Tuesday, February 08, 2011

turning the other cheek...

... versus self defense.

At what point do Christians allow themselves to be slaughtered and continually persecuted before they will rise up and say "no more"?

I ask this rhetorically, of course, as I do not have the answers. But damn. 75% of religious violence is directed at Christians. In Christian minority countries they are murdered in their churches, beaten in the streets and their women molested while their governments and police will not provide protection. I understand in those circumstances justice is hard to come by. I honestly don't know how I would cope under such duress. I hope to God I never am forced to find out.

So do you turn the other cheek or do you fight back in self defense? Yes yes... violence is not the answer. Self defense, in my opinion, does not qualify as violence. I am not speaking of retaliation. But when Christ said turn the other cheek and love our enemies, did He mean it without condition? Did He mean for us to not be defenders of the faith... to just lay down and die?


Adoro said...

The best way to fight back is to know your enemy in all his facets. Get into his head.

And above all, recognize what is Truth versus what is mere propaganda. Never forget who he is, but also recognize his humanity.

What do you think our military learns when they go to their secret training that teaches them what to do if they become POW's?

Recall that St. Thomas Aquinas had no problem looking to objections to Christianity before he reasoned the answers.

He knew the Enemy. He could get into the Enemy's head. That's the only reason He was so brilliant...he did not shy away from the risk of asking questions most contrary to Truth so that He could wield the sword more effectively.

Yeah, dear, I know what inspired this post and I know you misread my intentions.

And don't go all coy and "Terry" on me. I won't buy it.

(You know I love you dear...and that's why I'm being as direct as you were.)

Adoro said...

Came back because I realized I capitalized "he" in reference to St. Thomas Aquinas. Um...lol...I don't equate him with God although I do love him dearly.

Apologize for the "He's" in my prev. comment. lol

Old Bob said...

Dear Kat, I don't know who said Christianity is not a suicide pact, but I agree with the notion. I have long held the (undoubtedly unorthodox) opinion that when I offer my other cheek, as Jesus orders, and it gets slapped or whacked, Jesus is silent on that point. So I do my best to deck the guy. Now that I'm old, I'll probably have to just take it. I never want to find out.

Piotrek said...

The answer is in the CCC. I know, I'm no fun.

Patrick Button said...

My summarized interpretation of the relevant CCC passages:
Self-Defense is justified.
You may take up arms against an illegitimate government, but not against unjust laws in legitimate ones.

If I lived in the Islamic world I would buy guns. A lot of guns. Just in case.

kozz said...

Coming from country, where Christianity is in the minority, I would say that self defense is required when the govt and the police are of absolutely no use. There was a spate of violence and destruction of churches by Hindu extremists in the recent past.
A few people took to guarding the churches and convents till situation was under control. There are only so many slaps one can take..

Mark Scott Abeln said...

The Just War Doctrine covers the issues of self-defence.

The doctrine states that there must be a reasonable chance of success. Our Lord told His disciples to sell their cloak and buy a sword (Luke 22); but as they had two already, He said that was enough. Obviously they would have no chance at defeating the Roman Empire by force of arms, just as Christians in Iraq or India (or even the USA) cannot win against those governments by force of arms. Christians have a duty to support a legitimate government -- and legitimacy is pretty broad and covers even rather wicked governments.

Just because you have a weapon does not mean that you will to use it. You have to treat your attacker as a brother, your own family member.

Cruise the Groove. said...

Catechism of the Catholic Church on
Legitimate defense
2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. "The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one's own life; and the killing of the aggressor.... The one is intended, the other is not."[65]

2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:
If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful.... Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one's own life than of another's.[65]

2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another's life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. To this end, those holding legitimate authority have the right to repel by armed force aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their charge.[66]

Just another mad Catholic said...

‎"The good Lord tells us to love our enemies; he doesn't say anything about the fact that they remain your enemy" - Major Michael Hogan - Sharpe's Company

Anthony S. "Tony" Layne said...

To everything there is a season, a time and purpose ... a time to turn the other cheek, and a time to kick your assailant's a$$.

Seriously, in the teaching on turning the other cheek, I believe Our Lord was engaging in rabbinical exaggeration, like the injunctions to not call anyone on earth "Father" or to tear one's eye out lest it causes one to sin. I don't think the Christians' taking up arms would do any good, and would even exacerbate the danger to them. However, continued threats could be considered cause for armed intervention by outside parties ... but that, in turn, might make things worse as well. Anyone for a crusade?

Badger Catholic said...

