In the midst of a hot and heavy discussion on my sister and brother-in-law's website in which we are discussing a pretty wide range of topics relating to military and police service, public defense and generally a man's (or woman's, I guess) role in society, Ben asked this question:
But since my job directly relates to the physical aspects of (a man's responsibility to) "defend his family and community", and I am nothing if not a teacher to my soldiers, I ask the readers of this post what they intend to do, if anything, to physically fulfill that physical responsibility?
I was having trouble articulating my reaction to this question as we Skyped about it this afternoon, so I wanted to give it another go here.
My main problem in answering this question is that I think it's the wrong question to be asking. I think the more important question is "how does a man's responsibility to protect his family fit into his (primary, over-reaching and more important) role as a servant of Christ?" I think you have to have an answer to that question before you can talk about how to fulfill that role.
So if we're debating owning a handgun, whether to carry concealed, what's a police officer's role in society and how to protect liberty while providing for the public safety, I think we've already whizzed past the more important issue. That is, how would Christ have us view potential enemies/threats/dangers? How do we approach the Reader's Digest scenarios as suffering servants? This is why I was bringing up the example of the man who takes his family into war-torn third world countries with a holy disregard for the danger, in order to spread the Gospel. Your response was to (I felt) somewhat dismiss that as a separate case of a "special calling". I disagree. What the Scripture says about our attitudes towards these kinds of things doesn't just apply to missionaries. Of course, I don't for a minute pretend to understand exactly what the Scripture says about it. I'm just saying that I think it's the bigger, and more important question.
So here's the conflict I see between the guy with the concealed weapon in his pocket (well-trained and legal as he may be) and the picture of the suffering servant. It's a question of emphasis, I think. How much time and energy are you putting into scoping out the park-- that homeless guy on the bench, is he armed? what's that woman doing with such a large bag, is she packin'? how about that dude over there-- he's movin' fast and headed right this way! Versus noticing that the homeless guy is practically dead on his feet from exhaustion and could really use a lift to a shelter, the woman with the bag is elderly and the bag is heavy, the big dude is chasing down his two-year-old who is heading toward the pond. Ought one's focus be on protecting one's own? Or on reaching out to those around you, regardless of personal safety? What is this idea of a man's role as protector? Is it Biblical? And what's the difference between 'protect" and "defend" and how does that apply here? And are there other "roles" or responsibilities as a Christian Man that supersede this idea of protection or defense?
Think about the great men in the history of the church and all of them (at least that I can think of atm) had an emphasis on self-sacrifice. Isn't our calling to be about the business of the Gospel and leave the protecting to the Lord? Won't we be more effective for Christ as Servants, rather than Warriors?
That said, I recognize that the role of Warrior is vitally represented in the Bible. King David springs to mind. And he was a man after God's own heart. So I don't know exactly how that fits into the issue. And I'm no Bible Scholar. This is simply my gut reaction to the question. It bothers me. And I realize, that you and Jeremiah, as Men, have a greater personal stake in this discussion. I, as a woman, am somewhat removed from the discussion by the simple fact that I have a big, strong man around to worry about my safety for me. So it's easy for me to say "leave the protecting to the Lord" as long as my husband is around as God's personal bodyguard for me. :)
I'd be very interested to hear your response to all this!