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Unread 01-29-2013, 04:35 PM   #16
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All I know is the example Jesus used is that if someone asks for your coat, give them your tunic as well. Does this mean if someone is trying to rape your wife that you're supposed to offer him your daughter too?
Really?

Let's look at what Jesus said.

Matthew 5
38 hYou have heard that it was said, yAn eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I say to you, zDo not resist the one who is evil. But aif anyone bslaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And zif anyone would sue you and take your tunic,8 let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone cforces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 dGive to the one who begs from you, and edo not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Up until verse 41 here, everything is about legal punishments

I for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth is not a vendetta. It is the law of Moses.. We see examples of a slap to the face being a judicial punishment in the NT. The comment about a tunic and coat is in context of a lawsuit.


Jesus is very clearly not saying that we should just give muggers/rapists an extra. All these things are in context to wrong things we have done, or laws we have broken.

I think the questions here are interesting, and believers have faced them for thousands of years, because there are areas of the world throughout history that are pretty much post-apocalyptic.

Myself, I have no ethical qualms against defense of family even to the point of taking a life/ lives. Biblically, there are numerous scriptures that support saving those being drawn away to death.

It is easy to have a one size fits all worldview, but ultimately, I think this is relevant.

Ecclesiastes 3
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to mdie;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

All of these things have their place in the biblical worldview. Also, it is easy to forget that vengeance is not crude, but something God himself calls for and does.

One of the first commands, which precedes the law and which is a major component of the flood being necessary is that whoso sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed. The principle is reiterated in divine judgment on Revelation 6 as well. So I think it is rather strange to try to remove this principle.

If someone were attempting to kill my wife and daughter, I do not think it would be a sin to kill the attacker. I do question whether it would be sinful, not to attempt to stop the evil by any means necessary. It seems to me like that would be denial of the faith by not providing my family with what is necessary.

I am largely trying to stay out of the theology forum, but I figure we can all keep this calm, and I just want to point out that there are numerous scriptures which land very far from complete pacifism.

In short, my basis for believing the believer should not be involved in war is based on completely different issues of fealty to a national interest.

I also think there are vast differences between being martyred and being murdered.

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Unread 01-29-2013, 04:36 PM   #17
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Man...I really cringe thinking about it...my daughter is seven.
But Lee, that verse is about a lawsuit, not a thief!
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Unread 01-29-2013, 04:43 PM   #18
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But Lee, that verse is about a lawsuit, not a thief!
There's more to Christian pacifism than just that verse.
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Unread 01-29-2013, 04:51 PM   #19
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There's more to Christian pacifism than just that verse.
Yes, there is, but I am somewhat concerned at the usage of that verse that way, period, as it misses what the verse says and replaces it.

Christian pacifism has a few levels. some, I think are well founded. However, scripture presents a different rubric in dealing with evil governments and evildoers who are operating outside the government. (Quakerism and very traditional Mennonites do not agree on these issues necessarily. Some forms of Mennonites actually would agree with my POV on this one, or at least have in the past. These would be fairly traditional, and the best man at my wedding.)

My primary concern is that the texts relevant actually be carefully handled. To use that verse to justify what was suggested was so far out of purview of the text as to be highly disturbing, and with no justification from the text.

I am suggesting that there is a line that believers must have that actually preserves life. That perhaps there is a time to lay down your life and pick up the sword in defense of another.
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Unread 01-30-2013, 12:43 AM   #20
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It is better to do evil than to be evil (Bonhoeffer, I think).

In most contexts I would self identify as a pacifist. At the same time I cannot rule out some extremely exceptional examples where force/violence would be required (something similar to what Bill has mentioned). I'm more than tempted to think that sin gives birth to tragic necessities. However, to base ethics on exceptional situations seems a bit odd to me. In the definition of an exceptional situation is that it can't be account for. I'm more inclined to call taking a life in defense of someone else a necessary sin--the result of the impact of sin. It is not free from spiritual, or psychological consequences.

In those exceptional moments I'm not sure we can do more than hope that who we are as persons in Christ will allow us to act even in our often tragic world. Finally, we must hope that in Christ, all will be made well.

Further, generally, we do not really think violence has any effect on those who participate in it (PTSD and the high rates of soldier suicide in the US should make us think differently).
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Unread 01-30-2013, 02:05 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by BillSPrestonEsq View Post
It is easy to have a one size fits all worldview, but ultimately, I think this is relevant.

Ecclesiastes 3
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
[...]

All of these things have their place in the biblical worldview. Also, it is easy to forget that vengeance is not crude, but something God himself calls for and does.
Right, but who decides which time it is? Is the time to kill or steal or war a reaction, or something a righteous man can initiate?

