Christ-like Cowardice

In a letter written from Carthage Jail to Emma, Joseph Smith wrote, ‘There is one principle which is Eternal, it is the duty of all men to protect their lives and the lives of their households whenever necessity requires; and no power has a right to forbid it’ [1]. In addition JS is reported to have said ‘any man who will not fight for his wife and children is a coward and a b*!&%$d’ [2]. Last Friday night, my Grandfather was beaten by the son of his next door neighbour (a man 50 years his junior), and I have struggled to know how to respond.

A stone of anger and resentment has sat in my gut almost constantly during the days following the attack.  I am torn between a physical response or following the pathetically slow and ineffectual legal process.

Now I am obviously aware that Christ said ‘whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also’.  I am just not convinced that Jesus meant that if one of my children is murdered, that the Christ-like response is to give the attackers another one to slaughter.  Accepting there might be limits to what we can infer from this scripture I am faced with two big problems: 1) I don’t know what the limits are and 2) I have certain physical limitations.  I do believe that responding with violence does not always solve the problem, I think this is especially true in the current situation.

Despite this, the two problems remain for me.  The second is more pressing, because I doubt I will ever adequately understand the first.  I am not, nor have I ever been a violent person. Though I am fairly tall I am also very slight. More than that I do not know how to ‘handle myself’.  Honestly, I think I am a bit of a coward. It is easy for me to say ‘turn the other cheek’ because i would not want to fight; it is much harder for me to retaliate and defend with courage.

I think the twenty year old boy who did this should be punished, and I think he should be punished physically.  Being candid, if I heard that my cousin (who is 6ft 5in, a Royal Marine and built for war) had taken matters into his own hands I would have been pleased. Yet, I won’t do it myself; primarily because I know that I would accomplish little and I scared of getting hurt.

I don’t feel proud of my ‘christ-like’ response because really I know that it is not the hard choice to act in this way. Moreover, I feel that Christ would have defended his family, even if that meant physically.


1. Copies of this letter can be found in Brodie’s No Man Knows my History & Jessee’s Personal Writings of Joseph Smith.

2. Scott Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, p. 298.


  1. Jared L. says:

    I think defending (fighting in Joseph’s words) and retaliating are two different things.

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about your grandfather. That is absolutely terrifying.

  3. My goodness, that is horrifying. I am so sorry for your family, and understand the urge to kick that guy’s trash.

    I think the problem with returning violence for violence is that you can get in as much legal trouble for taking revenge as for being the original perpetrator. If you got in trouble for taking revenge, I’d think it would lessen the satisfaction of seeing the perpetrator punished, even if justice takes a long time.

    “Vengeance is mine … saith the Lord.” But certainly, you can defend yourself.

  4. Aaron R. says:

    Jared, would you expand a little bit? I get the impression that he was willing to physically defend his life and those he cared about. Carthage suggests that to me. I acknowledge that responding ‘in the moment’ is different to vengance after the fact, but really I think they are not different in terms of the actual damage potentially done. Therefore I would be inclined to either forget all violence or not.

    Thanks J. He is surprisingly courageous and so far it has not affected him a great deal. This, however, does not lessen the anger I, and others, feel.

  5. Last Friday night, my Grandfather was beaten by the son of his next door neighbour (a man 50 years his junior), and I have struggled to know how to respond.

    Call the police and do it soon, otherwise it will not be a fresh incident.

    Definitely take care of this through the legal side. As Emily noted, you could be prosecuted to the same extent as the perpetrator if you now retaliate because that is not in the posture of self-defence.

  6. Forget about his “trash.” Kick his arse. Except, as Jared and John have said, it’s too late for that.

    The difference is that you can use force to protect yourself and family from an attack. But you may not use force to punish the offender after the attack is over. (That’s the common law, generally. Which isn’t necessarily the Christ-like thing to do.)

  7. Aaron R. says:

    We have. They came round that same night. They did not arrest or charge the young man. They tried to blame my Grand-dad for provoking the attack and causing some fo the damage to their house (i..e broken windows and car damage). We are following all the legal routes now. We have complained about the police officer and had pictures taken of his injuries etc.

    The problem for me is that I am still ashamed of my cowardice.

