Consider this case that apparently happened just before Christmas.

Abortion Abolitionist Assaulted

My question is have we as Christians miss interpreted Luke 6:27-29, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever taks your cloak, do not withhold your shirt from him either.”  I know of Christians who advocate that if a man were to break into a home, and threaten to rape the wife and young daughters, they would say that even then you should not resist violently.  People in that situation should pray, to God and for the rapist.  Now granted, that is an extreme case, a minority view, and few true Christians would advocate such action.  Protecting one’s self in your own home is okay, but does it end there?

I have a Concealed Carry Weapons permit.  With the exception of Church, school, and a select few other locations (banks, ect) I carry everywhere I go.  Some Christians that I know personally, don’t like the fact that I do so.  These are people who I would consider theologically conservative.  Maybe they don’t understand or appreciate the fact that there are times when one must defend ourselves, even in places outside the home.  Or maybe they do subscribe to a type of mentality that argues defending yourself from an attacker is always wrong, per Matthew 5:39.  I honestly don’t know how they feel.

My question then is when, if at all, should we defend ourselves?

Does it make a difference in what we are doing at the time?  If I am going to the grocery store do I have more a right to defend myself, over if I am say walking the inner city streets sharing the gospel?  Can a Christian doing Christian ministry defend themselves from physical harm if they come under attack?  Would it have been permissible for this man in the story that I linked to, to defend himself?

To be sure it is not an exhaustive or scientific study, but in my experience I have seen more non-believers react negatively to Christians who won’t defend themselves in the case of physical attack, than those who react to those who do.  Should that be taken into account?

I’ll be honest, this is one of the reasons why I am hesitant to do street evangelism.  Whether it is walking the streets sharing the gospel, or staining outside of a murder abortion center trying to save the lives of innocent children.  I seriously feel uneasy when I am not armed.  Maybe it is due to traumatic experiences of being regularly assaulted, on a near weekly basis during 7th and 8th grade, maybe I am just a bit paranoid, maybe I do see monsters under every rock and behind every door, maybe I need to repent for those fears.  However, I also believe that it is better to be armed and never be in a situation where I need to use my firearm, rather than be in such a situation without it.

Robert Stein in his Commentary on Luke presents the idea that what Luke is trying to imply is more insult not injury (i.e. “…that was a slap to my face…”) and that it should be understood as occurring “because of the Son of Man”, that is insulted/attacked due to the message we are giving.¹  Would this mean that if we are attacked just because we can defend ourselves, but we can’t defend ourselves if it is because we are Christian?  Taking this to the logical extreme, consider the case of that rapist.  Suppose he specifically targets a family because they are Christian, and they make that known in their attack?  Does the family then loose the right to defend themselves because, after all, they are being attacked because of their belief in Christ Jesus?  Does it matter if the victim is actively ministering vs just going about their ordinary life?  That is the family at home can defend themselves, but the man in the linked story cannot?

I honestly don’t know what the answers are.  Does anyone have any thoughts or advice?

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1. Robert Stein. Luke. The New American Commentary, vol. 24, (B&H Publishing: Nashville TN, 1992); 207.

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