Non-Violence In A Violent World

People who claim to be non-violent come in all sorts of varieties. Some take non-violence so far as to stop eating meat. That would be a complete separation of an individual from violence of any kind. I don't go that far. I just took Isaac to the butcher shop where we saw cows hanging and how they butcher them for us to eat to show him that having the life we live off of is costly.

As I wrestle with thoughts of loving my enemy and my stance on the issue, I know that I have yet to be in a situation where my own views have been tested. I am probably not as strong as I plan to be and teach that one should be. 

If I were to describe my stance on nonviolence, it would be to not have angry thoughts toward any other person and to never infict harm on another human being no matter what the circumstances.

When expressing my stance on nonviolence, I often get asked how my view on nonviolence relates to playing violent video games (along with the ridiculous question of what I would do if I found my wife being raped). When it comes to entertainment, I do not have a problem with violence.

I am less violent than most and more violent than a few if we were to lay it out on a line with complete nonviolence on one end and total violence on the other. The key is to focus on love and not on nonviolence. We can get caught up in a legalistic test of fellowship if I judge people based upon their view of violence. Having a legalistic approach to the issue does not further the gospel one bit. We should ask what we can do to be loving in all situations rather than ask what we can do to be nonviolent? I believe if we focus on love, it would encompass nonviolence.

My friend Shannon wrote a reply on my blog years back in regards to this subject. He might not still stand by it, but I like it with a few tweaks.
It has nothing to do with whether the actor is sinning, but whether I am sinning. You could have a lady taking a shower in a movie (last time I checked, God is not against showers), she may not be sinning, but I sure would be if I were to watch it.

Or from the other side, I could watch lots of sins and not have it be a sin for me. I could watch people, steal, gossip, brag, etc...

That's the deal. For most of us, most violent films do not cause us to want to be violent. Whereas, for most of us, most sexual films do cause us to think sexually.
I would argue that if the woman was showering naked in front of a man that was not her husband in order to tantalize him or to just make money, that would be a sin. That is where I would diverge from Shannon's post on the subject. A woman showering is not wrong. A woman showering in such a way that she is doing it knowing that a man who is not her husband would be watching her is wrong.

Another friend, Troy, brought up to me whether we are condoning sin by watching football or boxing. The debate would all come down to whether football or boxing is a sin.

As for violence in a movie, nobody is committing a sin in making it and nobody is committing a sin in watching it unless they have a lust for violence from watching it. The violence is all fake.

I did take my kids to a hockey game the other night and was very uncomfortable with the glamorized fighting. A fight broke out on the ice and everyone started cheering. It all seemed strange to me. It was much worse to me than boxing because boxing is a sport of discipline where the boxers have to refrain from being angry. At the hockey game, these guys appeared to be very angry at one another and wanted to hurt each other. I told my kids that people should not act that way. Maybe we should have left.

In the end, we need to always try to be like Jesus. If someone is being faithful to their understanding of Jesus and are more violent than me, I should not hold their stance on violence as a test of fellowship despite my belief that nonviolence is an outgrowth of a heart of love. In the end, we all need to work on being more loving than we are.

We cannot feel that we have arrived at a life of love because we refrain from doing something. A life of love is a life of action, not a life of restraint. Restraint might help us be more loving, but it is not the goal. Being Christlike is the goal; that makes love a natural outcome. Christ's love should be overflowing from us. In that happening, everyone around us should see Him through that love. If not, we have work to do. I know I do.

This was an edited post of a piece I wrote a while back at Chi Rho Live.