A Teen Mother, A Shotgun and a Difficult Decision

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A teen mother, a shotgun and a difficult decision

She was left a widow and single mother at 18. Her husband passed away on Christmas because of cancer, her three-month-old son a constant reminder of the loved one she lost. 2011 in Blanchard, Oklahoma turned disastrous.

Less than a week later, two young men showed up on her doorstep. She had seen one of them before, but had a bad feeling about it. The men knocked on her door while dread blazed through her mind. Barricade door with couch. Check the pistol. Load the shotgun. Grab the baby. Call 911.

Twenty minutes later, the men managed to break through the door. The first was carrying a twelve-inch hunting knife.

What would you do?

Sarah Dawn McKinley took aim, both shotgun and pistol in hand. The moment Justin Shane Martin was in the house, a shotgun blast took him down. Permanently. Accomplice Dustin Louis Stewart fled.

“It’s not an easy decision to make, but it was either going to be him or my son. And it wasn’t going to be my son.”

McKinley exhibited amazing composure amidst a life-threatening situation. During the 911 call, she confirmed with dispatch that she could shoot the intruders if they entered her home, and limited her voice to a whisper to keep the intruders from realizing she made the emergency call.  She took measures to do the least collateral damage, while maintaining self-defense and protecting her child. Noble, to say the least.
“There’s nothing more dangerous than a mother with her baby. But I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for him.”
Difficult Decisions
I used to flip back and forth in position as I considered my ability to take another human’s life in a dangerous scenario. For a while, I thought it unbearable to bring harm to anyone else, even in the event of a threatening force. What gives me the right to take a life if God alone is just in all judgment and action? Shouldn’t I just trust God in potentially-violent situations, but not take any steps of violence myself?

At some point, I realized that my view on such a concept could drastically, even fatally, affect those around me, those whom I love. As a man who will one day vow to protect a woman and children of my own, how could I do so when a situation escalates to the point of threatening the life of my own family?

A choice must be made. My life or his? The lives of my family, or his? Biblically, a human life is of utmost value because man is made in God’s image and is therefore a unique being within the universe. But it’s also clear that God calls people to stand for another one of His values, justice.

Do we still descend to “an eye for an eye” view of violence against those who threaten us? How do we reconcile this against Jesus’ heart of grace and forgiveness and second chances, even for the worst of the worst? How should we react when those considered our enemies come against us? Revenge? Defense? Murder? War?

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9 responses to “A Teen Mother, A Shotgun and a Difficult Decision

  1. Such similar responses, though not surprising. It seems like the relational responsibility, especially that of a parent, necessitates protection of loved ones at the expense of an antagonist in that sort of situation. “…It was either going to be him or my son. And it wasn’t going to be my son.” Brave and resolute.

    Thanks all for sharing.

  2. I’ve thought extensively about this. I live with my brother. I don’t know what the biblical thing to do is. I am quite certain of what I would do. If I was home alone, I wouldn’t do irreparable damage to anyone. If my bro was with me, I would kill them all.

  3. Good questions John. I’m not a parent but I have grappled with these decisions before and there is no easy answer. Both sides of the argument have logical base. I don’t think we clearly have an answer until we are in the moment, and even then I think what we do may be different from what we had planned. I had always thought I could never take another life. I’ve since changed my position on that.

  4. I tell you this… the minute you become a parent, there is no indecision. You protect your own at any cost. No hesitation. I would pull the trigger.

  5. This is an issue I have struggled with in the past. As a new father I cannot imagine my wife or son being in danger and doing nothing about it. I would try to give as much of a warning as possible to those threatening my family, before taking any drastic actions. But I don’t think that I would hesitate if I had to protect my family.

  6. Interesting that Jesus never mentioned murder but only light physical harm. And in that light physical harm he only made it personal (your cheek). I can tell you this much, if someone breaks in to my house and wants more than just my TV and comes anywhere near my wife or kids, I’m lopping off a limp with my Braveheart sword.

  7. Good stuf man.

    My Dad served in the Marines during Vietnam. He never went but told his chaplain that, should the need arise, he’d protect his buddy’s life at the expense of the enemy’s… And that he wouldn’t kill to protect his own. Interesting balance.

    I believe that if the moment came and if God chose not to intervene supernaturally, I’d do the same.

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