Attacked at Home

Yesterday I learned from my elder brother, Derek, of a violent attack on his family in his home in Gauteng.

Crime is a very unpleasant reality that affects almost everybody in South Africa today, and increasingly, even in our own homes.

As his 18yr old nephew was trying to drive through the gate, a BMW raced up and five armed black assailants rushed out and dragged this young boy out of his car, putting a gun to his head.  My brother’s wife shouted out a warning that there were assailants in the garden. 

As my brother came into the hallway, he was immediately confronted with a man aiming a silver semi automatic pistol at his head.  As the assailant opened fire, my brother drew his pistol, cocked it and returned fire.  Five shots were fired at him and Derek fired three shots back, hitting the criminal twice.  Although they were standing less than three meters apart, firing at point blank range, in a narrow hallway, barely one meter wide, incredibly all five shots missed my brother.

As the wounded assailant stumbled back out into the garden, Derek fired four more shots at the other criminals who fled, leaving his nephew, Ryan, unharmed.  His car, with the key still in the ignition, was also left in the driveway.  When the shooting had started my brother’s wife, Sandra and daughter, Lauren, fled to a safe room and lay on the ground praying.

When the police investigated the crime scene, they were astounded.  It seemed incredible that at less than three metre distance and in such a confined area that the assailant could have missed with all five shots.  They readily admitted that God had been protecting him.

From my brother’s description, they quickly identified this gang of five.  The ringleader, who used a silver automatic pistol, was known to them.  This gang of thugs specialise in home invasions, rape and murder. 

We are praising the Lord for being a shield to my brother’s family and for making him fast and accurate.

As Oliver Cromwell frequently said, trust in God and keep your powder dry.

Self Defence in the Law of God

The Law of God is clear:  “If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed.”  Exodus 22:2

The Law of God establishes the basic right of self-defence.  Any person is justified in defending himself, or his family, whenever they are attacked, or their lives are endangered.  Any weapon is permissible to use in self-defence.  The Law of God does not say that the homeowner is guilty if he uses a sword, but innocent if he uses a club.  The issue is not one of weapons, but the right, and duty, of self-defence.

Our Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples: “He who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.”  Luke 22:36

Fathers and husbands are required by Almighty God to provide for their families.  “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the Faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  1 Timothy 5:8

This includes: providing food, housing, clothing, education, medical care, love, discipleship and spiritual guidance, but also protection.

Of what worth are all the other provisions if one fails to provide protection as well?  Anyone who fails to provide for their family has denied the Faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  In fact, those who refuse to protect their young are worse than an animal.  What animal will not fight to protect its offspring?

Faith and Firearms

Pioneer Missionary, William Carey, in his landmark book, An Enquiry into the Obligation of Christians to use means for the Conversion of the Heathen (the book which launched the modern missionary movement) listed as essential equipment for any missionary: “knives, powder and shot.”

Pioneer Missionary and explorer, David Livingstone, who first landed in Africa in 1840, was well equipped with some of the most advanced weapons then available, including a six barreled revolver and double-barreled rifle.  On occasion David Livingstone was compelled to use his weapons to defend himself from wild beasts and to persuade slave traders to set the captives free.

At one point, after his party had been compelled to shoot back at Muslim slave traders, Livingstone responded to criticism:  “I love peace as much as any mortal man.  In fact I go quite beyond you, for I love it so much I would fight for it.”

When world famous cricketer, turned Pioneer Missionary, C.T. Studd, undertook the first baptisms in a river in the Congo, he had a revolver in one hand, to fight off crocodiles, while baptising the new converts with the other.

Fiery, red headed Scottish missionary, Mary Slessor, pioneer missionary to Calabar (modern day Nigeria), included “maximum machine guns” in her prayer letter request back to her home church.  This was to counter the threat of slave traders in Nigeria.

Many religious readers would be shocked and horrified to read such reports in present-day missionary newsletters.  Perhaps the comfortable and prosperous surroundings that most Christians in the West have enjoyed for so long have blinded us to the harsh realities that most Christian throughout the centuries, and in less fortunate parts of the world today, have had to face.  An unbiblical passivism has gripped many Western Christians.

Missionaries have frequently faced dangers which we can hardly imagine.  We should not be too quick to judge and condemn others for doing what the Bible commands them to do – to take reasonable precautions for self-defence and for the protection of their families.

Of course, the primary weapons of missionaries are the Bible, prayer, faith and persuasion.  Just as our primary spiritual food is the Word of God.  But that does not stop us planting seeds, harvesting crops, shopping and preparing food.  Christians must be balanced and we must recognise that sin comes from the heart of man (Mark 7:21-23).

There is no point blaming a tool, a cold metal inanimate object, for the evil in mens hearts. 

Passivism is in defiance of historic Christian teaching.  The 39 Articles, the foundational statement of the Church of England, states clearly in Article 37: “It is lawful for Christian men to carry weapons.”

The Westminster Catechism, considered the finest expression of Biblical teaching, states under the Sixth Commandment, that the prohibition against murder requires as our duty:  “All careful studies and lawful endeavours to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting, by just defence, against violence, protecting and defending the innocent.” (Q135)

“Like a muddied spring or a polluted well, is a righteous man who give way to the wicked.”  Proverbs 25:26

Of course, criminals prefer unarmed victims.  Gun control deprives potential victims of their best means of protection.

Gun Control

The underlying argument for gun control seems to be that the availability of weapons causes crime.  But that is not the Biblical position.  Genesis 4 records the first murder when Cain killed Abel.  God’s response was not to ban rocks, knives, clubs, or whatever murder weapon may have been used, but to banish the murderer.  It is the murderers heart that is the problem, not the weapon used. 

Nowhere does the Bible advocate weapons control.  The Bible does record the control of weapons by the Amalakites and the Philistines (Judges 5:8 and 1 Samuel 13:19-22) but it condemns these restrictions on individual defence as a pagan attempt to centralize excessive power.

If firearms cause the crime, then Switzerland would be the most violent and lawless country in the world, because every citizen has weapons of war stored in his home.  Yet, despite having millions of military type rifles, and a great many other firearms and weapons of war, in private homes, overall firearm abuse in Switzerland is so low as to be insignificant.  Switzerland also has the lowest burglary and murder rate in the industrial world.

The suggestion that violence would magically decrease if we could only have gun control reveals an ignorance of both history and human nature.  History recalls that violence was prevalent prior to the invention of firearms in the 15th century.  Attila the Hun, Gengus Kahn and Shaka Zulu managed to kill millions of people without firearms.

The Holocaust in Rwanda took part in a gun free zone.  In just six weeks more people were killed with machetes and clubs than have died  from a nuclear weapons in all of history.

Every day countless crimes are prevented, hundreds of potential victims are protected and many tragedies are averted by armed citizens.

Armed citizens save lives, but unarmed citizens all too often become helpless victims.

It is every man’s duty to be armed and prepared to protect the innocent and to defend the defenceless.  May God enable each one of us to be fast and accurate.

“Do not be afraid of them, remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses.”  Nehemiah 4:14

Dr. Peter Hammond
Frontline Fellowship 
P.O. Box 74
Newlands, 7725
Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: (021) 689-4480, Fax: (021) 685-5884