Remember the Vendee!

Anonymous said...

Remember St. Pius V and the Battle against the Muslims? (I forget the name, sorry) Anyway, that was considered a just war. You can only take so much without wanting to do something about it.

newguy40 said...

Interesting comments.

Do you recall the parable of the Good Samaritan? Did Christ put any limit on who we love? Did he say, your neighbor is everybody but your enemy?

So, ask yourself, in the scripture, did Christ put any condition on turning the other cheek?

3puddytats said...

I live in the wild and wooly American West....where the cops are 15 minutes away and your sidearm is 5 seconds away..

My personal interpretation is more along the lines of "sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me" childhood rhyme. Talk all the crap you want about me, but you even lay a finger on me and you'll get what's coming..

There are bad people in this world, bad people who will hurt and kill you and your family to get what THEY want. They feel no guilt in the least--druggies especially. They will hurt and kill men, women, children, old people, religious, whoever is in their way. Your job is to protect you and your family. Women need to know how to protect themselves and their family/children. Learn how to shoot, learn martial arts, learn how to use a knife, get over the guilt of "hurting someone." Women can never physically overpower a man so you have to use what tools are available.

Even fine gentile Victorian ladies carried elaborately etched stilletos and derringers in their finely beaded handbags...and they knew how to use them...

Defend youself...then find a gun-toting priest to make your confession.. I know one here in Utah :)


Lydia McGrew said...

Of course self-defense is right, as is defense of one's church. A couple of years ago I think it was now there was some kook who came spraying bullets into a large church in the U.S. I think it was in Colorado. (Sorry to be so vague about this.) The church had an armed security guard (happened to be female). She took the guy out. That was it. She stopped more innocent people from being killed. It was completely legitimate for the church to have the guard and for her to act in defense of her fellow church members.

John Seymour said...

Great post and interesting comments. It has always seemed to me that turning one's cheek was a response to an assault directed against yourself, while love for others would require you to defend them from assault. But reading the comments it struck me that a slap on the face is less a serious assault and more a grievous insult. That seems to me to be less an injunction to passivism and more a command to tolerate insult for the glory of God.

That interpretation would also seem to me to be more in line with the other examples Jesus gives, coat and cloak, the extra mile.

Does that make any sense?

Tim said...

I always saw the offering of the other cheek as giving the offender a second chance to decide if that's really the way they want things to go. Basically you are saying, look, by all rights I can retaliate to protect myself but I'm going to show you that you do not need to inflict violence. We can work this out some other way and maybe even become bretheren. I wish to break the cycle of violence by forgiving you and refusing to react in kind. Here is my other cheek. What is your choice?

And of course if they inflict violence again then you have run out of cheeks to turn and you must protect yourself as the CCC and the situation allows.

Rick said...

I have it on good authority that back when the Serbs were purging the Kosovo Muslims, the late Pope John Paul the Great financed the arming of said Muslims. Perhaps, the Vatican ought to arm their flocks around the world against these Muslims this time around.

That very act of arming the KLA indicates that the teaching about turning the other cheek neither connotes surrender nor precludes self-defense.

therese rita said...

Benedict XVI has been very vocal in his repeated admonishments on the use of violence in the name of 'religion'. We are obliged to do all we can to defend the innocent & uphold justice.
That said, we ALL ascribe to following Christ. That means that "What they did to Me, they'll do to you." Period. No way around it. The last 2000 yrs confirm the truth of that statement. When His time came, Jesus went like a lamb to the slaughter. Not unwillingly but out of love for us.
I don't know how I'd cope under the duress these persecuted Christians are under either. But I do know the time to be filling my lamp is now & not the day that I'm confronted with it.

lawrenceo said...

I had a very good class five years ago when I learned the answer to this. There are two principles.

You can choose between doing justice or charity to your enemies.

Justice is legitimate, natural, and never sinful to fulfill, unless without authority. Charity is something you can work on as a Christian. Since you sinned already, it may jolly helpful if justice is surpassed, and mercy is in the realm of consideration, of, perhaps, ... Christ. You might let a murderer shoot you when you can kill him, so he has better chances to get good with God.

You can't be merciful for somebody else.

Christ would not recommend giving all your friends' things to charity, nor does he recommend turning your neighbor's cheek. Love your enemy, but love your neighbor and save him. Go ahead and be a martyr, but do your best to save other people from martyrdom. The most loving, charitable, and merciful Christian would fight, because he loves ... the victims.

I hope this helps a lot. I'm so happy I learned this.