Do You Believe in and Teach Self-Defense?


We addressed this question in our new booklet, “Should You Fight in War?” We are bringing you the following excerpts:

“Do we believe in God and rely on Him for our protection, having the faith that it is GOD who is our protecting shield, or do we think that we must have additional security in the form of a handgun or some sort of firearm? Do we think that God is incapable of helping us in certain circumstances? We should, of course, do everything that we can do to avoid getting into dangerous situations. We obviously should not go to places where gangs assemble, and we should not get involved with people who are known to be active in crimes, for instance. In addition, Proverbs 15:1 tells us that a soft answer turns away wrath but that grievous words stir up strife. So then, we need to be peacemakers, and we need to avoid everything that would create strife. Proverbs 18:6 reminds us that a fool’s lips enter into contention and that his mouth calls for violent reactions. We are also told in Proverbs 26:17 that he who passes by and meddles with strife belonging not to him, is like one who takes a dog by the ears. The point is, the battles of this world, which are fought by this world, are not our battles! This Scripture tells us not to be a fool, meddling with strife not belonging to us!… The most important of all the things you can do to avoid using violence is to pray to God, on a daily basis: ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’ (compare Matthew 6:13). We are to plead with God daily to NOT ALLOW a tempting situation that might be too difficult for us to bear, to overtake us. However, we read in the Bible that righteous persons have sometimes found themselves being attacked by others. What did they do, and what should YOU do, if God allows it?

“First, realize that God would NOT allow it if you were not able to bear it, as 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us. And when God does allow it, He will also provide a way of escape for you. This is sometimes literally the case. Sometimes you need to actually flee, to run away! Christ did so on occasion. We read in John 10:39: ‘Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.’… When we find ourselves, or others, in a dangerous, challenging, life-threatening situation, we must PRAY to God, with faith, to HELP us out of that situation. To fight our fight for us! To give us the wisdom and the power NOT to do the WRONG thing, however tempting it may be.

“We must realize that no matter what harm we may WANT to do physically in a given situation, we must not seriously injure or kill the attacker. But unless we understand beforehand, and have in our mind that we are not to do something with the intent to seriously injure or kill the attacker, we might very well do so when the occasion presents itself. If we carry a gun with us or have one handy, say, next to our bed, we will certainly try to use it, but then may be killed in the process.

“People who disagree with the foregoing may ask you what you would do if you came home and a robber was in the process of raping your wife or killing your husband… Realistically, how many times does this happen? But if it does happen, do you really think that you can take a gun and shoot the attacker, and that the attacker would let you do it without any resistance? Chances are, he will use his gun first. In any case, to use a gun and shoot the attacker would be against the clear Biblical teaching of prohibiting killing. But what about just trying to injure him? In the heat of the moment, you may not be able to do just that, even if you wanted to. And if the attacker would only be injured, he would still have the chance to kill you or others who are with you. Christ told Peter, when he pulled his sword in defense of Christ and just injured the servant, to put his sword away. Christ’s protection did not depend on human weapons. It depended on God the Father and His angels. So, too, with us. Our real protection comes from the same source….

“The whole issue really comes down to where we place our trust and confidence for our protection, in EVERY situation. Notice God’s promise to His people, in Exodus 34:22-24: ‘And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end. Three times in the year all your men shall appear before the Lord, the LORD God of Israel. For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before the LORD your God three times in the year.’ When man places his trust and confidence in God, God will protect man. Ultimately though, no matter the consequences, we must be living a life pleasing to God. We must never fear the ones who can take our physical life from us, but we must fear, or deeply respect, the One who can refuse to give us ETERNAL LIFE.

“We must always have the attitude that Daniel’s three friends had when they were asked to violate God’s laws by worshipping an idol, and in case of refusal, were threatened with being thrown into a fiery furnace. We need to speak and act in the same way when we are being tempted to worship Satan – the god of war – by picking up a gun or a knife or another weapon to injure or even kill another person. We read their answer in Daniel 3:17-18: ‘ … our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.’ We must not serve the wisdom of this world, worshipping the power of the air and the god of destruction and war. Rather, we must always follow the PRINCE OF PEACE.”

At the same time, we must firmly keep in mind God’s limitless power and His willingness to help His disciples, who place their trust and confidence in Him. Rather than resorting to violence with the intent to seriously injure or kill an attacker, God’s disciples are to pray to God for help in dangerous situations.

In 1982, the Mail Processing Center of the Worldwide Church of God published a collection of special letters, titled, “God Still Works Miracles Today.” These letters testified to the intimate involvement of God in people’s lives and His protection in times of trials. We are quoting excerpts from one remarkable letter, dated March 31, 1981:

“I would like to share with you an incident which happened at work, at a coal mine, several days ago. I received word from a foreman to go and repair the roof-drill for a new employee. When I got there, the employee informed me that he had already repaired the roof-drill.” The letter continued to describe how that employee engaged the writer in a discussion regarding the Sabbath, the Church and Mr. Armstrong, the late human leader of the Church. It continued:

“He then grabbed me, and threw me on the mine floor. With the cold edge of his knife at my throat, he said, ‘Take the words back that Armstrong is an apostle for today!’ All the time he was cursing Mr. Armstrong. I refused to take back my words. I managed to get my hand on his forehead and push him off but knew that if he got me down again, without a hand from God, he would kill me. I uttered a silent prayer, and immediately he started fighting something other than myself — and something I could not see. He began to vomit and cry violently and kept it up for several minutes. Then he crawled to the other side of the mine.”

God who protected Daniel in the lions’ den is ready and able to protect us today, if we long for His protection. We don’t need to use violence against others for our own protection, when we trust that God is there to help us, whenever we are in need. As we read in Psalm 46:1-3: “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling.” And notice this comforting reassurance and promise of God’s presence in our lives, and His protection:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you (Isaiah 43:2).

At the same time, we must always look at God’s overall Will for us and our great potential and destiny for our lives, as Christ expressed in Matthew 10:28-31: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground APART FROM YOUR FATHER’S WILL. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

To resort to violence with the intent to seriously injure or kill another person, even for the purpose of self-defense or defending others, is not in conformity with Christ’s teaching. As mentioned above, Christ told Peter, when he took the sword to defend Christ and injured the servant of the high priest in the process, to put his sword “in its place, for ALL who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). He continued to tell Peter that if He needed help, His Father would provide Him “with more than twelve legions of angels” (verse 53). Christ knew that His protection did not depend on man’s strength — including His own — but on God the Father’s.

God has assigned angels for our protection. For more information about this intriguing subject, please read our free booklet, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World.”

©2024 Church of the Eternal God