“All evil do I accredit to you: therefore do I desire of you the good. I have often laughed at the weaklings, who think themselves good because they have crippled paws!” (Friedrich Nietzsche, . Thus Spake Zarathustra. Modern Library.)
When it comes to the topics of self-defense, defense of others, or just of answering the question, “When is it okay to exercise some idea of force or violence?,” those who believe themselves to be Christians typically take one of two complete opposite positions. Between their prooftexts, historical license, and logical blind spots however, both camps seem to be evenly assured of their position. The non-resistant pacifists on one side tend to argue that there is never an acceptable time to exercise self-defense or defense of others, citing the ideas that doing so is “vengeance” which “belongs to God only,” or that Jesus mentions that his followers should not “resist an evil person.” On the other side of the debate are the Constitutionalists declaring that violence and force are warranted, not only for self-defense and the defense of others, but especially for political revolution against tyranny after it becomes a normative experience at some point for these proponents to have begun to “cry out” in complaint against their realized civil bondage. On a purely philosophical level, the two ideas are polarized, but when it comes to working out these positions practically, they might as well be the same.
Where the pacifists may decry all forms of violence in a self-righteous pietism, the comfort which allows them such opinions is protected by socialist institutions who are funded by the threat of violence through the redistribution of public funds. They are not in a position to need to defend themselves or their neighbors (or be defended by them) because they are already being defended by socialist institutions, because they have been slothfully and covetously living at their neighbors’ expense. They may profess to “love their enemy” so much that they are unwilling to do no direct violence to a tortfeasor even though they are already doing violence-by-proxy to their neighbor. On the flip-side of the coin, the person itching for revolution against their government in some assumed position of rightful self-defense against the tyrants of their own making, is already guilty of outsourcing his responsibility to keep the weightier matters of God’s Law to the socialist institutions of administrations that necessarily engage in violence through taxation and corrupt power. Their demand for revolution is a tantrum against the consequences for their own actions. They created a golem to do their bidding against their neighbor, and are now endeavoring to defend themselves against it since their neighbor as turned that civil monster around against them.
Unfortunately, voicing simple logic and exposing already obvious hypocrisy are not enough to exhaust all the necessary points on this subject matter. If it were, maybe the topic could be concluded this early in the endeavor. To attempt cover all the bases however, this article will venture to also address many of the scriptural prooftexts used to dismiss the responsibility for freemen to act in self-defense and defense of others when warranted, and to lay the groundwork for why we should be discussing self-defense as a responsibility before discussing it as a right or, in the case for subject citizens of idolatrous nations, as a privilege.
Beat Swords into Plowshares
“And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD. Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers. Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots: Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not. (Isaiah 2:3-9)
Sometimes taken out of context as a soundbite to favor a blanket condemnation of armaments, this phrase from Isaiah’s prophecy does not refer to self-defense, or the defense of others at all, but rather to a future where a peculiar people who have learned to obey God’s Law, take His Kingdom-model in a Great Commission to all of the people-groups in the world, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all the things God has commanded them. In response, these people-groups, formerly in competition that was institutionalized into covetous bureaucracy and imperialist warfare, will repent and seek cooperation by providing for each other with the fruits of their self-sacrificial labor through a system of charity. Plowshares and pruninghooks are a symbol of a freeman’s first capital: his labor. The purpose of relating such symbols to the context of a kingdom of peace represents a freeman’s first responsibility: the Dominion Mandate. Men who abandon God’s Law and injunction to work the land and enjoy its rewards will invariably, through some combination of sloth and covetousness, find themselves in civic flesh pots of collectivist societies built on mutual surety and debt, eventually requiring them to go to war with other collectivist societies to take their resources in order to stave off their own impending bankruptcy into weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The verses following this prophecy describe such societies, highlighting the wayward nation of Jacob as a contemporaneous example: they have committed to the twisting of scripture and preached the efficacy of tax-funded human institutions to secure society, and have bonded themselves to foreign governments for socialist provision, either by subject citizenship or by treaty, and have received such benefits at the expense of that nation’s children as social security collateral. Part of the appeal of binding their society in contracts, entitlements, and taxation is that they accumulated much wealth to fund a cavalry by which to outsource their national defense. They also formed central banks with their wealth, which invariably leads to peripheral political institutions that they have compelled each other to serve. As such, the people outsourced their responsibilities to perform the weightier matters to their civil institutions thereby “making the word of God to none effect.” Through covenanting with false gods, they compelled each other to pay for the forceful policies of authoritarian benefactors.
“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12) The force mentioned by Christ here echoes the swords of pagan nations who, like the Pharisees, institutionalize the weightier matters into ineffective bureaucracies and, like the Zealots, seek to commit to insurgency against existing power centers in bloody revolt to attempt regime change. Ever since the people of backsliding free Israel asked for a king in 1 Samuel 8, the “kingdom” has only known violence in contradiction to God’s plan. Each king was more oppressive than the one before it, until half of Israel seceded from the other before suffering more violence by going under the authority of rulers of other nations. This self-defeating desire for institutional force and violence eventually lead to the Pharisees requesting Pompey to come to Israel to end its civil war and decide for it another king. Naturally, this military occupation lead to the Zealots retaliating with their own force in insurgency.
In fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, Jesus says to these groups, and groups like them: “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matthew 21:43) The nation of the early Christians, in receiving this kingdom, idiomatically beat these institutional swords of bureaucratic force into adhocratic plowshares of charitable provision to remodel society entirely, where every man was his brother’s keeper and, through individual responsibility, exercised the weightier matters of the Law through faith, hope, and charity, never needing to covet the power centers at all, but diligently worked both the land and the community to provide a kingdom built on free-will service and self-sacrifice. To get to the point, they chose to protect themselves and each other directly, out of this brotherly love, with literal swords if necessary, rather than look to human civil government to provide protection by forcing their neighbor to pay for its provision. If the people of free Israel were willing and diligent to maintain society out of direct action and adhocratic congregation, like protect their neighbors lives and property as though they were their very own, then they never would have found themselves on this long, wide path leading them under oppressive institutions that inspire weak men to rebel against them in bloodshed.
