs is your best bet.
My 11-year old rescue Lab/Border Collie drove off two home invaders one night when she was home with just my two teenagers. If I’m home, though, I want my dogs to alert me and I’ll do the fighting.
Remember that Jesus was meek, but not weak! “Meek”, as used in Matt. 5:5 does not mean passive. The Greek word connotes a highly trained hunting dog or war horse, whose wills are totally under their Master’s command, and are ready to spring into action at his call. “Meek” Jesus whipped the moneychangers out of the Temple. He didn’t flip out as we see in most movies, though. He sat down and made a whip from ropes; a weapon appropriate for both the criminals He drove out and His message for the audience there. John 2:13-22.
Finally, consider what Paul tells us. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for the members of his own household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Tim. 5:8. Paul tells us Jesus expects us to care for and protect our families, or else we are not truly Christians. Whereas pacifists want us to believe that Jesus loves criminals more than He loves our innocent families! This is simply not so! Next week, we will discuss, “Turn the other cheek.”
For much more on the Bible and self-defense, read my book, A Time to Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism. Available on Amazon.
Image: Modified from: Theodoor Rombouts – http://www.kmska.be/nl/collectie/catalogus/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34004961
Greg Hopkins is a recovering lawyer, city prosecutor, police Use-of-Force law instructor, former city judge in two towns and criminal defense lawyer. He’s been teaching the Bible to teens and adults for 40 years. He now trains CCP holders and armed church security teams in self defense law. He also does expert witnessing in firearms and self defense cases. His book is A Time To Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism, on the Bible and self defense.