I’ve been talking about violence a lot lately, and I think it’s time to bring it to a close now. Kurt Willems has a great series here outlining a powerful argument for total pacifism among Christians. Needless to say, there are other interpretations. MT at Biblical Self Defense discusses several OT and NT passages that relate to self defense, including armed self-defense, as not just a necessary evil, but a positive good.
Though I have not yet been swayed to the point of actual pacifism, I have to say that Kurt Willems’ arguments have profoundly affected me. He’s helped me to reassess my overall attitude towards violence done in my name as an American, the violence in the media that I consume, and the violence in the culture that I create.
And let’s face it, our American culture is awash in violence. We glorify revenge at every turn. Even as Christians, if you look at the time we spend watching violent films and TV, we probably glorify “good guys killing bad guys” more than we glorify God.
So what is the answer? I’m afraid I don’t have the whole answer. I may never have it. But I’ll keep wrestling with it. I know this much for sure:
Even without being convinced of true pacifism, the kind that would not use force to resist a home invader who threatens my pregnant wife, the kind that would not use force to resist the Nazis in World War II – even without taking that (admittedly radical) step … I can commit to pursuing peace today, through:
- Questioning the violent actions my government takes, whether declared wars or unilateral (even unmanned) actions
- Questioning the level of violence used in our justice system, especially against peaceful protesters and nonviolent offenders
- Questioning the violence that is allowed to happen by authorities turning a blind eye or simply being overwhelmed: bullying in schools, beatings and rape in prisons.
- Turning the other cheek in personal disputes, refusing to use even verbal ‘violence’
- Protesting verbal violence, especially misogynist and racist bullying
- Valuing the lives of foreigners in distant nations as much as I do my own, especially if they are civilians
- Examining the culture I consume and create, and expunging anything that glorifies violence as a positive good.