Recently i encounter a pretty weird, in my opinion, point of view in terms war, military, law enforcement organizations, law enforcement system and a whole organization of country in total. Here are some examples: Bible says “You shall not murder”, so, it means you can’t kill nobody, in any circumstances, which assumes that every “properly believing” christian should totally refrain from military service or working in any of law enforcement organizations, cause there you are obliged to kill enemies and bandits. And even furthermore, if person repented while serving on that kind of position, he should leave it! And immediately they come up quoting Jesus Christ’s words about second cheek or shirt. Christians shouldn’t be showing any resistance and just give away everything they are demanded immediately, and that’s including country, they are living in. Anyway, our Kingdom is in heaven and we are not belonging to this world, everything that we need to do is guide non-believers to repentance. And that’s pretty much the spectrum of arguments I’m facing all the time.
But is that really what God wants from us?
Here I also would love to mention, that the basis of pacifism is having a good enough roots. Cause it’s originating from once prefect creation. Before the fall of the men, when, just recently created by God, world was perfect, indeed, nobody killed anybody and was not supposed to do so. And we’ll all be pacifists in Kingdom of Heaven, cause there will be no evil, no murder and no war. That’s why normal people are having hard time killing somebody. Sometimes it’s even hard to kill a hen! And I totally understand every person that is disgusted by murder and war, and I myself am disgusted by it all, and, I think, that murder and war is disgusting for every normal person. It’s totally understandable, when person is having hard time holding a weapon and shooting an enemie.
But we are living in the world that is spoiled by sin. In the world that is full of evil people, that are not having any problems with killing creatures of their own kind. In the world where there are bandits, killers, whole countries-aggressors, that are doing a well-planned attacks on other countries. In the world where genocide of a whole nation can exist, just cause they are getting in someone’s way. That’s why everything is not as simple, as we would like it to be.
Pacifism can be roughly divided into two kinds: personal pacifism, when person is making decision for him or herself, that he will never hold a weapon, but he doesn’t judge other people for that and expansive pacifism, adepts of which are criticizing any force application , thinks that any person holding a weapon is sinning and true, proper christians can’t, in any way, participate in war or be serving in law enforcement organizations, that army should be disbanded and if anybody is attacking us we should be reliant on the occupants mercy.
And while I don’t have any claims about first kind, even though I don’t share their opinion I feel obliged to have a serious talk about the second kind.
Firstly, let’s use moral and logic. There is a principle of justice, which, in particular, says, that evil should be justly punished. That’s first statement. And second statement is that everyone, who has enough strength, has to protect and take care of his neighbors, who don’t have enough strength to protect themselves. That’s exactly why men should protect elders, women and children. And those are natural moral laws that are known by everybody due to conscience. And conscience is the moral feeling given to us by God! And now, if we’ll think logically, we’ll understand, that by principle of justice and by principle of protecting neighbors there’s quite a possibility for the situation to happen, where we’ll be obliged to directly or indirectly take a life of bandit or aggressor. There are lots of situations where there is no other way to stop a murderer, besides destroying him physically! Cause if we won’t do it, he will keep killing and spreading evil. So by destroying of a murderer we: a) are performing a just punishment; b) saving lots of lives of the people who would be killed if murderer would stay unpunished and wouldn’t be stopped.
But we’re not done yet. What if a person who has power and right to destroy a murderer, doesn’t do it, and that murderer keeps on killing pretty much infinitely: 10, 100, 1000… people? Considering modern tools for killing people, this number can be almost infinite! So it means that person, which has a right and power to destroy a murderer and doesn’t do it, also carries a responsibility for all the victims of the murderer that are coming after the point where this person consciously refused to utilize his right to stop a murderer. Cause all those victims wouldn’t be victimized if a murderer would be destroyed when first opportunity and right appeared. So the law enforcement system worker, having a right and ability to destroy a murderer and not doing so is becoming an indirect murderer and maybe even not a lesser killer than a murderer who is doing it directly! Cause he’s supporting evil, murder! Cause leaving evil unpunished is evil as well! And not punishing a crime is a crime as well!
Because of that, idea of expansive pacifism is not only incorrect, but also is dangerous, irresponsible and hypocritical! It’s carrying not less than a half of responsibility for innocent victims, who were killed after the moment when it was possible to stop murderer or aggressor. It appears to be appealing for life saving, but in reality it’s just hypocritically indirectly supporting murder!
And now adepts of these ideas, of course, will start quoting Bible, as if God just said exactly that to and that’s it, nothing could’ve been done about that. “We are living by Biblical laws! And you, sinners, are utilizing a secular logic and crave for secular justice, which is non-existent in this world. Repent!”
Firstly, I’ll say, that laws of logic and moral laws are both created by God, like all the other natural laws and trying to pull some meaning out of Bible that is contradictive to those laws is equal to heresy. But it will not be quite enough. Let’s address the Scripture.
First to the Old Testament
Well known by everyone commandment:
You shall not kill (Exodus 20:13)
If you will be reading just this single verse you may, indeed, get an impression, that you can’t take anybody’s life by any means: nobody and never. But should you keep reading and everything is getting in order:
“Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death. 13 However, if it is not done intentionally, but God lets it happen, they are to flee to a place I will designate. 14 But if anyone schemes and kills someone deliberately, that person is to be taken from my altar and put to death. 15 “Anyone who attacks their father or mother is to be put to death. 16 “Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession. 17 “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. 18 “If people quarrel and one person hits another with a stone or with their fist and the victim does not die but is confined to bed, 19 the one who struck the blow will not be held liable if the other can get up and walk around outside with a staff; however, the guilty party must pay the injured person for any loss of time and see that the victim is completely healed. 20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property. 22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. 26 “An owner who hits a male or female slave in the eye and destroys it must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye.
