Thursday, July 23, 2009

Militant Pacifists

If a pacifist is someone who will not use violence, even to defend himself, a militant pacifist is someone who won’t let you, either.

Recently a group of Christian pacifists calling themselves the Bonhoeffer Four hid in a military training facility to prevent joint exercises between the US and Australian militaries. Their leader pointed out that Jesus calls us to be peace makers.

I have a hard time understanding how this makes peace. It’s far more likely to get someone killed.

More than that, though, I’m not sure how I feel about militant pacifism. Now, Christians are well known for thinking everyone should follow our moral code, but I think this is different.

When the issue is a universal moral – e.g., murder, stealing – I’m ok with saying you shouldn’t do it at all, ever. But pacifism is not like that.

Christian pacifists will generally explain their stance as one that honors Christ, that imitates His peacefulness, and that points toward His kingdom. It’s not a universal moral rule. Asking the unwilling, especially non-Christians, to become pacifists to honor Christ makes no sense.

That said, kudos to them for being willing to put it all on the line to make peace.

On the same day I ran across this story, I rented a movie that, surprisingly, reinforced some of those ideas.

**spoiler alert**
By now most people who are interested have probably already seen the latest Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino. If not, you can stop reading now, though the movie’s worth seeing even if the twist at the end has been spoiled.

Short version: After bad people do bad things to someone he cares about, Clint Eastwood’s character decides to take matters into his own hands to make sure they are brought to justice.

Does he kill everyone within sight? That’s what I expected. No, he martyrs himself. He lays down his life to protect those he loves.

Justice is served, the innocent are protected, and the only person who dies is one who was willing to do it.

[end spoilers]

Though I question the actions of the “Bonhoeffer Four,” I appreciate their willingness to live out what they believe. It’s not easy to do. We all fail to do it every day in ways that wouldn’t really cost us that much. These guys are going to go to jail.

May we all be as committed to our Master’s commands. May we all be as be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves and, much like Eastwood’s character, be creative in finding ways to do the right thing no matter the cost.

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