Thoughts on Non-Violence

Generally, I ascribe to the nonviolent tradition. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Love is the only thing that can turn an enemy into a friend.” I thought about King’s 6 principles of nonviolence and I considered agape love, the demonstration of humility, simplicity and compassion. In truth, if we are to model ourselves after Christ, nonviolence is the only answer. He taught this to us through His actions, such as in Luke 22:51 when “Jesus said, “No more of this!! (striking with the sword).” We are told the weapons we are meant to use are different in 2 Corinthians 10:4, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.”

That being said, I struggle because there are very limited times in which I think “violence” should be used as a shield. In the modern era there are very few instances in which I think we are able to acceptably respond with violence. A quote from Ghandi tells us that, “An eye for an eye ends up making the whole world blind.”  I agree with this. But I studied the Holocaust in depth and cannot think of a way in which nonviolent action would have stopped what happened then, unless people had acted in defense of their neighbors early on when the Nazi Party first started promoting discrimination against a group of people based on their faith, race or ethnicity. Additionally, there are places now where mass genocide is occurring. In these instances, I believe some force must be applied to act as armor, a protecting shield for the victims. Proverbs 13:2 says “The unfaithful have a craving for violence.” This force should not be used as a hammer to smash the perpetrators into the ground or a satisfaction of vengeance but only for protection and rescue.

Race Issues in America: “Every Life Matters” or “It’s In God’s Hands”

Hashtags can become dangerous things. Some people hear #blacklivesmatter and hear the implication that only black lives matter. That is not the point. They respond with #everylifematters but, often the posts associated with this hastag come across as callous, racist, or entitled. The fact is, this issue is far too complex for a simple hashtag argument that further divides us.

Yes, black lives matter. Every life knitted together by our Creator matters. There is not one person out there who doesn’t matter. Beyond His love for us, God calls us to care for and protect each other. He wants justice.

It is irresponsible at times when socially and politically we are all called to repent from our old ways and begin reconciliation to just say, it’s in God’s hands. No, we are called to be God’s hands and feet. We as Christians and Americans have a responsibility to make sure justice is given to those who are not receiving it in our country. Martin Luther King Jr. said at the Sermon at Temple Israel in Hollywood in 1965, “We’ve been in the mountain of violence. We’ve been in the mountain of hatred long enough. It is necessary to move on now, but only by moving out of this mountain can we move to the promised land of justice and brotherhood and the Kingdom of God. It all boils down to the fact that we must never allow ourselves to become satisfied with unattained goals. We must always maintain a kind of divine discontent.” King knew action must be taken.

I would say that much like when King marched and practiced other forms of non-violent protest, if people feel that there is systemic racism and discrimination as has been shown in Ferguson, they should express that. Sadly, their frustrations boiled over and violence seems to beget violence, further dividing our nation. I would argue that this violence is the work of the Enemy and not individuals. Ephesians 6:12 tells us “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Therefore, I believe we are called to make sure freedom and justice are for all our brothers and sisters in this nation, uniformed or not, and that as Christians we should work beside all of them in making sure there is justice for everyone.