What does the bible say about self defense?

What does the bible say about self defense? - Uppercut Tactical

As a Christian, you look to God’s word to guide your morals, values, and behaviors in life. Some actions are expressly forbidden, for example, stealing, killing, or committing adultery in the Ten Commandments. However, other areas, like using self-defense to protect your home and family, don’t always have clear-cut answers in scripture. 

The Bible says to take an “eye for an eye” in Exodus 21:24, but in Matthew 5:39, Jesus also asks followers to “turn the other cheek.” With these seemingly conflicted messages, you need to understand what God says about self-defense and the use of weapons to ensure you’re aligned with the Bible’s teachings. 

Discover what the scriptures advise and learn how to integrate these teachings into your self-defense strategy to ensure alignment with both divine guidance and legal standards.

What is Self-Defense?

Before looking at Bible verses about weapons and self-defense, it’s helpful to understand the legal definitions in the United States. Some scholars believe that U.S. laws were written with biblical morals in mind, so your state’s statutes may reflect Christian-influenced legal principles. 

Self-defense in the U.S. legal system refers to the right of an individual to use reasonable force to protect themselves from physical harm from another person. These laws say the person claiming self-defense has this right if:

  • They can prove they believed they were in imminent danger of being harmed
  • That the use of force was necessary to avoid this danger
  • That the amount of force used was reasonable under the circumstances

The term “force” refers to physical actions taken to protect yourself or others from harm. It can range from minimal force, such as pushing someone away to avoid being hit, to lethal force, which may involve using a weapon to prevent serious injury or death. 

In some states, there’s a duty to retreat rule, meaning you must attempt to avoid the confrontation if possible, except in your home (known as the Castle Doctrine). However, some states, like Florida, have a stand-your-ground law that allows individuals to use force in self-defense without the duty to retreat, even if they could safely do so.

You should be aware of the state’s self-defense laws where you reside. While living according to God’s word is vital, you should also consider legal rules for your actions when choosing self-defense strategies, like using weapons such as push daggers or stun guns

What Does Scripture Say?

So, what does the Bible say about self-defense? Like with many other topics, the Bible doesn’t give a black-and-white stance on self-defense. Scripture talks about protecting your property, with and without force, but it also encourages peace and non-violence. 

Here are several important Bible verses and their context to help you understand what God says about self-defense so you can make your own choices:  

Verses Supporting Self-Defense

First, let’s look at what the Bible says about weapons for protection. Here are a few verses discussing bearing arms to protect property and family: 

When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe. (Luke 11:21)

In Luke 11:21, Jesus is talking about how power works in the spiritual realm. He uses the example of a strong, armed man guarding his house to explain how evil forces can be kept at bay. This verse shows that being prepared, like the strong man with weapons, helps keep your home and things safe. 

It suggests that having the means to defend yourself is vital for protection. The idea is that readiness and the right tools can prevent trouble and keep everything under control.

And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” (Nehemiah 4:14)

In Nehemiah 4:14, Nehemiah motivates the people working on Jerusalem’s walls, who are facing threats. The previous verse mentions they were ready with weapons. Nehemiah tells them not to be scared but to remember their strong God and to fight for their families and homes. 

This moment is about being physically prepared to defend against danger. It shows that it is important to be ready to protect your community and loved ones while trusting in God’s power.

You shall not murder. (Exodus 20:13)

As one of the Ten Commandments, God says that you shall not murder another person. While this may not seem to support self-defense, it actually helps clarify what you can and can’t do. 

The legal definitions of self-defense and murder differ. U.S. law typically sees murder as killing someone else with malice and intention. Self-defense is using force to protect yourself or others. This can guide you in choosing the right self-protection method to align with legal and biblical definitions. 

For instance, if someone breaks into your home, you can use non-lethal force, like a classic stun gun, to protect your family.

Now, let’s look at a few passages detailing what the Bible says about killing in self-defense

If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him. He shall surely pay. (Exodus 22:1-31)

In this verse, the Bible addresses the issue of self-defense, specifically when dealing with a thief breaking into someone’s house. It suggests that if a thief is caught breaking in at night and is killed during the confrontation, the person defending their home is not considered guilty of murder. However, if this happens after sunrise, implying that the homeowner can see and assess the situation more clearly, then killing the thief is not justified. 

