Wednesday, April 26, 2023

"Stand Your Ground": What the Bible Says About Self-Defense

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Reviewing a bunch of news content this past Sunday evening, I noticed a piece on ABC with Martha Raddatz about self-defense.

The conversation was about ridiculing individuals for standing their ground in self-defense.

That caught my attention. I wondered what the Left actually thinks a person should do when they're in personal danger.

As usual regarding the Left--it's complicated. But let's take a closer look at legal self-defense.

And what does the Bible say about self-defense?

Be informed, not misled.

I'm not the only one that noticed the conversation on ABC.

John Velleco, the Executive Vice President of Gun Owners of America, also saw the piece on ABC and wrote a very informative article in response that was published in The Federalist.

The Constitution and self-defense.

Velleco began with this: "There’s a problem in our society when people face prosecution for defending themselves in public, and when a major network props up an anti-gun activist on Sunday morning television to ridicule the basic right to self-defense with lies and rhetoric, the underlying issue and our rights at large as Americans face even greater peril."

Unfortunately, that scenario is exactly what America got this past weekend when ABC’s Martha Raddatz held a discussion with a Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence attorney on “stand your ground” laws, in which the so-called expert blatantly lied on the air claiming these statutes and precedents “upend centuries of common law on self-defense and allow people to carry guns outside of the home…” This is utter nonsense.  

He warns that despite the recent reinforcement of the inherent right to self-defense in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, these statutes, as their names suggest, require citizens, when faced with a seemingly life-threatening situation, to determine whether they can refrain from the use of deadly force by essentially running away. Further, a citizen who uses deadly force — even when threatened — could lose a claim to self-defense and potentially be charged with a crime, up to and including homicide, if it’s determined that a “retreat” should have been made.

He explains that "In a constitutional republic that reveres and is structured to safeguard innate freedoms, including the right to self-defense, it is an abomination that a law-abiding citizen should be required to exhaust virtually all other options before defending himself. 'Duty to retreat' not only costs precious seconds, but it also further emboldens violent criminals and can endanger additional lives."  

An analysis of state statutes and case law reveals that, when discussing the defense of oneself inside the home, some variety of “castle doctrine” can almost always be claimed. This concept requires no duty to retreat, as it reaffirms that one’s home is his castle, and a person need not retreat to the furthest wall before defending self and family.  

In public spaces, however, castle doctrine does not apply. Fortunately, most states have either judicially recognized or statutorily codified a legal doctrine known as “stand your ground.” This doctrine posits that citizens in public spaces are not required to assess whether they can make a safe retreat before employing deadly force in self-defense. Keep in mind that, in all situations, self-defense must always be measured and justified. Stand your ground is not a general license to use deadly force in public. A citizen must reasonably fear imminent death or great bodily injury.

 Twelve states still treat the right to self-defense with more skepticism merely if it occurs outside on the street rather than in one’s own home. This is a serious matter, and quite possibly the next major Second Amendment question the Supreme Court will address.

Velleco says, "Shame on Martha Raddatz for failing to call out the complete and utter lies from the Giffords anti-gun activist. Allowing her to present a completely false historical analysis of the inherent right to self-defense on a national stage was gross malpractice." 

"With the recent resurgence in federal protections for Second Amendment rights, it’s high time to underscore that there is indeed a constitutional right to stand one’s ground — a protection that applies to situations in one’s home and in public," he says.

There is a lot of information in his article. I would suggest you read it. 

Clearly, our Constitution speaks to the issue of self-defense, but what does the Bible say about it.

The Bible and Self-Defense.   

The moral basis for its provisions was drawn from the biblical right to defend oneself and others against harm. This principle was increasingly recognized and applied in England in the 18th century.

For example, Sir William Blackstone’s “Commentaries on the Laws of England,” first published in 1765, plainly explained that, when one is “forcibly attacked in his person or property, it is lawful for him to repel force by force.”   

The proper use of self-defense has to do with wisdom, understanding, and tact. In Luke 22:36, Jesus tells His remaining disciples, “If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” Jesus knew that now was the time when His followers would be threatened, and He upheld their right to self-defense. Just a short time later, Jesus is arrested, and Peter takes a sword and cuts off someone’s ear. Jesus rebukes Peter for that act (verses 49–51). Why? In his zeal to defend the Lord, Peter was standing in the way of God’s will. Jesus had told His disciples multiple times that He must be arrested, put on trial, and die (e.g., Matthew 17:22–23). In other words, Peter acted unwisely in that situation. We must have wisdom regarding when to fight and when not to.

Exodus 22 gives some clues about God’s attitude toward self-defense: “If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed” (Exodus 22:2–3). 

Two basic principles taught in this text are the right to own private property and the right to defend that property. The full exercise of the right to self-defense, however, depended on the situation. 

No one should be too quick to use deadly force against another, even someone who means to do him harm. If someone was set upon by a thief in the middle of the night and, in the confusion of the moment the would-be thief was killed, the Law did not charge the homeowner with murder. But, if the thief was caught in the house during the day when the homeowner was unlikely to be awoken from sleep, then the Law forbade the killing of the thief. Essentially, the Law said that homeowners shouldn’t be quick to kill or attack thieves in their homes. 

Both situations could be considered self-defense, but the deadly force was expected to be a last resort, used only in the event of a panicked “surprise attack” scenario where the homeowner is likely to be confused and disoriented. In the case of a nighttime attack, the Law granted the homeowner the benefit of the doubt that, apart from the darkness and confusion of the attack, he would not intentionally use lethal force against a thief. Even in the case of self-defense against a thief, a godly person was expected to try to restrain the assailant rather than immediately resort to killing him.


The Bible never forbids self-defense, and believers are allowed to defend themselves and their families. But the fact that we are permitted to defend ourselves does not necessarily mean we must do so in every situation. Knowing God’s heart through reading His Word and relying on “the wisdom that comes from heaven” (James 3:17) will help us know how to best respond in situations that might call for self-defense.

Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Engaged. Be Prayerful.