Self-Defense and Christians

By COGwriter

The Apostle Paul wrote:

3 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, ... unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, ... without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, (2 Timothy 3:1-3, NKJV throughout unless otherwise specified)

And, sadly, we have been seeing this.

Someone sent me the following email:

re: defending self and family

Dear Mr. Thiel,

We live in pre-tribulation, a non-salubrious time. You and I have communicated off and on a few times over the years and I find myself reaching out to you with a question. I have listened to many sermons regarding God’s perspective regarding murder. Striving to Trust in God in all things. But, all fall short of the topic of self-defense.

I also noticed a commonality when it comes to the fact that other COG ministries do not have anything on the subject either. It would seem that it is purposely avoided. Therefore, Have you ever created a study presenting a position on God’s perspective regarding defending one’s self or family especially in these chaotic times?

I respect your opinion on the many subjects you have written. I feel that there seems to be as many scriptures that speak of defending ones ’self as there might be scriptures to the contrary. But alas, there are no sermons.

Thank you for your consideration of my question.

Most sincerely,

Here is what I responded with:

Dear ...:

Sorry, but I do not have a paper on this.

However, this email will give some general answers.

1) Jesus said to pray to be counted worthy to escape what would happen, etc. (Luke 21:36). That is what all Christians should do. And that should be the focus for Christians, not physical theoretical issues. But since most end-time Christians according to Jesus will not be Philadelphian (Revelation 3:7-10), most are not properly focused and most will not escape (cf. Revelation 12:14-17).

2) Jesus also said that Christians may have to flee. That is something you may need to do. And sometimes, even if one has been assaulted.

But that is not what you are asking (even though number 1 is probably the best answer here). You, if I understand your intent, seem to want biblical or ministerial justification to harm someone else in an act of defense.

On that, I would say that we strive to be "wise as serpents, harmless as doves, but beware of men."

So, beyond that, what should Christians do when confronted with violence?

Well, we would try to stop someone who was trying to harm ourselves or others if we reasonably could. Though, that does not mean that we need to buy guns and try to kill others. We might make noise, call the police, etc. And if something physically seemed absolutely required, we would try to inflict the least harm on the perpetrator(s) to stop others from being harmed.

Of course, remember, it is always better to avoid a violent fight than to be in one. I hope this helps.

Best regards,

He then emailed me and stated:

Dear Mr. Thiel,

 Thank you for your kind response. As I said, I respect your opinions greatly.

I gleaned much from what you wrote and you’re the only minister to respond.

Therefore, I also appreciate your courage.


That being said, after receiving his response, I looked up what the old Worldwide Church of God (WCG) had on the subject.

There was an article in the old WCG Youth magazine on self-defense:

Do you ever worry about being beat up? Or robbed, raped or murdered? Many people do. Some are buying handguns or other weapons to protect themselves. Others, especially women concerned about the possibility of assault or even rape, are learning martial arts such as judo, karate or kung fu. Many others just worry and wait. ...

When you stop and think about it though.constant worry about self defense is rather futile.For example, no matter how strong we get, there's always the possibility someone stronger will come along.Or we'll be faced by others who have combined forces to impose their will upon us. That's the idea behind gangs, for instance --strength in numbers. ...

A lesson for today

Millions of people today rely on weapons and other forms of self-defense because they feel that is the only source of protection they can have confidence in. But did Jesus Christ teach that we should be concerned with retaliation as a form of self-defense!


He said, "And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise" (Luke 6 :31). In other words, put yourself in other people's shoes and treat them as you would want to be treated.

Many people think that biblical teaching makes Christians defenseless in a world filled with crime and violence. After all, Jesus Christ taught the concept of turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), and the apostle Paul said," See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone"(I Thessalonians 5: 15). But God is real, and He has the power to intervene on our behalf-on one condition : "And what ever we ask"-including protection" we receive from Him . . . "


" . . . because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight" (I John 3:22). Of course, though God says He will protect us, we shouldn't tempt Him by taking unnecessary risks. God won't always intervene on our behalf if we're careless and behave foolishly. We should take the precautions that we can. (Delamater T. Your Best Self-Defense. Youth 84, March 1984).

The Psalmist wrote:

6 For I will not trust in my bow, Nor shall my sword save me. (Psalm 44:6)

The old Worldwide Church of God also had the following in its flagship publication, the Plain Truth:

Your Protection?

Most of mankind today live the way they think is right. They make their own laws. Society has all kinds of ideas of how people should cope with crime.

Millions take up guns and other destructive weapons for self defense because that is the only source of protection they believe they can have confidence in.

But what defense against personal attacks of crime and violence does a person have who fears and obeys God?

Did Christ teach those who would obey him to take into their own hands the weapons to "blow others away" in a blaze of gunfire? Christ said, "And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise" (Luke 6:31).

Many assume the Christianity that Christ preached makes Christians defenseless in a world filled with crime and violence. They totally fail to grasp the divine help, blessings and protection God can heap on those who obey God and trust him in times of trouble. Even those who profess to be Christians often scoff at the idea of divine protection. They practice a religion "having a form of godliness but denying its power" (II Tim. 3:5).

But God is real! His power to intervene on behalf of those who fear and obey him is real! Christ recognized that we live in a world threatened daily by the possibility of crime and violence. He lived in a world like that.

