The Bible does not have very clear rules about killing in self-defense. Human life is sacred and death is always a tragic event. In some cases, killing in self-defense may be justified. Killing should always be the last option.
What is self-defense killing?
Killing in self-defense is killing a person to prevent him from killing you or other innocent people. For example, if you are defending yourself against a bad guy who will kill you and end up killing the bad guy in the process, this is self-defense. A policeman who kills a bandit who is going to kill a group of children also acts in self-defense. Killing soldiers during a war to protect their people can also be considered self-defense.
See here: can a believer be a policeman or a military man?
What does the Bible say about self-defense killing?
Every human life is precious and must always be protected. Killing another person is a very serious sin ( Deuteronomy 5:17 ). But killing in self-defense is a more complicated situation, because someone is going to die anyway. The question is: who? You, the assailant or another innocent person?
The Bible teaches that it is a noble act to love enemies, but it also teaches that we have a duty to protect our families and innocent people when we can ( 1 Timothy 5: 8 ).
Some people put it this way: the believer may decide not to defend himself if only his life is at stake but he has a duty to defend himself when there are other lives that are going to be affected. Others may say: even if only your life is at stake, you must defend it because your life is a gift from God and belongs to God.
See also: what does the Bible say about the death penalty?
The problem is that the life of someone who wants to kill you is also precious ( Ezekiel 18:23 ). However, if you do not kill that person, he will take another precious life or even many lives. The believer knows that he will go to Heaven if he dies, but he does not know what will happen to anyone else who dies in the confrontation.
Sometimes defending one person’s life will result in taking another’s life. Killing should never be the purpose but only a sad consequence of a fair defense. It was the aggressor who caused the death, not the defender. Anyway, whoever kills in self-defense should ask God for forgiveness.
Find out here: Does God forgive homicide?
Killing the aggressor is not justified when:
- There is no serious danger– when there is no danger of death or serious aggression
- You can get away– if you and other people involved can get away, then you should get away
- You can defend yourself without killing– killing should only be considered when it’s the only way to defend yourself
- The attacker gives upif the attacker stops attacking, there is no more need to kill