Kyle Rittenhouse lawfully defended himself against career criminals during the Kenosha riots last year, a fact obvious to anyone who spent just a smidgeon of time watching the much-publicized trial.
But we live in a post-truth society, where facts no longer matter to a growing number of people. Now that a jury has acquitted the 18-year-old on all five charges, including first degree intentional homicide, there have been some in the “faith” community who have decried the verdict on two fronts:
First, that it was another reminder of racial bias in our criminal justice system.
And second, that regardless of the verdict, there is no scriptural underpinning to justify lethal self-defense.
Let’s dispense with the first objection right away because it is preposterous to argue that racism had anything to do with the Rittenhouse decision.
For starters, the trial involved four white males, three of whom violently attacked Rittenhouse. And Rittenhouse himself is white. That makes all the subjects of this ordeal the same skin color. Despite Joe Biden’s defamatory 2020 campaign ad linking him to white supremacists, there was no evidence presented at trial that Rittenhouse’s actions were in any way racially motivated. To the contrary, the only person under scrutiny who appeared to be a raging racist that evening was Joseph Rosenbaum, the 5-time child rapist who was shot and killed by Rittenhouse after he lunged for the teen’s firearm. Prior to this deadly encounter, Rosenbaum reportedly hurled the N-word at Rittenhouse and another person while threatening to “cut [their] f***ing hearts out.”
Second Amendment 1, Racist Sodomizer 0.
And yet, here’s Reverend Adam Russell Taylor of the socialist rag Sojourners opining that “This verdict is heartbreaking & a severe miscarriage of justice. From start to finish, the treatment of Kyle Rittenhouse has been a clear example of white privilege & bias in our justice system. This verdict is not justice & sets a dangerous precedent.”
Got that, folks? It’s “white privilege” when a mostly white jury deliberates on a case involving only white people and doesn’t take the side of the one individual who dropped the N-word enough times to make producers within the hip-hop industry feel uncomfortable. Ironically, Rittenhouse said that he supports “the BLM movement” and expressed the need for criminal justice reform because “there’s a lot of prosecutorial misconduct, not just in my case, but in other cases.”
No matter! Rittenhouse is “White privilege at its finest” and “God is weeping,” declared Reverend Kelly Brown Douglas, a self-described “womanist theologian” at Episcopal Divinity School at Union. Douglas also made a premature connection with the Ahmaud Arbery trial, although that case took place thousands of miles away under a completely different set of circumstances. Oh, and Arbery’s killers were found guilty of felony murder.
“Better in court to be white and guilty than Black and innocent,” added Jacqui Lewis, the senior minister of Middle Collegiate Church in New York City. She publicly lists her pronouns as “she/her,” a testament to her biological discernment.
Since these leftist agitators view life through a Marxist lens, they predictably turn every high-profile shooting into an avatar for some larger “struggle,” where the guilt of the subject is already predetermined, not based on the specific facts under consideration, but based on their own lust for “social justice.” These individuals slap “reverend” before their names so as to represent Christ publicly, and yet they do not hesitate to smear 12 jurors they’ve never met as racists just because they didn’t like the outcome in a courtroom. Then they smear a teenager in similar fashion because he rightfully protected himself against Antifa-style lunatics.
Which brings us to the second objection from these so-called Christian leaders: that the Bible doesn’t want you protecting yourself against Antifa-style lunatics. I write “so-called” because I am not sure how many of these folks could actually be classified as Christians under any basic definition.
Take one “mainstream” media favorite, John Pavlovitz, as an example. To catch you up to speed on the “pastor” Chelsea Clinton endorses, here’s a guy whose scriptural depth gives us such doozies as, “If God is Love, God is For Same-Sex Marriage” and “I remember the precise moment I stopped believing in hell.” He also brags how “progressive Christians” do not all agree on “salvation by atonement”—clearly not, if they don’t believe in hell—and he doesn’t prefer the phrase “God’s Word” to describe the Bible, opting for the moniker “human library” in its place.
So what does the “human library” tell us about defending ourselves from physical harm?
Behold, Pavlovitz’s deep thoughts on the Rittenhouse verdict:
Show me in the gospels where Jesus specifically and explicitly sanctions violence in the name of self-defense.
If you know a professed Christian who is celebrating today, remind them that their faith is short one Jesus.
If you’re grieving today it means you’re not a sociopath. Be encouraged. We need people like you.
You get the point. Jesus apparently desires that we remain helpless and unarmed as we get viciously smashed in the head with a skateboard or when there is a loaded handgun pointed in our direction.
And if you disagree, well, you’re a sociopath!
After all, Jesus “told you to turn your cheek,” announced the Twitter theologian.
Except when Jesus gave this particular command during his Sermon of the Mount, he was challenging our reactions to non-threatening slights, not to violent situations overall. That’s why it’s important to quote Christ accurately: “if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” The “right cheek” is an idiom for an insult, as most biblical commentators explain, because that type of slap would have been done using the back of one’s hand. The exhortation is, don’t retaliate against such insults but respond with kindness instead. The passage doesn’t mean to lay down defenseless as you get pummeled to death by a long-time felon.
In fact, the Bible plainly offers the moral grounds for self-defense.
In Exodus 22, the Israelites were expressly permitted by the Mosaic law to use deadly force if a thief broke into their house at night; in the book of Judges, the “spirit of the Lord rushed upon” Samson so that he could protect himself against 1,000 Philistines using the jawbone of a donkey; In Esther, the king granted the “Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives” from any group “that might attack them;” and in the book of Nehemiah, the Jewish leader “stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows” to thwart attacks from nearby enemies who opposed the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall.
God’s Word—oops, I mean the “human library”—isn’t ambiguous on this issue. Not even in the New Testament.
In Luke 11, for instance, Jesus spoke approvingly of a strong man fully armed guarding his palace to make the larger spiritual point of God as the definitive “strong man” who disarms satanic schemes. And in Luke 22, Jesus encouraged his disciples to carry swords (along with moneybags and knapsacks), most likely to ward off potential robbers as they traveled on perilous roads. Interestingly, the disciples were already packing: “And they said, ‘Look, Lord, here are two swords.’”
Pavlovitz cluelessly asserted that this last account “isn’t helpful for the gun-toting followers of Jesus” because Jesus later chided Peter for slicing off the servant of the high priest’s ear, after which he healed the man and was subsequently “taken into custody, beaten, and ultimately murdered” on the cross.
But that’s the point—Peter was attempting to interfere with Christ’s crucifixion, and Jesus rebuked him for it: “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” Jesus, however, never ordered Peter to dispose of his sword. Rather, he told Peter to “put your sword into its sheath.”
This biblical narrative is easy to follow, as was the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict, for anyone not simmering in the poisonous pot of social justice.