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The use of Deadly Force in Self-Defense

Discussion in 'Archived - Ethics & Morality' started by Huldrych, Apr 11, 2003.

  1. Freodin

    Freodin Devout believer in a theologically different God

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    Should those of you who advocate the use of deadly force not at least relativate your position?

    I see a lot of "I would have no problems in killing if (insert some valued object) was threatened) answers. Are you really so unemphatic? "No problems" - really, none at all?

    Well, I for one advocate to use of force in situations where no other way is possible, but I don´t think that deadly force is necessary in any situation.

    Let´s see: we have a four year old girl, who is attacked and may possibly be "brutally killed" - and you can find no other way to save this girl than to kill the offender?
     
  2. euphoric

    euphoric He hates these cans!!

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    But by that logic one should't vaccinate their children or subject them to medical treatment.  That would be trusting in man rather than God.  No lectures about playing in traffic, no warnings against sticking a fork in an electric socket.  One can revel in the idea of heaven without losing all value for life on earth.  I'm not advocating lethal force in all situations, but if I can use a little violence to avert tragedy, I do it without hesitation.

    And no, not pride.  For me to refuse to intervene or to preemptively limit the level to which I will intervene is to make a conscious decision to let the girl die.  I'm not only making a choice for myself, but a choice for her.  One I feel that I have no right to make.

    -brett
     
  3. euphoric

    euphoric He hates these cans!!

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    I would certainly prefer an alternative to lethal force or even violence, but I will not rule out either of those methods before the fact.  Of course I would want to rescue her without resorting to violence, but if it comes down to it, I would use whatever force was neccessary. 

    -brett
     
  4. Aradia

    Aradia Regular Member

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    euphoric: "But by that logic one should't vaccinate their children or subject them to medical treatment. That would be trusting in man rather than God. No lectures about playing in traffic, no warnings against sticking a fork in an electric socket. One can revel in the idea of heaven without losing all value for life on earth. I'm not advocating lethal force in all situations, but if I can use a little violence to avert tragedy, I do it without hesitation."

    None of those have anything to do with violence as a means to an end. False analogy.
     
  5. euphoric

    euphoric He hates these cans!!

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    No they have to do with reliance on man rather than God.  Mother Vashti asserted that she must rely on God to be her spear and shield.  If one relies solely on God to protect one's children from violence, it stands to reason that one must rely solely on God to shield her child from disease or accident as well.  Especially given the extreme to which she is advocating inaction in the case of violence.  If I am to stand by and watch my child die from an attack and rely on God's will being done, then why would I not stand by and watch my child die of pneumonia relying on the same thing?

    -brett
     
  6. pete5

    pete5 New Member

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    What place does violence have for a christian?

    I know that God hates murder.

    I know that God hates abuse of the innocent and the defenceless.


    I would think VERY carefully before hurting someone. I would never try to kill someone.

    In response to euphoric: It does NOT stand to reason.
    On one hand you are contemplating the injury or death of a human made in Gods image and loved by Him. On the other hand you are using the gifts God has given people (the ability to heal and diagnose) and society (the gift of medical knowledge and technology)

    It is a mistake to assume that leaving a corrupt nature to take it's course is "God's Will." If God would have me curb my natural desire towards violence and sexual depravity, then why would it not also be his desire for me to try to improve a childs health through medicine.

    As Mother Vashti says: we must rely on God. For EVERYTHING.

    If there is a time for violence in my life, it will be at Gods direction, not out of my own violenct instincts
     
  7. Mother Vashti

    Mother Vashti Veteran

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    Hi euphoric,
    I just want to recap that I completely understand your point of view and I admit that I'm persuaded by your points. But my central argument here is that violence is another action -- like lying, stealing, or insulting -- that can be made understandable by circumstances. Still, like lying, stealing, and insulting, violence is an action that is simply forbidden in the Kingdom of God: you cannot do it; your own spirit holds you.

    It is forbidden.
     
  8. euphoric

    euphoric He hates these cans!!

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    Why is one situation "using God's gifts" and the other is not.  Why do you assume that God has not placed you in that situation to affect the outcome.  You seem so sure that the violence you use wouldn't be accomplishing God's purpose.  Perhaps it is God's will that you walk down the street at that precise moment to save that little girl's life. 

    Starting over a bit, I see three problems with Mother Vashti's argument. 

