Revisiting the Christian and State Relationship.

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Pirates and Christian self-defense

Some question how the Christian anarchist should respond to acts of violence against himself, his family, or his property. The Bible suggests answers. Here, then, briefly, some of that material…

A Bible line

First, since the Bible offers the unambiguous prohibition, “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15). we have a clear endorsement of property rights. Property can be owned and owned property should not be stolen.

In Exodus 22:2-4 a person is permitted to use deadly force to defend his property if the thief breaks in at nighttime. If the thief is killed, the property owner is not subject to any sanction. If a thief is caught during a daytime robbery, the property owner must not kill him. In this text, it is, however, implicit that the thief is captured by the homeowner. The captured thief must make restitution for his theft.

In Matthew 21:33 Jesus spoke a parable in which the landowner planted a vineyard and then put a wall around it and built a watchtower. That is, he homesteaded his property and then built protective defenses for it.

In Matthew 24:43 Jesus describes a property owner protecting it against thieves. His watchfulness if a lesson of good stewardship.

In Romans 12:21 we are to overcome evil with good, which harmonizes with Romans 16:20 in which through His believers, Jesus crushes the serpent. In Ephesians 6:10-18 most of the armor is defensive in nature, but the sword is offensive. Christians are admonished to put on the whole armor of God.

In 1 Timothy 5:8 the Christian is expected to provide for his family. This is a Christian duty. If this means providing food and clothing, must it not also mean providing security? Is it not a duty to protect one’s children from child abusers and other criminals? Certainly so.

In Proverbs 25:26, the righteous who gives way to the wicked is described as a corrupt spring.

Back to Ephesians, at 5:25 husbands are to love their wives self-sacrificingly. The example given is Jesus dying to preserve the purity of His church. John 15:13 says that the greatest love is demonstrated by laying down one’s life for another. This indicates that the husband should defend the purity of the wife.

We lock car and house doors to prevent theft. These are sound and appropriate precautions in a sinful world. If we are not to defend family or property then to be consistent we should remove the locks. Jesus used physical force to drive merchants from the temple (Matthew 21:12; Mark; 11:15).

There is counsel in the gospels to submit to certain injustices, but those discussed are never private property issues between private thieves and private individuals. By no means is the above study exhaustive; it is a small sample. Still, it seems to this writer that there are sufficient grounds to conclude that one may defend his person, family, and property.

Hoppe sums up the position of Mercier de la Riviere, in part, as follows:

Man is capable of recognizing the laws leading to his greatest happiness, and all social ills follow from the disregard of these laws of human nature. In human nature, the right to self-preservation implies the right to property, and any individual property in man’s products from the soil requires property on the land itself. But the right of property would be meaningless without the freedom of using it, so liberty is derived from the right to property (closely adapted from Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Democracy—The God That Failed, p. 226, fn12).

A society of free people is built on the foundation of private property. Jesus came to bring liberty to the captives (Luke 4:16-21). If this is all true, then Jesus came to introduce the condition of things that makes possible true freedom. Still, we recognize that the present period is a temporary situation between man’s Fall and his full restoration. Be that as it may, it must be understood that God is on the side of His law: Thou shalt not steal was good for Moses and it is good for us today.

Pirates

A pirate is a private party, a thief or band of thieves. The property owner, (or, in the case of piracy, often a service provider transporting goods), has every right to defend his property or the property he is transporting from theft. Paul warned those who would not work that they would not eat either (2 Thessalonians 3:10). One must, if he can, be active to be a Christian. Paul’s counsel could be paraphrased too, in the case of piracy, “if you don’t defend your business, then you will go out of business.”

Shipowners should not be inhibited from defending their vessels and merchandise. Instead of burdening citizens with the economic cost of maintaining expensive navies, let merchants defend their vessels and cargo either themselves or by hiring private defense forces.

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