Everybody in their Right Mind Hates Violence. And Everybody cries out ‘Peace, Peace, Peace,’ Everybody says: “Down with Violence.” Can a Christian Use Violence? Even to me the question sounds peculiar! But it is a query that Many People have! And, I have used the word Christian as I am a Christian Priest, and cannot really answer it for those of Other religions.
Violence is taken as a Dirty word. As far as possible, it Has to be Avoided, of course. And its use in Aggression, Attack or Offence is Never Right.
On the other hand, the use of Force, even Armed Force – which is Nothing else but Violence – is Allowed in Defence. Violence is Not the Issue, but Aggression is. That is the essence of this article.
Defence is something ‘Of the Moment.’ If I am beaten up, I cannot come home, pick up a stick, and go back and beat up my attacker. That is Not Defence, that it Attack. And Violence in this situation would be Wrong. That is what the Lord calls ‘Vengeance’ in the Bible.
At the same time, if the fellow(s) are lying in wait and in ambush, it would not only be Necessary, but Right, to Defend Yourself and Yours. You would have to Encircle them and put them out of commission.
The example that springs to mind for this is that of Red Indian attacks on small settlements. In a situation like that, Proper Defence would have been to Fire the Shots First, if possible. I see No Wisdom in getting Your house set on fire, just because they had not fired the first shot! For background notes on this Please see below.
The Red Indian had been cheated, and No Proper Settlements/Arrangements were made for them. This was Violence against them. And just because certain peoples had advanced with reference to Iron weapons and guns, etc, they had seen fit to Enslave, carry away, and Sell practically whole nations. That Same method of Force and Violence is used in running houses of Prostitution today.
Going back to one more example of Offence (first) as the Best Defence, I would say that the Idea that the Law officer in the Old West was supposed to draw only after the ruffian had done so was Idiotic and Wrong. Whether a man volunteered to be a Law officer or whether he took a salary, How Long did We expect him to keep up the speed of Draw? When he got old, what was he supposed to? Be the Victim of Revenge? We have held the lives of Our Law men cheap. We made them Spectator Sport. It was Criminal on the part of those who drew up such laws.
I am not saying the above with reference to the Ferguson affair. Darren Wilson firing off TWELVE LIVE ROUNDS at unarmed Civilians was Criminal.
In the situation that followed, the mere presence of police force armed with semi-automatic weapons and APC-like vehicles where Unarmed Civilians are gathered is Violence. This is Aggression.
Was just watching the movie, ‘The Next Karate Kid.’ Two things there are Noteworthy. One, that physical instructor says at one point: “If You find somebody throwing a Candy wrapper, make them Eat it,” or words to that effect. I am Not commending or suggesting Violence like this. This is Stupidity. The other is the instance where Julie goes into a store to buy some things, and there are three men there, who set their dog upon her, and later come out and try to Grab her. Here I would I ask YOU a question: “If You were the Girl’s Guardian, What would YOU have done at that point?”
If one could at least Run and Escape, the discussion would be over. But would three men let a Young and Beautiful Girl Escape? The question is Not whether We know how to fight. Rather, it is, Whether We think pulling up a few chairs and starting a Counselling session would work here! Are these Impossible scenarios? Let us Not be Naive.
Came across the travails of one Gopika, who travelled by train and had some Nasty experiences. Upon Great Insistence from her and her companions, police did arrive, but went back after scolding her and her companions! To read her account, please click here.
I have read some Great peace-lovers writing just How they had allowed themselves to be beaten up, and never raised a finger. As I said, Great, Super, Wonderful and Marvellous! But the Question comes when one of Our Family members is Threatened. As Julie was.
Next, with regard to War. Do We Really think hitler would have stopped his mass murder, his ethnic cleansing, with just Germany? Had he not attacked even that giant, russia? If Everybody had gone around waving White flags, do We think he would have desisted? What about saddam hussein bombing the Kurds, People of his Own land? Or when putin is sending tanks into Ukraine, are We to start making passionate speeches in the UN? putin is going to stop by that? 🙂
Or is the ISIS going to lay down its arms if the pope, the dalai lama or the shankaracharya asks them?
I am Not saying that We Stock up on guns. Nor am I saying that You take up arms against Your own government. Interestingly, The BEST way of protesting against one’s own government is through Absolutely Non-Violent and Peaceful means.