Sermon on the Mount
Christ’s sermon at Eremos, containing many pithy aphorisms and injunctions, includes some statements commonly misunderstood to support the idea that Jesus forbade self-defense and the defense of others. While we have addressed many of its saying elsewhere, perhaps here is a worthwhile place to address these:
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:38-49)
It seems to be a common tactic among professing pacifists to conflate vengeance with self-defense and to project that intellectual dishonesty onto Christ’s words here. The idiom regarding “an eye for an eye” is therefore often taken to refer to literal violence and direct retaliation even though it is actually describing a popular institutional philosophy of executive justice, extending even to the concept of the death penalty. Talion, from the Roman lex talionis, did sometimes include the concept of “bodily injury for bodily injury” in more ancient cultures, but the phrase is a synecdoche for any court-ordered redress of grievances against a defendant brought to court, covering the destruction of property and monetary compensation or some other loss of value, accidental or otherwise. Christ’s proscription against retaliation in this context is not a condemnation of self-defense, but of the “tit-for-tat” mentality resident to authoritarian courts where defendants and plaintiffs sue and counter-sue each other in state-sponsored vengeance. The initiation of this kind of culture happens with the self-justification that allows one to imagine that they can receive government benefits at their neighbor’s expense just because their neighbor has received government benefits at their own expense. But Jesus says that if you will not forgive your debtors, God will not forgive you. This same explanation about self-defense also applies to the idea of “turning the other cheek.” A slap to the face (at least among less emasculated men) cannot be said to be violence, but rather humiliation. A backhanded slap is the only way to strike someone on the right cheek with your right hand. Such a blow connotes an insult requiring a retaliatory taunt, not a fistfight, and has always been a common way to express contempt, or even a reprimand over someone in a lower social caste.
This lesson is further expounded upon in the injunction to “resist not evil” in refraining from civil retaliation when subject citizens of pagan nations take free men in God’s Kingdom to their pagan courts for whatever reason. To make these sentiments about self-defense is to misunderstand that Christ is speaking on a specific method of “resistance” which is retaliatory, referring to the same force, warfare, and institutionalism that are themselves evil. Voting or electing magistrates “in self-defense” is evil because outsourcing the concept of “self-defense” to socialist institutions only legitimizes the original use of them against you in pragmatism. However, direct “violence” against unwarranted aggression towards an innocent person cannot be said to be “evil,” but rather a righteous display of the weightier matters. The context of the rest of Christ’s sayings do not indicate that he is referring to bad men in the heat of direct violence amongst a free society, but rather political enemies who use institutions for their own greed and insatiable appetite. It is to this topic of pagan bureaucracies that scripture always explicitly speaks against vengeance.
“For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter: Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps. Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures? To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” (Deuteronomy 32:32-35)
Sodom and Gomorrah, like all socialist societies, redistributed “intoxicating” socialist benefits, often including even literal wine. For these benefits to be associated with “gall,” and “bitter” “poison,” and “venom,” is to reveal them to be harvested at the expense of their consumer who likes the promise of welfare until he realizes that it is just bait on the hook of subject citizenship, making his unpaid labor the bait for another consumer’s hook. Self-destructive communities that redistribute benefits through the force of taxation incur the vengeance of God therefore, and usually through the eventual ouroboros of fiscal and moral bankruptcy that leads to the weeping and gnashing of teeth of social collapse.
“Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:14-21)
The early Christians, under the jurisdiction of Heaven and free from the civil jurisdictions and socialist practices of the idolatrous Romans, still lived among them as free inhabitants and unfortunately received their jealous persecutions for the sake of the Gospel. As such, they were often encouraged to bear each other’s emotional burdens in addition to their financial ones. It is to these institutional persecutions that Paul speaks of overcoming evil with good, and not with mimicked evil. The purpose of living among them is echoed in the purpose of not retaliating against their knee-jerk convictions: to preach a consistent message of reconciliation with the double-edged sword of truth as an agitating weapon to separate civil slaves from their socialist and institutional addictions. To do good to these political enemies, like the Good Samaritan did, even in spite of their own tenacious rebellion against God and your agitating message, is to beckon them to be baptized into the Kingdom of God. “Blessed are the peacemakers” who reconcile greedy, corrupt institutionalists with the perfect Law of Liberty, understood as the weightier matters, in a free society. It is this call to repentance on which the message of reconciliation rests that expands the Kingdom of God. If you only love those who love you and seek fellowship with only likeminded people, then you are not in the business of saving souls, and you do not belong to the Kingdom of God. If you do not forgive your political enemies, then you are still a lost sheep yourself, congregating with other lost sheep out in the wilderness, waiting for a shepherd to come call you home to his Kingdom. By “blessing those who persecute you,” you inspire them either to love you as you have loved them, or to inspire others to take their behavior as a lesson in what not to do against peaceful do-gooders who preach personal responsibility. Considering that self-defense is the right only of free men in free societies, and the early Christians in the context of these passages were still working towards that end, it is a subterfuge to read them as though they are condemning self-defense.
You Die by the Sword by Which You Live
“Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.” (Matthew 26:52)
“For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.” (Romans 13:4-6)
In both of these contexts, the term used for “sword” is the same word. This alone indicates the grammatical function of freely interchanging literal meanings of Greek (and Hebrew) words with their figurative meanings. It is not as though rulers over human civil government bear a literal sword by which to personally “execute wrath” onto those who “doeth evil,” rather the usage of the term sword (Strong’s 3162. machaira) frequently indicates an executive judgment by bureaucratic institutions. This is revealed by its primary definition, and many of its contexts:
“properly, a slaughter-knife; a short sword or dagger mainly used for stabbing; (figuratively) an instrument for exacting retribution.
