ISIS, Pacifism, and Being a Christian Doormat

I am reading a book on Pacifism written by Leo Tolstoy. While reading it, Paris was attacked by ISIS.

Reading some of the discussions about how America should respond to terrorism, I saw someone propose being really nice to ISIS. Several folks disagreed that this approach would work. The pacifist insisted it would.

Our pal Madonna said, “Only love will change the world, but it’s very hard to love unconditionally, and it’s very hard to love that which we do not understand or that which is different than we are, but we have to or this will go on and on forever.”

Hate to break it to this philosopher, but evil will go on “forever” regardless of what we do.

I would classify myself as a Pacifist. I don’t think violence should be my response to a personal attack (which doesn’t mean I’d do that at the time, but, you know, in theory. . .). As for America, I don’t know.

Some people are weirded out by that distinction. How can you be a personal Pacifist and not think America should be?

The Bible was not written as a guide for political governance of nations. In fact, Romans 13 says the government has the power to wield the sword.

The Bible was written to instruct the follower of Christ. Individual followers of Christ are to love their enemies and pray for those who despitefully use you. I don’t see anything about nations loving their enemies.

At the same time, I do think America’s military power does cause terrorists and others to hate us. We are so entangled in the affairs of other nations, and history has shown us to be on the wrong side from time to time (some theorize ISIS was created by America). I do not see how we could pull out now without causing mass confusion and chaos.

Best case scenario is that our military removes a threat. Guess what happens next? A new threat fills the void. Then we take that one out, to be filled by another. But what if we don’t take a threat out? It seems that threat will just get stronger, which seems worse than having a new, fledgling threat.

I would tend to lean toward isolationism for our nation. Perhaps we could back off the military responses a tad. We may have gotten carried away. On the other side, America already leads the world in charitable giving and foreign aid.

So, would being nicer cause our enemies to stop being violent? Does Pacifism make enemies into friends?

Very rarely. More than likely, if America announced to the world they were now Pacifist and had destroyed all their weapons, America would not see an increase of friends! America would be overrun within minutes.

The same thing is true for the believer! If you truly are Pacifist, and people find this out, more than likely they will take advantage of you. When Jesus says to give the shirt along with the coat, to turn the other cheek, to go two miles, to lend and not ask for anything back, He is inviting us into impractical living!

The Bible does not recommend Pacifism because it works (if “works” means your enemies will be your friends), it recommends it because it’s the right thing to do in God’s eyes. God’s Son came to sacrifice Himself while keeping His mouth shut, as a lamb to the slaughter. Let this mind be in you. Christianity is based on God’s wisdom, which is foreign to man’s wisdom.

Christianity is life lived for the next world, not this one. We aren’t supposed to entangle ourselves with the affairs of this world. We’re supposed to be separate. I would not kill a member of ISIS. If others can, I guess that’s up to them. If America does, I guess that’s their call.

I don’t see how “thou shalt not kill” carries exceptions.”Love your enemies” is hard to do while killing them. Blessed are the peacemakers. The Bible seems pretty clear on the issue. Whether we will obey the clear is another matter.

When Christianity is tried, it is found to be impractical and painful, which is why few do it. Pacifism will not lead to peace. I am a Pessimist, Pacifist, Isolationist who thinks his stance and all others are pointless in ending evil. Nothing on this earth will lead to world-wide peace, until the Prince of Peace reigns.

Even so, come quickly.

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5 thoughts on “ISIS, Pacifism, and Being a Christian Doormat”

  1. Clearly what I’m going to say relates to a very unlikely hypothetical situation.

    You said you “would not kill a member of ISIS”. That’s something for the most part I would have said of myself, but I’m no longer sure that is the case. I wonder what my response would be if faced with a situation like that in Paris – if I had the opportunity to kill one of the terrorists and cut short their murderous rampage. Would I refuse to kill him knowing that my sparing of his life would lead to the death of countless others?

    I don’t know. But I wonder how I would cope afterwards if I allowed him to continue killing and I’d had the chance to stop it.

    And then I recently read of a man who lost his life when he tackled a terrorist who was about to detonate an explosive vest. He gave his life attempting to shield bystanders from the blast.

  2. Yes, I hear ya. The Bible comes out strongly in defense of the defenseless. If a guy broke into my house while I was home alone, I think my response would be drastically different than if my wife and kids were home. I am not supposed to turn my cheek when someone else’s cheek was hit. This is where the situation gets more dicey, not so clear cut. That’s why i said above I believe I am supposed to take a personal attack without response. This is also where nations and armies make calls too–protecting innocent civilians.

    Jesus told the disciples to carry swords. John the Baptist didn’t tell soldiers to quit the army, he told them not to abuse power and to be content with their wages. Situations can make this issue more complex, but personal attacks against believers, I believe, should be taken and the cheek turned.

    I also defer to Romans 14 on many of these issues. What you might be able to do in faith I would not be able to do and vice versa. We need that wiggle room when the situations become more complex.

  3. Well, Moses saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite and stepped in to defend. But it didn’t go so well. After 40 more years of training, he came back to Egypt under God’s direction, unarmed. It went very well that time.

    The struggle between good and evil is not one of physical strength. It is a struggle of two different spirits, philosophies and ways. Jesus showed how to win the battle when He came to earth. He lived and taught the truth, separated Himself from sin, and sacrificed Himself for others. Those weapons were very effective. Satan’s kingdom received a huge blow, one that it will never recover from.

    When the martyrs of the church were being torn apart by wild beasts, burned at the stake, and tortured in dungeons, Jesus sustained their spirits, but did not come down with Almighty power to punish the evil-doers.

    Obviously there was a very good reason for allowing that kind of treatment, and it was the same reason that the Father allowed His Son to be mistreated in the crucifixion: because it brings out clearly the murderous spirit of Satan, and contrasts it sharply with the meek, holy, and harmless spirit of God.

    Gandhi, who learned much from Tolstoy’s ideas, also demonstrated how truth and love are to prevail against error and hate. He did not believe in “passive non-violence” but in “active non-violence”. That is, stand up to the evil and don’t be afraid to sacrifice yourself. He said that non-violence was not a thing for the weak. It required more courage and power of love to face a mad mob with no weapons in your hand, than to face them with a gun in your hand.

    One time someone asked him if he thought the principles of non-violence could be used against someone like Hitler. He said, “yes, but not without suffering.” “But”, he said, “there is great suffering in violent warfare also.” And whereas non-violent protest (love) has the possibility of turning enemies into friends, violent protest only begets more violence.

    However, the quote from Madonna is not presenting true love. If she wants to meet evil with good, she must first separate herself from evil. Only Divine love can meet evil successfully, and that means complete separation from sin. Mere human good-emotions or sentimentalism is just another form of evil and violence. It flaunts it’s own righteousness as being equal to God.

  4. The greatest commandment is to love God, loving neighbor comes next. If there is no love for God, there cannot be genuine love for men.

    I do think there is evil on earth that will only respond to force. Unfortunately, it’s a never ending cycle. I have no solutions to evil on a global scale. I know the solution for my life–the Gospel–and can help others come to that solution too. As an individual, according to Jesus, I am not to resist evil. Governments can wield the sword, so apparently they can. I think we have to work within that. What that looks like all the time, I have no idea. That’s one of many reasons why I don’t run for president.

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