I thought I should clarify that my previous entry was not supposed to be an argument for pacifism; I’m not a pacifist and I certainly don’t think George W. Bush, of all people, should be one. Instead it was an argument about consistency of beliefs.

In other words, I don’t see how a Christian – someone who believes in the divinity of Jesus – can avoid being a strict pacifist. The verses I quoted last time are among Jesus’ most famous sayings, and I don’t know of any that allow for exceptions. (“Uh, yeah, I suppose if thou art acting in defense of thyself, thou may smite thine enemy with the Lord’s blessing, yea verily.”) Immediately proceeding the quote about turning the other cheek, Jesus says “Do not resist evil”. Do not resist evil! You can’t get more direct than that.

(The justification presumably is that one should concentrate on living one’s own life as best as one can, which means not hurting other people, and letting others live their lives as they choose. Then in the afterlife everyone is judged according to what they did. This makes perfect sense if there’s an afterlife and judgement and all that. But if the material world is the only battleground there is, resisting evil is pretty much required. That’s why if evil threatens me, I’ll confront the hell out of it, and I hope the President will do the same. However, the beliefs he claims to hold say he shouldn’t!)

So, it bugs me that Bush gets enormous political mileage out of claiming to be such a pious and devout follower of this dude Jesus, while totally ignoring some of his most well-known teachings. But, all the Christians who vote for him can see that he’s not a strict pacifist, and yet they don’t care. In fact I can pretty clearly assume that many, if not most Christians are not themselves strict pacifists despite all this! Rather than just assume they’re all massive hypocrites I must conclude that there is some theological rationale for Christians to use violence. So, can anyone enlighten me on this? Under what conditions is it permissible for Christians to disobey Jesus’ instruction not to resist evil, and why?

One thought on “contemplation/pacifism

  1. Jeremiah Spur

    This is just a guess, but my speculation would be that Christ’s dicta are interpreted by many people as being confined to standards of personal behavior and an individual’s relationships with God and other people, and not by extension to the behavior of nation states which have no reason to exist if not for the protection of their citizenry against evil, be it foreign or domestic. That breaks down at the level of the individual soldier (or police officer), I suppose, but maybe that is covered by the famous “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” teaching- i.e., a soldier/cop owes his/her duty to serve the country, but beyond that to live as directed by Christ, etc.

Comments are closed.