Does Refusing to Defend Oneself = Murder

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by AlexanderHenderson1647, Sep 18, 2012.

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  1. AlexanderHenderson1647

    AlexanderHenderson1647 Puritan Board Freshman

    A friend and I were wrestling through this together, neither of us terribly firm on where to draw the line. In an event where a innocent person's life is under threat of destruction at the hand of another unjustly, might that innocent person surrender their life to the hands of that murderer without the guilt of murder being laid at their own feet? Is self defense necessary? In light of the Scripture's command that we oughtn't murder and the WSC instruction thereupon to wit

    "Q. 68. What is required in the sixth commandment?
    A. The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavors to preserve our own life, and the life of others.

    Q. 69. What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?
    A. The sixth commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbor, unjustly, or whatsoever tendeth thereunto.",

    innocent life is to be preserved by all lawful means. Also it is recognized that life may be taken away justly, therefore acquitting some killers of murder.

    Does the innocent man/woman have the prerogative to surrender his life to a murderer (and we'll assume that he/she is the only one at risk in this situation) and refuse to meet the murder's force with any resistance at all? Is it at all godly to say, 'I will surrender my innocent life with the desire to protect his/her guilty life"? Would that be practical suicide? Must we put up a fight?

    Qualifications:
    1. I am not speaking of refusing to defend other innocents (one's family, an innocent bystander, etc)
    2. I do not have in mind giving oneself up in a ransom or hostage situation (ie. 'take me, don't take her;' or [a group is captured and the captor decides he will kill one of the group] the innocent says, 'since you have declared that you will kill one of us, I volunteer myself to die that the others may not.')
    3. While in many cases self defenders could only incapacitate an unjust attacker, I'm not pondering that.
    4. I'm not questioning whether self defense, even the use of deadly force, is Biblical. I'm quite settled on that matter as Biblical.
    5. I'm not questioning whether trying/and failing to defend oneself in an innocent situation is "suicide."
    6. For sake of this topic, I'm looking at two private individuals with no commission from a lawfully appointed magistrate.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
  2. JoannaV

    JoannaV Puritan Board Sophomore

    It's a bit hypothetical. Sounds like a rare situation, and each situation will be different.

    Some means of defense/escape will be harder to evaluate than others. Would it be "assisted suicide" if you decided not to take the opportunity to poison the person who said they would kill you in two days time? Perhaps you will be rescued tomorrow anyway.
     
  3. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Let's remember that Jesus did exactly this. He had a broader life-saving purpose in mind. So I think it indeed could be godly, since Jesus did it. But it would be a highly unusual situation. It's hard to imagine many situations one of us is likely to face that would make the saving of the murderer's life (or his soul) by our death something we could anticipate with any certainty.
     
  4. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Would a Christian in not violently resisting the unlawful persecution of an unjust magistrate be guilty of murder? That is, if you are a Christian in ancient Rome, and Nero has sent troops for you (let's assume that your family/dependents are taken care of) would it be lawful to not resist for the sake of your witness? We know, for instance, that Paul didn't resist unlawful arrest on multiple occasions.
     
  5. AlexanderHenderson1647

    AlexanderHenderson1647 Puritan Board Freshman

    That is far different as there is an active civil magistrate involved there, though that topic is worth considering at another time. It is not so much that that I'm pursuing here. For sake of this topic, I'm looking at two private individuals with no commission from a lawfully appointed magistrate.
     
  6. AlexanderHenderson1647

    AlexanderHenderson1647 Puritan Board Freshman

    This is very helpful, thanks Josh.
     
  7. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    No.
     
  8. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    How does this all apply to the early church who did not flee in the face of probable martyrdom, particularly to Perpetua's pastor (catechist), Saturus, who voluntarily turned himself in to shepherd his flock to the end and to die with them: A Pastor unto Death | Pillar on the Rock
     
  9. Miss Marple

    Miss Marple Puritan Board Junior

    One negative about willingly submitting to a murderer is that you leave him able to murder again, thus doing a serious disservice to others.

    The only reason I could see to submit in a sense to a murderer would be to protect another person's life, particularly a dependent of yours.

    For example, if I let a home invasion guy kill me to buy time for my kids to get away.

    Pacifism is, I think, a sin.
     
  10. jandrusk

    jandrusk Puritan Board Sophomore

    Keep in mind the answer to Q68 is to "preserve" our life and the life of others. This may or may not require the use of deadly force. I think we need to use only the minimal amount of force for that preservation. This why I think it would be benefecial for every Christian and Non-Christian for that matter to take some form of self-defense training. This has the benefits of teaching you how to use the minimal amount of force against an attacker based on the threat you are presented with. If you do not use the means necessary to protect your life in a life or death situation, then yes I think you would be guilty of self-murder by proxy of the attacker.
     
