Self-Defence is Mandated in God's Law
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 quilt 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 in danger. Any weapon is permissible for 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, tools, but the right and duty of self-defence.
Lessons from God's Creatures
It is noticeable that God has provided His creatures with weapons. Almost every animal has some means of defence, for flight, or fight, or means of camouflage, to defend themselves and their loved ones. God has equipped His creatures with claws, talons, teeth, horns, hooves and tusks. How can it be that the Creator has provided His Creation with weapons and with the instinct to protect their lives and their young, but Bible-believing, born-again, Spirit-filled, names written in the Lambs' Book of Life, believers, are expected to instead be pacifist doormats, like salt that has lost its saltiness, good for nothing, but to be thrown outside and trampled underfoot!
A Time to Stand
There are times when we must stand up, step out and speak up, fighting the good fight of Faith. This Scripture teaches us that we need to be ready to defend our family, our Faith and our future. "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
A Father's Duty
Anyone who fails to provide protection 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?
Be Armed and Prepared
Our Lord Jesus Christ told his disciples: "He who has no sword, let him sell his garments and buy one." Luke 22:36
Christianity is Not a Pacifist Faith
Pacifism 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 gives way to the wicked." Proverbs 25:26
The St. James Massacre
When St. James Church of England in Kenilworth, Cape Town, South Africa, was attacked by APLA terrorists of the Pan African Congress (PAC), 25 July 1993, one of our missionaries was in the congregation and returned fire, injuring the terrorist who was spraying the congregation with his assault rifle from the doorway. This resistance, by a single member of the congregation, with a snub-nosed point 38 revolver, caused the terrorists to break off the attack and flee. "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
So, just as personal, family and church defence is necessary, so too there are time when national defence is required. “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the Voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His Commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God…will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.” Deuteronomy 28:1,7
Augustine and Just War
The great Christian Theologian Augustine of Hippo taught that a Christian could be a soldier and serve both God and his country honourably. Augustine spelled out the Christian criteria for a Just War. This involves three aspects: Jus ad bellum (a just cause for war), Jus in bello (just conduct during war) and Jus post bellum ( a just conclusion of a war).
A just war requires a just cause. Innocent life must be in imminent danger and intervention must be to protect life. Only duly constituted authorities may wage war. War must be a last resort, only after exhausting all peaceful means. There must also be a reasonable probability of success to justify involvement in a war.
Just conduct in a war requires that it be limited to military targets and not endanger civilians, nor damage the environment, nor harm animals. The Scripture is clear that soldiers are not even to chop down fruit trees during war (Deuteronomy 20:19-20). The benefits of the war must be proportional to the costs and risks of the war. In a just war there must be a clear distinction between combatants and non-combatants. Enemy combatants who surrender, or who are captured, are not to be mistreated in any way.
Military necessity should be governed by the principle of minimum force. Every means must be taken to limit excessive and unnecessary death and destruction, nor may combatants use weapons or methods of warfare which are evil.
Peace with Justice
A just war must be concluded with a just peace. Revenge is not to be permitted. Life and property is to be respected and rule of law upheld.
Senseless and Unnecessary Wars
By these Biblical standards there have been many senseless and unnecessary wars in which neither side was at all concerned with righteousness and where both sides share the guilt. However, we can also discern in history many necessary wars, which were defensive and just.
The Battle of Tours, AD732, in France was one such landmark battle. Charles Martel, the Hammer, rallied the Christian soldiers of Europe on the plains of Portieres in the Battle of Tours and courageously stood for firm resisting six furious charges of the Muslim cavalry, routing them and sending them fleeing back across the Pyrenees Mountains. The Reconquista, which liberated Spain from 800 years of Islamic occupation and oppression in 1492, the Great Siege of Malta, 1565, and the Battle of Lepanto, October 1571, were other vital defensive battles which protected Europe from being overwhelmed by Islamic invasions. The lifting of the Turkish siege of Vienna, 1683, was another major turning point, which protected Europe from becoming Eurabia.
When You Go to War
The Bible states: "When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. So it shall be, when you are on the verge of battle, that the priest shall approach and speak to the people. And he shall say to them 'Hear O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart feint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you'." Deuteronomy 20:1-4
War Psalms of the Prince of Peace
Many of the Psalms are prayers to God for guidance in war, or hymns of thanksgiving to the Lord for victory in battle. The Scriptures reveal that God is a God of war, as well as a God of peace, because God is primarily a Holy God of justice. On occasions, God not only permitted war, but commanded it. In the Bible, military defence against invaders is given the same status as capital punishment for murderers. If all the people with a conscience refuse to fight – then it will leave the battlefields in the hands of men without a conscience.
