My Christian Pacifism, or Why Killing is Always Wrong.


I was Asked in another Blog the question “is Killing always wrong?” and as this Blog was dealing with the Christian approach to morality and murder, I had to give it some thought as my Christian pacifism has developed over the years and I have never really put it down on paper.

So here it is . . . .

Keeping in Mind what was said of Jesus that he was the fulfilment of the Law of the prophets. See Matthew 5:17

And to do so he added to those laws a philosophy of love over hatred.

John 13:34-35
34″A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

That philosophy was expanded on and became a key element of Jesus’ message.

Matthew 5:39-45 “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have [thy] cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. “

Matthew 5:21-26 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.”

Matthew 5:43-48 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

So yes given this new commandment and Jesus’ teaching in my belief killing is always wrong.

Horrifying as it may be, turn the other cheek does not mean to ignore the offense it means take the offense, suffer and if it means death do as Jesus did for us.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13)

Often misinterpreted as a code for the warrior, the preceding message is not to fight for justice and love, but to die for it.

The hardest part of Christianity is there is almost no way we can live up to all the teachings of Christ.

But God forgives us because we are human.

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8 thoughts on “My Christian Pacifism, or Why Killing is Always Wrong.

  1. Sorry I usually leave the religious posts to Q at Ragged Glory, but this is more my personal reasoning and since I was asked, I ventured into unfamiliar waters.

    I am sure that someone will attempt to drown me. (-:

  2. I don’t know what to say.
    I remember King David asking the Lord to *help* him against his enemies and that didn’t just mean walking away–
    I need to contemplate this more. Thanks for spending the time to lay this out.

  3. I think the classic Christian response to the sermon on the mount has been this: to make a distinction between a personal ethic and the ethic of the state. Romans 13:1ff. describes the ethic of the state:

    Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

    From a political science point of view, the first task of the state is always to establish law and order. The worst situation a human society can fall into is anarchy, when every person is against every other, and might makes right. The state legitimately uses force because it is a lesser evil than anarchy.

    By no means is this an attempt to “drown” you in these deep waters. I mostly agree with you as long as you are talking only about a personal ethic.

    Even then, I would be prepared to resort to violence to protect a vulnerable party — one of my children, for example. But that situation is probably akin to the state ethic — using force to prevent the mighty from having their way with the vulnerable.

    In those situations, even killing might be justifiable, if it came to that.

  4. Q – is “justifiable” the same as “right”

    or put another way, just because you could justify killing the attacker of your child in the heat of the moment, does that mean it is morally right to kill a child molester?

    And is a deliberate act the same as an accidental result of an action?

    IMO killing is always wrong, although there are individual circumstances where it can be understood.

  5. I tend to agree with Mrs aginoth.

    However, Q does have a point, based on the biblical references from Romans.

    I understand the ethics of the state as it is outlined in Romans, but in a democracy is not the ethic of the state a translation of the ethics of the individuals that make up that state?

    Which may or may not accept the Idea that “killing is always wrong”?

    Which would place the individual as part of the process of choosing the authority as much as God.

    I’m not sure Paul could have foreseen democracy as we now have it, and thus that leaves us to take this as an example and apply it as best we can given the different circumstances.

    There could arise from this an interesting debate on whether Christianity and Democracy are really compatible?

  6. Just a side note to 49erdweet before he calls me on this. I think I have once again strayed from the original mandate of this Blog (but only slightly this time).

    We may want to revisit the mandate (darn I sound like a public servant even when I am not working)

  7. • Mrs. Aginoth:
    Is killing absolutely right in some circumstances? I suppose not, although I can’t pretend that I’ve considered every possible circumstance.

    But perhaps right and wrong exist on a continuum. Usually Christians think in terms of a dichotomy — 100% right on one hand and 100% wrong on the other. In the real world, I think we rarely get such clear-cut choices as that. Even when we do right, we do it with mixed motives. Or we try to do right, but we do it imperfectly. Or we’re faced with a situation where we have two doubtful choices, and we choose “the lesser of two evils”.

    Let’s say someone intends to kill one of my children. In that scenario, if I do nothing, one person will die (my child). I may attempt to stop the killer without killing him. But if, despite my best efforts, I kill the would-be killer, one person dies: the same result as if I’d done nothing.

    How do you evaluate the morality of that situation? “Better him than my child” is not a very exalted moral position, I’ll grant you. “Better a would-be murderer than an innocent child” is a little better. But right in an absolute sense? — regrettably, no.

    There’s probably no way to escape from that situation without doing something less than 100% pure. And a lot of my morality begins from that premise. Jesus talks very idealistically in the sermon on the mount. In the real world, compromises are inevitable, in my (somewhat cynical) view.

    • Bill:
    You know I don’t believe the scriptures are inerrant. I tend to think Paul’s message in Romans 13 is inconsistent with Jesus’ ethic as expressed in the sermon on the mount. Not 100% in conflict, but certainly not 100% in agreement, either.

    I do think it’s legitimate to make a distinction between a personal ethic and rules for state conduct. But, as we discussed on another post, I think states constantly compromise what’s right for the interests of what is possible, or even what is expedient. That’s why it’s tough for a Christian to survive politics with his/her innocence intact.

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