Not Just A Right, But A Duty

D29 has an important distinction on the matter of defense:
Turning the other cheek is the counsel Christ gave in the instance of an individual when morally insulted: Humility conquers pride. It has nothing to do with self-defense.

The Catholic Church has always maintained that the defiance of an evil force is not only a right but an obligation. Its Catechism (cf. #2265) cites St. Thomas Aquinas: “Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life, the common good of the family or of the State.”

A father is culpable if he does not protect his family.
Presumably, outside of Catholic circles, we would say that the mother has an equal responsibility rather than standing on the idea of complementarianism. I leave that decision to you each to make for yourselves. I can see arguments for complementarianism in some spheres, of which the family is perhaps the most obvious. Still, even there, there is something to be said for the liberty for families to order themselves without much if any external interference. There is no greater space for liberty than the human family, which is a genuinely pre-political structure that politics should not, in general, intrude upon. There may be exceptions to that principle, but I am suspicious of the business of crafting exceptions to it. The argument for each particular exception would need to be quite strong.

In any case, it is worth making clear that the right to defense is only part of the issue. A duty also exists in some cases. We are less responsible for the defense of our fellow citizens than for our family members, but I'm not sure there ought not to be a moral duty of citizens to defend one another as well. Just as we say that you must stop and render aid and assistance in the case of an accident, ought you not to aid your fellows if you find them being robbed or beaten?

'Ought implies can,' so the duty is less onerous for those who are less capable. Yet this is a good reason for an expansive reading of the 2nd Amendment: we are all more capable if we keep and bear arms, especially if they are arms in which we regularly train.


Tom said...

That duty was codified in law in the American colonies. Every able-bodied man was legally required to provide his own arms and equipment and then to drill and serve with the local militia.

That's why the 2nd Amendment talks about the necessity of the militia. Every man is responsible for the security of his community.

And why not women, too? There's no reason I can see.

Eric Blair said...

That's an interesting observation about colonial America.

Because the individual is being obligated to arm himself, so that the government can then call on him and employ him or use him or whatever for the purposes of the government. To enforce the writ of the government.

It wasn't just for self defense or to counter balance the government.

And the Constitution specifically mentions putting down rebellions.

There is a tension there.

Tom said...

Indeed. Sometimes the militia was called out to put down riots in the early US, for example.

The tension would go both ways, too. While you had to arm yourself and serve the government, if the government ordered the militia to do something the people opposed, well, the flu can be nasty. Knock down entire communities for a time. And there was no other military force available to the colonial governments.

Ymar Sakar said...

An alternate interpretation is that a disciple of Christ turned the other cheek of their face, because the hit they got just didn't feel painful enough to make them grovel. So they wanted to try on the second hit, a kind on "bring it on" challenge.