Saturday, June 06, 2009

Why Nonviolence? Part VI

Today marks my last post on nonviolence, and I hope that if you have been following along, that some fruit has been born out of it, or at the very least that some questions have come out of it.

This last post is going to be a bit all over and will serve as some observations of how my views are working themselves out in my own life.

For starters, I am no longer able to justify Christian support for the military of either America or any other nation. The bible teaches us that these things will continue to exist beside the church, but I do not see them as a place of anything that reflects the Kingdom of God so long as military force continues to amass weapons to destroy “the enemy.” Armed combat merely begets more fantastical weaponry. Our defense budget is proof of this. We are constantly looking to the next super weapon and defense system. If 9-11 proved anything, it is that these things don’t stop death and carnage.

Also, on the recent scandal involving soldiers who were proselytizing in Afghanistan I can only wonder how effective it is to alternatively hunt down Afghan citizens to death with one hand and then declare Christ to them with the other. I can think of no more contrary message than that.

I am also unable to do anything but pray God’s blessings and love on anyone involved in military combat. Not because they are doing the will of God, but because we are called to refuse setting up walls to separate us, and instead to pray for our neighbors and enemies alike. I can only ask God that his will would be done, and trust that he will work out what that means.

I must recognize my own sins in the midst of it all. I must always pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me how my actions my directly or indirectly lead to violence. I recognize that many of the liberties and comforts that I enjoy in this world are a result of military action and/or protections. My actions are a part of the cycle of violence, even indirectly. There is no way around this, and while i may seek ways to minimize this, I will never be able to wash my hands of the whole thing. I must try to purge as much of that from who I am and my actions, but I must also recognize that in this world there is no way of avoiding sin and this is no less true on issues of nonviolence. Nonetheless I must still take up my cross daily to be crucified and repent from my sins.

I am compelled to seek out ways to confront violence with love in my own setting. This means I have been seeking out organizations within the greater Cincinnati area which have similar goals and opportunities for me to serve God in this way, whatever that may entail. It also means that while my job search has been very broad, I have been paying more attention to the non-profit job sector in the hopes that I may find a job which allows me to put my beliefs into practice until I am officially seeking ordination.

I am no more able to accept the death penalty than I am able to accept abortion. Both are contrary to God’s will. We can argue over what that may mean politically, but theologically, I see no room for either in the Kingdom of God.

I am not sure utter pacifism is the correct response, in so far as nonviolence is something that can be actively advocated without resorting to violent means of doing so. The Holy Spirit will lead us to action, not blind passivity. I hope that this series of posts is one step in that direction for me.

While I am wholeheartedly embracing the notion of nonviolence, I am still but a babe in the arena of the theological issues surrounding it. I must be humble in learning more and in how I deal with those who disagree. It would be blasphemy for me to set myself upon the judgment seat of God and declare others unclean. Any of my statements here have not been intended to comment on anyone else’s salvation or standing before God. But I have been compelled to point towards the kind of thinking that I see as resonating with Christ’s Kingdom and calling to the Church.