When it comes to the non-violent message of Jesus, many people become troubled because of the what if scenarios.
What if my loved ones are attacked? What if I have no choice but to resort to violence in order to protect the innocent? And what about Hitler? Pacifism couldn’t have stopped him. Right?
The “what if” scenarios that tug on our heart strings also often have some faulty assumptions like:
- Our choice is between violent action or no action.
- Violent response would necessarily be the most effective in restraining evil.
Both of these are false assumptions. Pacifism comes from “to pacify” or make peace. It is not standing passively. We have many choices in these situations like prayer, verbal witness and appeal, surprise, fleeing, hiding, non-lethal restraint, placing ourselves in front of an attacker to shield other victims, etc. Christians should always be willing to die for another person while seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance for a creative “third way.”
You’ll notice I listed non-lethal physical restraint there…pacifism includes a spectrum of physical interference that is not necessarily black-and-white. The cutoff points are retaliating blows (per Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 5:39) and by extension intentionally lethal force.
Christians should be known as peacemakers. We are aliens in these countries we live in. We cannot have this witness while fighting their wars.
Go to the battlefields, dress the wounded on all sides, love our enemies, disrupt supply lines, pray, pray, pray, stand in front others about to get shot, and have faith that God will use these counter-intuitive means because that’s what he does.
Posts in this series on Non-Violent Christianity:
- A Brief, Scriptural Defense of the Non-Violent Message of Jesus
- Doesn’t Violence in the Old Testament Mean that Pacifism isn’t Biblical?
- Jesus had his disciples buy swords, what’s up with that?
- What About Hitler? The Myth of Ineffective Pacifism