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Submitted: 11/7/2004
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Question: Does the Bible allow Christians to defend themselves if their home or loved ones are attacked? With deadly force, even? On a related matter, how does a Christian respond when another Christian wants to engage them in a (actual, physical) fistfight over a petty disagreement?

Answer: The Bible says, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:17-18). As Christian we are to be pursuers of peace. But because the world we live in is full of evil people, peace is not always possible. As a general principle, the Bible does not prohibit us from defending ourselves and our loved one (or anyone else for that matter). We are not required to sit passively by while some evil person injures or even kills another human being. Of course, we should be careful to use only as much force as is necessary to stop such a person.

God is interested in life. His commandments are designed to preserve and enhance our lives. Therefore, the prohibition against murder is not an all-encompassing prohibition against all forms of homicide. In some situations, killing one person is the only way to preserve the life of another.

If a person tries to start a fight with a Christian, the Christian should do all that is within his power to do to avoid becoming entangled. As Peter wrote, “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:8-9).