The Value of a Life




The other day, my wife and I went hiking at a new local trail near of house. Unfortunately, we did not give ourselves adequate time to return to our vehicle before sunset. As a result, our last mile of trail was completed in the dark. I did have my phone with me so I was able to use it as a flashlight, which that was a good thing. But it did get me thinking about how much better it would be to have had a flashlight.

Granted, the trail we were on literally is within a mile of residential areas in each direction, so we were never in any real danger. But it was a cause for concern. As much hiking and biking we do, it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to invest in a good flashlight for such a time as that.

Then I started thinking about how I had heard there are tactical flashlights that can be used as a form of personal protection. Considering my wife works downtown, I have been trying to find something she could have for personal protection for some time now.

Most of these personal defense tactical flashlights are very bright and have a “strobe” type affect that if shined in a would-be attacker’s face, it can cause serious disorientation. Since I wanted to get my wife and I some form of personal protection, and we could obviously use having a small, but powerful flashlight on us for our various activities, I thought this might be a good choice.

So, I started doing some research. I even posted something on social media to see if I might know some people with knowledge on the topic. Unfortunately for me, most of the responses I got scoffed at the thought of a flashlight being a form of personal protection, stating that only a handgun would be sufficient for that objective.

But that got me thinking about something. First, I don’t think my wife would ever get comfortable and confident enough with the use of a firearm for it to be an effective form of personal protection. And if that is the case, then it is more of a liability than an asset.

Then I asked myself, “Should we really be okay with having a gun as a form of personal protection?” I get why people have do. I’ve heard it many times; “If I’ve got to choose between me and an attacker, I choose me.”

Consider scripture.

Matthew 5:38-48 (NKJV)

 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

The concept of “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth,” is actually from the Torah, found in the Law of the Old Testament. For Jesus to seemingly contradict it was one of the very things that caused the Pharisees to hate Him so much. The premise was based on the understanding that if someone did something to someone, they would be treated the same way. It is likely the source of the Golden Rule; “Do unto other as you’d want done to you.”

The reason this didn’t work, and why Jesus addressed it to bring about a type of revision, is because no one is content with dealing simply the due amount of punishment. No, we want to deal more justice than what we were wronged. This can be seen in mobs throughout history. If someone cut off a finger, we cut off their hand. If someone stole a donkey, we take their whole flock. Our desire for retribution isn’t sated with an equal repayment for the offense.

So, Jesus amended it.

Not only does He tell us not to take vengeance, even to the point of equal and “fair” retribution, but He goes the opposite direction and tells us NOT to resist an evil person. When someone slaps us on one cheek, He teaches us to offer the other cheek. When someone steals something from us, He calls us to give them more. This is completely contrary to our belief system. It challenges us well beyond our comfort zone.

But He doesn’t stop there; the next passage adds to it. He talks about another Law from the Old Testament that tells us to love our neighbor and to hate our enemy. But He amends that command as well, telling us to love our enemy. Love those that hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us.

Wait, what?

Yes—that’s not a typo. I believe the point He was trying to make is the concept of “enemy” is outdated and no longer relevant to His followers. There was no distinction to Him. The very people who nailed Him to the cross, He prayed for, saying “Forgive them father, for they know not what they do.”

I believe we should purge the concept of “enemy” from our minds. It is because of the concept of “enemy” that we can justify buying a handgun for self-defense. Because after all, it’s our responsibility to defense ourselves and our families, right? Even at the cost of someone else’s life, right?

Romans 12:19 (NKJV)

 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

Is He not JEHOVAH ROHI (The LORD is my Shepherd)? Or do we memorize and recite Psalms 23 just for show? Either He is our Lord, and we trust Him to be our Shepherd, or we don’t. It’s really that simple.

Maybe we think that having a handgun is a tool we can use to ward off potential threats by simply wielding it, showing the assailant that we are not unarmed. Maybe we never intent to actually use it. But what happens when wielding the weapon alone isn’t enough to dissuade someone? Then we take their lives into our hands.

And maybe, in that situation, we tell ourselves that they deserve whatever fate they receive because they chose that path.

Were we not all on a destructive path when Jesus intervened in our lives?

I think we’ve lost the understanding of the value of a life. It’s easy to categorize people who think differently than us, who act differently than us, and who speak differently than us. We see the rapist and the thief and the murderer as the “enemy” and therefore we are dissolved of all judgements regarding our interaction with these people, no matter how severe.

But the fact of the matter is each person, no matter the sin they’ve committed, has a value. And that value for each of us is the same; the precious blood of Jesus.

If someone breaks into our house and we pull out a gun and shot them and they die, what happens? It’s likely they are a non-believer, and if we truly believe there is a hell, we’ve just condemned them to an eternity of torment.

How much hate has to be in someone’s heart to condemn someone to hell?

And for what? Because they broke into our house? As a believer, what can any human do to us? Steal some material things that mean nothing compared to eternity? Kill us and send us to be with our Maker? Seriously, what can they do to us?

Judged against the prospect of eternity, I don’t ever see any justification for killing someone.

It is for this reason I don’t wish to own a handgun; I never want the opportunity to have that power of someone else’s life in my hands. Because I am human and prone to let my emotions overrule my logic.

So, if I am mocked for thinking a tactical flashlight is a viable form of self-defense, so be it. Blinding someone does not send them to hell. It is a more humane and compassionate way to dissuade an attacker. I understand the value of a life, regardless of whose life it is.

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