The Bible’s stance on self-defense killing is complex and nuanced, with different passages offering seemingly contradictory perspectives. While some verses appear to condone violence in self-defense, others emphasize the sanctity of life and the prohibition of murder.
Passages that Seem to Condone Self-Defense Killing:
- Exodus 22:2-3: “If a thief is caught in the act of breaking into a house and is struck and killed in the process, the one who killed him is not guilty of bloodshed. But if this happens in broad daylight, he is guilty of bloodshed.”
This passage suggests that killing someone caught breaking into one’s house may be justified if it is necessary to protect oneself or one’s property.
- Luke 22:36: “Then he said to them, ‘But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.'”
In this verse, Jesus instructs his disciples to carry swords, indicating that he anticipated they might need them for self-defense.
Passages that Emphasize the Sanctity of Life and the Prohibition of Murder:
- Exodus 20:13: “You shall not murder.”
This is one of the Ten Commandments, and it clearly prohibits taking another person’s life.
- Matthew 5:21-22: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment.”
Jesus’ words here indicate that even anger towards another person is a violation of God’s law, suggesting that violence, including killing, is never justified.
- Romans 12:19-21: “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
This passage urges Christians to refrain from seeking revenge and instead to respond to evil with good.
Overall, it is clear that the Bible places a high value on human life and generally forbids killing. However, there are instances where self-defense may be justified, particularly when it is necessary to protect one’s own life or the lives of others. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to engage in self-defense killing is a complex one that must be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the specific circumstances and the teachings of Jesus.