    1)  She is taking one situation from the Bible and trying to make it say something that it doesn't.  The story about Jesus preventing his disciple from killing the soldier seems to be much more about Jesus displaying a willingness to go along with his eventual sacrifice.  I see no logical reason to conclude that it was a statement of absolute commitment to nonviolence.

    2)  She ignores other parts of the Gospels that contradict her argument.  I don't know about you, but overturning tables and scattering moneychangers with a whip doesn't exactly fit my concept of the nonviolent approach.

    3)  She seems to be ignoring the possibility that a God who clearly isn't opposed to violent means of rectifying a problem would use a just and violent action to prevent an unjust and violent action.

    I think this argument suffers from the same problem most do when taken to an extreme.  Was Jesus a violent man?  Of course not.  Should we use violent means other than when it is neccessary?  Of course we shouldn't.  Could we argue from now until the sun burns out about what situations require a violent response?  You bet we could.  Does any of this mean that violence is never an appropriate response in any situation, no matter the circumstances?  No, that smacks of an attempt to take a good idea way too far. 

    Some situations require a violent response.  That's life, and sometimes it sucks.  There are big, bad people out there who want very much to take your life or the life of someone you care about.  Not doing what is neccessary to prevent that seems absurd to me, frankly.  That's just me and I'm sure it has everything to do with the way I see the world. 

    I've said it before and I'll make it abundantly clear again, I don't really give a rip whether or not my philosophy on a given subject lines up with the teachings of Jesus or not.  I'm not a Christian and if you want to dismiss my opinions based on that fact, then be my guest.  But I will not allow my idealism to cost another person their life.  I just don't have it in me.  The bottom line for me is this, I don't want violence, but if it is brought to me, I will do what is neccessary.  If Jesus disagrees, well so be it.

    -brett
     
  9. euphoric

    euphoric He hates these cans!!

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    I certainly understand where you're coming from.  It's a tempting philosophy, but I just feel that it goes too far.  To say that violence should be a last resort, I can go along with that in a heart beat.  To say that it should be avoided no matter the cost just goes one step too far for my tastes.  I think this one stems from different worldviews and there's probably little hope of bridging that kind of gap.  Even if I disagree with your position, I have to admit that your heart is in the right place.

    -brett
     
  10. pete5

    pete5 New Member

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    Sorry euphoric, I assumes you were a christian, because you are not a christian I would never recommend that you try to live like one.

    The christians of the bibles era (between 50 and 150 years of christ's dying depending on who you believe) were whipped, beaten, jailed and murdered unjustly. christians all over the world face the same persecution. The are beaten and killed all over china, india and indonesia to name a few.

    Not once does the bible record them responding with violence. I hope christians today never do. What does Jesus say about self defence?

    I am not saying that God would not direct me to defend someone with violence, but rage is not a gift from God, and I question the necessity of killing someone.



    Please understand that Mother Vashti's belief that God will defend her is NOT idealism.

    God is not an ideal that we think is right or good, He exists and has promised to give his children (christians) everything they need.

    I don't know if violence has a place in my life, but if it does, I will wait for God to tell me.
     
  11. euphoric

    euphoric He hates these cans!!

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    I was a Christian not too many years ago, but alas no more.  I understand your position, but I think you're taking a principle that applies to specific situations and attempting to make it into a one size fits all philosophy.  The early Christians sought martyrdom for their faith as a means of showing the world their devotion.  They were willing to suffer violence perpetrated against them because of their faith.  It stretches credulity to suggest that the same attitude should be taken in response to violence perpetrated upon onesself or others for other reasons.  If I wanted to prove something by dying at the hands of another, that's my choice.  But if I am in a situation where my inaction would cost another person their life, my feeling is that I cannot choose to sacrifice their life for my purposes.  Bottom line, I believe that I have a responsibility to defend someone, even through violent means, if neccessary.

    That's fine, in reality you and I are agreeing to a point.  Neither of us is ruling out violence at all costs, we just have different standards for what justifies a violent response.

    Responding to certain circumstances with violence does not neccessitate killing someone.  Again, that would be an extreme response.  I can think of very few situations where I would use lethal force, even in defense.  It would be an absolute last option. 

    If you believe that He has given you everything you need, why would you not believe that that includes the ability to defend yourself in certain circumstances?