  11. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    It is often impossible to know what the "minimal amount of force needed" is exactly when faced with a threat.
     
  12. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    I believe that, both morally and legally, all we are required to do is make a "reasonable judgment". For example, if someone says, "I am going to kill you," and reaches into his pocket, you may reasonably assume and act under the belief that there is an imminent deadly threat, even if the individual actually was reaching for a pack of breath mints.

    Your response, then, may take the form of (as Massad Ayoub is fond of saying) an equal amount of countervalent force. What this means is that you escalate your response in a way that is commensurate with the threat.

    Please see Jim Wagner on the "use of force ladder":

    Use-of-Force Ladder

    View attachment 3094
     
  13. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    We would have to then rope the Apostles and disciples in too. I don't think there deaths were "resisted" in anyway let alone violently. Martyrdom is indeed a category of its own.

    Zack
     
  14. AlexanderHenderson1647

    AlexanderHenderson1647 Puritan Board Freshman

    In their cases yes I agree that I would categorize differently as those men submitted themselves to duly recognized magistrates though I've read several who suggested that some of them were not martyred (whatever may have happened, I cannot debate that.) They took flight at times from death mobs and at other times willingly went into areas where a strong probability of injury or death awaited their persons. But this we know - they took no care for their persons when God directed them to precarious locales.
     
  15. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    Exactly. Unfortunately out of this Biblical response to God's command people later extrapolated some dubious courses of action. Some in the early church fell for a martyrdom honor complex in which they wandered around the empire looking to be persecuted and killed. I wish I had the sources handy. I read a lot of Patristics when I was Roman Catholic. On a tangent as the doctrine of Purgatory evolved martydom was seen as way to go to straight to heaven. There is evidence that Augustine believed in a proto-purgatory that was coming in to play. This may have influenced EC martyr seeking behavior.
     
  16. jandrusk

    jandrusk Puritan Board Sophomore

    Can you give an example?
     
  17. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Dark shapes outside breaking into your house....not sure if it is one person, two persons, or if they are armed. They break the windows and start coming in or you meet them in the hall in the dark. It seems wise to sometimes shoot first rather than try to fight them hand to hand (not knowing what is in his hands or if there are buddies approaching in several more seconds).

    Or, if a crowd surrounds your huuse like the recent consulate attacks. How violent will the protests be, will they stop at rocks, molotov cocktails, will they force an entry and parade your body through the streets? It is difficult to make such calculations.
     
  18. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    It seems you would be wiser to kill the home invader and preserve your life along with your kids.
     
  19. AlexanderHenderson1647

    AlexanderHenderson1647 Puritan Board Freshman

    It seems this is what Exodus has in mind 22:2 If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. 3 If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him;

    It appears to be pretty obvious that it is not the invadee's responsibility to acertain the invader's intention. There are too many things that could go wrong that would put the invadee's innocent life/well-being at risk. The blood is on the invader's hands.

    I am suggesting a scenario in which someone has no dependents/other innocents on hand to consider and willingly surrenders to the invader. Say the innocent says, "I trust in the Lord and you will be judged by Him if you take my life. Don't harm me! While I might die, I will go to the arms of my Lord. Unless you turn from your evil, your death will not end when you perish in this life" even though weapon or superior self-defense was available to the innocent. The intruder makes it plain that the only reason they were there was to kill. The innocent puts up NO resistance. Without presuming the mind of God, might we reasonably expect that the Lord sees our action as:

    'You have been faithful with what I have entrusted you and you didn't even resist though you might have'

    or

    'I supplied you with the instrumentality to preserve your life that you might live and serve me, you were unfaithful in the gift of life I gave you.'
     
  20. Miss Marple

    Miss Marple Puritan Board Junior

    Certainly, if possible, that is what I would intend to do.
     
  21. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    But you said "if I let a home invasion guy kill me to buy time for my kids to get away". That's passive. You are not attempting to defend yourself.
     
  22. Miss Marple

    Miss Marple Puritan Board Junior

    "But you said "if I let a home invasion guy kill me to buy time for my kids to get away". That's passive. You are not attempting to defend yourself. "

    If I felt that was my only viable option. I'd hope that was not the case, but there are some scenarios where that would be possible. If someone got the drop on me, I was able to lure him towards me so they could run, I am unarmed at the time; it could happen.

    It's akin to a man on a squad falling on a grenade to save the others from the blast. Sacrifice, not suicide.
     
