03
Feb
09

Two-fer Tuesday: Peace by Deacon Blue

angel-fiery-swordChristians are, by and large, supposed to be a peaceful, helping and loving lot. That’s what Jesus set forth for us, that’s what the apostles and other early church leaders reinforced, and that’s often what we have drifted away from in favor of selishness, judgment, condemnation, violence and so many other negatives.

And yet…

There are times we need to kick ass. Not often. But those times exist.

Because, on the other side from the angry, bitter, nasty Christians is the “all is love” camp where Jesus’ words about turning the other cheek carry the day in all interactions. (They forget that Jesus also whipped the moneylenders out of the temple with a heavy rope.)

Never lifting a hand no matter what, it strikes me, is as foolish as turning away from peace. To reject peace is counter to Jesus’ message and God’s will. But at the same time, to embrace peace to the point of stupidity is irresponsible when it put us in harm’s way for no good reason or when it causes harm to others.

Example: If you are being attacked physically, do you just take it? Do you passively allow yourself to be backed into a corner where you will get your ass handed to you, possibly meaning that you could be severely impaired, or possibly crippled and killed? What does this serve? Racking up medical costs, destroying your quality of life, keeping you from being able to support your family and be a part of daily family activities?

Are these good things?

Now, I realize we lift up many people both in the early church days and in modern ministries abroad who were (and still are) martyred. It is one thing to be killed or harmed in the process of doing good work and spreading the gospel. If you are set upon by a person or group determined to kill you, and there is nothing you can do, you will die most likely. If you are taken into custody by a government that finds your message annoying, you will possibly rot in prison or be executed. There isn’t much you can do. And that’s part of the risk of some missionary work.

But if someone, say, comes up to knife me because they don’t like the fact that I mentioned something about Jesus…or if it’s just some random thugishness for the sake of thugishness, I am not going to stand there and say, “Go ahead, kill me.” I am going to defend myself.

Nowhere did Jesus forbid us from serving in the military or in law enforcement, two areas where violence can and does occur, and killing too at times. He told us to protect the weak. We shouldn’t seek out violence, but sometimes it finds us. And even if you aren’t going to defend yourself, what if violence comes for your family or friends? Will you stand there and let them be harmed when you have a chance to strike out in their defense?

This is what Paul tells us in Romans chapter 12, verse 18: As much as it is possible, live in peace with everyone.

Violence isn’t the point of that passage. The message is a more general one about not causing or escalating strife if you can avoid it. But it is clear from Paul’s words that there are times when nothing you can reasonably do will keep the peace.

Violence should never be our first choice, but sometimes, violent means will be required to protect people or to protect ourselves. Within the law, mind you. We are expected to obey the laws of the land, and Jesus made that clear. So don’t start beating or killing people over the practice of abortion and justifying it with this. The law of the land doesn’t define a fetus as a fully living human being, and there is ample evidence in Jewish religious texts, which form the foundation for much of Christianity, that the life of the mother supercedes the life of an unborn child, so clearly, it’s not as cut and dried as so many pro-lifers would like to think. So as much as you may believe otherwise, you don’t have the right to take the law into your own hands and kill people or harm them over the pro-choice/pro-life argument.

Same with being a vigilante. It isn’t allowed. Don’t do it. Frankly, even if you are going after someone who has harmed you or someone you love. Violence in defense, sure, but violence in revenge, no.

And missionary work in other countries where the laws are against you? It is your right to do that, but you know the score, and you know the laws of that land are against you, so if you are caught, you need to be prepared to accept the consequences.

But self-defense when someone attacks you? Yes. Rescuing someone else from an assault or attempted murder in the middle of the street? Certainly.

Peace first and foremost. But intelligence, too. Logic. Wisdom.

I won’t seek someone out to harm, but if a person comes into my house intending harm, I will stop that person by all means necessary.

And I won’t feel bad about it.

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8 Responses to “Two-fer Tuesday: Peace by Deacon Blue”


  1. February 3, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    You make a fantastic point. It is absolutely acceptable to love your religion, but you have to love and defend yourself and your family as well.

  2. 2 Wes
    August 22, 2009 at 1:09 am

    So what do you make of this, said by Jesus, in Matthew 5:38-40?

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.

  3. 3 Deacon Blue
    August 22, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    What I think is that there is a lot to be said for taking shit from someone and not retaliating. But this is a very individual statement by Jesus. It doesn’t say, “If someone comes against those you love, let them have their way.” What I think it that Jesus wants us to refrain from revenge most especially, and to refrain from responding to violence with violence.

    This does not mean, however, that we simply meekly allow people around us to be hurt, nor that we truly just hand over our stuff to evil people .

