Part 2 Mocking The Right Of Self-Defense
Part II — Etzioni Mocks And Ridicules The God-Given Right And Duty Of Self-Defense
When we interviewed Prof. Etzioni, and alluded to our God-given right to bear arms and self-defense, he says that if we believe this we are “one of those fanatics, I guess.” Mocking our belief, Etzioni asks, sneeringly: “God speaks to you, eh? When did He talk to you last?” He says he believes in God but denies that God has spoken to us:
God does not speak to you. I don’t know what God told you. I know that in this country we live by the law. And God gave us the laws and did not give you arms — no, He didn’t. God is a loving and peaceful creature. He doesn’t go around shooting people.
Well, now. It’s difficult to imagine a more theologically confused series of statements than these. First, God is not a “creature.” He is the Creator! Also, Exodus 15:3 tells us: “The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.” The Lord Jesus Christ tells us, in Matthew 10:34: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” And while it’s true that Scripture says nothing about God going around “shooting people,” He did, at one time, destroy, by a worldwide flood, almost every human being because He “saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
But, back to the question of whether God talks to us about self-defense? Our answer would be a definite yes — and about the defense of others. Indeed, God speaks to all, in His Word, the Bible. But, He is heard, and obeyed, only by believers.
In Exodus 22:2-3, God tells us: “If a thief be found breaking in, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.” One conclusion which can be drawn here is that a threat to our life is to be met with lethal force.
In Proverbs 25:26, God tells us: “A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.” Certainly, we would be faltering before the wicked if we choose to be unarmed and unable to resist an assailant who might be threatening our life. In other words, we have no right to hand over our God-given life to the unrighteous.
In the New Testament, in Luke 22:36, we are told this about our Lord Jesus Christ: “Then said he unto them, ‘But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his script: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.'” At that time the sword was the finest offensive weapon available to an individual soldier — the equivalent then of a military rifle today.
In his excellent new book A Nation Of Cowards (Accurate Press, 2001), Jeff Snyder says: “Although difficult for modern man to fathom, it was once widely believed that life was a gift from God, that to not defend that life when offered violence was to hold God’s gift in contempt, to be a coward and to breach one’s duty to one’s community.” He quotes a sermon given in Philadelphia in 1747 which unequivocally equated the failure to defend oneself with suicide:
He that suffers his life to be taken from him by one that hath no authority for that purpose, when he might preserve it by defense, incurs the Guilt of self murder since God hath enjoined him to seek the continuance of his life, and Nature itself teaches every creature to defend himself.
This same point is made at greater length by the great Puritan commentator on the Bible, Thomas Ridgeley (1667-1734). In his commentary on the Westminster Larger Catechism, he, first, quotes the Catechism itself. Question 135 asks: “What are the duties required in the Sixth Commandment?” (the Commandment that prohibits killing) The Catechism answer is, in part: “The duties… are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavours to preserve the life of ourselves, and others… by just defence thereof against violence… succouring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent.”
Question 136 asks: “What are the sins forbidden in the Sixth Commandment?” The answer, in part: “The sins forbidden… are… the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life.”
In his commentary on Sixth Commandment duties, Ridgeley says: “We should use all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others [because]…. man is the subject of the divine image…. We are also to defend those who are in imminent danger of death…. Moreover, in some instances, a person may kill another in his own defence, without being guilty of the breach of this commandment….”
Ridgeley says that if we cannot disarm an enemy threatening our life, or flee from him, “we do not incur the least guilt, or break this commandment, if we take away his life to preserve our own; especially if we were not first in the quarrel, nor gave occasion to it by any injurious or unlawful practices.”
So, again, Prof. Etzioni, the answer to your question is a resounding and fervent yes! Though you may mock and ridicule us, there is a God-given right to self-defense and a God-ordered duty to defend ourselves and other innocents. Oh, ye of little faith, sir!