…of the sword as the instrument of a magistrate or judge: death by the sword, Romans 8:35; ἀναιρεῖν τινα μάχαιρα, Acts 12:2; τήν μαχαίρας φόρειν, to bear the sword, is used of him to whom the sword has been committed, viz. to use when a malefactor is to be punished; hence, equivalent to to have the power of life and death, Romans 13:4 (so ξίφος, ξιφη ἔχειν, Philostr. vit. Apoll. 7, 16; vit. sophist. 1, 25, 2 (3), cf. Dion Cass. 42, 27; and in the Talmud the king who bears the sword, of the Hebrew king). Metaphorically, μάχαιρα, a weapon of war, is used for war, or for quarrels and dissensions that destroy peace; so in the phrase βαλεῖν μάχαιραν ἐπί τήν τήν, to send war on earth, Matthew 10:34.”
The context of the Gethsemanean encounter is not relevant to the prohibition of self-defense or the defense of others. The purpose of Christ’s ministry, as the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Heaven, was to establish that literal kingdom by commanding mankind to repent of the slothful and covetous works of darkness that had brought them into bondage to the kingdoms of the world, and to perform the works that would seek and establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. This included congregating together in adhocratic and gregarious communities to perform the weightier matters of God’s Law, in a renewed civil citizenship as free souls under God. This kingdom had its own exclusive laws, customs, government, system of welfare and historical continuity. Unlike Rome during the Hasmonean Civil War, it did not invade worldly nations through imperialist wars:
“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is [among] you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” (John 18:36)
Rather, because Christ’s kingdom was not of the “apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, or and government” of Rome and kingdoms like Rome, it did not require institutionalized bloodshed or violent revolution to maintain its efficacy. It was not a top-down political society with militaries and authoritarian courts desiring the use of society’s power centers. It was a bottom-up legacy of freemen, all equally responsible for the weightier matters and national defense. It did not have to invade nations from without because it relied on moral suasion occurring from within other nations to increase its citizenry. Its members did not consider themselves victims of military occupation, rather they recognized political oppression as a judgment on those who do not want to be ruled by God, and therefore sought the repentance that would grant them salvation from such consequential realities. This secured them from any notion of violent retaliation against kingdoms who may oppress them due to the consequences for their sins. This interpretation is recognized by Tertullian:
“But now inquiry is made about this point, whether a believer may turn himself unto military service, and whether the military may be admitted unto the faith, even the rank and file, or each inferior grade, to whom there is no necessity for taking part in sacrifices or capital punishments. There is no agreement between the divine and the human sacrament, the standard of Christ and the standard of the devil, the camp of light and the camp of darkness. One soul cannot be due to two masters—God and Caesar. And yet Moses carried a rod, and Aaron wore a buckle, and John (Baptist) is girt with leather and Joshua the son of Nun leads a line of march; and the People warred: if it pleases you to sport with the subject. But how will a Christian man war, nay, how will he serve even in peace, without a sword, which the Lord has taken away? For albeit soldiers had come unto John, and had received the formula of their rule; albeit, likewise, a centurion had believed; still the Lord afterward, in disarming Peter, unbelted every soldier. No dress is lawful among us, if assigned to any unlawful action.” (Tertullian. “On Idolatry”, Chapter XIX)
This is the context for which Peter’s impetuous actions in Gethsemane were proscribed. Even though it was necessary, according to prophecy, for Christ and company to be wrongly “reckoned among the transgressing” Zealots for simply exercising their right to bear arms, it was just as necessary for he and his followers to not actually be like the Zealots and insurgents retaliating against Roman occupation with their own military might and political ambitions. As mentioned for another prooftext above, it is only the violent who attempt to take the Kingdom by force, but Christ came to show another way. As Peter was a member of God’s servant government, this injunction to sheathe the sword for political pursuit (but not get rid of it entirely for all occasions) is especially important considering that Heaven’s ministers received the brunt of the persecutions against the Christians in order to intimidate the people into going back under the subject citizenship of Rome to be surety and merchandise for its failing, socialist coffers.
To make Christ’s rebuke against Peter a general rebuke against self-defense and the defense of others in a free society is to undermine the actual context of Christ’s sacrifice and the persecution of his body politic which secured the right to have a free society in the first place. It is to make a mockery of Christ’s gambit to restore the imago Dei to mankind because it removes the conditions that make the image of God worthwhile: the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of property, and the personal responsibility of brotherly love that all make the Kingdom of Heaven a eutopia of prosperity. “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.” (Leviticus 25:10) The culmination of Christ’s ministry lead him to “the cup” which His Father had given him, referring to the capital punishment of worldly kingdoms against an innocent king in regicide so that his guilty followers would no longer be subject to their bondage, thereby removing the legitimacy of their institutional power. Peter’s actions to defend his King would not only undermine his sacrifice for his people, but would also represent a militaristic course of action in a politically-charged situation. This is what separates circumstances surrounding malfeasors met with self-defense and circumstances surrounding persecution met with martyrdom. Swords of authoritarian governments against their citizens are inevitably punishments for raising up authoritarian governments. Those who live by their institutions will find themselves caught in the ouroboros of their destructive natures. In this context, Peter was acting like the authoritarian governments of the world, bringing, not only reproach onto Christ’s Kingdom, but also potentially justified militaristic recompense against the entire troop as if they were Zealots.
For the Weapons of our Warfare Are Not Carnal
“But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” (2 Corinthians 10:2-6)
The conclusion that a carnal weapon is necessarily a physical one tends to stem from the faulty premise that the opposite of “walking in the flesh” is “walking in some ill-defined, hyper-spiritual sense of cherubic perfection where one’s weapons are the thinking of happy and ascetic thoughts all the time like some Buddhist monk.” To properly define the subject, a “fleshy” or “carnally minded” person is one who is motivated by creature comforts that lead him into the baited snares and traps of human civil government because they have been given over to a reprobate mind to become bestial servants of human institutions. Because they “live by bread alone,” and not by “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” they will readily be led by their bellies to consume the free bread of socialist provision because they lack the self-control to wait on God’s Providence as prescribed by God’s wisdom.
