Biblical Defense of Pacifism/Self-Defense

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Dr. Bob, Oct 3, 2004.

  1. Dr. Bob

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    Looking for sane discussion on self-defense and what a Christian should do.

    Scripture support would be nice. [​IMG]
     
  2. Jim1999

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    First off, we should define the word violence. One dictionary definition says, Violence...the unlawful exercise of physical force."

    Here we differentiate between active violence to show our power over another human being, defence of oneself or loved ones, and active participation in military service.

    The bible is clear that we are to avoid violence, and I believe, in every reference one might give, it is the dictionary definition that is in mind..."thou shalt not kill...." and "turn the other cheek..."

    The fact is, God used violence in certain judgements. The gospel itself requires radicalism..."except a man be born again, he shall not see the kingdom..." Now, nothing can be more radical than that!

    This question is one that every Christian faces when he joins the military, and especially when one goes off to war. I was a chaplain, but I was first an army officer. As such, I was issued a weapon. If I was not commissioned to kill, Why was I issued a weapon? I was not a fighting serviceman, so obviously, my weapon was for self-defence. Would I use it? Could I use it? In the beginning, I was an idealist and thought that I would never squeeze the trigger. It didn't take long to change my opinion on that. Yes, to both questions, and I would use it with clear conscience. It is a violent action, but nowhere in scripture does it condemn military service, and in fact, there are a multitude of scriptures defending military action.

    We have a duty to defend what is right, and we have a duty to serve our country. As Charles Peguy wrote, "People who inist on keeping their hands clean are likely to find themselves without hands."

    Having said this, I would never defend personal violence in the form of backgarden confrontation or street mayhem, family confrontations or child correction. I will choose the radicalism of love every time.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  3. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    I agree with most of your points Jim.

    We had a similar discussion in our Sunday night Bible study last week. I don't know the answer.

    Is there a NT principle that allows for a Christian to kill or maim another human being, for any reason?
     
  4. dianetavegia

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    [​IMG]

    This thread was started because I made the remark that we didn't raise our children to 'hit' and there is never an excuse for 'hitting'.

    There's quite a difference in defending onesself or our country from harm and 'hitting' out of anger. I would have a very hard time 'pulling the trigger' to kill someone but would do it to protect my children or husband.

    I contend that the neighborhood 'violence', the sort Jim1999 pointed out so well, is the cause of the abuse in families today. Mommie beats the tar out of little Joey with a big paddle because he spilt his milk or wouldn't pick up toys and little Joey grows up to hit his kids and the wife who reminds him of his mother.
     
  5. Gina B

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    LINK

    This is short and simple, but gives a few good thoughts. [​IMG]

    Gina
     
  6. go2church

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    Are we defending serving in the military or pacifism? The US military does not issue weapons of any kind to its chaplians. Tough to speak of the love of God with a "big iron on your hip" (Marty Robbins reference).

    There is a great book by Lee C. Camp called Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World . It addresses this very issue (among othrs) and advocates for a non-violent, pacifistic Christianity. Camp is a "disciple" so to speak, of the late John Howard Yoder, Mennonite theologian who used to teach at Notre Dame. You may not agree with everything written, but you will be challenged.

    I'll post my thoughts when I have more time later
     
  7. Bob Colgan

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    This should be a very good discusion, I have wondered about this topic since taken a Christian etics class in seminary. (but never got around to studying it) I know what my human flesh says is correct. But that doesen't matter what God's word say's that's what matter's. Look foward to seeing everyones view's.

    Bob C
     
  8. TC

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    Paul writes that someone who doesn't provide for his family is worse than an infidel. I see protection as one of those needs. If a man watches an intruder kill/rape/steal/ect. from his family and does nothing about it, what is he providing?
     
  9. go2church

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    Here are a few quotes from the book I referenced earlier, should get things started:

    "Christian nonviolence is not rooted merely in a few proof texts from the Sermon on the Mount or other Gospel accounts of the teaching of Jesus. Much more, Christian nonviolence flows out of the entire narrative of redemption and follows immediately from worshipping the God revealed in the slaughtered Lamb. Disciples do not advocate nonviolence because of and "optimistic" assessment of human nature. Christians do not advocate nonviolence because they naively believe that "being nice to people" always makes people "be nice" in return. Nor do Christians advocate nonviolence because they simply assume that we can "all get along". The narrative of redemption is much more realistic than this."
     
  10. PowerndBlood

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    I agree with TC, you have to protect your wife and children also i could not stand bye and watch soemone get hurt that was being badly abused and not try to help.To me that would be a sin in itself.(if i had power to stop it)

    I hope/believe that is correct because that is in my heart and i do not feel guilty about it at all.

    Great topic Dr. Bob.
     
