Jesus said that those who take up the sword perish with the sword, but what did He mean by that?
Jesus wasn't addressing personal defense in this passage; He was talking about how His followers behave as the kingdom of God. This text served as a rebuke towards Peter for trying to bring about God's will through bearing the sword as a believer. It also served as a rebuke towards the Jewish people who had put their trust in the chariots of Rome instead of God. This blind allegiance to empire led to oppression of the poor, neglect of the widow and the orphan, and it led them to not be able to see Jesus's message of a heavenly kingdom.
Here's my position on self defense: violence is only the answer when there are no other answers.
Laura and I own a handgun that belonged to her father. I've owned several guns in the past and grew up around hunting deer, doves, and rabbit.
I pray that I never have to use that gun to take the life of someone for whom Christ died.
I am against military action unless it is absolutely necessary.
I think it is immoral to expand the military budget while there are so many homeless veterans that suffer from addiction due to PTSD.
I disagree with the way that wars are fought. I believe that taking advantage of kids with the promise of college tuition while those that make the decision whether or not to go to war put themselves in little to no danger is atrocious, especially if these leaders have never served in the military themselves.
I believe that fighting any war in the name of Christ is of the devil. It was this temptation that Jesus overcame in Matthew 4, and it was because of this mindset that Jesus told Peter “Get behind me, Satan!”
I am against violent protests, and I mourn the loss of any life (after all, we are to love our enemies).
But I understand that violence is very rarely the only possible answer.
I believe that people have a right to protect their homes, but I believe humans across all nations throughout history have fetishized violence and many look for an opportunity to use their gun instead of having it as a last resort.
But I also believe that the gospel has the potential to radically transform the entire planet. I believe Isaiah's words in Isaiah 2 when he envisioned a world in which people turn their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. When we listen to Jesus and love not only our neighbors but our enemies as we love ourselves, then there will be no more enemies.
To sum this entire article up: violence is only the answer when it is the only answer.
Jesus shows us a more excellent way:
John 14:27 (NAS): Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.