- The Christianization of War and Violence, Pt 1
- The Christianization of War and Violence, Pt 2
- The Christianization of War and Violence Pt. 3
- The Christianization of War and Violence Pt. 4 (Conclusion)
- The Christianization of War and Violence Pt. 5 A Response to a Question
The Christians’ Justification and the Law of Nature
Over the past 1700 years or so we have developed many justifications for violence, and have learned to tame our conscience when it speaks to the contrary. Among the many justifications for violence and war is a very loud voice that shakes the foundations with the declaration that non-resistance just isn’t natural.
The thing that “naturally” flows from our mouth when we think about the Biblical prescript to “not resist an evil man” is that it goes against the laws of nature; because all of nature teaches us to resist evil, not to “not resist” it. Well, that makes sense and the logic of it naturally resonates with the elements of our physical, mental, and spiritual, constitution.
From birth we learn to resist. The majority of men confidently assert that non-resistance is un-natural and therefore rejected, regardless of what the Bible says to the contrary. Can the majority be wrong? When we say that resisting evil is “natural” what do we mean by that? What is the “nature” of a thing? And what is the Law of nature?
The nature of a thing, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is:
def: the inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing: its essence
So, we can say with a fair amount of confidence that whatever is not essential to a thing or being is not “natural” to it; but, rather the un-necessary thing is only an appendage. The appendage is something that is foreign to the true nature and may only have the appearance of something important and original.
As I was sitting in the doctor’s office today waiting for my exam I looked at all the charts on the wall, and without a doubt human nature has very many essential elements that are common to all human beings, and foundational to our wellbeing. But, on the other hand, there are also very many non-essential appendages, i.e. aging, obesity, mental illness, anger, rage, murder, vanity, lust, etc., that characterize individuals, families, communities, states, and nations. These appendages are the inherited traits, circumstances, and habits, which can be changed or modified through acts of the will. Consequently all of these characteristics, both natural and un-natural are classified under the single head of the “laws of nature.” All of these elements characterize both who we are, and what we have become. What we have become can be changed, and who we really are, without the appendages, is what Jesus came to reveal and reclaim.
While I was at the VA Hospital getting my exam I read a poster which read something like this, “It takes the strength of a soldier to ask for help,” then it showed a picture of a soldier, with rifle in hand, who was without a doubt, contemplating those whom he had killed, and the killing of himself; then there was the phone number of the suicide hotline. Is this natural? No! It is not natural! It is an evil appendage, and it didn’t come from God. The taking of another human life is the most un-natural thing that can be done, and that soldier knows it, and Jesus says that hate and anger are as murder, and reap the same results. Can you begin to see why the only answer to this problem, is the only solution that exist, and it is total non-resistance to evil mankind. It makes no sense to the natural mind, but it is the way of Christ, and He says “Follow Me.”
The message of Matthew 5, of resisting not an evil man, is the only consistently accurate meaning of the words and life of Jesus and the Apostles that exist, yet we force it from our minds as inconsistent with the laws of nature. The only real peace you will ever experience is incorporated in the life of overcoming evil with good, everything else is a lie and un-natural to the spiritual life of a believer. Jesus lived that life, and His disciples followed for close to 300 years, and they turned the world upside down. Evil men could not destroy them from without, so they corrupted them from within. The story of the Church has been downhill ever since; rolling on for two thousand years collecting debris all along the way: Fancy buildings, pulpits, titles, and pews, vestments, robes, and gowns, candles, incense, and icons, programs, colleges, and seminaries, and the list goes on, and on, and on; yet not one in a thousand will live the life that He lived, that nonresistant life. We curse fifty people a day who get in our way; that guy who cut me off on my way home; the lady who just couldn’t move fast enough in front of me; the young kid who rushes in and gets my parking spot, and the lady in front of me at the grocery store with a zillion coupons and can’t find her Kroger card; that hardware store I drove ten miles to buy the only thing they were out of; the gas station who raises their prices two minutes before I get there, and all the manager can say is “sorry dude.”
What is the solution to all of these examples and a million more, not even to mention the man who robs you, beats you, and destroys your life? Let’s hear the words of Jesus and His Apostles.
"But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil, but whosoever smites thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."
"All that take the sword shall perish by it."
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven”
"If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight."
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil”
"Do good unto them that hate you."
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds."
"If your enemy hunger, feed him."
"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
“Repay no one evil for evil.” “overcome evil with good” “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return”
“Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly”
These are only a few of the many verses that point to or command that we should follow Christ’s life of nonresistance.
There is so very much more that can, and needs to be, said on this subject. I am totally convinced that the greater part of Christendom is blind to this forgotten doctrine, but history and the Bible will confirm to anyone who is seeking the truth, that a true convert to Christ will turn from the evil of worldly politics and the need for war and self-defense. There is no way that a person can claim to be a follower of Jesus and not follow Him in the specific narrow path that He walked. The politics of self-defense is very complicated for the Christian, trying to get all the contrary verses to align, allowing him to participate in government and war, and at the same time try to honor Jesus with a righteous lifestyle; claiming to love his enemy while supporting the machine that will kill them. The simple life of non-resistance solves so much of the conflict and confusion generated by the inconsistent teaching coming from the pulpit. I believe if Jesus were asked about His follower’s involvement in the political machine He may say something like, “If My kingdom were of this world then would My servants vote.”
I don’t suspect that I have changed too many minds, but I pray that at the very least I have stood up for a most controversial doctrine, and caused you to think about what you have been told that the Bible says, and accepted without question, and what it actually does say.
Grace and Peace