The “strongholds” mentioned in 2 Corinthians 10 do refer to the human institutions with which the early Christians were notoriously in conflict, but that conflict was vindicated by the Providence of God which allowed them to completely abdicate from using their existing power centers or seeking to replace them with their own administrations. It is not as though a literal sword or weapon for self-defense debases its user to be carnally minded any more than a spoon does for eating or a car does for traveling. However, regime-change through both democracy and revolution do make men feral beasts kicking against the goads of their civil masters. The weapons of the early Christians with which they bested the New World Order of Rome consisted of the maintaining of their embryonic “republic in the heart of the Roman Empire” through keeping the weightier matters, and by the moral suasion with which they preached to the subject citizens of Rome to baptize them into the civil citizenship of the Kingdom of Heaven instead. It did not consist of the carnal weapons of government institution through an attempt of minarchism, Dominionism, or electing lesser magistrates to protect them and provide for them.
We Wrestle Not Against Flesh and Blood
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints…” (Ephesians 6:10-18)
Identical to the images in 2 Corinthians 10, the principalities, powers, rulers of darkness in that age, and spiritual wickedness in high places refer to magistrates, jurisdictions, satanic arbiters of reprobate idolatry, and the worship of human institutions. Likewise, because Christians do not war against people themselves to advance God’s literal kingdom, but rather war against concepts of sin and wayward submission to human rulers in political infidelity, the method of their war-waging does not have to include a militaristic or bureaucratic arsenal of literal retaliation. Paul’s following description of the armor of God is not meant to be some sort of rigid check-list taken out of Kingdom-context to be hyper-spiritualized and removed from practical meaning. Rather, they are a simple, cohesive reminder to be “doers of the word of God,” but in a deliberately ironic image related to warfare. This passage of course is not an injunction against protecting your neighbor’s life against someone who wishes to literally shed his blood, because the “wrestling” of the early Christians is not descriptive of their day to day duties to love their neighbors and protect his life as though it were their own, but refers to their mission as Christian aliens unto a foreign kingdom as ambassadors.
Without these prooftexts to justify their position, it should be self-evident that pacifists must only appeal to an argument from silence. Nowhere in Scripture do you see the prohibition of armaments, or the use of them in personal or mutual defense. God never tells His people to rid themselves of defensive tools, nor prohibits their use. To sheathe a sword for a time, as in the case of Peter in Gethsemane is not to condemn the sword altogether or to prevent its use universally. Men of first century Rome, Greece, and Judea readily carried swords for self-defense just like they do all throughout history.
“We grant to all persons the unrestricted power to defend themselves, so that it is proper to subject anyone, whether a private person or a soldier, who trespasses upon fields at night in search of plunder, or lays by busy roads plotting to assault passers-by, to immediate punishment in accordance with the authority granted to all. Let him suffer the death which he threatened and incur that which he intended… For it is better to meet the danger at the time, than to obtain legal redress (vindicare) after one’s death.” (Codex Justinianeus 3.27.1, 529 A.D.)
Despite being written in the sixth century AD and authorized by an Eastern Roman Emperor as a privilege for his subject citizens (instead of a right), the principles expressed in the above quote are universal to define self-defense and preservation of property in a way that has been taken for granted by free men of all eras. Bearing arms for this purpose is the assumed Natural Law responsibility of all men uncovered by human authority who obey the Dominion Mandate, providing for future generations through hard work, and the preservation of the fruits of their labor by defending their property from violent, greedy, and covetous men. There is just no reason to imagine that men in first century Judea like Jesus’ apostles did not carry swords or other weapons of self-defense.
“And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.” (Luke 22:35-38)
“Therefore will I divide him [a portion] with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12)
When Jesus originally established his own Sanhedrin, he sent them out in pairs to preach the Gospel without any personal protection or provision, to “heal the sick and tread on serpents and scorpions,” by the exclusive power and authority of the Holy Spirit, to test their resolve and to magnify the efficacy of God’s Providence over unprotected extremists as a witnessing tool for lookers-on. Once that test was completed however, Jesus informs the Seventy that they should take with them their money, bread pouch, and tools of self-defense, and if they do not have such tools, to explicitly go out and arm themselves. While part of this reasoning does include the prophecy of Jesus seeming to be armed to be falsely counted among the violent Zealots or Sicarii, that prophecy would have to be fulfilled within only a few hours of this exchange, at Gethsemane. There was no need for them to suddenly take up their coin purse and provision satchel for Christ to be wrongly rumored of being a violent revolutionary, and so it is safe to assume that his instructions were not meant exclusively for the theater at his arrest, but a rescinding of their former gambit and a return to the carrying of their everyday items. Two swords may have been enough to fulfill prophecy, though this is unlikely considering the notorious “Sicarii” (literally meaning “dagger men,”) were an entire splinter group of Zealots that were, not only all armed, but violent assassins, committed to eliminating Roman occupiers and their sympathizers. Similarly, the Zealots all carried arms to wage open warfare against the Roman Empire to drive them from the Holy Land. Regardless, to be counted among these transgressors, two swords are not enough to arm all seventy men to whom Christ gives the instructions, implying either the presence of more swords in the troop, or that Jesus’ reply of “It is enough” was not specifically about the swords at all, but rather a conclusion to his long list of instructions to the seventy bulleted in the rest of the chapter.
If there is any doubt that the prophecy from Isaiah should refer to revolutionaries, and not merely to petty criminals and lawbreakers who “healed on the Sabbath” or did not “wash their hands before eating,” then it should be noted that the primary definition for the Hebrew word for “transgressors” means “rebel, revolt, of nations; to break away (from just authority), i.e. Trespass, apostatize, quarrel—offend, rebel, revolt, transgress…” To add to this notion, as we have expressed elsewhere, Barabbas was not a petty thief, but a violent revolutionary who marauded rural villages in order to fund guerilla operations. This same description is given to the two men crucified on either side of Christ, reserving the capital punishment for those involved in stirring up the people against the occupying world of Rome and its political sympathizers.