  4. 4 Wes
    August 24, 2009 at 3:36 am

    i agree that God uses the zealous and righteous anger of humans to act out his supreme justice and holy purpose (numbers 25, story of phineas). i am all for christians being soldiers, police officers, etc. (i myself have trained in small chunks of Tae Kwon Do and Kung Fu)

    -however-

    in matthew 5, Jesus is teaching God’s commands to a huge crowd of people. the verse i used in my previous post (matthew 5:38-40) is not a “very individual statement” by Jesus, but rather God’s command to you and I. (i apologize if i misinterpret your meaning of “very individual statment”)

    yes, we truly are to give over our belongings if someone asks for them, and yes, we are to simply take abuse with grace. it seems that you are placing more value on your earthly posessions and flesh than Christ. (my words, Gods)

    Everything, including things robbers may steal from your house, or your body, is as loss compared to Christ (phil 3:7). Do you truly value defending your flesh and temporary earthly items so much? (matthew 6:20) (Gods words, not mine)

    Can you use scripture to defend your position? i only saw one tiny bit of scripture in your entire article, and even you admit that “Violence isn’t the point of that passage. The message is a more general one about not causing or escalating strife if you can avoid it”.

    Yes, Jesus did make/use a whip to zealously defend the name and house of the LORD. You seem to want to use violence to defend yourself and you things and your comfort. are you truly comparing your violent anger to Christ’s?

    and it seems that you place more importance on the law of the land than on the law of God, which clearly states that feti (plural?) are alive (read up on jacob/esau, and OT law on the killing of unborn infants). so there is a difference between leagality and morality, no?

    and im curious, why do you use foul language so prolifically? ephesians 5:4 says, “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving”.

    You are using the same mouth to praise God, and then to curse and use obscene talk which dishonors God, who made your tongue! My brother, this should not be! (paraphrase of James 3:10). What gives? maybe the apostle and the half brother of Christ didn’t know what they were talking about…

    I am not perfect. o boy, many of my friends and family can testify to my sins: lying, pride, lust (and thus adultry), stealing, etc. So i engage in this dialogue not to judge and condemn (thats God’s job, he runs that show, not me), but out of love for God and his human creation to magnify the truth that God reveals to us in his word.

  5. 5 Deacon Blue
    August 24, 2009 at 9:41 am

    My purpose for saying “very individual statement” is that it applies to the individual more than anything else. That is, I should be able to take routine abuses in life and not retaliate against them.

    But if someone lays hands on a member of my family, for example, I will defend them. Without hesitation and, I believe, with God’s support.

    Also, if someone comes up to me intending to physically harm me or kill me, I will defend myself. Jesus’ words are not meant to convey the idea that I should just take a beating and throw away my life because some crazed or violent human has come upon me.

    Now, if I were arrested for preaching the gospel, and put to death for it, yes, I’m supposed to be willing to accept that. If someone simply mistreats me, I am not to take revenge.

    But if you are suggesting that all Christians should never lift a finger in their own defense, that is ridiculous. I will use the means that are necessary to preserve my own life and safety and that of others against an unprovoked act of violence that serves no purpose for God.

    As far as my language, I won’t apologize for it. I don’t use an unending stream of profanity, and I would disagree with you on interpretation of “foul and profane” words. If I aim my words at others, or against God or Jesys or the Holy Spirit, than I should apologize and go into prayer about it. If I say, “This policy is shit” I have made an emphatic point, not spoken something profane

  6. 6 Wes
    August 24, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Everything you just said in your last reply was your own opinion, right? please correct me if im wrong (arg, i hate being wrong): it seems you have no scripture to support your claims? i havent seen any scripture yet. i am extremely open, in fact i really desire, the truth from God, so if you have scripture that backs what you are saying, id love to know it, so i can change my own behaviors/attitudes and align them with the purposes of God as revealed thru his word.

    as far as the cursing thing goes, i see that you are convicted that this aspect of your behavior is perfectly legit before God. so as far as the relationship between you and God on this matter: great! im glad to see you are firm and not wishy washy on this topic. but as far as the relationship between you and the people who interact with you in real life of red this blog, might this be a stumbling block for them? if they do not share your convictions (a.k.a. weaker brother) might you be harming their integrity, expecially considering the scope/impact of this internet medium? (revalation 3:15, romans 14:5,6,13-21, expecialllllly 22-23)

  7. 7 Deacon Blue
    August 24, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Wes,

    Let me address at least some of these things in an extra post. Right now, it’s just you and me talking, and probably most of my visitors don’t look at the “Recent Comments” menu in the sidebar. I’d like to open this up to the whole readership, and I promise to have a post up today that references this one and allows us to continue in a more open manner.

    Thanks in advance for your patience.


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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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