    -brett
     
  12. pete5

    pete5 New Member

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    euphoric

    I accept everything that happens to me as Gods will. God is supreme and I know Him enough not to question Him

    Violence to myself is not a bad thing. To be killed is not a bad thing. The life I have on this plannet has only one purpose, to glorify God and honor Him. I believe that God asks us to defend the defenseless.

    We see things differently because you don't see God. Christians are told not to live and think like the world (which comes naturaly to all people) but through a relationship with God (through his Spirit living in us.) God tells us that the life we have on earth is temporary, but the life we gained through following Jesus is eternal.

    If I was attacked, I would not defend myself. If my child was attacked, I would attempt to stop the attacker without hurting them.
     
  13. Freodin

    Freodin Devout believer in a theologically different God

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    Euphoric, I think you just made a very good point: violence should only be used WHEN IT IS NECESSARY.

    The problem now is only to find out when it is necessary, and when it is not.

    And that is why I absolutly deny the necessity of deadly force: you can make mistakes. You can misevaluate a situation, and, if your opponent is dead, there is no way to correct the mistake other than saying "Oops, sorry!".

    I prefer to err on the side of caution.
     
  14. stillsmallvoice

    stillsmallvoice The Narn rule!

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    Hi all!

    I am finding this thread to be quite fascinating, totally divorced from reality for the most part, but quite fascinating nevertheless.

    I am very glad that there are very, very few people in my country who espouse the complete pacifism & absolute dedication to non-violence that Mother Vashti and others espouse (that we have too many 'Dirty Harry' types here is another issue). One year ago, on the first night of Passover, on March 27 2002, a Palestinian terrorist walked into the Park Hotel in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya and blew himself up in the middle of the dining room where Jews were celebrating Passover, butchering 29 people(all civilians, with more than a few elderly) and wounding 140 others (20 of them seriously; see http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH0le00). What a pity that nobody managed to blow his brains out before he could detonate his infernal device! If more of my people espoused the complete pacifism & absolute dedication to non-violence that Mother Vashti and others espouse, more of my people would be murdered.

    Pete5 posted:

    Well, I'm glad that I do not belong to faith that would require me to passively allow my neck to be stretched across a chopping block if ever an evil person wished to cut my head off. Ugh! No thanks! Here, Pete5, you have raised willful suicide to the status of a religious precept!

    I suppose that this is your choice. :(


    Are you a parent?

    Someone is attacking your child (God forbid!) and you'll do what, exactly? Offer an eloquent soliloquy on the virtues of non-violence? Ask the attacker nicely? Your child could very well be dead by then (God forbid!) and you would be his attacker's de facto accomplice and aider-and-abetter.

    I know people who have seen their children murdered. I work with a woman whose toddler daughter and elderly mother were blown to pieces by a suicide-terrorist on a bus here in Jerusalem last year. Would that someone could have managed to kill the bomber before he acted!

    Our Sages comment on Leviticus 18:5.

    Our Sages note that it says "live by them" and not "die by them". We believe that all of the Torah's precepts (except for 3; murder, adultery/incest, and idolatry) must be set aside to save life.

    Our Sages also comment on Leviticus 19:16.

    Our Sages cite this verse and teach that if we do nothing to halt the shedding of our neighbor's blood, it is as if we were shedding it! (Pete5 and mother Vashti, what is your take on this verse?)

    Please do not accuse me of delighting in the killing of someone in self-defense, God forbid! It is a cause for sorrow and grief that someone who was created in the Divine Image could have used the gifts that God gave him to perpetrate evil; we do not rejoice over the death of such a one. See Proverbs 24:17-18.

    (BTW, I find the scenes in the USA of people cheering outside a prison or penitentiary when someone has been executed to be vulgar in the extreme.)

    Mother Vashti and Pete5, I hope & pray that you never have to put your ideals to the test!

    Pete5, you also posted:

    Rage has NOTHING to do with it! Whatever gave you the idea that it does?

    You also posted:

    Hmm, does He rain manna from Heaven down on you or do you buy/grow your own food?

    Does He stitch fig leaves together for you or do you buy/make your own clothes?

    Spiritual passivity certainly has no place in my faith; we also believe that God helps those who help themselves.

    Be well!

    ssv :wave:
     
  15. euphoric

    euphoric He hates these cans!!

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    I think it is severely divorced from reality but that's part of the fun.  My guess is that in a situation in which their child were actually in grave danger, either Mother Vashti or pete5 would probably have their parental instincts kick in and they'd be trying to claw the attacker's eyes out.  But it can still be fun to talk about what ifs. 


