Credo #54: On protective violence at the personal level

Posted: April 28, 2010 in Credo, For brothers

Once upon a time, influenced by the teachers of my youth, I was a pacifist; both at the level of my understanding of what was permitted in personal interactions as well as what might be allowed on behalf of or at the compulsion of a government.

With time and the influence of diverse meditations and experiences I realized that I had been wronged in this counsel, and moreover that my development as a man and a Christian had been stymied by this.

The same Man who taught us “turn the other cheek” also counseled His followers at another point to go and buy swords if they did not have them. While this is often regarded by some literal-minded as examples of a “contradiction” we can see on easy reflection that this is the not the case. The scriptures, as C. S. Lewis explained, must be understood in the same way that tea is steeped into water.

Many sayings of Jesus must be seen in context as Talmudic in their style and didactic method (see here for another such)

“Turning the other cheek” is about:

1) Not responding in anger*.
2) Choosing the time, place, manner, and “if” of responding.

All that being said, you are to be a lover of peace, as we are taught in the Epistles; which means seeking it out as well when it can be.

Why is this so important as to be elevated to a “Credo?” It is important for you to know that your Father has blessed your instinct to protect your own boundaries, and not only of the physical type. If it is not settled in your mind that your dignity of personhood is worth protecting, you will eventually wind up striving to be “nice” rather than “good” – and worse, you will be thinking that you are doing either yourself or God a favor in this.

It is a natural sequelae of this that we examine other kinds of purposeful violence — that done on behalf of others. Such commentary is beyond the scope of this small essay; but I bid you to contemplate these things. I also bid you to reflect on the effect of your own old nature and the influence of an often corrupted popular culture when considering these things. Most things are not worth fighting over; and a deep knowledge of your sonship is often sufficient to give you a clear view of a given situation.
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*In what many scholars understand to be merely a slap of insult; not a physical attack upon one’s person.

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