We have said that under normal conditions it is the duty of every loyal citizen to obey his government and to serve in the armed forces of his country if called. We must make it clear, however, that such service is not to be rendered blindly or mechanically. God alone is Lord of the conscience. Our first loyalty is to Him, and we cannot transfer that loyalty to any group of officials, no matter how sincere their intentions.
Another prominent feature of the modern pacifist movement to which we strenuously object is its leadership, particularly in the political and interdenominational spheres. While there are many sincere Christians connected with it, an unduly large proportion of its leaders have come from the ranks of church liberals, socialists, secular humanists, atheists, and Communists—the type of people with whom it is extremely dangerous to mingle. Those various groups find it possible to work together on a humanistic basis. While the Christian pacifist wants disarmament for one reason, the Communist wants it for an entirely different reason; and yet the effect of their influence is the same—a defenseless America.
The New Testament gives no direct teaching on the subject of war, although it does make it plain that the civil government—whether kingdom, empire, or republic, it does not say—is divinely established so that as citizens we are to recognize its authority and to perform our duties toward it. That there should be a difference of emphasis and objective between the Old and the New Testament is quite natural, since there was a difference of dispensations, and since the former was written to and about a nation, while the latter was written to individuals and to a nonpolitical body known as the church. The ceremonial laws of the Old Testament had been fulfilled and had passed away, but the moral laws remained in full force. The two Testaments fit together in perfect harmony.
In all matters of controversy among Christians the Scriptures are accepted as the highest court of appeal. Historically they have been the common authority of Christendom. We believe that they “are given by inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and practice” (The Westminster Confession of Faith I, 2); that they contain one harmonious, consistent, and sufficiently complete system of doctrine; and that it is our duty to trace out this consistency by a careful investigation of the meaning of particular passages. No person, acting merely on his own observations and judgments, can know what are the basic principles of the plan that God is following.
Below are a few verses that touch upon the subject of self-defense or defending another.
There are more verses, but these give an overview of the topic.
Genesis 9:5-6 (ESV)
5 And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.
6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.
I. Matthew 5:38-42 – "Turn The Other Cheek"
The Path of Non-Resistance
Christian pacifists believe it is always wrong to injure other humans, no matter what the circumstances. And the same principles supporting pacifism carry over to nonresistance–the belief that any form of self-defense is wrong. This view is usually on the exemplary life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
I. The Biblical Case for Self-Defense.
It is noteworthy that the Bible records many accounts of fighting and warfare. The providence of God in war is exemplified by His name YHWH Sabaoth ("The LORD of hosts"–Exodus 12:41). God is portrayed as the omnipotent Warrior-Leader of the Israelites. God, the LORD of hosts, raised up warriors among the Israelites called the shophetim (savior-deliverers). Samson, Deborah, Gideon, and others were anointed by the Spirit of God to conduct war. The New Testament commends Old Testament warriors for their military acts of faith (Hebrews 11:30-40). Moreover, it is significant that although given the opportunity to do so, none of the New Testament saints–nor even Jesus–are ever seen informing a military convert that he needed to resign from his line of work (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 3:14).