A MATTER OF SELF DEFENSE
He who is the Glory of Israel does not...change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind. (1 Sam 15:29)
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)It is to our eternal advantage that God and His dealings with man do not change so that we, like Israel, "are not destroyed" (Mal 3:6).1
The supposition that He has changed, that He has perhaps mellowed with age, fails to recognize that the Bible as a whole presents a consistent picture of God, that the character He displays in the Old Testament is no different from the character He displays in the New Testament. God responds to man appropriately whatever his situation. While the reader will find a constant view of God throughout the Bible, he must always be cognizant of context, recognizing that God's revelation may pertain to a specific setting and not be universal, applicable to all circumstances.2
The Bible does not say much about self-defense,3 but there are a few passages that suggest some general principles. While it is preferable "as far as it depends on you, [to] live at peace with everyone" (Rom 12:18), that is not always possible, and you may need to act in response to an attack.
- Principle: The child of God must preserve his own life.
If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; but if it happens after sunrise, he is guilty of bloodshed (Exod 22:2-3a).When an intruder's intention is unknown or unknowable (i.e., whether to rob or to assault), in this case because of darkness, deadly force is warranted. In daylight an intruder's motive is ostensibly clear.4 Presumably a homeowner may still resist a thief and protect his property5 but may not kill him, because the threat is not to the homeowner personally.6