  23. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    But you'd still have the option to put up some kind of fight. You could throw a lamp at the guy or if nothing else, punch and kick. I just can't see how the only option would be to let him kill you without some kind of fight.
     
  24. RPEphesian

    RPEphesian Puritan Board Sophomore

    If I understand correctly, this man sought martyrdom:

    Contrarily, Christ said to flee (Mt. 10:23).
     
  25. Miss Marple

    Miss Marple Puritan Board Junior

    "I just can't see how the only option would be to let him kill you without some kind of fight. "

    For instance, suppose I tackle the guy and try to subdue him as much as possible, even though given the fact that I am a middle aged woman, I know my chances are poor. Say he's big, he's strong, he's armed. . . yet I tackle him and try to slow him down, in order for my kids to get away, even though I am reasonably certain he is going to kill me.

    That would be a sacrifice, not a suicide. I am buying time for my kids to run by rushing at someone almost certain to kill me.

    That would be my example, hopefully a very rare example of such an occurrence. However, I'd be fighting, as you suggest, so our points of view are not very exclusive of each other.
     
  26. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    What you describe here is different than what you originally said - "For example, if I let a home invasion guy kill me to buy time for my kids to get away." I would expect any parent to put up the fight, even if they will probably lose, to protect their children.
     
  27. AlexanderHenderson1647

    AlexanderHenderson1647 Puritan Board Freshman

    Just to circle the wagons back on this, please keep in mind my original qualifications.:judge:

    "Qualifications:
    1. I am not speaking of refusing to defend other innocents (one's family, an innocent bystander, etc)
    2. I do not have in mind giving oneself up in a ransom or hostage situation (ie. 'take me, don't take her;' or [a group is captured and the captor decides he will kill one of the group] the innocent says, 'since you have declared that you will kill one of us, I volunteer myself to die that the others may not.')
    3. While in many cases self defenders could only incapacitate an unjust attacker, I'm not pondering that.
    4. I'm not questioning whether self defense, even the use of deadly force, is Biblical. I'm quite settled on that matter as Biblical.
    5. I'm not questioning whether trying/and failing to defend oneself in an innocent situation is "suicide."
    6. For sake of this topic, I'm looking at two private individuals with no commission from a lawfully appointed magistrate."
     
  28. Miss Marple

    Miss Marple Puritan Board Junior

    "What you describe here is different than what you originally said - "For example, if I let a home invasion guy kill me to buy time for my kids to get away." I would expect any parent to put up the fight, even if they will probably lose, to protect their children. "

    Yes, I was not being specific enough. Sitting there like a lump while someone kills me wouldn't let my kids get away in any realistic fashion.

    So, no lump.
     
  29. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Here's a case from real life. Because I have spoken of the things of God – not a real witness, but acknowledging Him and His justice in the course of a conversation – to a man who (unknown to me) had a violent hatred of the things of God (his father was an Orthodox priest), he sent a message through a relative that he was going to do damage to my face (I am making the threat polite) when he was in the country again. It was really a pathological response to an innocent remark. As this person was younger and stronger than I, I thought it best to have a sturdy wooden club handy near my front gate. He was known to visit the area (and stay in the house across the street) somewhat regularly.

    At this time I was pastoring a church. I also sought the Lord about my preparing a defensive response. My thought was to hit him hard enough to knock him out and make him think twice about his coming after me again. I also thought that I could possibly kill him, or at the least hospitalize him – and this would surely make the local papers, and in a small country as I was in, the news would go country-wide: "Evangelical pastor hospitalizes (or kills) Greek citizen visiting the island (of Cyprus)."

    Did I want that type of publicity for my church (publicly known as Reformed), and the Name of Christ, according as I preached Him, and wrote concerning Him in the national papers? Not really. Because of my military and martial arts background, my reflexes and attitude were geared to inflict damage. I was actually more afraid of my capacity for violence than his. Did I want to get the reputation as a brawler and violent man, both in my church and my city (cf 1 Timothy 3:3)? Not to mention I was already an elderly man in my 60s (now 70).

    In the end – after prayer and much thought – I decided it would be more seemly, as a pastor and an older gent who walked with God, to take a couple of punches to the head, than to break my opponent's head.

    I am no longer a man of violence, but a man of peace. If someone were to break into my home, or threaten my wife, that's a different story.
     
  30. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    Thanks for this example. But this story may not address the original post, since the post was about having one's life threatened. It sounds like you decided that your life would not be threatened in such a scenario. It it never would have been appropriate to respond with deadly force if you didn't think your life was at stake.
     
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