Murderous Thief threatening spouse & children

The “Turn the other cheek”, “Give your cloak”, “lay down your life”, “be child-like”, teachings as well as Jesus’ stern rebuke of Peter when Peter lopped off the ear of the guard and even Mary’s silent acceptance of Jesus’ crucifixion all lead me to think as parents we should NOT defend our little children should a murderous thief threaten them cornered in our home.

I believe that Christ is teaching that if we need defending, He will send his legions of Angels. Otherwise, we should let the murderer do what he does. Note - I know we can defend with cunning dialogue - which Christ promised the Spirit would help us with… but that is it - no violence - not even to lop of his ear.

The instincts in me would be tear out the heart of the murderer of my children and burn it in the fire. And if a child abuser touched my children inappropriately, it would take tremendous inner strength not to take swift & furious justice into my own hands.

However, the Christian in me says - “Lay your sword down and let what happens happen. God allows what He allows in His divine and eternal Wisdom.”

I seek the answer to this difficult question because, I don’t want to have to think through it should someone threaten my family one dark and terrible evening.

Does anyone have any wisdom to offer? I am seeking the most saintly approach to such a scenario.

I would use all means fair or foul to defend my family - including killing the murderous thief - and feel no remorse under the circumstances you posit.

You are cherry picking the Bible. Jesus himself used violence when he threw the money changers out of the temple. The catholic church does not require that we be potted plants in the face of evil.

The willingness to defend the innocent - including of our family - is strongly written on our hearts, so much so as to part of the natural law.

Try to hurt mine, and I will go to my dying breath to stop you - and feel no remorse if I actually succeed. Expecting the angels to come to my defense? I’d say God can act through my own hands.

Christ told us to fear the one who could destroy our soul, not our bodies.

There is indeed a murderous thief threatening your spouse and children right now; namely, Satan.

Spend more time taking action protecting them from him through prayers of petition and intercession as well as righteous living, and less time worrying about a hypothetical boogey man…in the long run, your devotion to Christ will thwart the devil and protect your family from earthly danger as well as spiritual.

Peace and all good!

I presume you have a gun, and the danger is clear, present, and imminent.

There’s only one correct course of action.

You shoot the guy.

The option no longer remains, though, if it’s after the fact, the guy got away, and the danger is past, even though someone got hurt. This now falls under law enforcement.

Wow. What a wise answer!

To the OP, we are bound to defend innocent parties against injustices or aggression. So in your example, protecting your children against a murderous thief is part of your obligation as a parent. If this event occurred, the use of force/violence to repel an attacker is appropriate and necessary. But seeking revenge or becoming murderous in one’s own heart and actions, rather than seeking to stop the attack and bring the attacker to justice, is out of proportion, and would be sinful. How sinful it would be would depend, in part, on how great of a threat was present and how much fear clouded your judgement.

I think Peter’s situation is a little different to the one you posited, but yes, I understand that Christ finds the sword repugnant and so do I, but he didn’t completely outlaw it and neither would I.

I would be trying anything and everything before it came to the sword, but if someone was going to kill my family like that, I think I would pick up the sword to try and defend them, sparing my enemies lives if I can, I would find it repugnant and I would be very remorseful, especially that it had come to that.

I would say to my enemy that I forgive him and hope and pray for his salvation, but I cannot allow him to murder my family, and I will use as little force as possible but as much as is necessary in order to stop him.

I hope this has helped

God Bless You

Thank you for reading

The good thing about being Catholic is that we have a Church that can guide us in interpreting these passages. And the Church has always believed that self-defense is permissible. So no, you are not required to let your family die. There’s no virtue in that.

Keep in mind also that all those verses are talking about persecution, and how we shouldn’t retaliate with anger or violence when people try to hurt us. He’s not talking about defending others from harm. That’s not what the context is. The ‘‘childlike’’ verse in particular is talking about humility. It doesn’t mean we have to literally become helpless children. Otherwise we’d have to say not only are Christians forbidden from protecting themselves, they also can’t work to provide for themselves since children don’t do that either.

It’s true that ‘‘he who lives by the sword will die by the sword.’’ But this just means we shouldn’t be eagerly seeking opportunities for violence. (which is what Peter was doing) As Christians we SHOULD be looking for non-violent solutions. If we are excited about the opportunity to kill, then we are sinning. But that doesn’t mean we can’t protect ourselves if that’s the only option.

As far as what the most saintly approach is, that depends on your state in life. If you are a religious, you may be called to complete pacifism. But if you have a family, then your primary obligation is to protect them. That means you absolutely should stop that murderous thief when he breaks into your home.

One cannot deny that there are many, many passages in the New Testament that promote “meekness” in its imagery, deed and teachings.

What I am looking for are some New Testament passages that I could carve into my elephant gun’s handle (next to a relic of St. Joan) that will help me not hesitate when I blast that intruder to the Kingdom that comes. I want to be 100% confident that what I am doing there in the dark is not only Just but my duty as a Christian parent. If I am going to kill - I don’t intend to dialogue with the fellow and to determine if he is carrying. I’ll probably be like Peter but aim for the whole head. I would intend to make it very, very quick.

