Sunday, November 18, 2007


My background is Mennonite. As such, I grew up pacifist. I learned to turn the other cheek and to believe that war and fighting were the wrong responses to any situations.

And then I married a Baptist. Not just any old baptist - a police officer! One who fights for safety on our streets and carries a gun. Scandalous!

We've had lots of conversations about pacifism and what that means. It's so ingrained in me that it feels like my very nature. But at some point things turn grey. I mean, if my child's life were in danger, I would want the husband to fight for our child.

The other day we were listening to the radio and I heard someone speak on the subject. I didn't get the name of the person and it was only a couple of minutes long. He claimed that he believed that as a Christian it was right to turn the other cheek if he were in danger. But he also believed that if someone else - his family or his country for example - were in danger, that it was his moral responsibility to defend them.

Any thoughts on this?



Michele said...

i'm going to think about this while i watch 24. maybe kiefer sutherland will have some wisdom on the subject :)

personally, i'm kinda glad the police are around.

brenda funk said...

And we love the husband anyways! I think it is very important to hold our personal convictions close and dear, but also to freely allow another to differ. Love MOM

Linda said...

Life is never just black and white is it? I understand where a pacifist is coming from but I wonder what might have happened if Canada had not joined the fighting in the second world war. The Canadians saved my relatives over in Holland. It's hard for me not to believe that was the right thing.

David Funk said...

Val, sorry i haven't visited for a while. am completely swamped right now, but will try to give a semi-intelligent comment later tonight.

David Funk said...

ok, here is my semi-intelligent response:

-I believe that the police function of a government is necessary to restrain evil in this world, and I believe that the governing authorities are established by God for this purpose (Romans 13:1-7). Ravi, I have a lot of respect for your profession and for the personal commitment you bring to it.

-that said, I think that the police function of a government is distinct from the function the Christian is called to (*gulp*). In Romans 12 and 13 "Christians are told (12:19) never to exercise vengeance but to leave it to God and to wrath. Then the authorities are recognized (13:4) as executing the particular function which the Christian was to leave to God. It is inconceivable that these two verses, using such similar language, should be meant to be read independently of one another. This makes it clear that the function exercised by government is not the function to be exercised by Christians." (JH Yoder, "The Politics of Jesus")

-If someone attacked Kendra and/or our kids, I would defend them in as many nonviolent ways as possible, including laying down my own life if necessary. I would not, however, kill for them. If Kendra gets killed, I KNOW her destiny! I know where she is going, and we have a greater hope than life in this age! What gives me the right to take away another man’s life and his chance to receive mercy and forgiveness as I have? Christ died for me while I was still an enemy of God.

- Everywhere in the New Testament we are called to show that same enemy-love to others that we ourselves have recieved from God through Christ. Whenever we are called to be like or imitate or participate in Jesus, that call is ALWAYS and ONLY to be like him in his cross; to respond to enmity with love and forgiveness, to reject power and coercion and take up servanthood. Never are we called to be like Jesus in any other way.

so... that's why i'm a pacifist, in a nutshell.

David Funk said...

One more thing: the question "What would you do if a violent person threatened to harm a loved one?" is one of the most common responses/objections to pacifism. It really is a good question, a loaded one, and it needs a good answer. Have I got the book for you!!! It's called "What would you do?" by John Howard Yoder. Check it out if you ever have the time.