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The Living Waters Podcast

Ep. 135 – Can Christians Use Self-Defense?

What did Jesus mean when he said to “turn the other cheek”? Does that mean that, as Christians, we can never defend ourselves against attack or persecution? Listen as the guys discuss this dynamic subject in today’s podcast episode.

Show Notes

In today’s episode, the guys discuss whether Christians should engage in self-defense. We read in Matthew 5:38-39, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Jesus was speaking to the issue of retribution when He said this. According to the Old Testament law, this was considered equal retribution. He was not being literal in this verse—he was talking about the principle. This “slap” could also be referred to as an insult and not a physical act. We need to be careful in thinking that the most loving thing we can do is to turn the other cheek. We must have wisdom and ask God for guidance in all situations, especially regarding insults or harm from other people.

When considering violence, we can look towards Jesus’ teaching and His reaction to persecution as examples. Christ rebuked Peter when he cut off the ear of a high priest because Peter was interfering with God’s ordained plan, and instead taught his disciples to be nonviolent in the face of persecution. The guys discuss Augustine’s theory of a “just war” and the concept that war can be waged for the protection of others. Modern-day pacifism calls for individuals to lay down and let others walk all over them, but the scriptures call us to carefully consider the image-bearing qualities of one another as well as ourselves in order to correctly measure our response to others. As Christians, we are not expected to be passive or unresponsive when someone is trying to insult or hurt us or our family. It is our responsibility to care for the needs of our family and ourselves, and to help those who have a need or are in a weakened position. Psalm 82:3 states, “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.” We need to cautiously consider every situation and exercise discretion, since not all situations are the same.

Lastly, the guys share some practical advice. First, you should not put yourself in dangerous or tempting situations. If you are ever questioned by the police, you should never answer questions unless there is a lawyer present—even if you are innocent. When driving, just get into the slow lane and let other vehicles go by. We must use discretion in the context of persecution and seek the Lord on how to conduct ourselves.

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