With all the news about gun violence and gun laws, and keeping in mind what the Fifth Commandment says about not murdering, I am confused. If someone threatens my family, friends, or my own life, is it acceptable in God’s eyes if the last resort means I have to take the person’s life who is doing the threatening? For example, what if someone breaks into my house, or if I am in a Walmart and another mass shooter walks in?
The Hebrew word in the Fifth Commandment (Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17) prohibits murder—the illegal and inappropriate ending of human life—and does not forbid all taking of life. So, for example, governments can rightly implement capital punishment (Romans 13:4) if they so choose.
What about individuals who want to protect themselves and their families, you wonder? Some Christians look to Matthew 5:39 and Romans 12:17 as absolute directives not to resist physical threats. In their context though the verses advocate love toward others instead of seeking revenge.
Others look to sections of Scripture like Proverbs 24:11-12 and Luke 22:35-38 as the basis for defending oneself and one’s family from physical threats.
Protecting our own life (self-defense) could result in the death of another person. That is not murder. Exodus 22:2-3 illustrates the law God gave his people of Israel regarding defending oneself from a thief.