So far, I only see Christ with the moneychangers - but that was more of a commotion to me than a defensive deathkill. Any better examples? There has got to be something in all those NT words - please help! I want to be ALL BEAR in such a fateful moment.

However, if there are no supportive passages that say that this is the highest road to take - then I think I might find a relic of Saint Maximillian Kolbe, glue it to a flower vase next to my bed-stand and write some of the New Testament passages that remind me to choose meekness, trust in God and His Mighty Angels to save the day in a such a sudden and dark hour. Then submit to God’s Providence to intervene or help me accept what comes.

Remember what meekness means: power under control. It does not mean pacifism. Meekness is not weakness or cowardice or self-apathy. It is a beatitude, which,like a virtue comes through practice and praying to the Holy Spirit. It is a perfection of human nature which allows man to use his strength in a controlled manner, using enough force or sternness to protect and defend, but also knowing when to let up and when to be gentle and when to use other means.

Pray that God will spare you and your loved ones from such a situation, and pray that if God allows it, that you will be given the grace to act according to His will and the moral law. In the meantime, it is better to focus on studying the virtues, the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, and the beatitudes. Getting plenty of exercise and target practice might be helpful, too. :slight_smile:

You are missing the intent of the scriptures. You are morally obligated to defend the innocent and children. All of the scriptures you have quoted were directed toward adults or those who have reached the age of reason. A child or baby should be protected just as the unborn must be protected from abortion and infentcide. Jesus also invoked that the little children to be sent unto Him or salvation and instruction and not to be held back by the crowd. As for His instruction or His followers to be child-like it was in reference to live our lives in innocence as much as possible. As for Mary-none can say how she felt, without a doubt, it tore at her heart. Ah, and then there was peter with his sword. Jesus rebuked him for is reaction and then He "fixed’ the ear. Sometimes I think your posts are just to bait people. Peace…now where did I lay my sword…hmm.

John 15: 12 This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. 16 It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. 17 This I command you: love one another.

Do you love your family as Christ loved us … would you not lay done your life to protect theirs? Christ was not militant - nor was Christ a wimp … you are called to protect those who cannot protect themselves … yes as another poster - from Satan and from the murderous thief that threatens you and your family …

Jesus did not tell the Centurion to give up his profession before healing his servant.

Luke 22: 35 He said to them, “When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?” “No, nothing,” they replied. 36 He said to them, “But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one.

Sell your cloak and obtain the tools necessary to protect your family

I think Luke 22:35 is a better quote and closer to what I would like to engrave on my gun than the one about Jesus and the cash exchangers. But it doesn’t give that “assertion” that the sword should be used - because Peter likely used one of those swords and was rebuked.

I’m looking for a really good New Testament quote that says something like “Fathers, fight like soldiers for your family.” - and apologies, I would be a terrible gospel writer, but something like that. Something I can place on my big gun so that when I hear the “Thou shalt not kill” run through my head (because this has been ingrained in me), I will override that program and shoot without hesitation and without future guilt.

I’m looking for a New Testament a quote that has “bite” that reassures me of the command to make the split second decision to take that man’s life.

Any other good New Testament quotes out there that anyone knows of? If not from Jesus, maybe something from one of the Apostles like Paul?

I don’t think there is anything like what you are looking for.

Parents protecting their children is a moral obligation. We even have an obligation to protect our own life, even if in certain circumstances we decide that fighting is futile or impossible.

Respect for the life and dignity of all human beings is a moral obligation.

Life can be complicated and full of risk. Obligations, even moral ones, can come into conflict. This is why we must work and study to properly form our conscience and cultivate virtue. It helps us to navigate difficult situations, in the moment, where there are a thousand unforeseeable variables that make a prior decision null.

You are looking for a “magic bullet” bible verse to engrave upon your gun, to “steel” yourself for an eventuality that may never come, or if it does, it may happen in a way that is completely different from your imaginings.

The Church has always taught that force used against an unjust aggressor is acceptable, sometimes even necessary. Jesus told Peter to put away his sword because violence was not the answer FOR THAT SITUATION. Our Lord Jesus knew what He had to do. It didn’t involve fighting back. And He likely was working toward the conversion of some of those men in the mob. Tradition tells us that the servant whose ear Jesus healed converted after being a part of all of that. For other situations, repelling an attacker is appropriate.

You must write the Word on your heart. All of it. Not just proof-texting the right to use the sword or the gun to defend yourself. That right already exists. Research what the Church actually teaches. Then you will be at peace and your anxiety over what you should do in such a moment will dissipate.

I have to respectfully disagree. The rebuke of Peter was more generalistic - not specific to that situation. That said, it may not apply to defending one’s family. Unfortunately, there seems to be no New Testament teachings that to defend one’s family with violence is a moral obligation - but I was hoping that throughout all of the New Testament there would be at least one.