Let us now come to The Time when the Hebrews returned to their Homeland. They had dwelt there after the time of Moses, circa 1250 BC, to the Fall of Jerusalem, circa 587 BC. That makes it about 700 years. From about 587 BC to about 445 BC, they had been Slaves By the Rivers of Babylon, first to the Assyrians, then to the Neo-Babylonians, and at the end to the Persians. It was Cyrus of Persia who gave them permission to return. Prior to all this, they had been slaves in Egypt for four hundred odd years. Altogether, they had been Slaves, since the time of Abraham, to the time of Christ, for Centuries. No Wonder they hated the Idea of Slavery, and that they still do! These details are just by way of Background and Interest.
Safety, in those days, meant living within Walls. The crops were raised outside the Walls, and if attacked, they lost, at the most, the Crops. So, upon the return from slavery, building the Walls of Jerusalem was one of their priorities. And Naturally their ‘neighbours’ did not want those walls raised. The Hebrews would build, and their enemies would pull them down. What were they to do? Build or Fight?
What is More Important is What they were Inspired to do. Nehemiah, whom We can call the leader of the Hebrews at that point, writes: “Our enemies thought (of) Killing Us and Putting an End to our Work. …So I armed the People with Swords, Spears and Bows… Even those who carried building materials worked with one hand and kept a Weapon in the other.” (Excerpts from Nehemiah 4:11-17). You know, they were not there at some Fancy Dress Contest. Those Weapons, were to be Used, if Necessary. Image: www.artbible.net
THE ABOVE IS ONE OF THE CLEAREST EXAMPLES THAT EVEN ARMED SELF DEFENCE IS ALLOWED IN THE BIBLE.
It becomes a question of giving the evil minded a little Thrashing, or handing over Your Hard Earned money to ruffians and see Your Family Suffer Want. It could also be a case of Your coming away with a Child in the Womb. If You Fight there, Society would say, “You were Violent.” The church would say, “No Abortion.” And I Agree with it too. So, Let society say what it will. Defend Yourself, with Force, if Necessary.
As Mr. Miyagi had said, “Fight to Win.” If You had to fight, and If You had to be Violent, in Defence, No need to have a party, but have a Good night’s sleep, and Carry on with Your Life!
10 thoughts on “Violence, and the Christian”
Hello Yesudas, Happy Thanksgiving (a U.S. tradition over here today!). I am really, really happy to have another human being put it out there what I have always thought and stand by. People who try to use Christian “turn the other cheek” and “violence is a sin” rules in order to silence victims or justify accepting others’ violence have twisted spiritual truth. I prefer to be a gentle and harmless person, but God and our spirits are here to protect us when necessary. I am with you…Peace and Blessings, Kalisha
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Thanks, Kalisha! …I would turn the other cheek where Violence against me, myself, is concerned. But would fight to the Best of my Ability for Others.
Love and Regards. 🙂
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Thank you my friend for sharing an excellent and thought provoking article. I have also had many thoughts regarding the use of violence and whether it’s use can ever be justified. I myself am a pacifist and dislike any type of violence at all, and when I say violence I mean verbal and mental violence as well as physical violence.
I grew up in a very strong working class culture in the North of England where fighting is frequently just seen as something that boys naturally do. This was always a notion that I struggled with and the slightest sign of any violence in situations that I found myself in terrified me and gave me the sickest of feelings deep in the pit of my stomach.
I was also brought up as a Catholic and therefore went to a Catholic school where I was led to believe by those teaching us that killing someone in war whilst fighting for your country was not classed as a sin by God. This was another notion I struggled with at the time and even more so when I got older and learnt more about history. I remember when I learnt about the crusades and first saw the phrases ‘Holy War’ and ‘Military Religious Order’, which both seemed to be a contradiction in terms and a paradox of sorts. How could it be possible for religion and war to be compatible with each other in what was classed as ‘defending the faith’.
Although once the practice had began of certain faiths trying suppress other faith by means of force then it became a vicious cycle which could only realistically lead to more violence against violence in the act of ‘defending the faith’. In the face of such actions it would be hard to argue against the use of violence as the only means by which you were able to defend yourself and your family and property.
Other situations in history have been similar in respects of people being left with no other tool they can use to defend themselves. An example of this might be the horrific treatment of African-Americans in America. On this issue, Malcolm X had this to say, “Concerning nonviolence, it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.” Malcolm X is wrongly portrayed by certain people as someone who was an actively violent person who encouraged mindless violence for the sake of it. However, Malcolm X was not at all like this, he was a highly intelligent individual who thought deeply about things but who was also a member of a group of people who were being treated in the most horrific manner by people who had so much power over them. In that situation his thoughts about how to possibly change the situation led him to say things such as, “I am for violence if non-violence means we continue postponing a solution to the American black man’s problem just to avoid violence.” Once again as with the example of defending the faith that I mentioned before, if I was faced with the same situation it would be very hard not to agree with Malcolm X.
