Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Violence and Doing What Is Right

I keep getting these questions from other LDS members about carrying a gun, owning a gun, and violence. I will address this one more time.
Chris Kyle said: "Despite what your momma told you, violence does solve problems."
I was teaching a class at church on bug out bags and I spoke a little on security and self-defense. I was asked some interesting questions. Many of the questions have centered on whether or not it is appropriate for Christians to use deadly force in the defense of their lives and the lives of their families, friends, and others.

The answer is, unequivocally, yes it is appropriate for a Christian to defend innocent life. Not only is it appropriate, it is an obligation.

In Psalm 82:4 it says that we are to “Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.” In Nehemiah 4:14 we are told to “…fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” These passages show us that we are required by biblical principles to defend innocent life, be it our families or merely the “weak and needy”.

I Timothy 5:8 states that “…if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” What greater provision is there than the provision for the defense and safety of our loved ones?

Not only is an armed response to life threatening evil condoned in scripture, but skill at arms is presented in a positive light. We are expected to have the tools and to acquire the skills needed to fulfill our obligation in protecting innocents from the evil that is loose in the world. This is clearly demonstrated in Psalm 144:1 “Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war and my fingers to fight” and again in Psalm 18:34 “He teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze”.

Luke 11:21-22 tells us that “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armor wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.” This passage of scripture not only allows specifically for armed defense, but serves as a model for the Castle Doctrine or perhaps the “Palace doctrine?”

I want to be clear at this point that I only advocate the use of deadly force for the preservation of innocent life. I stress this strongly when I teach classes. I have never had a car that was worth a human life, and I have never had enough money to kill over. I know for a fact that the finest of worldly possessions does not have the value of the basest of human lives. I would not use deadly force in defense of property, but I would not hesitate to use it to save the lives of my children or anybody else’s children from a person of evil intent. Make no mistake, those people are out there these days, in droves.

This philosophy is supported by scripture, where we see clearly that murder is not permissible, but we also see that not all killing is murder. For example, Exodus 22:2-3 tells us that “If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. “ It is important to note that this passage is qualified in the next verse, “If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft”. We see that if the break-in occurs in light of day, deadly force is not automatically mandated. The point is that violence is not mandated simply to defend property, in the light of day it is possible to discern whether or not the intent runs deeper than mere theft. We can see in the order of today that thieves who would enter your home under cover of night most often have intentions that include violence, home invasions stand out in my mind. In the dark it must be assumed that there is a deeper level of threat and deadly force is an acceptable response.

The New Testament affords fewer references to arms and an armed defense. But Jesus does give us some insights into his thoughts on the matter:

35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.
38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.
39 And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. Luke 22:35-39

We see that Jesus wished for at least some of the Apostles to be armed, presumably for the purposes of defense. It is Important to note that the sword was the assault rifle of the day, so Jesus not only wanted his men armed but well armed.

Even when Jesus allowed himself to be taken by the Pharisees, and stopped his disciples from using their weapons to defend Him, he did not condemn arms.

”Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” John 18:10-11.

Simon Peter was told to sheath his blade, not to abandon or relinquish it. Armed defense, although appropriate at times, was not the order of the day. Jesus had other things to do on our behalf.

So, is it appropriate for Christians to keep arms for the purpose of defending innocent life from evil people? It most certainly is. God in his infinite wisdom has seen to it that we are cleared to use this option should it be necessary. There is no inconsistency in followers of Christ, while striving for peace, using arms when called upon to do so. The use of deadly force is, however, a huge responsibility which should not be entered into in any but the most dire of need.

Old Testament violence is an interesting case in point. It is different from New Testament violence because of the coming of Christ. God clearly ordered the Hebrews to annihilate the Canaanites and surrounding peoples. Such violence is therefore an expression of God's will, for good or ill. Regardless, all the historic violence committed by the Hebrews and recorded in the Old Testament is just that—history. It happened; God commanded it. But it revolved around a specific time and place and was directed against a specific people. At no time did such violence go on to become standardized or codified into Jewish law. In short, biblical accounts of violence are descriptive, not prescriptive.

This is where Islamic violence is unique. Though similar to the violence of the Old Testament—commanded by God and manifested in history—certain aspects of Islamic violence and intolerance have become standardized in Islamic law and apply at all times. Thus, while the violence found in the Qur'an has a historical context, its ultimate significance is theological.

I do not, and will not, condone violating any American’s rights. But it is bound to happen if we want to secure our country.

There are some political leaders who will tell you that “Death to America” refers only to American arrogance and American government. But ask anyone who has looked into Islamic schools in America and you will see the real meaning of Muslim hate speech.

Muslim children attending mosques and Islamic schools are being taught to hate America, our government, our military personnel and its non-Muslim population. This is not a big secret but it seems to pass by the politicians. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry either don’t know this fact, or choose to ignore it. Muslims are taught to hate Americans and Jews.

Read this article about research on American Muslim schools and Mosques.

http://www.clarionproject.org/analysis/american-muslim-children-taught-hate#

This is what I think. I think there are some good Muslim’s in this world who have rejected the violence side of their religion. They are good, productive citizens. But Islam is not a religion of peace. You can compare it in the Christian world with maybe the KKK. The difference is the KKK is not taking over countries and launching a war against anyone who is not Christian.

Violence is to be shunned like disease. But there are times when violence is necessary. If you are not willing to use violence to defend yourself or your family, then violence will be used against you or them. You notice I said “use” violence and not “become” violent.

For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there are many examples in the Book of Mormon and words of prophets that tell us we can use violence in defense. We should be as Nephi when prompted to kill the evil King Noah, we should be reluctant.

Violence is no fun. But to live in this world and endure to the end we may be called upon to use violence for protection. Knowing how to use violence effectively takes training and practice. It’s not really a desirable thing. But if we want to continue in the work, build the kingdom of God here on earth, and endure to the end, we must learn. Keep it in perspective. Violence can be addicting and can turn from defense to the evil it can be. Be vigilant. In these troubled times it may be essential.

See past Blogs about violence:
LDS and Liberal? I Say Unto You, Nay 11/7/2015
No More, No More Mr. Nice Guy 10/16/2015

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