I just taught my self defense class to several ladies. I teach every Monday night at a gym. We don’t do any fancy, silly “Karate Kid” moves. Instead I teach teenage girls, middle-aged homemakers, and retirees in their sixties simple, effective, easy-to-recall-under-stress techniques that will save their lives if they are attacked by a vicious predator.
I can hear people say right now, “but Pastor Jeff, is that godly? How can a Christian teach others how to physically hurt others? Doesn’t the Bible teach pacifism?” Well, the Bible does tell me to be a peaceful person, and i am! I have never had to physically use my martial skills on anyone (I have talked my way out of some situations). But, I certainly believe the Bible teaches we can, and should, use force (even lethal force) if it is legally and morally justified to protect the innocent and to defend the defenseless.
But doesn’t the Bible teach “thou shalt not kill”? Actually, there are several Hebrew verbs for “to kill”, but the word used in Exodus 20:13 is “ratzach” meaning to commit murder. Murder is the premeditated taking of an innocent life. A gangster who is trying to kill a little old lady I not innocent. It would not be murder to take the life of such a vicious predator.
Didn’t Jesus say, “turn the other cheek?” Not exactly. In Matthew 5:39 he says that if anyone strikes you on the RIGHT cheek…give them the other. Since most people are right handed, the only way you can strike will your right hand to someone’s right cheek is to backhand them. Such a blow I not life-threatening; it is merely an insult. Jesus was telling us that we can bear insults.
In the Gospels, Jesus actually tells His disciples that they can be armed. In Luke 22:35-38 He tells them that they need to get a knapsack, sandals, a money bag…and a sword. The Greek word there for sword means sword, not a penknife. A disciple produced two swords and Jesus said to him: “that is enough, sufficient, adequate.” Two swords among eleven apostles was enough. They were not going to overthrow the Roman government with two swords, but it was enough to defend themselves from four-footed (or two-footed) varmints that would threaten them.
I’ll write more, soon, on the theological and philosophical basis behind self defense, but if you would like to know more about the classes and seminars I offer you can always contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.