There is a similar type of paradox in the belief that a person must always be truthful because it is wrong to tell lies. I agree with this belief, however, say for example that I give refuge to a stranger who has knocked at my door looking for somewhere to hide because there is a crazed man with an axe looking for him. Then the crazed axe wielding man knocks at my door 5 minutes later and asks me if I have seen anyone fitting the description of the man that is hiding in my house. Do I tell the truth because it is wrong to tell lies? Sometimes it is not a problem to tell lies. To quote a line from a William Blake poem, “A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.”, this for me sums it up perfectly for it is the intention and not the action itself which should be judged as right or wrong.
Thanks once again for sharing this post, I hope you don’t mind the length of my comment, I do get carried away sometimes when writing comments.
Thank You, Mark, for sharing Your thoughts. Their volume just shows how important it is to You, and it is appreciated.
I am more interested in Justice and things like that. And for that, I would not mind using Force. The mindless violence practised by street youth who have nothing better to do is another thing.
The statement, ‘killing someone in war whilst fighting for your country is not classed as a sin by God’ is only half true. That becomes a topic in itself! All Soldier are FORCED to obey, right from the time of their joining an army (the same for the police). So a ‘Soldier’ is almost Never thinking of any of these things.
The arms manufacturers, politicians and generals are responsible for the aggressions.
The thing is that the soldier fighting on the side of the aggressor, let us take the cases of hitler’s Germany, or today’s russian one against Ukraine, thought/thinks that he was/is fighting for his country.
Terrorists, too, are a Brain-washed lot, for the most part.
Violence practised during the Inquisition and the crusades was wrong. The Inquisition and the crusades themselves were wrong.
I appreciate Malcolm X. But, as I have written, in fighting One’s own police force, which police is quite often wrong, Non Violent Protest is the Best and the Only way.
Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King all prove my above point.
Telling lies… I would refuse to answer anybody who asks me stupid questions, the answer to which he has no right. And, if I say the man is not hiding in my house, is he going to believe me?
Thanks once again for writing. Love and Regards. 🙂
Am just reading that darren wilson, accused in Ferguson shootings, has resigned from the force. Good. But he says he has done it out of ‘fear.’ Whom does he fear? The protesters seem to have be Extremely peaceful, except for Rowdy elements who have destroyed property, who cannot really called as part of the protesters. Even from these Rowdy elements, his police force would have been better protection.
He does not have the Guts to say that his Conscience is bothering him.
More. While Hundreds are Marching, Singing, etc, ‘dozens of motorcyclists swirled through the streets, gunning their engines in a show of solidarity,’ says http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/us/ferguson.html
That is Not Good Solidarity. That is Stupidity. Spoiling Ecology by emissions, Creating Noise Pollution.
Finally, police are there not just in force, as seen by their number in the background in the 3rd picture in the link. When one looks at their gear, it would seem that the Army has been called in. This for a bunch of Unarmed Civilians. Lots of Thinking Needed.
I am not at all religious, in fact I am an atheist. Hoewever, although you say as a Christian you cannot speak for other religions, I think that we all can learn from many faiths.
I am also a pacifist, or more accurately a Gandhian nonviolent, in that I have closely read the teachings and examples of Gandhi, and I honestly think that his philosophy was the most logical of all, as well as being the most human, in that while his nonviolenence was deeply rooted in his Hindu faith, he was well aware of the all too prevelant failings of human beings – and the need to forgive such failings wherever possible.
One story of Gandhi’s has stayed with me throughtout my life. His son once reminded him of an occasion when he was set upon by two men in Pretoria, intent on robbing him, and his son came upon them and bravely saw the two of them off. His son then asked if he was right to use violence on that occasion. Gandhi immediately replied, “Not only were you right to use violence. As my son it was your duty to do so. Nonviolence is superior to violence, but violence is superior to cowardice.”
“Nonviolence is superior to violence, but violence is superior to cowardice.” That seems to me to be the keystone to understand the matter of violence in relation to peace. The Gandhian way is very much a way of honour. Gandhi himself believed honour to be above life itself, a view which I personally share very deeply. So it is that you can be nonviolent and a pacifist, but when all other avenues have been exhausted, and you are faced with violence, you have the right to defend yourself, and indeed to do any otherwise is cowardly and dishonourable.
Let there be no cant about this. Pacifism is not cowardice. Indeed, when one looks at examples like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, we see they are among the bravest human beings who ever lived.
Yes, and No. As I have written, without talking about violence, non-violence or cowardice, the key word is Aggression. When it came to his son getting ‘robbed,’ gandhi spoke those words. When Endless Indians got their Skulls smashed, upon his words, gandhi did not seem to mind. These things are recorded.