Considering the dirth in such a teaching in the New Testament, I’m thinking that the New Testatement is calling us to a higher level of spirituality - to live outside the “Matrix” and to imitate the Christ and His Apostles - all of whom were martyred (supposedly) but some were saved by angels at times. There is no record of them defending themselves or their flocks with violence. In fact, looking at Paul - he even goes so far as to boast of how he has been beaten severely without mentioning raising a hand against his persecutors.

Even to this day, there are many Monks who, living outside of the matrix of this world, chose non-violent martyrdom rather than to pick up the gun and fight to the death - though this may still be acceptable to God. I haven’t heard that Monks vow non-violence.

The Knights Templar are examples of some who vowed to use violence when necessary (if I am not mistaken). So defensive violence seems to be acceptable in the Catholic Church - but maybe not the most meritorious in the eyes of God from a saintly perspective.

I was wishing that there was a great quote in the New Testament, though because there are many wonderful quotes that spell out succinctly our morale obligations - which is why I posed the question, hoping there was something like “Parents, defend your families” in the New Testament. :frowning:

And just to clarify - I am NOT non-violent-defense by choice. I don’t want to be perfectly non-violent like so many Christian Martyrs. Which is why I was seeking some New Testament reference that I was missing.

For there truly is a beast in me that, if not for the Gospels, I could see myself not only killing my children’s murderer but truly desecrating the body of anyone who even sexually abused my children, eating his liver in tribal form.

This is the type of scenario that is important to me now, for the outcome would be quite different if I have a loaded 5-guage in the house or not.

Thank you all for weighing in. If there is no great New Testament “command” to defend one’s family with violence, does anyone know of any short, simple Church Teaching or quote from a Saint perhaps?

John 10: 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father.”

Extending Jesus’ choice here as instruction on what to do with someone who intends to do your or others wrong is a misapplication.

Thank you - but this still sounds like something that applies to those who have the choice to be martyrs or not.

That’s ok if there are no perfect New Testament quotes. Are there any succinct Church Teaching Quotes or possibly Quotes from Saints that anyone knows of that explicitly gives Parents the moral obligation to defend their children with the use of violence when cornered with no other immediate option (like in one’s dark home at night)?

I’m looking for something with language that is stronger than an “approval” to defend. I’m looking for something that in no uncertain terms states I “MUST” defend my children with violence when no other immediate option is apparently available.

I’m looking for something along the lines of a soldier’s order to fire his rifle which implicitly would require no resistance/hesitation on behalf of the soldier.

From the catechism: (

Legitimate defense

2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor… The one is intended, the other is not.”65 (1737)

2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow: (2196)

If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful… Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.66

2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility. (2240)

This is what I was looking for - THANK YOU. I could carve this in my gun. Maybe I’ll name the gun “My Grave Duty - 2265”.

Wishing it could have been stated in the New Testament, but at least it is in the Catechism. To me, this signifies the risk of mortal sin by not defending with violence those we are responsible for (when no other option is immediately available) and implicitly infers that there is merit in acting courageously.

It also let’s Peter off the hook for NOT defending Jesus - because Jesus was Peter’s superior. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had the mob tried to attack Peter at the same time. Would Jesus have used any means necessary to stop it at the time? Maybe - and woe to those who were in Jesus’ path. But that’s pure conjecture.

That said, these quotes do “restrain” the Beast in me. For what I would do to anyone who so much as gravely harms my children would be dreadful retaliation, if not for my religious beliefs.

One thing that is very interesting to note is the HUGE contrast between those who choose to be martyrs and those who are in charge of others. Where one can lay down one’s life in the face of aggression, one is gravely obligated to defend the people they are responsible for.

Non-violence is upheld so much these days as a heroic virtue, with my Christian up-bringing, I was under the impression that everyone must choose non-violence. This is a heresy, then and I didn’t even know it. Leaders actually must choose violence when there is no other recourse - I had no idea. I knew, of course, that this was primal in all of us. I had been brought up to believe that national militias were simply a continued barbaric believe we has weak humans were not able to rise above spiritually due to our sinful natures. That in fact, Catholic Leaders were to be Saint Francis-like. Thus, I wondered twhether Catholic Leaders in executive offices managing a military were a farce to Jesus’ example.

I didn’t know that the Church taught that a violent defense is a grave responsibility for groups of people simply because there were no New Testament examples that demonstrated the neglect of leaders should they not provide violent defense options (with no other recourse).

Now I think I understand why there are so many Vatican guards - not just to defend the Pope (though this is His right to be defended per the Catechism) but to defend those in the nation of the Vatican who are under his care. I always thought it was so “un-Jesus-like”.

I do wish in some ways that the New Testament had been clearer on this topic of the violent defense of people against aggressors. Had it been, I wonder how much stronger Christian nations would have been to defend themselves against unjust aggressors foreign and domestic.

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