  8. Aaron, I agree with Emily and Jared. Any physical assault at this point would be revenge, not defense of a family member. In the moment it is not vengeance if used to the point to render the attacker incapable, anything beyond that is anger and vengeance.
    In practical terms, any 20yr old who beats up a 70yr old is probably a huge coward themselves. The advice I would probably follow in this situation would be to confront the offender in a non-menacing fashion, let them know that you think that what they did was cowardly, find out why (if they had any reason at all) they decided to pick on an elderly person, and try to figure out the situation. Stand tall, but not menacingly. Chances are the person didn’t have any reason whatsoever and was being a bully. One of two things will happen a) by far most likely the person will feel like a fool and not have a reason why they attacked and will feel threatened enough (since he is most likely a coward himself) to not do it again. or b) it is unlikely but possible they will feel cornered and attack you, and you would have your chance to decide to turn the other cheek or not.

    This would probably be (and more or less has been in some circumstances) my approach. Bullies generally back down when they see a lack of fear in a possible adversary.

    That being said, I’m so sorry for your grandfather. I can’t even begin to imagine the mindset that would allow a person to do something like this.

  9. They tried to blame my Grand-dad for provoking the attack and causing some fo the damage to their house (i..e broken windows and car damage).

    If there is truth to these claims, I would probably change my approach outlined above.

  10. This does not answer any of the excellent questions you pose, but I will say this: I think I decided on the day my first child was born that if someone was to sexually abuse my kids or cause them purposeful serious bodily harm, I would gladly spend the rest of my life in a penitentiary as a consequence for righting the situation. I’m certain that’s the natural man in me talking, but I regret to say that I refuse to try to put him off in this regard.

  11. Aaron, given the allegations against your grand-dad, I recommend that you watch what you say on this thread about his actions or the allegations etc. What you’ve said so far is probably fine but I don’t think you should say anything more.

  12. Press charges.

    The physical revenge you seek will come later when he’s incarcerated and will be delivered by others.

  13. This is terribly frightening and mirrors a slowly evolving situation of my own. In my experience violence just begets violence though. JSJ was often embarrassed by how physical he was–he did not propose retributive violence as a Christian act, even as he attempted to defend Mormon military actions in Missouri. I suspect this 20-year-old boy (I’ve encountered scores of this phenotype over the years) had the same kind of impulse control problem that we are more coolly pondering as we consider retributive violence. I think the JSJ-approved approach would be hitting the kid over the head with a 2X4 early in the fight, though I don’t get the sense that this is the Jesus-approved approach. God bless.

  14. I will so beat up that kid for you. I worry about that kind of stuff happening when we get older. So I keep several baseball bats around the house and also pepper spray. I will hurt anybody (besides me) who’s mean to my husband.

    You guys could sue, though. Remember OJ. Hit them in he checking account. When he wins, you can put a lien on and ruin their credit rating.

    Also, you know that kid’s going to be in trouble. Watch the papers and your grandfather can testify against him. That would probably feel really good.

    Let’s see, what else?

  15. For those who can’t find justice through the criminal courts, the civil courts may (depending on the circumstances) be useful. Remember O.J. Simpson?

  16. Dang. Beat to the punch.

  17. Not sure about initiating a civil suit. First of all this guy has to have assets or something worth pursuing as damages. Second, in England the loser in a case has to pay the attorney’s fees of the winning side so if you lose your case, you could end up in the poor house.

    You could go for an restraining order though.

  18. Seriously, appeal it through the police but I would otherwise forgive. Put things in place to prevent it from happening again though.

  19. That is terrible, and the police’s response is maddening. I imagine that you would have a little less rage and disgust with your “cowardice” if you were confident that legal justice were forthcoming. I don’t imagine, though, that the anger and the desire for retribution would disappear completely, and that is probably a good thing; it means you’re human.

    I acknowledge that responding ‘in the moment’ is different to vengance after the fact, but really I think they are not different in terms of the actual damage potentially done.

    The point is not the damage done but what is necessary vs. what is gratuitous. As much as someone may deserve a retributive beating, if you or someone else isn’t in immediate danger, it is much trickier to justify that morally, especially when you live in a society that (theoretically, anyway) offers legal recourse (what we generally agree is the civilized way of handling things).

    I appreciate your point about it being easy to “turn the other cheek” when you’re afraid to do any different. I also appreciate that it is easy to talk about turning the other cheek when you haven’t been smitten on the first cheek yet.

    I’m very sorry for what your family is going through. I hope the law ultimately offers you some resolution.

  20. cipherson says:

    What you are feeling(that you are a coward for being afraid to defend, confront, and/or retaliate) is very normal. Don’t fight the emotions so much. Do let your emotion drive you to think it out and act smart. Make a plan and do it.

