Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Implications of Exodus 22:2-3 for Self-Defense (William O. Einwechter)

1. This case law establishes the righteousness of self-defense. God’s law permits a man to defend himself and his family. This defense may require the use of deadly force, and this certainly implies the use of weapons.
2. If a man is not guilty of any crime for slaying an intruder on the mere supposition that he may be armed or pose a threat to him or his family, how much more does the law of God authorize self-defense against an armed assailant who definitely threatens bodily harm. A man is justified in defending himself whenever he is attacked or his life endangered.
3. The primary responsibility for defense against violent attacks is a personal responsibility. The defense of one’s life and one’s family is chiefly an individual responsibility, not a community or governmental responsibility. (There is no indication that Israel had a standing police force or army. The armed men of Israel, under the direction of their magistrates, were the army and police force.) There is certainly a need to love our neighbor and come to his defense if we can. But the first line of defense against violence and aggression is the man who is prepared to use whatever force necessary in the protection of his own life and those for whom he is responsible (e. g., his family). This, of course, means that he must be armed to meet all possible threats to his life. Today, this requires a citizen to be armed with guns.
4. Any weapon is permissable for use in self-defense. This case law does not say the owner is guilty if he uses a sword, but not guilty if he uses a club. The issue is not one of weapons, but the right of self-defense. God’s law does not make an arbitrary distinction between acceptable and unacceptable weapons for self-defense. And there are no biblical laws restricting the access of citizens to weapons necessary for self-defense. To limit a citizen’s access to lethal weapons (e.g., guns) is to limit his ability for self-defense. Gun control is self-defense control. Who would want to control and limit the individual’s ability to defend himself except thugs and tyrants?
5. This case law would be a great deterrence to criminals. After all, citizens are armed and authorized to kill, if necessary, intruders and attackers!
6. This case law also restrains the individual in the use of weapons in self-defense. He must be very careful, lest he use deadly force when it is not called for. If he does, he pays with his own life.

William O. Einwechter, "Biblical Law and Self-Defense," Darash Press(originally published in The Christian Statesman, vol. 140, no. 1, January - February, 1997). Retrieved July 9, 2014 from

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