    This is an excellent point.  I can see making a choice for yourself to act nonviolently, I can't see choosing such a course when someone else's life is at risk.  I don't feel that I have the right to make that choice for them.

    -brett
     
  16. euphoric

    euphoric He hates these cans!!

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    Well, let me say this, I understand your point, and in any given situation the appropriate level of force is always a judgement call and a difficult one.  I've spent a good deal of time contemplating exactly what level of force is appropriate in a given situation.  My teachers have always made certain that the training I've received is tempered by a great deal of contemplation on the responsibility of such knowledge. 

    That being said, in some cases, I must conclude that lethal force is the lesser of two evils.  For instance, in protecting someone I love.  If someone were to try to harm a loved one with the intent of killing them, depending on the specifics of the situation, I might kill the attacker in the knowledge that I have chosen the lesser of two evils so to speak.  Yes, the attacker is dead, but I can live with that, painful as it may be.  My loved one is alive and I would guess that had I neglected to act, and they had died, the pain would be infinitely greater. 

    Sometimes other people force us into situations where our choices are less than pleasant.  The reality of life is that sometimes we have to accept one unpleasant outcome to avoid another that is much worse.

    -brett
     
  17. stillsmallvoice

    stillsmallvoice The Narn rule!

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    Hi all!

    Euphoric, you posted:

    I suppose yer right!

    Thank you!

    It reminds me of those cases that make the news every now & then about a couple (Christian Scientists or members of some other similar group) letting threir baby die rather than give him/her basic medical treatment. If they want to deny themselves basic medical care, I suppose that it's their right, however much I might be aghast at their interpretation of the scriptures. But as far as sacrificing a baby on the altar of their beliefs, I fail to see how this is anything but cold-blooded murder and the same thing as the ancient Canaanites/Moabites/Ammonites' burning their children to Baal, Molech, Chemosh, etc.

    Be well!

    ssv :wave:
     
  18. Aradia

    Aradia Regular Member

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    "What a pity that nobody managed to blow his brains out before he could detonate his infernal device! If more of my people espoused the complete pacifism & absolute dedication to non-violence that Mother Vashti and others espouse, more of my people would be murdered."

    Congratulations. And your non-paficist beliefs have garnered.... what, exactly? Oh, that's right. Nothing. Not a **** thing.

    Oh, btw, Americans are just plain vulgar in general, whether cheering executions or not. *grin*

    I need to leave before I start dwelling on all the "religious" Israelis and Palestinians killing each other. ****ing hypocrites.
     
  19. Tawhano

    Tawhano Northland Highwayman Supporter

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    Back when I was a practicing Christian in the Navy I was assigned to the Security Team and given a gun to protect the ship in case of attack. I was at a loss as to what I should do as regards to the scriptures. I found this:

    Luke 3
    14   And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

    To put this in perspective; I learned from historical accounts that it was common for the soldiers to raid homes on the outer reaches of the King’s territory for money since the lower end soldiers weren’t paid all that well. I looked up the ‘do violence’ part in the Greek language and found this definition in the Strong’s Concordance:


    1) to shake thoroughly
    2) to make to tremble
    3) to terrify
    4) to agitate
    5) to extort from one by intimidation money or other property


    I concluded that because Jesus didn’t tell them to leave the army but ‘do violence to no man’ that definition number 5 must be what he was referring to. Otherwise he would have instructed them to leave the army would he not? I still hold this view even as a back-slider.
     
  20. pete5

    pete5 New Member

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    stillsmallvoice:

    If your life is the most precious thing you own you would protect it every way you could. If that means breaking what you call Gods law, or injuring or killing another man, then these things become necesary.

    I see life as valuable because it is from God, my life is valuable because God gave it to me, and he has the right to withdraw it at any time. HOWEVER since I became a christian, my life has a new value. My life is now owned by God, to be used purely for his purposes (even though I am imperfect, he accepts what I can offer.) It is Gods desire that I glorify Him, witnessing to the world that Jesus Christ is His son, and the only way for the world to regain relationship with God.

    God clearly tells me in the bible not to respond to violence with violence, and to let people strike me if they will. As for defending myself with Offer an eloquent soliloquy on the virtues of non-violence? Ask the attacker nicely? Did you see the picture of a man in front of a tank in tianamen square?

    Without God, the greatest value of life is its existance.

    John 12:25-26
    The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
     
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