    My guess is that the 20 year old would welcome another physical altercation. Perhaps legal action or legal threatening would be far more effective.

    What do the other neighbors think of the 20yr old? Find out what they know and think of the situation. How about his own parents?

  21. More details please. Its hard to comment on the situation without hearing the whole story. Does England have laws against elder abuse?

    Legally even here in TX if you retaliate after the fact you can be in legal trouble. Of course armed response to an attacker is totally legal and enshrined in law here.

  22. Aaron,

    Moreover, I feel that Christ would have defended his family, even if that meant physically

    Do you have evidence of this? Because, not only the scripture you mention, but there is a multitude of evidence from the New Testament that Jesus would not resort to physical violence.

    1. God instructed Joseph to take Mary and flee to Egypt in order to avoid violence.

    2. When Peter cut off the soldier’s ear, Jesus kindly rebuked Peter and healed the soldier’s ear.

    3. When slapped for supposed insolence by a guard, Jesus kindly replies “why slap me?”

    There is no evidence that I am aware of where Jesus would resort to violence. Now there is the incident of the money changers in the temple and Jesus lashing out with a whip, but if I read the account correctly, Jesus never uses the whip on an actual person. The whip is used on objects and on animals, not on the human beings in the wrong.

    In the incident you describe with your grandfather, of course, you don’t provide with more context. Merely that a 20 year old beat a 70 year old. The 70 year old could have had some weapon in his hand. The 70 year old could have taunted the 20 year old. We don’t get context. Most likely the 20 year old is at fault, but you don’t provide enough to judge it.

    However, responding to having your grandfather beat up with violence in kind solves what, exactly? If your marine cousin had gone and beat this 20 year old up, and let’s assume the 20 year old was the guilty party, what exactly does that do? It shows the 20 year old that violence is okay. The conflict continues because now you have a pissed off 20 year old who maybe doesn’t like to get beat up by a marine. Is this really how Jesus would respond?

  23. Aaron,


    They tried to blame my Grand-dad for provoking the attack and causing some fo the damage to their house (i..e broken windows and car damage). We are following all the legal routes now. We have complained about the police officer and had pictures taken of his injuries etc.

    then this is now for a court to decide. And even if a court decides against your grandfather, resorting to violence now is vengeance, not justice.

  24. Not meaning to offend, but is it possible your grandfather did some damage to their property?

  25. Aaron, I am not sure where your feelings of cowardice come from. Were you present and did nothing to aid your grandfather during the beating?

    No, you should not attack the attacker now, and you should not feel like a coward for not wanting to.

    But, I wholeheartedly agree that self-defense is Christ-like. I hardly believe Christ would want someone to stand by and allow their loved one beaten by someone else. The people in the BofM (whoever was righteous at the time) fought for their lives, wives, children, freedom, etc. The Lord helped and protected them as long as their motives were in defense. In the one part where some wanted to pre-emptively strike, they decided not to because they knew that God would not protect them if they did.

    I am just not convinced that Jesus meant that if one of my children is murdered, that the Christ-like response is to give the attackers another one to slaughter.

    No, it’s not. But it’s also not to attack out of retribution.

    I think there are two different ideas here. One is self-defense, with is Christ-like. One is revenge, which is not. But, pursuing legal action so that it doesn’t happen to someone else is, IMO.

  26. I don’t think Aaron is asking for practical advice on how to handle this case. He’s already said his family is pursuing the legal channel of justice, and he isn’t planning on pulling a Charles Bronson any time soon. I don’t see the point of speculating as to whether his grandfather provoked the attacked. Perhaps it would be useful to treat this as a hypothetical and stipulate the facts as stated in the OP, and restrict our commentary to the philosophical issues it raises.

  27. Antonio Parr says:


    You are not a coward. This may sound cavalier, but fighting is an art, and someone who is an experienced fighter will prevail just the way that an experienced basketball player or futball player or whatever can use experience and skill to prevail in a contest. You would gain nothing — absolutely nothing — by attempting to physically defend the honor of your grandfather in a way that you know will be unsuccessful. (By way of example, if Mike Tyson attacked a loved one, I would accomplish nothing by confronting him one-on-one after the fact to “teach him a lesson”. This is different from trying to intervene as an attack is happening, i.e., where you can make a difference, but as we know, this is not an option for you.)

