What would you do if…

It’s the typical question that get’s asked of anyone who declares themselves a “pacifist.”

What would you do if someone was attacking your family (loved ones)?

It’s the magic card up someones sleeve to stump that said pacifist into agreeing that sometimes violence, and war, is okay and necessary. I’ll be honest this was a difficult question to handle when I first started thinking about pacifism. What made it difficult was the passage we talked about previously, “Love your enemies…” What suddenly happened was that now both the attacker and the victim are my loved ones. It’s like having to change the question to:

What would you do if your wife was attacking your father?
(or pick the two people closest to you)

Now I’m not so sure killing the attacker would be my pat answer. If I love that person I certainly wouldn’t want their death. I love the victim though as well and I don’t want them to die, so the situation is now far more complex then the original question presented.

For me, this question simply confirms to me that thinking as a pacifist, or rather, thinking about what to do with ‘killing’ not being one of the options.

So, What would you do if…

8 thoughts on “What would you do if…”

  1. Wow Ariah, i’m really impressed. I was worried that you were going to just say, “Just read this book…” or maybe have a long quote from it talking about driving a semi off a cliff and I still wouldn’t understand what you meant. But that makes total sense, it’s something I’ve never considered before, and I think it’s a totally awesome response! You’re gonna get the people who are like “but you can’t love everybody like you love those close to you, it’s just not possible. God doesn’t want you to love total strangers the same way you love your wife. Love yes, but of course you’re going to love your wife more.” But that’s something you can address fairly well I think. Thanks for writing that. I’m going to have to give it some thought. I think I agree with it almost whole-heartedly. Although I’ve got to tell you that I’m starting to wonder if pure pacifism really is biblical. I don’t know, we should talk about it sometime.

  2. I’ve usually responded in anger when anyone was abusive or bullying my family. That usually stopped the attack. One of my biggest challenges is to turn and offer the other cheek when someone slaps me. To forgive? I keep seeing an image of this lady at the trial of her daughter’s rapist and murdered. (was the child 8?) I can never imagine that anger ever going away. If I were her I’d probably want to tear him limb from limb. What to do when attacked if one is a pacifist? I really don’t know. I simply try to preach peace, hoping to prevent attacks of anyone.

  3. Dave,
    Thanks for your question. I think Pacifism address as lot more then killing. I think the motivation the brings me to pacifism as a Christian is the incredible love as a driving force in Jesus’ life and in what he calls us to.

    I’m curious what you mean by “any means necessary” in protecting. Because if you mean using power and force then I wonder where you find the line to draw on that.
    I’m certainly not trying to simplify it, I think you bring up a very valid point. If your child had a knife in their hand and you were worried they were going to hurt themselves, would you use force to pry it out even at slight injury to them. I’d assume of course you would. So, I wonder how you decide what’s okay and what’s not.

    What do you think?

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