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Unread 01-29-2013, 10:47 AM   #1
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Christian ethics in a post-apocylptic context

I love post-apocolyptic fiction: be it movies, books, whatever. I just love the genre.

It has me thinking: what do Christian ethics look like in a post-apocolyptic context? I don't mean the biblical apocolypse but rather a situation where normal social structures (law and order, infrastructure, industrial food production and distribution) have collapsed for whatever reason.

In random order, these are some questions I ask myself about such a situation:
- For a Christian, is killing ever justified? Only in self-defense? What about participating in an insurgency, resistance movement, or militia against an occupying power (a la the Wolverines from Red Dawn)? What about against the federal government itself should it come to that?
- For a Christian, is stealing ever justified? Is it stealing to take a shipment of food that did not make it to its destination and is just sitting there? Is it justifiable to "squat" or otherwise trespass on (formerly) private property, even if the owners are nowhere to be seen? Is it justified to "raid" another group's resources?
- If an enclave were secured, are Christians obligated to take in refugees and those seeking asylum, or are they justified in turning folks away, even with the threat or actual use of violence?
- How should Christians approach being occupied by an invading force? Should we let atrocities happen to us, such as forced labor, rape, torture, and execution? Should we let them happen to others if we are in a position to stop them - and if so, how exactly?
- To what extent do we let ourselves and our dependents suffer (or even die) before compromising the biblical standards such as stealing, lying, or killing?

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Unread 01-29-2013, 11:27 AM   #2
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Hm. How much can you compromise before you've abandoned these standards? Is there any gray area, or is it all black and white?

If I want to pretend something like this actually happened, I probably would act on instinct and not spend a week figuring out how my theology should guide my actions, and later adopt the mantra of "Everything is permissible" to keep myself sane. Though, not everything is beneficial.

If I had the chance to think through it all, it would probably come down to motives. Why am I killing and stealing? Is it for my own survival, and if so, is that just selfishness, or does me being alive give me more chances to glorify God and build the kingdom?
Do the ends justify the means if the end is a more populated heaven and the means cause some Christians to frown? I would generally say yes to that.
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Unread 01-29-2013, 11:33 AM   #3
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What did early Christians do when they faced persecution and difficult circumstances?

Not trying to be flippant...just trying to look at precedent.

I don't see Paul stealing to survive or defending himself against physical attacks.
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Unread 01-29-2013, 11:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. RM
What did early Christians do when they faced persecution and difficult circumstances?

Not trying to be flippant...just trying to look at precedent.

I don't see Paul stealing to survive or defending himself against physical attacks.
That's what I'm getting at...or rather, can't get past. Early Christians' survival was threatened by the state and as far as I know they did not fight back or resist. They actually doubled-down on their principals of love and service.
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Unread 01-29-2013, 11:56 AM   #5
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That's what I'm getting at...or rather, can't get past. Early Christians' survival was threatened by the state and as far as I know they did not fight back or resist. They actually doubled-down on their principals of love and service.
I must confess...for the past year or so I have really started to look at Christian pacifism...especially the stance taken by groups like the Mennonites.

I have a harder and harder time accepting things like justified war and (to some extent) self-defense. What did Jesus do when he was beaten and mocked? What did he do when he was crucified? What did Stephen do?
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Unread 01-29-2013, 12:10 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Mr. RM

I must confess...for the past year or so I have really started to look at Christian pacifism...especially the stance taken by groups like the Mennonites.

I have a harder and harder time accepting things like justified war and (to some extent) self-defense. What did Jesus do when he was beaten and mocked? What did he do when he was crucified? What did Stephen do?
I've come to the same conclusion. It's just so hard because it goes against our natural fight or flight instinct. When adversity hits you either retreat and hide, or you fight back.

At the same time, I can't imagine letting my wife and kids get taken away by a raiding party or the government without trying to do something about it.
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Unread 01-29-2013, 12:22 PM   #7
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I've come to the same conclusion. It's just so hard because it goes against our natural fight or flight instinct. When adversity hits you either retreat and hide, or you fight back.

At the same time, I can't imagine letting my wife and kids get taken away by a raiding party or the government without trying to do something about it.
I am truly conflicted over it. If someone was trying to harm one of my children...I can't imagine not defending them...even it meant killing the attacker. I do not know how to resolve that.
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Unread 01-29-2013, 12:24 PM   #8
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I must confess...for the past year or so I have really started to look at Christian pacifism...especially the stance taken by groups like the Mennonites.
Which sort of pacifism is espoused by the Mennonites?
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Unread 01-29-2013, 12:47 PM   #9
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Which sort of pacifism is espoused by the Mennonites?
I'm sure there are varying degrees but as best I can tell they don't support military actions. Many of them believe that we should take the "turn the other cheek" as literal as possible.


I've found some interesting stuff through THIS site.
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Unread 01-29-2013, 02:03 PM   #10
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I am truly conflicted over it. If someone was trying to harm one of my children...I can't imagine not defending them...even it meant killing the attacker. I do not know how to resolve that.
Is there a difference in be killed for the cause of Christ and being killed because someone wants what you have?
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Unread 01-29-2013, 02:39 PM   #11
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Is there a difference in be killed for the cause of Christ and being killed because someone wants what you have?
I don't believe there is. I admit that I am conflicted. It would be difficult as a father and husband to let someone harm one of my family members.
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Unread 01-29-2013, 03:58 PM   #12
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I've always been conflicted on this issue as well. Most of the time I find myself agreeing with using force to stand up for another person, but I'm not entirely sure if I would fight back if the violence were directed at me. This is under the assumption that it is directed at Christians, attacking them simply for their faith. I couldn't just stand around and watch others getting beat for their faith (regardless of what that faith is).

I live among the Mennonites (In fact my own mother is a Mennonite!) and it varies quite drastically among them. Obviously there are the traditional, old-time Mennonites who oppose military involvement in any case due to religious views (My grandfather used this to get out of WWII). On the other hand many of the Mennonites I know personally are some of the most likely to scrap, but generally its with a strong emphasis of protecting themselves or others. Actually a few of them are in the military.

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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Unread 01-29-2013, 04:06 PM   #13
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Is there a difference in be killed for the cause of Christ and being killed because someone wants what you have?
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?
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Unread 01-29-2013, 04:19 PM   #14
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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?
Man...I really cringe thinking about it...my daughter is seven.
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Unread 01-29-2013, 04:27 PM   #15
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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?
This is why I'm curious about what pacifism means. If it's a wholesale rejection of violence against other persons then that would rule out physical coercion, yes? But what about physically coercing your child to get a necessary medical procedure? Surely if that is justified then so is using force to put a stop to a rape.
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