Sunday, April 20, 2014

Response to Queer Quaker: "And This Is Our Testimony To The Whole World".

Your childhood experience with war is much like my own.

I wasn't ever banned from watching violent things on TV. But I was born into a peace church tradition. That kind of helped shape the dynamic: I was fascinated by war in theory, but I was never the kind of kid who would ever be violent. Plus I grew up learning simultaneously about great pacifists like Martin Luther King jr and when I was in high school, great theologians like John Howard Yoder and peace orgs like Christian Peacemaker Teams.

But I have to admit that I am a lot less certain of pacifism. I think the war on terrorism, specifically watching the actions of the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, really rocked my pacifistic stance. Their unjust ideology, brutality, conviction, and political savvy,that I've witnessed over the years have caused me to seriously doubt the possibility of Non-violent resistance against movements like them. Which raises the question: is peace, even under a regime like the Taliban's preferable to armed resistance against them?

I honestly don't think so. But I'm also as convinced that for the follower of Jesus, non-violence is our only course of action. Because we are called to  believe ultimately in the final victory of Jesus over all principalities and powers. So essentially there is no such thing as failure for the follower of Christ because God will have the final say.

I'm not sure how to reconcile my belief in the necessity of nations resisting evil men and actions, by force if necessary, with my belief that Jesus wants us to "love our enemies" and "put away (our) swords".
But the closest I've come to an answer is the one that Gandhi gave in an essay on 1920. In it, Gandhi declared it better to resist evil using force than to not do so at all. Something I sincerely believe to be true. But Gandhi also said that the victories gained by violence were only temporary. And the damage, spiritual as well as physical, long lasting.  So he suggested that we who believe in peace and justice should prepare ourselves and others to to be willing to suffer, even die, in confronting fully the evil of the world. And by the testimony of our self-sacrifice effect  change in the hearts of our oppressors that would lead to a just peace.

This to me sounds like an approach that a follower of Jesus should make. Not to condemn utterly those who are not yet prepared to resist evil non-violently, while making clear that there is a more excellent way.  

Thanks, Friend, for giving your testimony. It gives me much to think about.

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