Considering 10 commandments as a plan, constitution, further is and explanation on how to understand those commandments in details. 10 commandments can’t be taken separately and the further interpretation is telling us how to use them. Yes, it’s an Old Testament and a world has changed a lot till since that times. But principles didn’t change, moral didn’t change. Moral law is the same! If you tell somebody about commandment “you shall not kill”, you should also know the explanation that it’s being followed by in Bible. And it actually presumes death penalty in the whole list of circumstances! God can’t contradict himself. That’s just people that like to pull some strange meaning out of His Scripture! God is just and he demands justice from us, that’s why murder, cruel murder needs to be punished. Murderer should be punished!
And here I’m being told: but that’s an Old Testament, Jesus Christ canceled it in New Testament. Now it’s: turn the other cheek and give the last shirt! But wait, guys! Jesus Christ denied only the traditional law, by the fact that it got fulfilled in him. Now sacrifices are not needed anymore, cause Christ is an ideal sacrifice for everyone, there is no need for circumcision and there is no need to only take kosher food. But nobody canceled a moral law! 10 commandments still remained the same as they were before! And they remained the same in their priciples!
Pacifistic interpretation of New Testament is contradicting with a lot of parts of that same New Testament:
Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” (Luke 3:14)
Why John the Baptist didn’t tell warriors to leave their service in army? Roman army didn’t sing any Vienna conventions. They could even crucify prisoners of war! Or even do something much worse!
And here I get the reply: John the Baptist was an Old Testament prophet о_О
And then I say: what about the occasions of Jesus Christ meeting centurions of roman army in which he didn’t even say a word about them being in need to leave their army service cause it’s a sinful job. Cause, logically, he should’ve said that. He told woman, that got caught in fornication that she shall not sin anymore. And I’m not even talking about money traders, that Jesus was forcing away with scourge, isn’t it not exactly pacifistic behavior of Christ and isn’t it totally contradicting to the understanding of “turning the other cheek” that expansive pacifists are talking about all the time.
Which is just getting a reply: but it was still an Old Testament! о_О о_О о_О
But I still won’t calm down: let’s read about some !new testament! Acts. There is a story about centurion Cornelius, and the most interesting thing is that it’s not mentioned there, that he’s a former centurion. It’s said like as if he would be an active centurion!
1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.
(Acts 10: 1,2)
How active centurion can be “devout and God-fearing” by the logic of this kind of pacifism in the New Testament?? Now explain me that! Why didn’t apostles say a thing to him?
But that’s not it yet!
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.
Interesting, why would an authority carry a sword? To crack some nuts open with it? But he’s also a God’s servant here! How can you get it in agreement with the fact that everyone should “drop their swords”?
Why apostles are even supporting institute of country authority? It’s impossible for it to exist with no law enforcement organizations and without the authority carrying a sword. If Paul and Peter would low to teach us to be pacifistic, it would be hypocritical from them to support this institute, cause even its existence is impossible without law enforcement system, which workers are allowed to punish and kill criminals or aggressors. And Paul, actually talks about it straightly.
And what about “other cheek”, I’ll be asked? Well, usually, people are not hitting you on a cheek, if they want to kill you or injure you. They hit you on a cheek If they want to insult you. And they strike with open hand. And you can turn your other cheek only if you got hit with palm and not with fist, hard enough to get knocked out. If you will get knocked out with a punch of a fist, you will not be physically able to turn another cheek, I’m not even sure that you will be able to stand up soon after that. So, I think, that Jesus Christ is talking about personal insult and not about murder attempt. And that’s a huge difference! Yes, if your pride got hurt, it’s much better to calm yourself down, and not fight back, to not get yourself into bigger trouble. But I’m terrified, when people interpret this verses as if we should stay on our knees and pray while our children and wives are getting raped and killed! It’s a total delusion, I don’t believe that Lord could’ve said that! And it doesn’t come to agreement with the fact, that he twice forced money traders away from Temple, striking them with scourge and replied to pharisees and scribes that they are painted coffins!
And love to the enemies doesn’t cancel the just trial and protecting your neighbors. Pray about your enemies, bless them. But God also said not to leave your neighbors alone, while being in a struggle from that same enemies. And judge giving a death penalty to a criminal shows his life to him, by letting him understand that there is a justice and that evil should be punished. And it’s better for that criminal come to the God’s Trial already having received an earthly punishment for his crime, than coming to God’s Trile with a mountain of crimes behind his back and not understanding a concept of just retribution.
Because of that expansive pacifism is at least a dangerous fallacy! If you want to be a pacifist – be a pacifist, but be it for yourself, and don’t judge other and more so, don’t try to make everybody else a pacifist. And think about consequences, which can be caused by this, seemingly, “good” and “great” goal: to turn everybody pacifistic.
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
P.S. I don’t want to insult any of the people that sincerely believe that by non-resistance to the evil, they can show God’s love, by this article. But it’s just aimed against the very idea of “aggressive” pacifism, when non-pacifists are directly or indirectly are being called unrighteous and law enforcement system workers are being demanded to put down their weapons, giving a green light to evil by that.
I noticed that you didn’t mention “Just War Doctrine” or “Just War Theory”. Do you dismiss it?
In terms of what war really is about, I would suggest reading “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society” by David Grossman. It is a serious read, for sure but fills many of the holes in the understanding of those never exposed to the level of violence war really is.