HOW PACIFISTS USE VIOLENCE TO PICK WINNERS AND LOSERS

bible

Ephesians 4:14 Good News Translation (GNT)

14 Then we shall no longer be children, carried by the waves and blown about by every shifting wind of the teaching of deceitful people, who lead others into error by the tricks they invent.

This post is about one of the consequences of believing in pacifism. The belief in pacifism serves as one of the major distinctions between Christians. Pacifists generally believe that all violence is wrong. Others believe that violence is appropriate in self-defense and in the defense of others. I believe self-defense is appropriate, and here are a couple posts that explain my stance.

What this post is about is relationship between pacifists and government. Logically, pacifists should not believe that government is compatible with pacifism. Why? The power of government rests upon force and the threat to use force. Consider this definition from Investopedia.

Definition of ‘Tax Evasion’
An illegal practice where a person,  organization or corporation intentionally avoids paying his/her/its true  tax liability. Those caught evading taxes are generally subject to criminal  charges and substantial penalties.

FindLaw.com says:

A tax evasion/fraud conviction can result in penalties such as fines, incarceration, and asset forfeiture. (from here)

Generally, because our government is of the people, by the people, and for the people (paraphrasing President Abraham Lincoln), we do not equate government with force. Nonetheless, even our government would cease to exist if it did not have the ability to exert force against the recalcitrant. The Whiskey Rebellion, put down by our first president, George Washington, exemplifies that fact. To put down the Whiskey Rebellion, a tax protest resulting from a new tax on distilled spirits, required Washington to once again lead American troops in the field. Ironically, the force of 12,000 men Washington led to put down the Whiskey Rebellion was as about as large as any he had led during the American Revolution.

So why would pacifists, people who do not believe in violence, want anything to do with an organization that exists solely because of its capacity to exert violence? The answer, I think, lies in how some people define charity. Because they want to help others, some pacifists rationalize that it is okay to force other people to participate in government wealth redistribution schemes. Apparently, the logic involved just depends upon presentation. Want an example? Read President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address (2013). Consider some key phrases.

  • It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country….
  • It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few….

Obama promises success for everyone. How can the leader of a limited government guarantee everyone success? He cannot, but he can make lots of people feel dependent upon the government, and he can scare us and make us feel like victims.

  • But we can’t ask senior citizens and working families to shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction while asking nothing more from the wealthiest and most powerful.

Obama can use our fears to make us gloat at the prospect of soaking the hateful rich. Gloating is an appropriate activity for pacifists, right?

Consider this doozy.

We’ll bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare, because our medical bills shouldn’t be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital – they should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive. And I am open to additional reforms from both parties, so long as they don’t violate the guarantee of a secure retirement. Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep – but we must keep the promises we’ve already made.

For how many years have politicians been breaking their promises? When our Democrat-run Senate has not even produced a budget in four years, we are suppose to trust Obama to balance the budget? And yet even pacifists — people who would never hurt anyone — would have us trust, whether we like it or not, deceitful politicians with the quality of our health care and the security of our retirement?

Anyway, this post is not about Obama. I have no real interest in completely dissecting his lying speech. This post is about the teaching of deceitful people, and it is about self-deceit. Too many of us have been taught that if government can do something bad, like force us to fight in a war, then it is okay to use government to force other people to give their money to the “poor.” That is, we have been taught two wrongs make a right. Stated plainly, that teaching does not make sense; it also does not work. That’s because dishonest politicians never rob either from their own pocketbooks or the pocketbooks of their wealthy benefactors. What they do is take a cut of the wealth they “redistribute.”

So are pacifists bad people? It is not my place to judge. I just think pacifism a mistaken belief. Unfortunately, we all maintain some foolish beliefs. As imperfect human beings, we each have to choose what we want to believe is true. Otherwise, when the time comes to make important choices, we will not have a foundation upon which to base those choices.

For Christians, the Bible serves as the foundation of that which we call Truth. Yet even though it is God’s word, not even the Bible contains all the answers; it contains only the answers we need. To gain access even to those answers, we must study, but being human we do not interpret the Bible the same way. Often, our beliefs about the Bible differ enough to create schisms between us. Thus, we have separated into different denominations and sects. And so it is that some Christians are pacifists.

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I am just an average citizen interested in promoting informed participation in the political process.
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15 Responses to HOW PACIFISTS USE VIOLENCE TO PICK WINNERS AND LOSERS

  1. Certainly self-defense as exemplified by violence is historically and culturally traditional. However, I would ask you to consider what defense Jesus offered to Pilate, and to those who condemned him unjustly. Jesus’ behavior is the basis of Christian pacifism, though of course there are other sources for the philosophical adherence to non-violence such as Buddhism, which does not accept the killing of any sentient being, including non-human animals. Gandhi took inspiration from a number of different sources, and Dr. King took his from both Jesus and Gandhi.

    I pick winners based on whose ideas last the longest, myself.

    • Citizen Tom says:

      Self-defense is also Biblical.

