As a Christian and a martial arts student, I have often wrestled with the idea of self-defense. Does God expect me to defend my family and myself when physically attacked or am I to "turn the other cheek" and endure it in the name of Jesus?
As I considered the many comments I encountered on this topic, I became even more confused. Some advocates for "religion" have gone as far as to say that anyone who practices any form of martial arts is without a doubt bound for hell. It wasn't until I committed myself to a more thorough study of the scriptures that I discovered the truth for myself.
The Bible gives more than a few examples of the practice of self-defense and the idea of martial arts. I would like to share some of what I have learned in this study of the Bible - Old Testament and New. The Bible is, in fact, the very word of God (II Timothy 3:16-17).
God and Warfare
The first example of a physical struggle in the Bible is in Genesis chapter 4. It is here that Cain kills his brother Abel. This is an act of violence condemned by God for two reasons. First, the violence was out of anger and jealousy because his brother's actions were better than his own (Genesis 4:4-7). Secondly, the violence was pre-meditated. God confronted Cain before this violence occurred. He told Cain that he would need to figure out how to master the sin of anger and jealousy that was trying to overtake him.
What this scripture teaches is that God does not want us to initiate violence but he wants us to train ourselves to master our emotions when tempted with feelings of anger, jealousy and rage. He wants us to prepare our hearts to respond humbly. I believe the study of martial arts can provide this kind of training. I have seen it in my martial arts class. I as a sensei (teacher) i spend up to half of the one-hour class teaching humility, manners, concern for others and peace-making. We are taught to avoid violence and stay calm in situations of conflict. So Christianity supports martial arts.