Be part of the Solution Not Part of the Problem
However, foreign military adventurism does not fulfil the requirements for a just war. Instead of send in the Marines! We should send in Missionaries. There is no military, or political solution to the complex crisis endemic to many parts of the world. They need the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of sending bombs, we need to sow Bibles throughout these regions. Instead of intervening in their incessant wars, we need to bombard them with Gospel radio broadcasts, ministry through the internet, Bibles online and wholeheartedly work to fulfil the Great Commission. We will do more to undermine terrorism and aggression by fulfilling the Great Commission, than we will by military expeditions. There are frequently alternatives to war, including diplomatic and economic measures and the more excellent way of Christian love and Gospel ministry. The wise Christian does not seek to selfishly avoid the problems of the world, but courageously steps out in Faith to be part of the solution.
Consider the example of Switzerland’s armed neutrality. The Swiss are not pacifist. They take national defence very seriously. If you want peace, prepare for war. However, their primary involvement in foreign conflicts is sending in humanitarian relief, such as through the Red Cross.
Blessed are the Peacemakers
America's first president, George Washington, in his farewell address cautioned Americans against entangling alliances and warned them never to get involved in Europe's wars. US President Theodore Roosevelt intervened in the Russian – Japanese War of 1905, not by becoming a belligerent or taking sides, but by negotiating a peaceful end to that tragic conflict.
Mission to the War Zones
During the height of the Cold War, we were involved in a just war in Rhodesia and South West Africa defending these peaceful nations from communist terrorist attacks and holding the line against Soviet expansionism. Yet, during our Bible study and Prayer meeting in the South African Army, the Lord gave me the vision of responding to the communist hate with Christian love. They are sending terrorists to us. We need to send Missionaries to them. They are smuggling in landmines, limpet mines, grenades, to sow terror in our communities. We need to smuggle Bibles and Christian books into their territories and win converts, make disciples, undermining their communist tyranny with the fulfilment of the Great Commission. This year will mark 40 years of Frontline Fellowship cross-border missions into war zones and restricted access areas. We are completing the book: Frontline – Behind Enemy Lines for Christ recounting many of the untold testimonies of how God used this initiative for the extension of His Kingdom. By God's grace this book should be available by next month.
For Such a Time
"To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under Heaven;
A time to be born and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to break down and a time to build up;
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance;
A time to cast away and a time to gather;
A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain and a time to lose;
A time to keep and a time to throw away;
A time to tear and a time to sow;
A time to keep silent and a time to speak;
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time of war and a time of peace…
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Also He has put eternity in their hearts…" Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
A Time for War
There are times when sinful men need to be restrained by laws and by force. Liberty needs to be defended. Freedom often comes through, and often needs to be maintained by hard fighting. If all Christians became pacifists, would all the Muslims, atheists, communists also become pacifists? Not likely. It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism – while the wolf remains of a different opinion. For those pacifists hoping for worldwide peace, listen to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." Matthew 10:34. See: The Christian at War which has also been translated into German, Afrikaans and Spanish.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9). You have to make peace. It takes action. Sometimes military action. Most times missionary action. May God find us faithful to His Word and may we be prepared to defend the defenceless and to rescue the innocent. When we have to fight, may God grant that we will be fast and accurate. Make disciples. Teach obedience to all things that the Lord has commanded. The Bibles of the Christians are more powerful than the bombs of the Muslims and Marxists. "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15. See: The Chaplains Handbook
From the Frontline
Please tune in to the latest From the Frontline podcast on www.FrontlineMissionSA.org. It is available on our https://fromthefrontline.podbean.com. As two of the largest nations in Europe are engaged in war, Hunter and I discuss: what are the Biblical principles that we need to consider? When is it right to fight? What constitutes a Just War? What steps could be taken to avert war? How should we as Christians respond when friends and neighbours are involved in conflict? What are our duties in time of war? What does God call us to do during such times of crisis and conflict? How can we pray effectively for those involved in conflict, such as in Ukraine and Russia at this time? "Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked." Proverbs 25:26
Dr. Peter Hammond