Sure, we see examples of Stephen's stoning, and Paul's beatings, but I agree with BSPE about being martyred and being murdered being completely different.

Suffering evil for the cause of Christ is different than suffering evil for the cause of man (if someone is stealing your food, or eliminating anyone as potential threats, etc.).

Like RM said, this brings a lot of conflicting emotions. Another conflicting drive that I find hard to square with Christianity is the desire to dominate or win or be powerful, etc. The pull I get from watching guys like Aragorn, or Ip Man in movies. Part of me wants to be that guy, and while a lot of the avenues leading from that drive are inherently sinful, is there no viable outlet for these feelings in Christianity?
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Unread 01-30-2013, 08:50 AM   #22
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Suffering evil for the cause of Christ is different than suffering evil for the cause of man (if someone is stealing your food, or eliminating anyone as potential threats, etc.).
Exactly. If a person walks into my house and tries to hurt my wife or me (just to inflict harm or with intent to steal), I would definitely be doing everything I could to eliminate that threat. Now would I be trying to kill him? Not necessarily. If he was trying to kill us, I would most definitely be trying to kill him.

Now if someone picked me out because I am a Christian and was trying to get me to renounce my faith in Christ, I would do my best to not fight back but rather be peaceful. I've run this scenario in my mind before.. Even if they had my wife or kid and was torturing them to get me to recant, I would have to stand my ground. I would plead with the people to let my family go, but I can't renounce my faith in Christ to save their lives.

But I think more on topic with the thread..

Post-apocalyptic world.. I think almost anything goes.. Live peaceably with man as much as you can, but don't cower in fear of defending yourself and your family/group. Help when you can help. Run when you can run. Kill when you must kill. That's my take.
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Unread 01-30-2013, 11:29 AM   #23
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Let me throw out a minor example.

It happened at a youth group I was involved at.

A small black kid walks into a room where 2 much larger guys, not black, (I honestly don't remember their races) attack the black kid for being black. They knock him down instantly and start screaming about getting his eye's jelly on their thumb's. I was just around a corner.

What is the right course of action?

Do I let a kid get his eyes gouged out or use force to stop it?

While my actions were definitely anger filled in what actually followed, I think I took the right course of action. I'd really be interested in what someone would say in counterpoint to that.

In a nutshell, to me this was a very clear example of what in my mind was a time to use force. Up the stakes to his life, and I dare say that after all other means failed, I think one would be fully justified in killing or dying to defend an innocent.

If I told the full story of what all we faced at that little inner city church... It was a nightmare.
_____________________________________________

A Post apocalyptic scenario isn't a hypothetical. Millions of our brothers and sisters have endured it, whether it was the Sudan, the Khmer Rouge, Idi Amin, or the concentration camps of WWII or any other hell on earth.

People's faiths don't just fall apart. In all those examples I gave, there are examples of those who overcame. So it isn't just a kill or be killed scenario. It also is not purely hypothetical fantasy as a significant portion of our global population has been there.

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Right, but who decides which time it is? Is the time to kill or steal or war a reaction, or something a righteous man can initiate?
I would think all those are situationally determined. Personally, I believe a time to kill is when innocent lives will be taken if you do not remove the aggressor after all other means fail. When it is the only means to save life. Nonviolence only works on an enemy with a conscience.

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Having been faced a couple times with violence in recent years, I do think about what it does to you. You have no idea the nightmares defending yourself causes if you have not been there. But I would rather deal with that than know that my failure to act let someone get killed on my watch. I am no Rambo, but at that church I did worry about if one of those kids did get a gun past me. (I stopped a few that I turned in to a sheriff's substation.) In that sort of scenario, you run actual contingency plans, especially after the night a gang assaulted the building.
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Unread 01-31-2013, 12:13 AM   #24
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"Let it be clearly said, however, that the reasons for choosing Jesus' way if peace-making are not prudential. In calculable terms, this way is sheer folly... If our reasons for that choice are shaped by the NT, we are motivated not by the sheer horror of war, not by the desire to save our own skins and the skins of our children (if we are trying to save our skins pacifism is a very poor strategy), not by some general feeling for the reverence of human life, not by the naive hope that all people are really nice and will be friendly if we are friendly first. No... we act in simple obedience to the God who willed that his own Son should give himself up to a death on a cross. We make this choice in the hope and anticipation that God's love will finally prevail through the way of the cross, despite our inability to see how this is possible."

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Unread 01-31-2013, 06:22 PM   #25
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This is an awesome thread, thanks for starting and/or participating in it!!!
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Unread 02-01-2013, 09:26 AM   #26
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I have to confess that I am having trouble with the concept mentioned by several members thus far: that we can separate between having violence enacted upon us as either martyred and non-martyred.