  11. go2church

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    It makes sense that if you value all life, that if you were in a position to protect life for whatever reason you should do so. That to me is a consistent ethic.
     
  12. Gina B

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    go2church, that's an incomplete thought. What if that meant protecting the life of a murderer on death row?
    If someone was attempting a murder and you were the witness, would you protect the offender from being killed by his victim? What extremes would you go to in order to do so? What if you were unsure of who would win in the struggle? Would you step in the middle and let yourself be a murder victim if it meant possibly saving both their lives, or would it be more ethical in your opinion to let the offender be killed?
    Should having an immediate family at home make a difference in how much and what methods of self defense you use? If you have nobody dependent on you, does that change how you should react to violence, or whether you should be in the armed forces?
    Lots of questions. [​IMG]
    Gina
     
  13. go2church

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    Well the "protecting a murder on death row" scenrio is an interesting one. I am against capital punishment, I find the idea inconsistent with an ethic that values all human life. So yes, I would protect that life. In fact the prison system today does just that everyday. Isolation and single occupant cells are for this very reason, to make sure the individual does not killed before the government does.

    To the second portion, you have to do what you can do to protect those who are in harms way. There was a professor a number of years ago up in Alaska stomped to death by a moose outside the entry to a building. Rather then trying to save the professor by doing something, someone stopped video taped the stomping and sent it to the news. I know I am no contest for an angry moose, but I would have done something, throw the camera, throw a book...something.

    The concern for ones life to me is a practical matter rather then an ethical one. Someone jumps off a bridge, do you run underneath and try and catch them?! If it is the right thing to do, it is the right thing to do and it must be done.
     
  14. PowerndBlood

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    Capital punishment is a tough one for me, i know what the old testament says for most crimes and things were rough for those that messed up, but when Christ said let him that has no sin cast the first stone it stopped a woman from getting exactly what was called for at that time.

    I would have to lean towards no capital punishment because of what Christ did when at the same time my own opinion might be different.

    I can say that i am glad that capital punishment was still going on when Christ came(even though He was innocent) because without it we would be in a world of hurt, without a risen Saviour.
     
  15. TC

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    God instituted the death penalty. I say that if we know someone is guilty of murder beyond any reasonable doubt, then blast away. Order still must be maintained in a society.
     
  16. Daniel David

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    Christ and Paul both affirmed capital punishment in the New Covenant.

    Self defense is my 12-g shotgun by my side.

    Pacifism is what you put in a baby's mouth.
     
  17. go2church

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    Jesus and Paul affirmed the role of government, which indeed does have the authority to "pursue" capital punishment, I think that is without question. The question is, is capital punishment something that Christians should "pursue" as an acceptable means for government(s) to punish criminals? I would say no, it is not.
     
  18. Daniel David

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    Why would God give them that power (specifically) if he didn't want it done?
     
  19. go2church

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    Pacifism represented as a baby's pacifier is disrespectful to those Christians that hold such convictions and fails to add anything to the conversation.

    I would not consider myself a pacifist, I can imagine situations where it would right to go to war. Traditionally Christians have used the "Just War" concept to determine if it is right to go to war:

    1. A just war can only be waged as a last resort. All non-violent options must be exhausted before the use of force can be justified.

    2. A war is just only if it is waged by a legitimate authority. Even just causes cannot be served by actions taken by individuals or groups who do not constitute an authority sanctioned by whatever the society and outsiders to the society deem legitimate.

    3. A just war can only be fought to redress a wrong suffered. For example, self-defense against an armed attack is always considered to be a just cause (although the justice of the cause is not sufficient--see point #4). Further, a just war can only be fought with "right" intentions: the only permissible objective of a just war is to redress the injury.

    4. A war can only be just if it is fought with a reasonable chance of success. Deaths and injury incurred in a hopeless cause are not morally justifiable.

    5. The ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace. More specifically, the peace established after the war must be preferable to the peace that would have prevailed if the war had not been fought.

    6. The violence used in the war must be proportional to the injury suffered. States are prohibited from using force not necessary to attain the limited objective of addressing the injury suffered.

    7. The weapons used in war must discriminate between combatants and non-combatants. Civilians are never permissible targets of war, and every effort must be taken to avoid killing civilians. The deaths of civilians are justified only if they are unavoidable victims of a deliberate attack on a military target.

    These seem to me to be a good starting point but certianly not the only standard of examination when considering going to war.
     
  20. Dr. Bob

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    Somebody should tell the Moslems these rules.

    These are WESTERN (civilized) conventions of warfare. Japan/China/Indochina and the entire Moslem world (Iraq to Serbia) have proven in my lifetime a TOTAL DISDAIN for such "niceties".

    War is hell. W.T. Sherman.
     

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