So did the early apostles and Christians whom he commanded to pray daily, "Deliver us from evil" (Matt. 6:13, AV). Can God deliver those who ask for his daily care and protection? "... the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment," answers the apostle in II Peter 2:9 (RAV). God's power to intervene on our behalf is not limited — except by the quality of one's faith and obedience. "And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight" (I John 3:22, RAV).

Please do not misunderstand! God expects us to be wise and avoid the potential for crime and evil whenever possible. Often it's only a matter of using common sense and of staying out of trouble-ridden areas. ...

Are you doing your part? Do you have God's special help and protection? Are you doing what is pleasing in his sight? (Shroeder DD. Plain Truth, June 1983)

Yes, God is real.

And though a couple of times since being part of the Church of God I have faced the real possibility of violence, in none of those instances did I have to physically harm anyone.

It is likely that you never should have to either.

Those who look into the New Testament and church history realize that avoiding carnal warfare and even watching intentionally violent sports was not something that early Christians did (see Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence?).

That being said, I do feel that it is appropriate to have use loud noise items (cf. Deuteronomy 22:27) or bright lights to dissuade one from causing you harm. And yes, I do not have a problem with women carrying chemical deterrents, plus advise women who can, to carry a working cellular telephone. These items are not for revenge, but to give the perpetrator(s) reasons to stop from causing physical harm and sinning more.

If attacked, if one cannot run away or talk somone out of attacking, one may have to engage in self-defense--which for a Christian means to inflict the least harm possible, and hopefully none at all.

Consider the following:

3 Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy. 4 Deliver the poor and needy; Free them from the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 82:3-4)

Now that relates to God, but notice what Isaiah wrote:

17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. (Isaiah 1:17)

The Book of Proverbs teaches:

16 Every prudent man acts with knowledge, But a fool lays open his folly. (Proverbs 13:16)

As Christians, we are to act with biblical knowledge. Which in the case of fighting means to try to avoid it:

3 A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished. (Proverbs 22:3)

Not avoiding a fight can lead to harm.

Some have pointed to part of the following as proof of the need for weapons:

36 Then He said to them, "But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. 37 For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: 'And He was numbered with the transgressors.' For the things concerning Me have an end."

38 So they said, "Lord, look, here are two swords."

And He said to them, "It is enough." (Luke 22:36-38)

Consider that the reason Jesus said to buy a sword was so that prophecy would be fulfilled:

50 But Jesus said to him, "Friend, why have you come?"

Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. 51 And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.

52 But Jesus said to him, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?" (Matthew 26:50-54)

Yes, we can trust in God and are not to trust in weapons. This does not mean you can never have any, but Peter had no need to strike the man with a sword. In my own case, I used to pick up small rocks when I heard a dog barking when running in case I had to dissuade the dog from possibly biting me.

But, in my view, those who are carrying handguns often think on them and how they may use them on others excessively.

Weapons are not, of course, to be our focus.

Here is what Christians should think about:

8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

Ours is a God of peace. We do not need to worry like the unbelievers do, but "seek ... seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and ... do not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:33-34).

Notice that David wrote:

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want. ...

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:1,4, NKJV for this and later scriptures)

That, of course, does not mean that we intentionally go to dangerous places.

When Satan wanted Jesus to do something dangerous, since He was to be divinely protected, Jesus told the devil:

7 ... You shall not tempt the Lord your God. (Matthew 4:7)

So, when you can, avoid dangerous situations.

Remember, also, however, that Jesus said:

32 Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

Related to fear, we have the following available:

Christian courage vs. cowardice As you courageous? What biblically is cowardice? Do YOU really understand this? Two sermons related to this article are available and are titled Courage and Cowardice and Cowardice and Overcoming Fear. A Spanish language article is also available: Valor Cristiano vs Cobardía.

Ten Steps to Rid Yourself of Fear This is a vastly expanded version of a shorter article by the late Dr. Herman Hoeh on getting past fear. Here is a link to a related sermon: Ten Plus Steps to Rid Yourself of Fear.

Notice that when he was concerned about harm, Ezra prayed and called a fast:

22 For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, "The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him." 23 So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer. (Ezra 8:22-23)

Always trust God.

But that does not mean we should not take appropriate steps.

Jesus said:

16 Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men ... (Matthew 10:16-17)

That, for example, is a reason that we use locks.

Jesus also said:

21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. 22 But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils. (Luke 11:21-22)

Do not trust in arms--trust in God:

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)

We need to use wisdom and take note of the world we live in. And that the Apostle Paul called it "this present evil age" (Galatians 1:4).

We, also, can pray. Notice part of some prayers on this line in the Psalms:

1 Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
Defend me from those who rise up against me.
2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity,
And save me from bloodthirsty men. ...
9 For God is my defense. (Psalm 59:1-2,9)

1 Hear my voice, O God, in my meditation;
Preserve my life from fear of the enemy.
2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
From the rebellion of the workers of iniquity, (Psalm 64:1-2)

God is our protection. And our source of true defense.

We do not need to live in fear like many in the world do. We can pray to the real God for protection.

Thiel B. Self-Defense and Christians. COGwriter (c) 2020

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