Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Recently a friend of mine has been working on a paper in defense of pacifism. The issue of just war has been on my mind a lot as I analyze his thoughts. The movie, Machine Gun Preacher depicted well the darkness that can infest a man's heart as he takes life even in an attempt to preserve life.
I am not a pacifist in practice, but I am a pacifist in theory. In other words I believe that the taking of life should always be a last resort and can only be justified as a means for the preservation of life and a greater good. But it comes at a cost. The cost is what must be weighed ultimately. In a perfect world there should be no violence. The human heart as created in Imago Dei should abhor violence and any manifestation thereof. Violence and war are a result of a fallen world. We hold great hope in God's plan for complete restoration to the beauty of His creation. We hope for a time when there will be no war and violence. At heart one's eschatological views should make all men pacifists.
There is great power that accompanies a person's calling to defend the defenseless, the innocent, the orphan or widow. When this defense calls for violence, a debatable demand, we risk becoming drunk with this power. We risk crossing a line where the hatred of those harming the ones we love overwhelms us to the point where we can no longer see them as Imago Dei and the taking of their lives no longer pricks our conscience. It is at this point where we have lost sight of the greater good.
As a former military member I have seen the repercussions of PTSD on many of my loved ones that comes as a result of seeing death and suffering and to an ever greater extent, in response to the taking of life. PTSD is a very real disorder that comes in direct proportion to the sensitivity of human conscience. There is an element of comfort that should accompany the presence of PTSD in that the conscience is not dead and is in fact reflecting a very real violation of life. Violence ought to disturb us and disturb us greatly.
There is much debate over the concept of a violent God in Scripture. A violent God there is nonetheless. But why? He exists because there is a desire for the preservation of life and more fully in the manifestation of His redemption through Christ for the extension of a fuller eternal life. One might credibly argue that the greatest act of violence in the history of mankind was at the foot of the cross, and yet without that violence there would be no eternal life. Evil is still present in our world thereby making violence and war sometimes a necessary means for the preservation and defense of life. But when we lose sight of God's ultimate accomplishment in Christ's work on the cross, we abandon the hope of a future where there will be no more suffering, no more violence, no more war. Pacifism should be at the heart and hope of every human.