Resisting Evil: When Is It Right To Fight?

randomlychad  —  July 24, 2012 — 7 Comments

In the wake of the Aurora massacre, some have speculated that things would have turned our much differently had someone in the crowd been “packing heat.” I suspect this is true–just not quite how these well-meaning souls surmised.
In the chaos and confusion of a darkened theater, and against an adversary bedecked in body armor, I suspect more innocents would have died had someone else started shooting. That said, I do not oppose the right to bear arms, nor am I a pacifist. I believe there is a time to resist evil, to defend the innocent, to take a life if need be.

I do not come to the position lightly. And some would contend that as Jesus did during His passion, we must always passively resist evil. But I do not believe that dying daily necessarily entails actually dying could it be avoided. Christ Himself left regions where His life was threatened before His time.

He is also the same Jesus who cleansed the temple with a whip of cords.

He is the same Jesus who appeared to Joshua outside Jericho (in a Christophany) as the “commander of the Lord’s armies.” Furthermore, the Bible tells us that “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Thus presumably, He was the same second Person of the Trinity when the Children of Israel began their conquest of the promised land at God’s behest.

Because Jesus came as a “suffering servant” during His earthly ministry, His mission was one of redemption; however, when He returns, He is coming as a conquering King. In the clouds, on a steed, with a sword. Bringing judgment.

In the meantime, while we await His return, what do you suppose He requires of us? We must resist evil. Sometimes, as with the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, a passive resistance is indeed the best course of action. Compare and contrast, for instance, the methods of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr with those of the Black Panthers. Which was more effective? Dr. King’s–because he knew that passive resistance would shame his adversaries.

And he was right. The rest of the country beheld the shameful acts being perpetrated on the peaceful protesters, and they were up in arms.

Non-violence was indeed the appropriate course of action then. But suppose the situation is more personal? Suppose it is your wife and children who are directly threatened? What do you do? Do you turn the other cheek?

Do you say to the assailant “When you’re finished hitting my wife, here are my cheeks for you to strike? Sure, go ahead, assault my kids. I’m waiting.”

Ridiculous, right?

That is not the time for a non-violent response, for evil to be passively resisted. You would be in there, no matter your convictions, fighting tooth and nail. To the death if need be. Because what do you suppose God would think of you if you stood by, allowed your spouse to beaten, assaulted, raped?

There’s a word for being passive in such a scenario: cowardice.

Why do suppose that the story of Peter Parker, as told in the Spider-Man comics and movies, resonates so strongly with us? Because, though he had the ability, though his inaction Peter’s Uncle Ben died. He could have prevented it, but didn’t. “With great power, comes great responsibility,” he is told.

What does the Bible tell us? “To whom much is given, much is required.”

And this may one day mean, for some of us, giving up our lives to protect the innocent, as we actively resist evil.

What did Cain ask God? “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The answer then, as now, is yes. We must watch out for one another.

What do you think? Have you ever been called upon to act in a life-threatening situation?

Comments

comments

randomlychad

Posts Twitter Facebook

Christ-follower, husband, dad, blogger, reader, writer, movie buff, introvert, desert-dweller, omnivore, gym rat. May, or may not, have a burgeoning collection of Darth Vader t-shirts. Can usually be found drinking protein shakes, playing with daughter, working out with his son, or hanging out with his wife. Makes a living playing with computers. Subscribe to RandomlyChad by Email

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,962 other subscribers

  • Nonviolence and passivity are not synonymous terms. Nonviolence is a very active position to take. One can give up their life to defend others with nonviolence just as much as with violence. In my mind, that’s precisely the example that we saw in Dr. King.

    This is an interesting look at nonviolent resistance: http://wagingnonviolence.org/2012/04/the-right-to-self-defense/

    I agree that standing by is cowardice. But I think it’s a false comparison to say that a nonviolent response can only be accomplished by giving consent to violence.

    • I thought I said that? That Dr. King was far more effective than the Black Panthers.

      And, yes, nonviolence can be very active--certainly.

      What I describe above is admittedly a very narrow set of circumstances, but which unfortunately altogether too real. You’ll notice I said nothing about self defense.

      The point of it all is that there are times, per Ecclesiastes 3, for different responses. It is not an either/or dichotomy--there is a time to be non-violent, and there is a time to take up arms. It takes wisdom to now the difference.

      • I thought that the passive = cowardice line indicates a belief that nonviolence and passivity are interchangeable as well. I do not believe that this is the case. A nonviolent response to a rapist is not the same thing as consent. One who is nonviolent will not say, “Go ahead and rape and murder my spouse.” They may not act in a way that we have been taught is the only acceptable response, but saying that it is passive is not accurate either.

        I’m not really commenting whether or not I think that it’s the right response, only that I don’t think that it’s a fair characterization to say that choosing nonviolence is passive cowardice. I apologize if that’s not what you were trying to say.

        • Perhaps I didn’t delineate the difference very well? For there is certainly an “active passivity,” and a “passive” one.

          In any case, what I was trying to convey was that, in the circumstance I describe, failing to act would be cowardly. Whether in word, or deed--the circumstance calls for some kind of action, an appropriate response.

          Again, for myself, I think as outlined, something like that would merit a very active response.

          Make sense?

  • Never, but your examples are what I thought of. Resisting evil to protect others is well within the scope of what we should do.

    • “Resisting evil to protect others is well within the scope of what we should do.”

      Exactly what I was trying to convey, Larry. Nailed it.

  • Ricky Anderson

    Thankfully, no. But if I ever am, I hope I respond appropriately.