My Right to Self-Defense!


The American claim to certain rights is a claim worth exploring and a claim from which we should demand certain answers. The most basic of which is a question concerning whether or not any person has rights in the first place. So, I beg the question. Do we actually have any rights whatsoever?

If by rights we refer to the entitlements given us by our creator as a result of our existence, there are a few implications that arise. First of all, we must consider the creation. If all we see has a beginning, then it has come into existence. It is contingent and humankind is co-contingent with the rest of creation because he is a member of that creation. That creation has on it the signature of the creator, not of man. When we speak of entitlement, which is often, what is meant when we speak of inalienable human rights, we speak as if the universe owes us something simply because we exist. We speak as though God owes us something simply because He created us. This is nonsensical.

Second of all, we must consider the creator. If God’s signature is on the whole of creation, then the observance of creation, including humanity, leads directly away from humanity and to God. To claim the entitlements that we do when we speak of God-given rights is to demand that God give us His attention rather than giving Him ours. Needless to say, most Americans, even Christians, are then in danger of making themselves idols when they are members of a creation that should actively glorify God.

Third, we must consider at least one event in history. Genesis 3 tells of a time when mankind lived in perfect harmony with God. In the story, mankind chose to deny God by breaking His only command. Because of this, mankind was separated from God and bound by the evil of this world. If mankind ever had natural rights, they were lost at this moment because each one became a fugitive in God’s sight.

Not coincidently, there is no place in scripture that speaks of mankind having these sort of rights. It seems that many have placed into scripture more than is there to read.

Self defense

This has some interesting implications for the notion of self-defense and the 2nd Amendment freedoms that we currently have in the United States. If we, as human beings, are not entitled to certain rights, then we are not even entitled to life or existence or survival. I find, in my reflection, that it is pompous of me to claim to deserve life or to think that my life is so important that I must kill to protect it. It is humbling to think of my existence not as a right given to me by God, but a gift from God.

This being said, do I support second amendment freedoms? Yes! But not for the reason of defending my existence and not because I have a right. The second amendment was drafted to protect the American people from the tyranny of government, which was the reason for the rebellion of the colonies against the crown. I believe that the second amendment affords more freedom to Americans than the law currently allows. This being said though, I cannot claim to have a right to shoot anyone who poses an immediate danger to me.

I will defend freedom, because God has clearly given us freedom.[1] I will defend others because I do not know who does and does not have a secure eternity. I will defend the Gospel of Christ, because it is much more important than my own life and reveals life and freedom to all. I will not always defend myself because I do not live for myself, I live for God. If in any situation God is more honored in my life being taken from me, so be it. I have already given my life to Him.

In the Bible

“If a thief is caught in the act of breaking in, and he is beaten to death, no one is guilty of bloodshed. But if this happens after sunrise, there is guilt of bloodshed. A thief must make full restitution. If he is unable, he is to be sold because of his theft.”[2]

When Israel operated as a Theocracy, God gave this rule of law to them as a nation. If a thief broke into a house and was killed, that killing was counted as justice for his crime of breaking in with intent. There is no mention, though, of the resident. The resident did not have the right to kill in defense of himself or of his possessions, but it was not counted against him either. Whether or not the resident killed the thief, though, full restitution would be required from the thief.

“May the Lord, my rock, be praised, who trains my hands for battle and my fingers for warfare. He is my faithful love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer. He is my shield, and I take refuge in Him; He subdues my people under me. Lord, what is man, that You care for him, the son of man, that You think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. Lord, part Your heavens and come down. Touch the mountains, and they will smoke. Flash Your lightning and scatter the foe; shoot Your arrows and rout them. Reach down from heaven; rescue me from deep water, and set me free from the grasp of foreigners whose mouths speak lies, whose right hands are deceptive. God, I will sing a new song to You; I will play on a ten- stringed harp for You — the One who gives victory to kings, who frees His servant David from the deadly sword. Set me free and rescue me from the grasp of foreigners whose mouths speak lies, whose right hands are deceptive. Then our sons will be like plants nurtured in their youth, our daughters, like corner pillars that are carved in the palace style. Our storehouses will be full, supplying all kinds of produce; our flocks will increase by thousands and tens of thousands in our open fields. Our cattle will be well fed. There will be no breach in the walls, no going into captivity, and no cry of lament in our public squares. Happy are the people with such blessings. Happy are the people whose God is Yahweh.”[3]

Furthermore, we can realize that it is God who prepares our hands for battle. We should not do so on our own. We must remember that we are not entitled to life; life is afforded to us as freedom and as a gift. Our consideration when acting, in any occasion, must be in favor of God’s glory, not our survival. God’s people are not called to be pacifists. We will not be afraid to commit violent acts when necessary! At the same time we realize that we are not the center of the universe and that our lives on this earth are worth little to us because our treasure is not on this earth.

There was a story that came out about a man who shot at police in his home as they executed a no-knock raid.[4] His defense attorney claimed self-defense on his behalf. As we remember that men are not necessarily entitled to life, how might we treat such a scenario? If someone breaks into my home, they should know that my gun is always loaded. This being said, I will not shoot unless it is my last option and my target will be clearly identified as hostile not only toward me but also toward my family and toward God. My goal is not to survive because I have an eternal security in Christ. My goal in any hostile situation is to first honor God, and then to defend the worship of God and the spreading of the Gospel. Then, my goal is to defend freedom for all. We must not continue to make the mistake of believing that we are entitled to anything. Both freedom and life are undoubtedly gifts from God.

[1] Galatians 5:1

[2] Exodus 22:2-3 (HCSB)

[3] Psalm 144 (HCSB)

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