    I would seek legal intervention. If legal intervention is not an option, I would consider playing the roll of a peacemaker. Go to the attacker, let him know that you are sure he is a good guy who doesn’t want to get in physical altercations with the elderly, and ask what you can do on your end to help keep this from happening again. This may entail your assuring him that you will talk to your grandfather and make sure that he doesn’t do anything to offend the young thug.

    Killing people with kindness is often much more effective than wounding them with a sword (or a fist).

    Good luck to you and to your grandfather.

  28. Are you feeling guilty that you were not there when it happened and couldn’t protect your grandfather? And wonder if you would have if you had been there? I think you would. Instinct to protect would have kicked in, and you would have done it.

    Not wanting to do it now is your Christ-like nature telling you it is wrong to retaliate.

  29. Aaron,

    I really feel for you. I’ve felt that “stone of anger and resentment … in my gut” several times, and it feels like an almost physical demand to DO something. But every time I’ve acted on that demand, I’ve regretted it. I’ve never made the situation better. I’ve always done better trying to “pass” the stone and use wisdom to protect myself in the future. I really think “turning the other cheek” is exactly that. If your “cowardice” leads you to this approach, then it’s serving you well.

    I understand you feel like a coward. I believe cowardice is a weakness (even sin) like any other, but you’ve had no opportunity to demonstrate it (as far as you’ve said). You weren’t there to step in for your grandfather, and as others have said to do anything now is simply retaliation and stupidity. I would like to point out that if you had been there when your grandfather was attacked, you may have surprised yourself.

  30. Antonio Parr says:

    re: Pacifism:

    Jesus told ~us~ that ~we~ should turn the other cheek when ~we~ are attacked. He never taught that we should remain passive when ~someone else~ is being harmed/offended. In fact, Jesus’ anger towards those who harm “little ones” (better that a millstone was hung around their necks and they were cast in the sea) would suggest that He very much expects us to physically intervene when the health and safety of the innocent are being threatened.

    Again, it is too late to offer physical assistance to your grandfather, as the physical danger appears to have passed. On a going forward basis, there are options outside of physical confrontation that may provide the relief that you are seeking.

  31. John Mansfield says:

    Is the danger to the grandfather past? Or does he now live next to a violent young man who knows he beat an old man with impunity?

  32. anon for this says:

    When three of my nieces were molested by a next-door neighbor, their father, their uncle, and their grandfather felt just like you do in the sense that if they didn’t do something, they were not true men. But like you, they were in the same legal situation: The law would not step in to take on the role of punisher (the oldest girl was deaf and could not communicate well except with her family, and the law thought the two younger girls were even worse witnesses). But had the family done to this child molester what should have been done, it would have been the family, not the molester, after whom the law came.

    Those three men took turns, around the clock, sitting on the front porch holding a shotgun. They never once raised their guns or even looked at the neighbor’s house, but they were always there, day and night, on guard in a visible way. After a few days the molester packed up and moved away — doubtless to molest other small girls in his new neighborhood, but not near enough to hurt our girls anymore.

    Not that this is a specific suggestion in your case. I tell you that story only to show that I can understand your position from having gone through a somewhat similar one, and also to suggest that maybe there is some creative way of defending without provoking further trouble.

  33. I’m frightening. It certainly adds to your frustration that the attacker is unlikely to learn anything or change in our current justice system.

  34. Aaron I feel for your family, and I hope your Grandfathers recovery leaves no lasting consequences.

    I still remember the sounds of my mother screaming as my dad beat her, my memories trace back to around 5 the sight of her face beaten and bloodied. At eight I left my home, school & friends in the middle of the night, we moved over 100 miles away to a womans refuge. I have long imagined what my reaction would be if I ever met that man, If I dwell on those thoughts my mind slows my heart beats louder “venom” fills my veins.

    I try not to think along those lines, I have found as I strive to live a Christlike life, I have become more of a “pacifist” events have happened in my mothers life that have instigated those same venomous feelings however I welcome as Aaron calls it a “Christ-like Cowardice”. It allows me to take stock and place the entire situation in a proper perspective. I’ll defend my family from immediate danger however I hope I can have the self control to manage my emotions in the aftermath of the most dyer circumstances.

    Nelson Mandela is a huge hero of mine, his attitude after Robin Island is so admirable and has been a positive influence to millions.

    Aaron despite your feelings of inadequacy and cowardice you have the potential to be a positive influence to your Family & Friends.

  35. Aaron R. says:

    Rebecca J, I appreciate your comment because I think it is spot on. Legally we are sorted, and the allegations are unsubstantiated thanks to witnesses that have come forward.