      Had Jesus resisted Pilate (and He could have done so by just walking away), He would not have paid the penalty for our sins.

      Read Revelation or Matthew 25:32-46. Jesus will judge and the unrepentant will be punished.

      If you really want to discuss the ethics of pacifism, I suggest you read the two posts I referenced near the beginning of this one and comment on one of them.

      • yeah, the important part is the fact that Jesus chose not to defend himself. The lesson isn’t “had He defended himself, that would have been morally wrong so we all have follow his example and let people kill us” The lesson is, He sacrificed Himself for us.

        good post!

  2. Michael Snow says:

    “What this post is about is relationship between pacifists and government. Logically, pacifists should not believe that government is compatible with pacifism.”

    And a Biblical pacifist would agree, as does the Apostle Paul in Romans, where he makes the clear distinction between those who follow Christ and their role of obedience to Him, and the wrath of God for which He has ordained human government.

    http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/romans-13-in-context/

    • Citizen Tom says:

      Michael Snow — Thank you for your comment and the link to your post. Romans “13″ In Context is certainly a good post, and Romans 12-13 is certainly highly relevant to this discussion.

      I am a bit confused by your position. I am not certain why you think Romans 12-13 that statement from my post you quoted. Nonetheless, I gather you think this about Romans 12-13.

      This passage of Scripture is one of the great pacifist passages of the New Testament. Christians are called to be the light of the world, not the sword of the LORD. (from here)

      I think it stretch to say the Apostle Paul called for pacifism. As you noted in your post, the context makes a difference. The Apostle Paul spoke to the Christians of his era. When the apostles began their ministry, they saw their mission as spreading the good news of the Gospel. Just as Christ had looked to the coming of His Kingdom, so did the apostles.

      Because the Roman Empire maintained peace, the Roman Empire served God’s purpose. The Roman peace facilitated the spread of the Gospel. Moreover, while Roman justice was hardly perfect, Roman justice was about as good any provided by the governments of that era. Therefore, Paul saw value in his Roman citizenship, and he could rightfully ask Christians to show proper respect for government authorities.

      Had Paul been a pacifist, I fail to understand how he would have been able to honor the same authorities who crucified lawbreakers. Nonetheless, Paul did not ask Christians to stand apart or separate themselves from any government. Instead, he told the Christians of his era to be obedient to government officials and to promptly pay their taxes.

      What Paul advocated was obedience to God. God commands us to love Him above all and to love each other as we each love our self. Yet Paul recognized forbearance with evil has its limits. In Romans12:18, Paul said: “Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody.” Paul recognized there comes a point where we cannot stand aside and let someone do something evil. That is why we need a government. When we have a good government, we expect it to punish lawbreakers.

  3. bunkerville says:

    Much food for thought.

  4. novascout says:

    This strikes me as a profoundly confused post. It starts out (and advertises itself) as addressing pacifism, but then goes off on a tangent talking about American policy issues relating to taxation and wealth redistribution.

    One of the glories of the American Republic under the Constitution is that we can accommodate pacifism, a doctrine that has nothing to do with tax policy, but is simply the idea that the state cannot force people with objections of conscience to participate in state-sponsored violence. If your point (very much obscured) is that there are some pacifists who support taxes, and thus they are supporting state coercion, I think the problem is that you are defining pacifism as something more than an aversion to warfare.

    Pacifism has strong roots in Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism (I’m sure there are other religions for which the same could be said, but these are the 3 majors that leap to mind). Yet we all know Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus who have fought ferociously for their countries. In our Republic, we have space and room for sincere pacifists because our Constitution makes clear that the secular world does not interfere with religion. This is one of our treasures.

  5. novascout says:

    Huh? That last comment may go in another thread.

    • Citizen Tom says:

      Is it me who is confused or you? :lol:

      What did you expect me do, argue that my post is profoundly confused? Either it is, or it is not, but what is there to debate?

  6. Scout says:

    There may be nothing to debate. In these blogs, people just drop in and state a view. But I was referring to the comment that says “even God doesn’t try to please everybody,” It has nothing to do with anything that preceded it. If we were talking about God and His motivations, I suppose the correct statement would have been that God has no reason to be concerned about pleasing anyone (let alone “everybody”). But, of course, the post was about pacifists “picking winners and losers” (or so it says). I though perhaps the comment belonged to another thread.

    • Citizen Tom says:

      Scout – Whether any belief or idea is true or not can be debated, and the consequences of a belief can be discussed. If some people want to advocate pacifism, then others have the right to say it is not a good idea. Exercising the right to debate is not an attack on the right to one’s own beliefs, but I suppose that statement belongs to another thread too. :roll:

  7. novascout says:

    The discussion is not about one person or another’s right to espouse an opinion. The discussion is about whether “. . . even God doesn’t try to please everybody” and the relation of that viewpoint to the post.

    • Citizen Tom says:

      novascout – We each have our own viewpoint. I can try to share mine, and you can try to share yours, but we have to want to see. When we are unwilling to open our eyes, we remain blind. Even bright sunlight will not help.

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