On The Right to Lethal Self Defense
There is great political upheaval in our current times. Propaganda, along with a general decline of Christian influence, has forced the great degradation of systematic thought in Western Civilization.
Though vast amounts of information and opinions traverse the mental landscape, the average man lacks an explicit, coherent framework from which to make such confident assertions. Paradoxically, this lack of a personal, explicit worldview is oftentimes coupled with the most dogmatic of spirits. The most alarming form of this dogmatism aims at forcefully stripping others of what Conservatives and Libertarians refer to as “fundamental human rights.” These radicals seek to achieve their objective through governmentally enforced violence (coercion). This violent foundationless dogmatism should be met head on with rights-centered dogmatism grounded in systematic rationality.
Men need a coherent worldview, not groundless emotionalism, to give weight to their political assertions. What follows is an attempt to provide such foundations for those who believe in the fundamental right to self-defense. The two essential liberties necessary to secure the freedom of men from tyranny are that of speech and of self defense.
For the sake of brevity, only the latter will be defended here. Individuals have the right to lethal, self defense in cases of mortal danger from other persons. That right is secured by God through Natural Law which is written on the heart of all men; its nature and foundations are illuminated through Special Revelation. Through the illumination of God’s Word, the Christian Philosopher is equipped with a foundation with which he can make confident assertions about his right to self-defense in a coherent, consistent, and persuasive way.
The Biblical Foundation of Natural Law
The Scriptural doctrine of Natural Law is based on the form of man as being made in God’s own image (Gen 1:26). To image another means to reflect them. Humanity is created by God to reflect His own character. Goodness and morality are attributes of God. Thus, as God is good, so too humanity is called to be good (Matt 5:48). Humans are moral creatures. In order that humans as His image bearers might know how they ought please Him, God “wrote” His law on their hearts (Rom 2:14-16). In saying that God wrote the law on the heart of mankind, we mean that He implanted morality within them. They know His law by sense and reason appropriating God’s revelation through the created order and their own constitution. They have a moral sense, by nature, of what is right and wrong (Rom 1:32). In the mystery God’s own providence, mankind fell from their original state of righteousness. Being born into sin, mankind is defiled in every aspect of His being (Rom 1:18-32, 3:10-20, Ps 51:5). Though sin affects every facet of a person’s being, through God’s own restraining grace mankind is not as evil as He ought be. As to his form, man is still made in the image of God. As to his knowledge, man still knows God, that He exists, and what God requires from him morally. Though this sense of duty to God is perverted it is not, consequent to the fall, wholly lost.
Through special revelation, God propositionally, and for the sake of clarity, explicated His law to His people through Moses. We know this explication as the Ten Commandments. What God had formerly written on the heart of man in creation internally, God then wrote on tablets of stone externally. The sixth of the ten commandments is the command that a man made in the image and likeness of God should not murder another man made in the image of God. Humans cannot unjustly kill humans (Ex 20:13). This explicit command under Moses is a reiteration of a concept found earlier in biblical history. Under Noah, in lieu of the sixth commandment, God details the concept of the sanctity of life relative capital punishment. He states, “Whoever sheds the blood of a man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His own image” (Gen 9:6). Under the broad category of the sanctity of life, the right to self-defense is logically contained. Self-defense is legitimate and dutiful because the aggressor has forfeited the right to his life and the victim maintains his right and duty to his. Therefore it is the duty of persons made in the image and likeness of God, when assaulted by lethal violence, to respond with lethal defense when necessary (WLC A. 135). Because of God’s image placed upon me, and because of the law written on my heart as part of that image, I have a duty and right to defend myself against lethal assault.
The Right to Self-Defense and Guns
The Leftist assault on our right to self-defense is expressed, not toward the right itself, but to the very instrument which guarantees that right. That instrument is a gun. Leftist propagandists seek to rid us of our right to self-defense by stripping us of the instruments necessary to guarantee that right. The gun is amoral, but is necessary to neutralize imposing threats. The gun equalizes a confrontation between a strong and weak man. The gun provides collaborating citizens the ability to defend themselves against an encroaching government. The gun provides the assaulted woman the chance to defend herself against the rapist. The insane logic of the Left is to utilize guns to remove guns from all persons except those who are using guns to remove guns from other persons (i.e. the state). By unavoidable Christian logic, the Leftist assault on law abiding citizens against guns, through the thuggish coercion of the state, should be rejected on Biblical grounds. The Leftists oppose God’s Law and the rights of our image. Over against the foundationless Leftists, we proclaim that for the flourishing of humanity, all law abiding citizens have a right to guns as an instrument of self-defense as guaranteed by God who stamped them with His own image. If you interfere with arms, you incur the wrath of God’s.
Patrick SteckbeckSee More Essays
Patrick Steckbeck is a graduate of Reformation Bible College, earning a B.A. in Theological Studies. He is currently pursuing an M.A. in Philosophy, specializing in Aristotle and Aquinas. He is the founder of The Reformed Philosopher.