“It is possible that Barabbas was merely a robber or highwayman, but more likely, given the use of the term ληστής (lhsth”) in Josephus and other early sources, that he was a guerrilla warrior or revolutionary leader. See both R. E. Brown (John [AB], 2:857) and K. H. Rengstorf (TDNT 4:258) for more information. The word λῃστής was used a number of times by Josephus (J. W. 2.13.2-3 [2.253-254]) to describe the revolutionaries or guerrilla fighters who, from mixed motives of nationalism and greed, kept the rural districts of Judea in constant turmoil.” (Footnote to John 18. From NET Bible)
To reiterate, the existence of weapons and their amount amongst his troop were enough for his detractors to make a case to Roman authorities that Christ was a violent revolutionary, even if the swords would only ever be used in a righteous manner, like in self-defense, or the protection of the weak. Christ’s revolution was a nonviolent one (and the only one that succeeded), but self-defense cannot actually be said to be offensive violence in any case. The concept of “warrior-monks” is not at all uncommon throughout history referring to various groups of men who are peaceful, generous, and self-sacrificial, but are adept at protecting those within their care and willing to draw blood for them in relative circumstances. This notion was even prevalent at the time among an almost identical group to the early Christians, the Essenes.
Fifty-four years before this exchange, in 20 BC, a former member of the existing Judean Sanhedrin as its last second-highest-ranking member, Menahem the Essene, abandoned his role in the Tannaim and, along with eighty pairs of disciples, abdicated the ever-worsening Judean government to “serve the King” prophesied to come liberate its people. Practically unknown to most professing Christians until recently, the Essenes, or in Aramaic,“assaya, which means doctor or healer… are not mentioned anywhere in the New Testament, although their numbers were at least as great as the Sadducees and Pharisees.” (Kersten, Holger. Jesus Conspiracy. Element, 1995.) Though they may not have called themselves “Essenes,” they were the more prominent of the Jewish sects, even more popular at the time than the Pharisees and Sadducees. They read the same scriptures as these other two groups, but came to highly different interpretive conclusions that often coincided with Christ’s own teachings and life, like the absurdity of animal sacrifices, the importance of seclusion for preparing for ministry, or the habit of congregating together within the borders of existing municipalities of foreigners. In fact, Christ’s servant-model for government was already being practiced by many of the Essenes to serve the same people that the other two political parties endeavored to rule.
“The Dead Sea Scrolls community, who are probably Essenes, were led by a high priestly leadership, who are thought to be the descendants of the “legitimate” high priestly lineage, which the Hasmoneans ousted. The Dead Sea Scrolls bitterly opposed the current high priests of the Temple. Since Hasmoneans constituted a different priestly line, it was in their political interest to emphasize their family’s priestly pedigree that descended from their ancestor, the high priest Zadok, who had the authority to anoint the kingship of Solomon, son of David.” (“Sadducees – New World Encyclopedia”. 2022.)
“According to Josephus, the Essenes practiced collective ownership (War 2.122; Ant. 18.20), elected a leader whose orders they obeyed (War 2.123, 134), were forbidden from swearing oaths (War 2.135) and sacrificing animals (Philo, §75), controlled their temper, served as channels of peace (War 2.135), carried weapons only as protection against robbers (War 2.125), had no slaves but served each other (Ant. 18.21) and did not engage in trading (War 2.127). Both Josephus and Philo have lengthy accounts of their communal meetings, meals, and religious celebrations.” (“Essenes – New World Encyclopedia”. 2022.)
There is a lot of information to give on the Essenes, like how John the Baptist was very likely raised in an Essene community before taking up the mantel of prophet for the awaited Messiah, or the idea that he and Jesus both had taken the Nazirite vow (intimating the source of “Nazareth“), or that James was the leader of an Essene sect of Christians in Jerusalem, but the focus on them for the intent of this article is to describe the Essenes as pacifists, but pacifists with swords who recognized the difference between war and self-defense. Vestigial records of their way of life are still discernable in this context from history. The Sicarii, known for plundering villages, once attacked the Essene community at Ein Gedi (sometimes spelled “Jedi”) and drove out its defenders, necessitating the idea of an armed people willing to protect each other from outside aggressors. As already mentioned, the Christian Kingdom and Essene communities resembled each other because they were both modeled on the primordial concept of a free society as practiced by ancient Israel, but also echoed in the concept of the Greek polis:
“Though the notion of the free, or self-governed community, originated in ancient Greece, the Greek polis seems to pose a problem for the modern post-Hobbesian concept of sovereignty. For the latter presupposes that of the State, that is an agency which monopolizes the use of violence, as an instrument by which sovereignty is constituted. Yet, the polis was not a State but rather what the anthropologists call a stateless community. The latter is characterized by the absence of ‘government’, that is of an agency which has separated itself from the rest of social life and which monopolizes the use of violence. In stateless societies the ability to use force is more or less evenly distributed among armed or potentially armed members of the community. Being stateless, then, in what sense can we say that the polis was sovereign? On the practical level the Greek polis had a very limited ability to control and direct legislation. The decentralised nature of Greek society and the absence of coercive apparatuses meant that the laws had to be identical with the customs of the community or else that decisions had to be shared by a wide consensus, which imposed a severe limitation on the ability of the poleis to change their laws or initiate changes in the community.” (Polis: The Journal of the Society for Greek Political Thought, Volume 17, Numbers 1-2, 2000, pp. 2-34 (33) Berent M. Sovereignty: ancient and modern.)
The Defense of Others as a Weightier Matter
When free people are no longer in anticipation of the collapse of the pagan societies which surround them, are able to live without fear of molestation from their imperialist administrations, and are restored to the Eden growing from the rubble of fallen empires, they get to experience all the rights of primordial Man before he sold his birthright of liberty into the coffers of human civil government. While seeking liberty on the narrow path, he may have already been picking up many of his responsibilities that he had discarded on the broad path to bondage, and towards the end of his journey to the Kingdom of God, he may find the right to self-defense and defense of others restored to him. “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:21)
In ancient Israel, it was expected for every man to practice justice, removing the need for police forces and militaries in their communities, thereby preventing institutional corruption, bloodlust, and concentration of power by preventing the existence of institutions themselves through adhocratic self-reliance emanating in community ethics. To preserve their liberty, even after they began giving it up by the request for autocratic rulers, God still expected the people to preserve their responsibility to perform justice, citing political, social, and economic ruination if they failed.
“Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place. For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people. But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation.” (Jeremiah 22:3-5)
As discussed elsewhere, the Weightier Matters necessitate direct, individual attention to your neighbor’s health, welfare, prosperity, and safety, and the integrity of his property. Free people are a peaceful people, but true peace necessarily includes the willingness to use force and defensive violence to safeguard your neighbor if necessary, because it is unequivocal violence to side with the violent in your cowardice by refusing to met out proportionate force against the violent. The command to do no violence to the stranger is the common sense command to prevent violence against him. The command to not shed innocent blood is also the common sense command to prevent innocent blood from being shed. The more you outsource to power-hungry institutions your injunction to safeguard against evil, violent, and rapacious men, the more those institutions begin to be filled with evil, violent, and rapacious men seeking power, and the more your society accelerates towards desolation. “Protection draws to it subjection; subjection protection.” (Coke, Littl. 65)
All societies perform the weightier matters in principle, only most make the word of God to none effect in their attempt, as trees that bear no fruit, owed to the fact that the self-refuting means by which those weightier matters are attempted are socialized, compartmentalized, and therefore neutralized. The average wait time for law enforcement in the United States, for instance, is eleven minutes. The response time for fire departments is a little better, at just over five minutes. When your neighbors are next door, but your help is much further away, why have neighbors at all? No doubt pacifists would prescribe that neighbors who love each other in a free society should put out each others fires, recognizing the need for all men to practice the weightier matters, but they fail to admit that all men should be intentionally prepared to execute justice and defense as a necessary ingredient to preserve the liberty of an entire society and not make the word of God to none effect. Free people naturally scoff at this hypocrisy, knowing that failure to do defensive violence in the face of offensive violence is itself offensive violence. They know that a man who does not acquire the means to protect his neighbor against violence with violence is also guilty of that violence and is not a good man, for the same reason why the slothful, neglectful, and cowardly cannot said to be good because it is fundamental to do what you can to protect the innocent from unwarranted molestation. A man who is unwilling to aid his neighbor against violent attackers is a man undeserving of freedom and safety.
“Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.” (Ezekiel 33:3-7)
This passage speaks about a community of people who may be set upon by aggressors meant to pillage and slaughter them, and a system of warnings that free societies may have to alert the people of their presence. As will be discussed, the shofar for free Israel was an instrument to conduct the “hue and cry” principle intrinsic to common law. When a warning is given to the community and one of its members does not answer the call to arms, then that man is guilty of his own murder and the murder of those around him. When no warning is given to the community, the watchmen is guilty of the destruction of the whole community as if he took an active part in mass murder. As such, there is an intrinsic link between a danger made known and a danger proportionately redressed.
“Blowing the shofar was a well-known multi-purpose call in biblical times; the scholar Saadya Ga’on identified ten ancient occasions when the shofar was used. It announced the Creation, the Revelation at Mount Sinai, the exhortations of the prophets. It proclaimed a military advance; it called for a military retreat. It marked calendrical occasions such as the commencement of a new month. It announced the Word of God. One day it will proclaim the messianic redemption.
The shofar is commanded in the Torah (Numbers 29:1). It has two principal, seemingly contradictory, purposes — as a call to war (Numbers 10:1-10) and as a proclamation of freedom (Leviticus 25:9). Turned into personal spiritual terms: the first purpose sees the individual struggling with themselves, battling an inner enemy, feeling guilt for the year’s wrongdoing; the second purpose sees the human soul, cleansed of its transgressions, committing to a new regimen that is full of positive possibilities.
The medieval philosopher Moses Maimonides says:
‘Although the blowing of the shofar is a command of the Torah, it has this further meaning: “Awake, you slumberers, from your sleep, and rouse yourselves from your lethargy. Search your deeds, return in repentance. Remember your Creator, you who forget truth in the vanities of the moment, who go astray all your years after vain illusions which neither profit nor save. Look to your souls, mend your ways and actions, leave your evil path and unworthy purpose, seek the way of the Lord.”‘” (Rabbi Apple, R., 2021. The Two Meanings of the Blast of the Shofar. ABC Religion & Ethics.)
Though many of these descriptions have been hyper-spiritualized by a culture that has moved away from its more practical use, the original purpose of the shofar can be gleaned from their symbolism. As a call to arms by the Levitical minister of every congregation, or even by their Elders, the shofar rallied every able-bodied man and woman within ear-shot, repeated by every other possessor of a shofar across the countryside, and roused the people from sleep and invoked them to action, grabbing anything to serve as a weapon as they ran out of the safety of their homes and to the source of the sound so that they can quickly organize themselves for whatever task was needed of them, whether it was the apprehension of a criminal, the protection against bandits, or the confrontation of an invading army.
“By the Statute of Winchester of 1285, 13 Edw. I statute 2. capitulum 4, it was provided that anyone, either a constable or a private citizen, who witnessed a crime shall make hue and cry, and that the hue and cry must be kept up against the fleeing criminal from town to town and from county to county, until the felon is apprehended and delivered to the sheriff. All able-bodied men, upon hearing the shouts, were obliged to assist in the pursuit of the criminal, which makes it comparable to the posse comitatus. It was moreover provided that “the whole hundred … shall be answerable” for the theft or robbery committed, in effect a form of collective punishment. Those who raised a hue and cry falsely were themselves guilty of a crime.” (Adams, George Burton & Henry Morse Stephens, eds. . Statute of Winchester.)
In speaking of the “whole hundred,” free societies are organized into adhocratic congregations of ten families, each represented by an Elder, and each congregation served by one minister. This pattern for society is a historical norm, practiced by Israelites, the Essenes, the early Christians, and many other anarchist societies throughout posterity. It is from this principle that “tithe” and “tithingman” are derived. Even most pagan governments must recognize this universal principle of the hue and cry and enact Good Samaritan Laws for when their subjects have themselves forgotten the principle. Posse comitatus, Latin for “force of the country” is a formal, useful tool for institutions to justify the use of the “hue and cry” when their administrations are overwhelmed by malfeasors and highwaymen. It necessitates that a sheriff or some other institutionalist with a badge must call all able-bodied subject citizens to arms on his behalf. Its purpose is to give an air of civil legitimacy to the natural need for all men to be responsible for justice and protection, by deputizing the members of a posse under some arbitrary civil allowance for a time to engage in a “citizen’s arrest.” When this natural responsibility is exercised in spite of the institutional failure to request it, it is given euphemistic terms of disapproval, like “frontier justice,” “jungle law,” “mob rule,” “rough music,” “vigilantism,” or even a “witch-hunt.” All of these are popularly misrepresented in such a way to vilify the necessities of liberty to make it seem barbaric and grotesque, and to remedy them with the safety and comforts of institutionalism manned by corrupt authoritarians. However, free people are not actually prone to unnecessarily tar and feather bad guys based on rumor, mass-hysteria, and groupthink. They actually have a system of courts and juries made up of actual peers and family members, intent on doing justice but also showing mercy, and other facets of loving their neighbor as themselves.
