I recently came across this Q&A session (on reddit it’s called an AMA – Ask Me Anything) with a naval submarine officer who, after studying the Bible, became convinced that, as a Christian, he could not partake in violence or the support of it. I found his statement of belief interesting and thought I would post it here.
from Michael Izbicki’s AMA:
I am a Christian. My Christian convictions preclude the use of violence: I cannot take someone else’s life, nor can I aid others in doing so. Therefore, I cannot participate in war in any form.
I believe that Jesus Christ calls all men to love each other, under all circumstances. I believe his teaching forbids the use of violence. I take the sermon on the mount literally.
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
- Luke 6:27-36
I believe Christians can effectively resist evil with nonviolent action and are called to do so.
“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”
- Proverbs 25:21&22
I believe in the sanctity of all human life, including the enemy. I believe man is made in the image of God, but is fallen and sinful. I believe that Christ came that all might be saved from their sin.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
- John 3:16&17
I believe in the testimonies of the early church fathers and their nonviolent interpretation of the Gospel. I admire their faith and willingness to defend it peacefully unto death. The following excerpts from the early church fathers influenced my convictions:
“We refrain from making war on our enemies, but gladly go to death for Christ’s sake. Christians are warriors of a different world, peaceful fighters, but in fidelity to their cause and in readiness to die they excel all others.”
- Justin Martyr
“As simple and quiet sisters, peace and love require no arms. For it is not in war, but in peace, that we are trained.”
- Clement of Alexandria
“You cannot demand military service of Christians any more than you can of priests. We do not go forth as soldiers.”
“Christians do not attack their assailants in return, for it is not lawful for the innocent to kill even the guilty.”
I am willing to suffer persecution or death for my beliefs. I cannot kill. I believe military service in any capacity is participation in war. My religious convictions forbid this.
You can read the entire AMA here. Whether you agree with him or not, I believe it’s a useful thought exercise.
Some other excerpts that I found interesting were:
“Jesus did not offer a way for society to act. He offered an alternative way for individuals to act within society.”
“I think that if we’re (pacifists are) not working just as hard for peace as the Navy SEALs in Afghanistan are working at war, then we’re doing it wrong.”
“The best option is to be a good pacifist, fighting for justice nonviolently. Second best is to be a good soldier, fighting for justice with violence. Worst of all is to be a bad pacifist who is a coward and doesn’t fight for justice at all.”
He also lists Niebuhr’s Why the Christian Church Is Not Pacifist as the best defense of non-pacifism he has read.