The passage shows a difference between reacting quickly when things are confusing and having more time or information before making a move. It suggests that using deadly force depends on the situation, like whether you must act fast or can see the situation clearly. 

He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”  (Luke 22:36-38)

In Luke 22:36-38, Jesus speaks about weapons and readiness. He tells his followers to be prepared, even if it means buying a sword. He explains that he must fulfill a prophecy, and being prepared is part of this. When his followers show him they have two swords, Jesus says that’s enough. 

This moment highlights the importance of readiness for what’s to come, balanced with the need for only necessary measures. For instance, arming yourself with a machine gun for a single intruder may be too much, while having a protective knife like a Shadow Karambit is a more measured approach. 

Versus That Urge Non-Violence

Along with scripture that supports using force in self-defense, the Bible also urges non-violence and forgiveness. Here are some scriptures that can help you determine the right self-defense strategy for your home: 

Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant[a] and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.). So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:10-11)

In John 18:10-11, Peter tries to defend Jesus with a sword by attacking the high priest’s servant and cutting off his ear. Jesus tells Peter to stop and put away his sword, asking if he should avoid the fate God has planned for him. This shows Jesus promoting peace and accepting his path, even in a tense situation, and teaches about choosing non-violence and trusting in a higher plan.

It could also highlight the need to consider the consequences of using violence against someone, even a person who is in the wrong. This type of confrontation can be traumatic, resulting in issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), so if possible, contacting the authorities (just like Jesus suggests turning to God) could be the best action. 

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

In this verse, the message is clear: don’t take revenge when wronged, but let God handle justice. This teaches us to step back from seeking personal vengeance and trust God’s judgment and timing instead. 

In the context of self-defense, this could mean using as little force as possible if you’re in immediate danger. Remember that the legal system should be the entity to enforce justice on the person who is wronging you. 

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. (Romans 12:17)

Romans 12:17 advises not to respond to evil actions with more wrong actions. Instead, think about how to act in a way everyone would see as good. It’s about choosing the high road and aiming to do what’s right in everyone’s eyes, not just getting back at someone.

In situations of self-defense, you should focus on protecting yourself or others from harm rather than seeking revenge. This verse encourages us to approach conflicts with the intent to resolve them honorably. This implies the importance of discerning when action may be necessary to prevent further harm or injustice.

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” (Matthew 26:52-54)

In Matthew 26:52-54, when Peter tries to defend Jesus with a sword, Jesus tells him to stop, saying violence leads to more violence. Jesus says he could ask for divine help but chooses not to so he can fulfill his destiny according to the scriptures.

This means that in self-defense, you should be careful not to choose violence too quickly. It’s about looking for peaceful solutions first and understanding the bigger picture. However, it also acknowledges there might be times when defending oneself is necessary, suggesting we should think deeply about how and when to act.

Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. (Genesis 9:5-6)

This passage states that if someone kills another person, they should also be killed because humans are made in the image of God. This emphasizes the sacredness of human life and the severe consequences of taking it.

This highlights the gravity of using lethal force in self-defense situations. It suggests that while defending yourself is sometimes necessary, you should always consider the value of life. This perspective urges careful thinking before acting in a way that could harm another, preserving life whenever possible.

But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matthew 5:39)

In Matthew 5:39, Jesus teaches not to retaliate against evil acts. If someone attacks you, you should show patience and forgiveness by not responding with aggression rather than fighting back.

When in the context of self-defense, this advice encourages avoiding escalation and seeking non-violent resolutions. It’s about demonstrating strength through restraint and compassion, even when faced with aggression. 

However, it also opens a conversation about the balance between non-retaliation and the need to protect oneself from harm. It suggests that the response should be guided by a desire for peace and the well-being of all involved.

Incorporate Scripture into Your Self-Defense Strategy

Ultimately, the decision to use weapons to defend yourself is personal. The Bible doesn’t expressly forbid using force to protect yourself or your loved ones. Instead, it encourages relying on God:  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5).

To ensure the safety of you and your family, take steps to arm your household with lethal and non-lethal weapons for self-protection. Uppercut Tactical has stun guns, knives, knuckles, and other devices you can carry with you or keep in your home if the need for self-defense arises. 

Shop our entire collection and find the right items that align with what the law allows and how you interpret biblical scriptures.


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