My two oldest sons have been enrolled in a Judo school for a few months now. I appreciate the discipline they are learning and I don’t have any problem with my boys learning how to defend themselves or others.
On the other hand, I work hard to teach them to control themselves and they know that I do not support violence, especially when peace can be had instead.
We were playing at the park recently, and a kid that was a little bigger than my middle child kept beating on him. He was kicking him, hitting him, and shoving him down. My child ignored it for a while and tried to continue playing with the kid. I sat on the park bench and watched (the last thing my son needed is mom interfering. Embarrassing!)
After this continued for a little while, my son came over to me. He didn’t know what to do. I considered it for a minute. We could leave. I could talk to the parents. Or, I could allow my son to defend himself.
This kid seemed like the sort who made a habit of picking on the little guys, like my son. My son showed restraint. He tried to make peace. So, I decided that it would be a good lesson for my son and that other boy if something was done about the bullying.
I told him to tell the boy, “if you do not stop, I will make you stop.” Then, if he continues, you have my permission to throw him and pin him. Do not let him up. You won’t hurt him by doing this, but it might make him think before he bullies again.
The bullying continued, despite my son’s warning. So, he grabbed the boy, threw him over his shoulder, and pinned him to the ground. “Are you done now?” He was done bullying, and they played nicely together after that.
I’m becoming a big “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemies” advocate, and there are personal reasons why that is. Of course, Jesus teaches these things and I want to be faithful to Him. However, life experience informs me too. I have been one who took evil from others, not because I could resist, but because I was weak and afraid. Then, once I became stronger, I found it very difficult to take any form of evil from others. I was too hash and too quick to respond at times.
Now, being someone who is not afraid and can defend myself, I appreciate the self control it takes not to. I appreciate waiting on the Lord and watching Him work on people as I keep His ways instead of taking vengeance into my own hands.
However, there is a time when loving our enemies means subduing them. We try to persuade them of the truth first. We do so by speaking and living the truth and providing time for the person or entity to repent. If they will not, it might be love to stop them, because if they continue, they might become more emboldened to continue the wicked behavior and who knows how many people they might harm–people who unlike us cannot defend themselves?
Sometimes we can subdue without violence, but with other forms of strength–strength that God gives us. He will lead us in all things, and when we run to Him, just as my son ran to me, He will tell us what to do.