I engaged a debate on a social networking site a few days ago about self defense and the Bible. A well-intentioned liberal suggested that the Bible prohibits self defense and the use of lethal force. As support, she cited Matthew 5:38-39:
"You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist the evil man who injures you; but if anyone strikes you on the right jaw or cheek, turn to him the other one too."
You can't quote Scripture to support any argument because you can't quote Scripture to support the argument that the Bible somehow prohibits or even frowns down upon lethal self defense. It appears the issue is whether self-defense is Biblically permitted. I argue that it is not just permitted, it is encouraged. First off, we must ask why the right cheek was specified? Because the verse refers to what we today call a "bitch slap," where one strikes another using the back of their right hand (of course, this assumes correctly that most were right-handed). Back then, a bitch slap was used not so much with the intent to inflict bodily injury but to shame, insult. We must also remember that Jesus was correcting the pharisees who were teaching, erroneously, that the revengent notion of "eye for an eye" applied not only to gov't's punishment of wrongdoing, but also to personal revenge. It was personal revenge against insult, shame, etc., that Jesus prohibited.
This is a far cry from self defense, obviously, and you don't need Scripture to point out this fact. Logically speaking, if my life is threatened and I don't defend myself, then I probably won't be around to turn the other cheek. So interpreting the verse to mean we shouldn't defend ourselves doesn't make sense. Again Matthew 5 does not allude to ascenario requiring self defense, but to something much more benign. Moreover, Biblical support abounds. Exodus 22 can be cited for the proposition that we can use lethal force against an intruder. In 1 Sam. 13, we're told that a nation that doesn't bear arms invites attack and plunder. In Nehemiah 4, God instructs the Israelites to bear arms (swords) to defend and protect. Luke 22 (supra) stands for essentially the same proposition. And lastly (but not limited to), 1 Tim. 5 instructs us to take care and provide for our families. Obviously, this implies both protecting oneself (the bread winner) and his/her family (for whom he/she provides).