    My question is about being a coward, I’m sorry if I did not make that clear though my some-what emotive prose.

    As I said in the OP I would never be violent myself, I just couldn’t. But I personally feel this is a weakness and I feel a sense of shame because of that. Hypothetically, if I were there I think I would have done very little aside from trying to pacify and restrain.

    I do not have time now to respond in detail to all the comments but will later.

  36. Adam Greenwood says:

    In purely practical terms, there is no good answer. Honor might require that you fight even if you are pretty sure to lose, but practically that doesn’t do much. And the ‘anarcho-tyranny’ of modern life means that while the state can’t be counted on to restrain the barbarians, it can’t be counted on to leave you alone if you try to restrain the barbarians yourself. In fact, in the nature of things the state is more likely to use its machinery against you.

    That leaves the spiritual problem. There’s no good answer to that either. Honor and courage seem to pull one way, Christian teaching pulls another, and there is no good way to reconcile them short of dismissing one or the either, which would be wrong. In fact, you cannot submit as a Christian if you submit out of fear.

    Any one–ANY ONE–can show cowardice. But you might surprise yourself. You might have just acted to help your Grandfather without thinking if you were there. It would not surprise me at all. People who do heroic things are often just as surprised themselves as anyone else.

    I think you will continue to believe in your own cowardice–and, perhaps, continue to be one–unless you take concrete steps. I don’t mean speaking with your neighbor in dulcet tones of buckshot. I mean that you need to take steps so that you feel able to act: physical training, fighting arts, boxing (so you get over the fear of getting hit), something along those lines.

    Finally, you need to take any advice you get on the internet with a helping of salt.

  37. By The Rules says:

    Sorry to hear about the violenet encounter in your family. A few thoughts that I hope will be of some comfort to you:
    1. Would you feel any different had your grandfather received similar injuries in a motor vehicle accident in which he was not at fault?

    2. Heavenly father has had one of his children beaten. What is he doing different as a father, rather than a grandchild?

    3. Investigate the circumstances, and take action to see that it NEVER happens again!

    4. Hopefully your emotions are so exquisite that you are sufficiently motivated to testify not only before the tribunals of earth, but the judgement bar of Christ.

    5. Follow Ammons exapmle: He picked the most bloodthirsty scum of the earth to convert. And when he went on his self called (but divinely endorsed) mission, he took 4 different types of weapons with him that he did not hesitate to appropriately use for defense of sheep/coworkers/self. Note: absent firearm protection (I gather you live in Britan where I understand that only outlaws have guns) a tanto blade about 5 inches long with some knowlege of basic moves is very comforting.

  38. anon for this one says:

    This does not answer any of the excellent questions you pose, but I will say this: I think I decided on the day my first child was born that if someone was to sexually abuse my kids or cause them purposeful serious bodily harm, I would gladly spend the rest of my life in a penitentiary as a consequence for righting the situation. I’m certain that’s the natural man in me talking, but I regret to say that I refuse to try to put him off in this regard.

    As a victim of childhood sexual abuse, I hope that you might consider the fact that in the situation you posit, your child might need their dad in in their life more than they need the perpetrator punished. Let me be clear: after sexual abuse occurs, there is nothing you can do to “right the situation.” All you can do is try to help your child to live with it. And that is not best done while incarcerated.

    As far as the OP goes… I’m dry. Sorry, Aaron, that sounds like an awful situation to deal with. While comments like #22 make me bristle (nothing personal, Daniel), I am also unsure about pursuing the opposite course. I’m not sure I could be a “Captain Moroni” and keep my soul intact. I doubt the purity of my motives, and even if they were pure at first, would the violence change that over time? But… the “Anti-Nephi-Lehi” path has other pitfalls to consider.

    Prayers for you and yours. Perhaps the important thing is not finding a resolution, but being committed to continue wrestling.

  39. Call upon Sekhmet, the god of protective wrath, and she will tell you what you should do.

    The stone of rage and impotence in our stomachs is there to lend energy to enterprises more elevated than retributive violence.

    My (adopted) son was abused as a child and teenager. I’ve grappled with this question a lot. I was also abused as a child and even until I was 36 years old when I ended it decisively.

    I believe the easiest thing is to avoid all future contact with a violent or abusive person. My experience is with family, not neighbors, but this seems to be the best solution of all, whenever it’s possible.

