I do not believe the Bible (in particular the New Testament) teaches a total pacifism. I do not believe that the godly Christian response to Hitler and Stalin’s intentions and invasions is passive non-resistance or appeasement. The gas chambers of Auschwitz and the gulags of the Soviet Union prove that evil must be physically resisted and conquered, or millions will be murdered.
I do not believe that we should passively let murderers and rapists into our homes to do as they please to innocent and/or helpless people. I think the most loving thing we can do is to use whatever force is necessary (including lethal force) to stop the attacker from doing what they want to do. Our responsibility is to love our neighbor… doesn’t protecting the innocent and defending the defenseless fall under that category? If we do not have this responsibility to physically stop evil, then let’s just disband our police and military right now and let evil people have their way.
But what about Matthew 5:38, 39? Doesn’t Jesus tell us NOT to resist the one who is evil? Yes, but what does that mean? We know elsewhere in the Bible that God’s heroes resisted evil.. Abraham and his servants mounted a raid to liberate Lot and his family from desert bandits. Gideon used force to resist the Midianites. God’s prophets such as Jeremiah and Daniel resisted evil in their day. John the Baptist, Peter and Paul all stood up to evil. So, obviously Jesus’ command is not a blank check to roll over and never resist evil.
I think Jesus is giving the true interpretation of Exodus 21:24 where in the Law of Moses it says “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth”. This law is not an endorsement of revenge or vigilantism, but rather a statement that the punishment must fit the crime. Justice is taken out of our hands and rightly put into the courts. I think that here in Matthew 5:38,39 Jesus is speaking against personal retaliation, against revenge, against vigilantism…and living as peaceful citizens under the rule of law, but not against ALL force to protect the innocent. He was not addressing how to keep your loved ones safe.
I love the police and military, but remember that when seconds count, the police arrive in minutes. Sometimes, the situation happens so fast that you cannot wait for the police to arrive to use their force to rescue you.
Sometimes, you just have to do it yourself. And that is what I teach in my weekly self defense class and in my seminars. If you are interested in knowing more about my classes in how to effectively stop an attacker, you can always contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.