Violence or Non-Violence. So What?!

By Jon Kauffman

I was trying to open a conversation with someone online to find out why they felt it was acceptable for a Christian to use violence. He gave some reasons that did not seem logical to me and when I asked him to explain, he said: “We must agree to disagree.”

I didn’t catch lightning in a bottle, but I got some of it in a beaver pond. Courtesy Leon Kauffman

Agreeing to disagree is an excellent comment to use to maintain peace between Christian brothers. It is useful when the difference in opinion does not have consequences to our lives and by holding either position, we can still easily follow Jesus. For example, we can agree to disagree about the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

The comment “Agree to disagree” can also be used if we are not yet ready to defend our position or if someone is treating us disrespectfully.

Is our position on violence relevant for a Christian living his life in this world?

I believe that this question is very relevant and that the consequences both now and in eternity are very real.

Our answer to this question may determine if we feel it is acceptable to use violence to protect our families or should we find alternate means of protection? Our position on violence could easily lead to the life or death of our families.

Our answer to this question can quite easily determine whether we will join the military or not.

Our answer to this question may influence our position on US foreign policy.

Our answer to this question may affect how we think about our enemies. What about their souls? What about their innocent women and children who are killed? What about the “enemy” Christians we kill?

My position is that if we claim to be followers of Jesus, we must live as Jesus lived and follow his teaching. I do not see anything in the teachings of Jesus that would allow his followers to use violence.

Jesus said that there is no greater love than to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters(Fellow Christians).

If Christians had refused to fight Christians even if it meant their own death, the American Civil War would not have been fought. If Christians had refused to fight in the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis would have been forced to non-violently negotiate agreements about cotton taxes and slavery.

Yes, a position on violence is very relevant for living the Christian life. What are the eternal consequences of Christians fighting wars that could have been avoided? What are the eternal consequences of a Christian allowing his family to die? What if a Christian family died because they were following the example of non-violence Jesus gave us by dying on the cross when he had the power to prevent his own death?

Perhaps agreeing to disagree is a good method for keeping the peace between brothers and sisters in Christ, but it seems to me that it is very important to discuss the ramifications of our positions on violence to our Christian faith.

Copyright © 2019 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

Picture: Copyright © 2019 by Leon Kauffman

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Author: Jon

Jon Kauffman graduated from Goshen College, earning a BA in Religion. Jon attended a Mennonite Church while growing up and currently attends the Salvation Army Church. Jon works as a drafter at TrueNorth Steel, Fargo, ND.

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