October 6 – Our Freedoms: Self-Defense

Protecting Your Castle

Vital Sign Religious Freedom

The word “home” conjures up different thoughts for different people. For many, it is more than its four walls and a roof. Home is an anchor in times of turbulence. The first institution that God created was family, and He provided a place for them, a place that was tranquil, calming, and peaceful—a home. Home should be the place for human development, a retreat from the chaos “outside,” a sacred place.

The law sets aside emotional connections as it addresses the rights a person has to hold property. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right to private property in two ways. First, it states that a person may not be deprived of property by the government without “due process of law” or fair procedures. It also limits the practice of eminent domain, when a government takes private property for its purposes, such as building a roadway. 

In 2020, over 1.5 million homes fell victim to property crimes according to the FBI. This resulted in a combined loss of $17.5 billion, not including crimes of arson. While the FBI reports that home burglaries have decreased over the past two years, they remain a very real issue. A University of North Carolina study found that about half of all home invasions are “spur of the moment” opportunistic crimes, and only 12 percent are premeditated. On average, a home break-in takes about 10 minutes, with burglars looking for cash, electronics, prescription drugs, firearms, and jewelry. On average, a burglary happens once every 30 seconds. Only around 17 percent of households have a security system.

Burglary is a crime against a building or a thing. However, when a burglar or home invader encounters a resident or homeowner, it can quickly become a robbery, which is a crime against a person. Fear or force is a component of this form of theft. Criminal defense attorney Joshua Ritter says if you are a robbery victim, “You want to survive the experience. Don’t try to argue with them or fight back.” Others say standing your ground is short-sighted. They recommend trying to get away and calling the police.

Standing your ground in self-defense and the defense of your home is often called the Castle Doctrine. It exists in both common law and in the Moral Penal Code jurisdictions. This concept justifies the use of force, often including deadly force, against an intruder who enters one’s private property, providing immunity from prosecution.

The principle that a man’s home is his castle goes back to the days of the Roman Republic. It was adopted into English law and came with the colonists to America.  Today, twenty-three states have a castle doctrine. These can vary slightly from state to state, with some states narrowing their right to use deadly force against an intruder. In some states, one must prove that an intruder attempted to commit a felony. Thirty-six states have a “Stand Your Ground” law, a right to self-defense using deadly force if deemed reasonably necessary to defend against certain violent crimes. The rest of the states have “Duty to Retreat” laws.

Proverbs 25:26 would seem to support the Stand Your Ground laws. “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.” “If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him” (Exodus 22:2-3).

How then should we pray? 

  • For federal, state, and local law enforcement as criminal activity has surged around the nation.
  • For prosecutors and judges as they consider the cases brought before them involving self-defense and the Castle Doctrine.
  • For the hearts of Americans to awaken and be turned to the Lord.
  • For discernment for people who experience a break-in and for protection for them and their families.
  • With gratitude for the angels the Lord commands “concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11).
  • Devoting everything the Lord has provided for you and your family back to Him.

See previous Pray 7 daily featured readings.

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