This time of year reminds me of deer season.  I haven’t hunted in years but I still have the old shotgun.  I have never had to use that shotgun for self defense, but it is there if it is ever needed.
-
The issue of self defense is a serious issue, especially as we consider that it may lead to a life being taken.  In Luke 22:35-38 Jesus tells his disciples to buy swords and then we find out that a couple of them were already carrying.  I believe this implies Christ’s consent for the defensive carry of weapons.  Having said that, I believe that there are also some important warnings that Christians must consider as we approach the responsibility for self defense and the defense of others.
-
Psalms 82:4 says, “Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.”  I believe that this verse gives permission to use even deadly force to save the lives of others.  This however does not mean that we have the right to avenge crime.  We simply have a right to protect those who are victims as the crime is being committed.  “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)  I am not a lawyer, but as I understand the laws of Iowa, they follow these same Biblical principles in this area.  We can use self defense, but we are not allowed to hunt down and kill criminals after the fact.
-
What about a criminal who is simply stealing but not threatening life?  Exodus 22:2-3 explains that he should make restitution, but if he cannot make restitution that he should be sold into slavery.  Though slavery is not part of our culture, this passage shows the severity of the crime and that as strict as the law was, it did not involve death.  At the same time this passage also makes provision for a situation where a home is broken into at night.  In that situation the scripture allows for deadly force, because in the dark of night it would be difficult to know if the person was simply coming to steal or if they were coming to harm.  The laws of Iowa are a bit more vague in this area, but both they and the scriptures remind us of the sanctity of the life of even a thief.
-
I am a strong advocate of self defense and of the defense of the innocent victims of criminals, but I cannot defend those who own or carry weapons with a hope that they will be able to use them for the thrill of violence.  “The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.” (Psalms 11:5)
-
Still, there may be times when it is necessary to use force to stop the unjust violence of wicked people.  Psalm 144:1 shows that it is good to know how to use weapons in case the need arises.  “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.”  The Psalms also remind us that although God allows for the use of weapons, our ultimate trust must be in Him, not them.  “For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.  But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us.” (Psalm 44:6-7)  I am thankful for my gun, but it might jamb.  However, I can always trust my God no matter what he allows to happen.