The Ills of Christian Pacifism

"Vengeance is mine," saith Cheech Marin.

While expressing patriotism and support for the United States military the church seems to have a problem with war and violence. There is a type of pacifism the pervades Christianity and seems wholly at odds with the support for the U.S. military.

Usually the two main arguments against the use of war and violence are trust in God’s intervention and showing the love of Christ to non-Christians. Together, these two doctrines, both foundational to the faith, leave no room for non-civil action.

If a voice calls for violence in defense of Christians home or abroad, it is often marked as extreme and radical, blacklisted as “fundamentalist.” Even the threat of a secular society rising against Christians is not enough to stir any acceptance of violence.

In Egypt, Coptic Christians are dying in violent clashes against Egyptian military police. Christians protested with a peaceful sit-in Muslim violence against an orthodox church. They understand that Egypt is not friendly to Christians, being a Muslim nation, and are using the transition to civilian rule to protest.

The vast majority of Christian voices call for prayer and missions to the Coptic Christians. The idea is that God will intervene on their behalf and Christians outside of Egypt need only act with faith and compassion. In the face of persecution and violence, Christians are called to be passive.

However, Christians do not apply this thinking to other important areas of their lives.

For example, if a Christian is able-bodied, has employment opportunities, but refuses to spend his time working to earn a living and provide for his family because he trusts that God will provide, he is looked down upon for not being responsible. Unless there is an overarching spiritual reason, such as overseas missions, an American Christian is expected to work and earn his own way and not be dependent on others, even as an act of faith. It is said that God does not simply hand the Christian life on a silver platter.

A more explicit example is a sick child. There is a tremendous controversy over Christian parents who are passive when it comes to medical science, preferring to pray, fast and trust in God’s intervention. If this child dies, the parents are looked down upon because the medical science that could have saved the child was never utilized. Again, it is expected that Christian parents should use all human means at their disposal while trusting that God will intervene as they do what they can.

In the case of governments that oppress Christians and criminals that threaten the lives of Christians, it would seem consistent that Christians would use every human means available to them, including deadly force and war, to defend themselves.

If God calls Christians to be passive in their approach to the non-Christian world, then Christians should be consistent in their pacifism in all areas. However, since pacifism may have only been a doctrine meant for the early church (much like the inequality of husbands and wives), then Christians may find that they have a responsibility to advocate and support violence and war in defense of Christians here and abroad.

For sure, the secular state has no vested reason to protect them.


Author: M.W. Peak

Just a humble guy trying to make his way in the universe.

One thought on “The Ills of Christian Pacifism”

  1. ”(much like the inequality of husbands and wives)”

    Probably not given that this inequality reflects the inequality of Christ and the church and the glory thereof. It would apply until the end of the age.

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