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Pacificism And Self-defense - When Is Violence Appropriate?
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If a man attacks you in the street seeking to harm you and then steal your money, should I fight back or should I simply passively hand over my wallet and hope he leaves you alone? People are typically counseled to do the latter, which is indeed a wise choice, however suppose the thief is not simply satisfied with taking your money. He is actively seeking harm you, or, if you are a girl, even molest you. What now? Is it still best to simply take the abuse or fight back?

It is my firm belief that if you are attacked by someone, you have the right to defend yourself physically if necessary. Prior to violent action, seeking to negotiate or escape are necessary steps, however in a last minute emergency, fighting may be the only option. Why am I fine with self-defence when Jesus himself instructs us to turn the other cheek to those who strike us? While I feel that one can be a powerful witness through forgiveness, I do not think that everyone will necessarily be impacted that dramatically by your willingness to submit your body to physical abuse. Young women were expected to cry out for assistance in the Bible should they be assaulted by those with intent to rape them. If a woman was found to have been violated, yet she had not called out and struggled even though she could have (especially in a public location) she is considered a accomplice of the rapist and to be stoned (Deuteronomy 22:24). Therefore God expects us to protect ourselves from evil.

How does this line of thinking extend to military service though? We see bloody wars fought across the world with ever increasing atrocities committed by all sides. Surely war is an evil thing that any good Christian should refrain from participating in. I take a different view however. While you may be required to kill people in a war, if you do not take it personally, essentially you do not hate those whom you are killing personally, you may fight with pure motives. Seeking to protect one’s country and promote justice throughout the world is a job which God has entitled to the Governments of the age. These institutions are necessary for the protection of the community and ensuring that justice is brought to their communities. Because God has given the government its authority, we are called to honor and respect it. One of the ways to do so is through military service.

So it is quite obvious that I am no pacifist. I have never pretended to be a pacifist. I do admire many pacifists, such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to a certain degree. Men like him have stood up to governments and violence and prevailed spectacularly. However there comes a time and place when people cannot simply allow others to injure them forcibly, but must assert themselves to prevent injury to themselves and society. God frequently sanctioned entire genocides, personally leading the Israelites out against various people groups to annihilate them. He utilized Israel as a ruling rod that struck down sinful nations and cleansed the land.

Please feel free to engage me in discussion on this topic as I am genuinely interested in other people's view points and opinions. That is how we learn.


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