“The roots of local responsibility for crime prevention seem to lie in Anglo-Saxon customs that placed prevention squarely on the local community through the tithing and the ‘Hue and Cry‘. Every male over the age of 12 had to belong to a group of nine others, called a tithing. These ten men were responsible for the behaviour of each other. If one of them broke the law, the others had to bring that person before the court. The sanction, to make the system work, was that if they did not, they would all be held responsible for the crime. This usually meant paying the victim of a crime for their loss. The community was also responsible for doing their best to chase after a criminal. Anyone wronged could call upon everyone else in a community to chase a criminal simply by calling on them to do so by “raising the hue and cry”—calling out for help. Everyone nearby was then supposed to join in the chase. If they did not make an effort then the whole community was held responsible for the crime and would face punishment themselves.” (Potts, Andy. “Enforcement Of Law“. Binghamheritage.Org.Uk.)
Even in ancient Israel, freemen established a system of appeals courts for those who professed to be wrongly accused, tried, and found guilty of wrongdoing and who claim to not have received a fair trial. These examples are meant to serve to rightly divide the need for justice in the immediate and direct execution of defensive violence between a tortfeasor and his prey, and the barbaric practice of vengeance through capital punishment which usurps God’s sole right to punish an evildoer after he is no longer a threat to his potential victim like he was “in the heat of the moment.” Self-defense and defense of others therefore cannot be equivocated with capital punishment or vengeance. It is not punishment at all, but a natural consequence for an unnatural affront to natural law, a reactive danger for those with dangerous intent, and an incentive for bad men to act good around good men. To intend to maliciously and willfully harm another and their property is to confess that you have already abdicated the imago Dei and the Dominion Mandate by seeking to exercise dominion over someone who does bear God’s image. It says that you have already spurned being “made upright” and have intimated the behavior of a feral beast, begging for recompense for your ferocity. Repentance may be opened to you, but any expectation of being forcefully stopped in the middle of your heinous act, even unto your own violent death, is a form of Divine justice that may very likely and judiciously come between you and that repentance. To set in course a series of violent events is to forfeit any right to complain when the domino falls on your head.
Forming a Militia as a Weightier Matter
Having discussed the shofar as a regular instrument in free Israel for rallying the people for the Hue and Cry, it is also noteworthy to express its extended use for mobilizing the people, not just for acts of individual justice, but as expressed above in Ezekiel 33, but also as an able-bodied militia against entire armies of invading aggressors.
“Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets.” (Joshua 6:4)
“And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them. And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the Lord hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over. And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valour; and there escaped not a man.” (Judges 3:27-29)
“And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do. When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands. And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. And they stood every man in his place round about the camp; and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.” (Judges 7:16-21)
“Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid?… (Amos 3:6)
Whether these accounts represent national defense, or acts of imperialism leading to results of either prescribed spiritual death or a pericope thereof in described physical death initiated by the dead party’s sin, one thing is clear: a free and righteous people engage the preservation and prosperity of their free society by forming a system of national corps.
“MILI’TIA, noun [Latin from miles, a soldier; Gr. war, to fight, combat, contention. The primary sense of fighting is to strive, struggle, drive, or to strike, to beat, Eng. moil, Latin molior; Heb. to labor or toil.] The body of soldiers in a state enrolled for discipline, but not engaged in actual service except in emergencies; as distinguished from regular troops, whose sole occupation is war or military service. The militia of a country are the able bodied men organized into companies, regiments and brigades, with officers of all grades, and required by law to attend military exercises on certain days only, but at other times left to pursue their usual occupations.” (“Webster’s Dictionary 1828 – Militia.” Websters Dictionary 1828.)
A “well-regulated militia” is one that is marked by system, regularity, or discipline, and controlled by a principle of law. In this case, that law is natural law that requires men to gregariously and adhocratically come together to practice community-wide and national defense. Along this vein, it should be expressed that there are two different kinds of militias, and that only one is prescribed for God’s people. To use the United States as an example:
“Today, as defined by the Militia Act of 1903, the term “militia” is used to describe two classes within the United States:
Unorganized militia – comprising the reserve militia: every able-bodied man of at least 17 and under 45 years of age, not a member of the State Defense Forces, National Guard, or Naval Militia.” (“Militia (United States) – Wikipedia“. En.Wikipedia.Org.)
To label a free man’s militia as “unorganized” is not to imply that it is disorganized, like a group of buddies who get together at the firing range over a case of beer twice a year and talk about deer season and the Superbowl. It simply means that it is a self-organized militia not subject to bureaucratic oversight through maritime law or other military laws, and is ineligible to partake in martial law. Simply put, “unorganized militias” are the prima facie “military force” of free societies who have not outsourced national defense to socialist institutions. Abraham and early Israel had unorganized militias, as did free Americans, the Teutons, and early Rome.
Just like there are adhocratic primacies usurped by bureaucratic perversions in all pagan nations regarding the weightier matters like justice, welfare, education, and so forth, the freeman’s injunction to form a militia is perverted into a subject slave’s compulsion to be drafted into a military. Simply put, if men will not love their neighbor enough to voluntarily seek to be a part of a well-regulated militia they will, in a natural consequence, find themselves subject to forced militaristic inclusion on the whims of autocrats. For the Israelites backsliding away from liberty, this punishment is described as “[Your ruler] will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.” (1 Samuel 8:11-12)
Even under the “best” rulers who were once considered men “after God’s own heart,” this power-hungry temptation to pressgang subject citizens into a standing military was too palpable to ignore. “And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah. For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people… And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.” (2 Samuel 24:1-10) The purpose of this census was for David to prepare a military draft, to have a sense of security in his imperialist conquests against Israel’s enemies. Rather than rely on the good faith associations of freemen in their voluntary militias, already ready to organize at a moment’s notice, David wanted to compartmentalize that responsibility into a centralized institution over the people. That is, until he repented and considered his pragmatism foolish. If it is foolish for David to have a standing army, then it is foolish for anyone to have a standing army.
