Do Christians Like Violence?

ImageWhen I was a teenager there was a lot of debate about the kind of movies that were appropriate for Christians. I remember hearing quite often that violence was okay (and sometimes even good) but nudity and bad language was not. I wonder why we have such an accepting attitude toward violence.

When we look at a wide swath of topics we see that Christians are often the greatest supporters of violence.

In the United States, who are the biggest proponents of war? Christians. Who are the ones who support aggressive action against Palestine, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan? Christians. Who continually supports expansion of American military? Christians. Who supports the assassination of people who oppose America? Christians. Who are often the most outspoken in support of torture and the denial of basic rights to those accused of war crimes? Christians. Who are the number one supporters of the death penalty? Christians. Who lobbies for the harshest punishments for crime? Christians. Who are the prime supporters of “peace through strength” (which actually means peace through violence)? Christians.

We even have a tendency to whitewash and glorify the terrible violence of our national ancestors. We often give the impression that slavery was not all that bad. We justify the unjust acts of violence that America perpetuated, such as war on Native Americans and Pacific Islanders. There are even higher rates of spouse and child abuse in more religious areas of the country, and Christians are more likely than others to put up with domestic violence.

While many Christians have well reasoned beliefs concerning violence, all of us need to consider if the general embrace of violence by Jesus followers displays the character to Jesus. Are we people who love our enemies, turn the other cheek, love unconditionally, and keep no record of wrong? Are we people who follow Jesus’ example of laying down our lives for others, or do we prefer to wield swords and guns?

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3 Responses to “Do Christians Like Violence?”

  1. I agree. Its quite troubling indeed.

    I remember a picture I saw on the facebook page of one of the men who is a leader on the praise team and the United Methodist Men of my childhood church. It was posted back in mid-Sept of this year. It was a picture of a fighter jet, a couple of drones, and a couple dozen missiles. Under it was captioned “The coward of Egypt and Libya have won the toss and have elected to receive.” My heart dropped. How could someone that is such a leader in the church, believe something like this? Not only believe it, but proudly publicize that he believes this – perhaps not even seeing the irony of how it contradicts the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    I know that our military is full of upstanding, very pure-hearted people who are doing their best to serve our country and support their families. I’m not as convinced of that fact with the people higher up in our government who make decisions about when and with whom we wage war. And I am a bit perplexed by Christians in the military who tout and brag about our military, instead of seeing it as a necessary evil. And then there are people like me who see our military as more of national “offense” than “defense,” and I think a lot of the decisions made about war and our military-industrial complex have more to do with very rich greedy people loving the fact that they make money off of war, and who are willing to sacrifice the lives of young Americans and international soldiers in the name of fatter pockets. But I can’t mention this too loudly or people question my patriotism. How can I pledge allegiance to a nation under God when I get ostracized for a dissent to the military because of my faith in my God?

    I know that we live in a fallen world, and we will never convince our country as a whole to approach our national defense from a perspective in line with Jesus’ teaching….but still I wonder what our world would look like today if after 9/11 we had responded in a loving way in response to Jesus’ teachings. Perhaps support, encouragement and aide to those who had wronged us instead of bombs, assassinations and drones. Then maybe the over 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians who Americans killed would still be alive, along with the thousands of American soldiers who have been killed in the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    • Thanks for your thoughts. Those are the issue that we should all struggle over. I have wrestled with whether or not is is possible for a nation to function with Christlike qualities such peace and forgiveness. I don’t know. I think it has never been attempted.

  2. Even more personal than that, I have and continue to struggle with whether or not I should be able to employ lethal force in self defense. I feel like I should be able to protect myself and my family, but it’s difficult to square that with Jesus’s teachings.

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