March 3, 2009


Youth Pastors Encouraged to Learn Self-Defense, because, after all, Jesus said to kick ass and take names.

It is somewhere toward the back. Trust me.


Rocky said...

Youth pastors should not learn self-defense. They should be skirt-wearing sissies like all "progressive Christians".

leighton said...

I don't think it's such a bad idea. The article is immediately suspect because it opens with a quote from a guy who sells self-defense courses. But if you were to come at it from the perspective of "25% of women are sexually assaulted at some point, usually by people they know, and it's important for them to know how to protect themselves," it's not such a bad thing.

They ruin this argument by leading with a quote from a professional choreographer, but most of the value in self-defense courses is learning to recognize the signs that someone is considering doing violence to you. This gives you extra time to avoid or escape (which professional defense instructors advise should be your first, second and third choice). It's not incompatible at all with pacifism; in fact, I tend to argue that most pacifists should study self-defense from someone as much unlike Jeff McKissack as possible, because training to avoid violence done to you lets you protect others from the evil of their actions. (Some people are naturally aware of their surroundings and can read people; but for most people, it takes training.)

Streak said...

Leighton, I think that is a good point--especially the emphasis on learning to recognize and avoid violence if at all possible. I think I object to the kind of sentiment that Rocky voiced here, describing non-violent types as "sissies" or worse.

leighton said...

Yeah, if you can avoid that junior high crap, and tune out the fearmongering from people who are trying to sell you as many classes as they possibly can, it's a pretty good experience.

Tony said...

Out of fairness, I sent this article to Streak and asked him to post on it.

I really have no problem with ANYBODY learning self defense, even ministers (when I say ministers, I include youth pastors). In many ministry situations, I can say self defense would be very valuable.

However, this article has several noteworthy problems, notwithstanding "Rocky's" (catchy moniker btw; I can almost hear Eye of the Tiger playing in the background when I read your comment) illustrious assessment.

Leighton has already pointed out the biggest problem; this isn't an article written by a youth minister for youth ministers. It is written according to a fight instructor.

Fight instructing is a business and he is going to perceive a problem potentially where there isn't one so as to boost enrollment (I understand business is business; but why no real opinion or experience from someone in ministry?).

Again, another problem with the article; why does fight instruction need to be a norm for ministry training now, as the article intimates? Just add it on in seminaries now as a course requirement (/snark). You simply cannot take the part and extend it to the whole.

Self-preservation is a biblical principle, but yet so is anti-violence nor is violence EVER taught as a means to respond to violence. I seem to remember reading "Overcome evil with good..."

A final contention is this further embodies something we have talked about numerous times on this blog as well as my defunct blog; that of glorified violence and bloodthirstiness on behalf of Christians. The tone of this article suggests not that violence is necessary, but that it is righteous, as if a great sin is committed if violence isn't perpetrated on the evildoer.

I'm not making an illogical leap here; the article makes the leap from self-defense to violence. With lines like Christians are not meant to be “just stomped on” and “Over the years I have encountered truly sincere people who believe we should always ‘turn the other cheek’ … at all costs. The problem with that ideology lies in the fact that it does not only foster martyrs, but victims as well". Substantiation on that last claim would be helpful.

And all of this is justified not out of any passage about self-preservation (such as "Love your neighbor as yourself"), but an obscure New Testament passage that there is near universal disagreement on its interpretation, Luke 22:35-36. But of course, to McKissack, carrying a sword certainly doesn't mean deterrence of violence and self-preservation but additional violence--glorified violence in Jesus' name.

Leighton, good points.

Tony said...

Sorry. Forgot to subscribe to the comments. :/

steves said...

It will probably come as no surprise where I stand on this topic. I think that everyone should learn effective means of defending themselves. In the case of people put in charge of children, this should extend to having the skills to defend others.

I think the Bible is mostly neutral on the topic of self-defense, as it is on many topics. In other words, I don't think there is anything there that precludes lawful self-defense. I don't think the "turn your other cheek" passage is prmotiing pacifism. A slap is such a mild provocation. I think he is saying that it is foolish to respond with violence to something so minor.

I don't know much about KFM and I don't know anything at all about the instructor mentioned in the article. It is quite possible that he is just trying to open up another market in a tough economy. The fear angle probably sells well. At least he isn't as bad as those ADT 'home invasion' commercials.

I am curious as to how many posters here have take some kind of self-defense course or program. I have been on both sides, as a student and as an instructor (part-time). I have yet to encounter a program that taught or encouraged students to kick ass and take names. This includes courses that have taught use of weapons. Almost all of them have included some component on being aware of your surroundings and avoiding potentially dangerous situations. The ones that dealt with lethal force have emphasized that it is a tool of last resort.

I won't tell other people how they have to raise their kids, but as a parent, I would prefer that people that are in a position to care for or educate my child be knowledgable in self-defense (among other things, such as CPR and First Aid). If I thought they wouldn't protect or help my child in a dangerous situation, I wouldn't leave them with that person.

leighton said...


I studied Aikido for four years in high school, where the nominal emphasis was ceremony and aerobic fitness, but the hidden curriculum was awareness of where people are and how they are moving. I learned a lot from cops who were also students, who already knew specific techniques to deal with violent situations, but appreciated the situational awareness training and were sick of the gung-ho jackass competitive attitudes in other defense classes that tend to get you hurt or killed if you take them with you when you walk out the door. I think it's not a bad attitude necessarily for people who do tournament fighting as a serious hobby, but it's worse than useless for casual learners and first-timers.

Tony said...


We have discussed this issue a lot since we have blog met and I don't disagree with anything you have said in your comment.

My contention is with the tone of the article and the VERY strained biblical interpretation. Moreover, the instructor seems like one of those competitive jackasses Leighton mentions and that violence is SUPPOSED to be met with more violence (not necessarily defense). If he is going to make a case biblically for this position, he needs to realize there is a broader case for charity and his case is not supported very well.

steves said...

Fair enough. I didn't get that impression, but reasonable minds may differ. The article was a bit sensationalistic.

Tony said...



This really is where the article struck a nerve with me. When I read the annals of church history about the multitude of martyrs, notably Jesus Himself, that gave themselves for the faith without even as much as a whimper much less defending themselves, and then see the net effect that has on the propagation of the Gospel, I see a much more beautiful picture of what faith in Christ is supposed to look like.

I don't mean to say self-defense is sinful, bad, or even wrong, nor in a hostile situation that reacting in that way would be bad. However, in the net effect, thinking of the kingdom of God, what stands to have a deeper influence on people for God? I think church history has already answered that question.

Honestly, I REALLY don't know how I would react in some sort of situation like what this author describes, where a Christian would stand to be "stepped on," or if my children were involved. I do know the Bible tells us the Holy Spirit will instruct us at that time what we are supposed to do and say. That isn't a very proactive attitude and probably goes against every fiber of who you are and how you have been trained.

This is just a very disturbing trend to me that only seems to have its inception in the last 20-25 years, where martyrdom for the cause of Christ is no longer noble, honorable, or even a charitable display of true, sincere faith in a Savior who gave Himself for unrighteous sinners and has its roots in this "manly" version of Christianity where arrogance and stubbornness are the general rule as opposed to love and charity.