“And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one . . . And [the disciples] said, ‘Look, Lord, here are two swords.’ And he said to them, ‘It is enough.'” — Jesus (Luke 22:36, 38)
With the exception of one passage in Matthew (5:39), there is no point at which Jesus decries weapons or self-defense, and even that passage is intensely debated — nonresistance? another chance before resisting? Et cetera.
When we consider the known teachings of the historical Jesus as found in the Synoptics, we are confronted with a way of life that’s more pragmatic than idealistic. Not only is Jesus described as telling his followers to buy weapons for self-defense, he is even depicted of resorting to violence at least once himself, casting money-changers out of the Temple (Mark 11:15-19; Matthew 21:12-17; Luke 19:45-48; John 2:13-16).
So what are we to get from this? I take it to mean that while violence is to be a last resort, there is such a thing as a “righteous violence,” a last resort to be used only in the cause of self-defense or in defense of those who cannot defend themselves, and then only with the amount of force necessary to restrain or fend off the attacker.
This conclusion is not too far from the “just war” doctrine first articulated during the Patristic period (De Civitate Dei, XIX, 7) and held by several denominations up to the present day (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2309; Augsburg Confession XVI and XXI; assumed in Articles of Religion XXXVII). This conclusion is also closely analogous to the teaching of Guru Gobind Singh, the ninth guru of Sikhism:
“When all means to keep peace fail, it’s righteous to raise the sword…when today’s time is moved by inappropriate tyranny. With great fortune you are afforded, the sword (of the) just!” (more explanation at this link)
I receive both teachings as coming from the same Author (Romans 2:11-15, Nostra Aetate n. 2), and as showing us that it’s a fool’s decision to throw one’s life away when such can be avoided. As life is sacred, it follows that life is to be protected; this includes our own lives and the lives of those we love.
[I posted this to my personal Facebook page 3 years ago. While the content is not magic-related, I’m posting it here because people have requested it, as well as reactions to the post “Blessing for Weapons of War” and the convenience of a permanent link without the tedium of searching my timeline.]