If you don’t wrestle with pacifism at some point in your Christian life, you’re probably just not thinking. The martyrdom of the prophets and apostles, to say nothing of the martyr witness of countless saints, demands attention. In considering the testimony of these amazing believers past and present, the question is bound to arise: “Is it really okay to defend yourself? Is it really okay to kill rather than be killed?”
It is a good question, and it calls for a biblically grounded, carefully articulated answer. This post is not about the answer to that question.
This post is about what happens next if the answer is “Yes.”
The debate with the pacifists has utterly dominated discussions of the ethics of self-defense. From the perspective of the pacifists, this makes perfect sense. There’s no point in discussing the details of “ethical self-defense” if it turns out to be an oxymoron. However, from the opposite perspective, spending all the time arguing with pacifists makes no sense whatsoever.
Like the poor, the pacifists will always be with us. At some point we have to give up trying to convince them and turn our attention to other aspects of the topic. Granted that there’s such a thing as godly self-defense, what does it actually look like? What would it mean to prepare for godly self-defense? How do we think about self-defense in a godly way? To read more on these and other salient questions, see Buy a Sword: Toward a Theology of Civilian Self-Defense.