Friday, March 6, 2009

More on Wilberforce and the use of force

This is a response to the responses i have gotten about the previous post.

Martin Luther King Jr. was quoted basically saying that while we need to work on changing the heart for any real lasting change, in the mean time the law is there to regulate behavior, and restrain the would be attacker.

First i want to say thanks to Matt who posed this question for dragging me into an even tougher task. Now I am not only taking on one, but two of the most influential Christians in the past two hundred years. I have to make this CLEAR....William Wilberforce and especially MLK jr. are two men i respect deeply. They both dedicated their lives and lost their lives in self sacrificial service to others. They are both people we ought to look up to, and strive to emulate in a lot of ways. That said, they were still humans and one need not agree with absolutely everything they did or said in order to see them as great examples of a person living out their faith in service to the King.

Now about that quote. I'm not so sure that the law even does what MLK was saying it does. The law hardly restrains someone, it merely punishes someone after the fact, in most instances. It is based more on revenge or 'getting even' than on actual restraint.

that aside when i think about this question, and i do frequently, i have to always return to what Jesus has taught, and lived. That is a life lived without the use of force. AND without asking others to use force on his behalf, i.e. the police. Both points of which are equally important. For what is the difference between using force and asking someone else to use force for you. There is no final difference. the outcome is the same. Furthermore, you cannot find anywhere in the New Testament the use of force being used by any of Christs followers, save one.

Peter used force once. He cut off the ear of the centurion who attempted to arrest Jesus. HE was sharply rebuked for his use of violence (even a violence used against something completely unjust). Jesus, when talking to Pilate later that night, explained that the reason for this non-use of violence was because of the uselessness of it in accomplishing the goals of God, the establishment of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is not of this world as he explains, and therefore it is useless and even harmful to use the tactics of this world; namely, the use of coercion, be it physical, relational or any other sort.

Some might argue that this was only in this instance because God willed it for Jesus to go through all of that for the forgiveness of sins. But if that were true we would have other examples of his disciples later using force, but we don't. The use of force in the early church was strictly forbidden.

Jesus taught us to never restrain an evil man. He taught us to allow someone to hurt us if they try. To allow someone to steal from us if they try. To allow someone to take advantage of us if they try. And in all these things to even go beyond what was being forced out of us and give to the perpetrator more than what is asked. Why? i have some ideas, but when it comes down to it, i don't know to the full extent, and certainly don't naturally just do these things. But i must trust and obey.

` As far as the Government using these tactics...I'll talk about that in at a later date. But for our purposes here, I do not see a difference between using force ourselves or asking others or accepting others to do the work for us. Therefore i cannot condone even the use of force within the government. But again, i'll talk more about that later.

We must always remember that this life is but a mist in the air. and all the things that evil men may attempt to steal from us (possessions, time, health or even our lives) are fading away anyhow. They mean nothing in eternity (which is now). So we must hang onto things with a very loose grip. As someone said, "we didn't come into this world with all these things and were not going to leave with all these things."

I hope that's at least somewhat of a coherent answer.

Peace be with you!!


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