Even as early as the formation of the Constitution of the United States, the rights of the American people were subject to the dangers complained about in the Declaration of Independence. In fact, it should be expressed that the average man was more free before the Declaration than they were after the ratification of the Constitution. True liberty did not come from a seven-year war over broken covenants that members of state governments had made with the administrations of the kings of England. The individual freeman was not a part of those covenants to begin with. True liberty came from decades and centuries of struggle to “dress and keep the earth” through fee-simple allodium, from forming strong bonds of love in freewill communities in welfare, protection, and justice, and by rejecting attempts of central authority to relieve them of such responsibilities and rights. This is why free Americans rejected the Constitution as a threat to the true liberty they had been enjoying and preserving for generations. Even incrementalists like the Anti-Federalists expressed the tyranny of Constitutionalism as a rejection of liberty, especially in regards to its proposed replacement of the minute-men in every community.
“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined. I am answered by gentlemen, that, though I might speak of terrors, yet the fact was, that we were surrounded by none of the dangers I apprehended. I conceive this new government to be one of those dangers: it has produced those horrors which distress many of our best citizens…
There are sufficient guards placed against sedition and licentiousness; for, when power is given to this government to suppress these, or for any other purpose, the language it assumes is clear, express, and unequivocal; but when this Constitution speaks of privileges, there is an ambiguity, sir, a fatal ambiguity — an ambiguity which is very astonishing…
My great objection to this government is, that it does not leave us the means of defending our rights, or of waging war against tyrants. It is urged by some gentlemen, that this new plan will bring us an acquisition of strength—an army, and the militia of the states. This is an idea extremely ridiculous: gentlemen cannot be earnest. This acquisition will trample on our fallen liberty. Let my beloved Americans guard against that fatal lethargy that has pervaded the universe. Have we the means of resisting disciplined armies, when our only defence, the militia, is put into the hands of Congress?…
A standing army we shall have, also, to execute the execrable commands of tyranny; and how are you to punish them?… You will find all the strength of this country in the hands of your enemies; their garrisons will naturally be the strongest places in the country. Your militia is given up to Congress, also, in another part of this plan: they will therefore act as they think proper: all power will be in their own possession. You cannot force them to receive their punishment: of what service would militia be to you when, most probably, you will not have a single musket in the state? for, as arms are to be provided by Congress, they may or may not furnish them….
This Constitution is said to have beautiful features; but when I come to examine these features, sir, they appear to me horribly frightful. Among other deformities, it has an awful squinting; it squints towards monarchy; and does not this raise indignation in the breast of every true American?” (Patrick Henry, Speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1778)
While these lengthy warnings were important at the time, and proximately universal for education, they are now inapplicable for men in civil bondage to acknowledge as efficacious. This is because it is too late. The American people are no longer freemen because the Constitution has since applied to them, and no longer just to the people who signed it, through the application of benefits and slothfully going under its jurisdiction in subject citizenship. Covenants with false gods always make men civil slaves, and civil slaves do not have the right to bear arms because they prefer the comforts of a cage over the responsibilities of liberty. They make men tyrants over themselves by endeavoring to be tyrants themselves over their own neighbors, vicariously through the cannibalistic “one purse” of the administrations of the tyrants that they place into power. An implication of this arrangement is that the right to revolution is also removed because a tyrant cannot revolt against himself, he can only kick against the goads of his own tyranny. He may attempt to shift the blame of his tyranny onto his own institutions to no real avail, but the only solution capable of redeeming him from the self-destructive effects of his own tyranny begins by repenting of the actions that make him a tyrant. That is the only first step towards liberty that God acknowledges and promises to bless.
“But when a new generation arises and the democracy falls into the hands of the grandchildren of its founders, they have become so accustomed to freedom and equality that they no longer value them, and begin to aim at pre-eminence; and it is chiefly those of ample fortune who fall into this error. So when they begin to lust for power and cannot attain it through themselves or their own good qualities, they ruin their estates, tempting and corrupting the people in every possible way. And hence when by their foolish thirst for reputation they have created among the masses an appetite for gifts and the habit of receiving them, democracy in its turn is abolished and changes into a rule of force and violence. For the people, having grown accustomed to feed at the expense of others and to depend for their livelihood on the property of others, as soon as they find a leader who is enterprising but is excluded from the houses of office by his penury, institute the rule of violence; and now uniting their forces massacre, banish, and plunder, until they degenerate again into perfect savages and find once more a master and monarch.” (Polybius: The Histories Fragments of Book VI, p289 See also Loeb Classical Library edition, 1922 thru 1927)
The people of the world groan under oppressive, legalistic bondage owed to their initial consent to its manmade administrations for their empty promises. Those promises led them to hate themselves as they hate their neighbor, to live at the expense of his forced sacrifices, and to outsource his education, protection, and care to authoritative “benefactors.” But the long, winding, and narrow road to liberty necessarily means turning around on each of these behaviors, to love your neighbor as yourself, to voluntarily commit to self-sacrifice in order to sustain your neighbor in the hopes that he will do the same for you, and to directly account for his education, protection, and care in order to bear his burdens and keep him free from depending on the socialist institutions that have hitherto enticed you both to sin and die in mutual self-destruction.
This solution can only be effectively performed in the context of Abolitionist Societies, as adhocratic congregations coming together for the redistribution of healthcare and welfare in a daily ministration, as juridical courts and juries to keep each other accountable to the Perfect Law of Liberty, and as militias engaged in interpersonal protection and sources of self-defense against malfeasors and threats against your (eventually) hard-earned lives, liberty, and pursuits of property.