    If it’s not possible completely to avoid an abusive or violent person, then the best thing is to stand without fear and be ready to defend with extreme energy and effectiveness at any future contact with the person. The first time, one may be taken by surprise, but on the second and future occasions, one should defend with great alacrity, if possible causing severe, excruciating pain to the aggressor. For example, kick him in the testicles with a solid connective kick. Another example is stomping on his foot with boot heels, or gouging his eyes with fingernails. Lose all fear and just attack like a berzerker. You don’t need to win the ensuing fight, just make the cost of it too high for the bully to countenance. Most bullies are sissies and cowards, so any threat whatsoever to their precious hides is too much for them to bear. They prefer to prey on the weak and helpless. Defend ruthlessly and viciously when attacked, then break off quickly and leave the scene. This surprises the heck out of bullies and also scares them. So far that’s always worked for me, but the fact that I’m a (now grey-haired) lady may make it more effective.

    This advice is more appropriate to your grandfather than to you. As for what you should do to support him in his battle with this neighbor, you should ask his thoughts on this. Probably he would not at all want you physically to jump in, but you may ask his wishes and see what he says.

    Remember that the 20 year old is a child, however dangerous and however hugely built. I can say this with confidence as a woman of 52…. 20 year olds don’t have brains that are fully developed, and you also don’t know whether this child grew up in an abusive environment or whether he’s mentally ill or retarded, possibly. So leave the judgments to God, but be willing to teach him how to behave around his neighbors, using corporal defense tactics, if needed. Pain can be very instructive.

    As for yourself, don’t worry about being a coward. Our bodies rise to the occasion on the spur of the moment when we’re in physical danger. Three billion years of evolution will serve you there. Thinking about things after the fact from a position of safety is a different situation altogether. But trust me, if a gentle, shy, timid, and slight girl like me can be filled with protective rage by Sekhmet, and act in ways that would seem totally against self-preservation to thwart aggressors, and somehow succeed, then so can you. Sekhmet weilds the Flammenwerfer of Ruinous Wrath. Grab your own FoRW and follow her.

    Good luck.

  40. anon,

    . While comments like #22 make me bristle (nothing personal, Daniel),

    no worries. :)

  41. Aaron R. says:

    I wanted to try and respond adequately to the comments here. I’m sorry for the long comment.

    I should point out that I never would condone violence nor revenge. Even if my cousin had done that I would not have supported it, though I admit I would have been pleased on some level when I was feeling the initial anger. Those feelings have subsided and I know it would not have fixed any of the problems. However, the speed with which they left me caused me the concern that motivates this post.

    Regarding responding in the moment versus revenge. I am not convinced that there is a clear distinction between the two. If I had been there and at the point of attack responded with violence, I fail to see how beating him up after the fact is substantially different. Fundamentally the intention is to inflict a punishment which results from the initial attack. If the response is merely restraint in the moment, then that is different from revenge. I agree that legally I am not covered but that is not what I am asking.

    B.Russ I think that is probably good advice but it is impossible in the current situation for a number of reasons. It would be the response I would have hoped I had chosen.

    Sam MB thanks for comment. I have been very interested in this side of JS personality and yet, though I agree he was not always comfortable with it, he certainly seems to have encouraged it in others at different points in his life.

    Annegb, guilt is a relative thing. In such situations I think we are all guilty of something. The details are too long to recount but for brevity: my grandad was guilty of being a slightly irritable older gentleman (but nothing illegal) the other party has broken the moral and legal laws that I think are important.

    Daniel, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I read the money-changers situation differently. I think the account stresses animals and physical damage but I fail to see how he could have cleared the temple without some physical violence nor without some additional (and pre-organised) help. I also think that his powers are different from mine and that within the scope of my powers are within my rights morally to defend myself, esp. if we take certain passages in the D&C seriously.

    Antonio, I think your comment was interesting and provides me some insight.

    Martin, I agree that cowardice is a sin. Though I agree that I might surprise myself, I also have been in enough situations to know that I probably would not.

    John Mansfield, unfortunately the danger is still present.

    Adam, I really thought your comment was interesting. Your right that I have never taken any steps to overcome my cowardice, primarily because I think violence is wrong. The problem here is that I am now seeing that there are certain situations when I think it is right and this is the problem for me.

    MrQandA, I very much appreciate your comment and your experience.

    anon, our gun laws do not allow such threatening behaviour though as a family we have filled my grandfather’s house with bodies over the last few days so that they know he is not on his own.

    Thanks all for your thoughts. Though I am not particularly proud my OP (I failed to adequately express my questions in a clear way) I think your responses have been interesting.

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