Not in the "martyred" sense of one being killed specifically for adhering to a certain ideology, but the idea behind the dichotomy presented that if one is attacked for their faith they allow violence to be done to them, but if they are attacked for any other reason they may choose from an arrangement of options from which to proceed. Does anyone else sense a sort of schizophrenia in this line of reasoning?

Can we separate the privatized (faith) from the public self (everything else)? Some of you may sense the philosophical nuance I am hinting at (namely artificial distinctions that are a few centuries old). Am I reading this distinction into the argument, or is my contention justified?


Of course, I do not agree with Bill's interpretation the of Sermon on the Mount passages, so I don't think these distinction necessarily hold in that context either. But, I don't have time to address my concerns right now.
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Unread 02-01-2013, 06:39 PM   #27
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In fact a few weeks ago I was with 3 Menno boys and they were on the edge of a brawl with a few others because my friends decided to stand up for a mentally handicapped man who we all knew. The other guys were ragging him something fierce, making homosexual remarks and mocking him, so naturally my Menno friends (and distant cousins) stood up and were ready to brawl right away. Luckily the situation went away without any physical altercations, but it's something that I respect immensely about these particular friends.
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I think I can confidently say I'm a pacifist. I hate war and I don't think I have ever justified it. I know if pretty well every debate I've had about pacifism specifically related to war the opposing party brings up WWII as an example and asks what I would have done if I was the Prime Minister or something of that sort. Would I stand around and watch Hitler and Nazi Germany kill off a race and take over the world? I don't know what I would have done, I definitely feel conflicted in those situations as well. Sometimes I suggest that if Canada and the U.S and whatever other country were truly "Christian nations" than maybe we would have really dug down in prayer and trusted God in it. Is that a cop out answer? I don't know, I think its legitimate, but I'm not always comfortable with the answer.

As far as everyday life, I struggle with my pacifism because I can get pretty defensive when someone is being hurt in an unfair way, or bullied or whatever the case. I often feel so irritated and riled up inside that I could see myself fighting if the situation came to that, which is contradictory to my stance. I'm a sinning human and I need to work at that and grow in Christ, which I believe is growing in a 'passive' type way. Jesus was a pretty hardcore pacifist if you look at his life and how he lived.
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Unread 02-01-2013, 06:46 PM   #28
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It is better to do evil than to be evil (Bonhoeffer, I think).
Yes, I can buy this. There are things I will not countenance but that doesn't make me just.
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Unread 02-01-2013, 08:18 PM   #29
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I have to confess that I am having trouble with the concept mentioned by several members thus far: that we can separate between having violence enacted upon us as either martyred and non-martyred.

Not in the "martyred" sense of one being killed specifically for adhering to a certain ideology, but the idea behind the dichotomy presented that if one is attacked for their faith they allow violence to be done to them, but if they are attacked for any other reason they may choose from an arrangement of options from which to proceed. Does anyone else sense a sort of schizophrenia in this line of reasoning?

Can we separate the privatized (faith) from the public self (everything else)? Some of you may sense the philosophical nuance I am hinting at (namely artificial distinctions that are a few centuries old). Am I reading this distinction into the argument, or is my contention justified?


Of course, I do not agree with Bill's interpretation the of Sermon on the Mount passages, so I don't think these distinction necessarily hold in that context either. But, I don't have time to address my concerns right now.
State vs private individual.

In scripture, Paul substantiates Nero's right to take his own life, albeit as a wicked ruler.

13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Some street criminal does not have the divine ordination of being the ruler God ordained.

If someone just decides to randomly poke out a child's eyes for example, they do not have the mantle of authority placed on them by God that Paul gives as justification of why you obey the government and why government bears the sword.

Thus, I think the command of Proverbs 24:11 would deem a believer's duty to attempt to halt the violence. That may take force.

Jesus was not a hardcore pacifist. He is seen driving people out of the temple with a whip he braided.

I think in many examples, being passive in the face of evil is antithetical to Christianity. I do not say this as someone who has fantasies of being Rambo, but rather hates violence. Would for example, tackling someone with a gun trying to kill people be viewed as immoral?

I also do not believe the Bible teaches that violence is always wrong. It explicitly teaches the opposite. I could go with Kierkegaard in that this is a matter for the mature knight of faith gained by years of maturity.
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Unread 02-03-2013, 11:03 PM   #30
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Bill, you have given me much to think about and search through. I want to be able to give this the proper attention and justice that it deserves, but it may take me a while to do so.
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