Christians are called to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves (Matt. 10:7). We are called to love our enemies and be peacemakers. We are taught not to resist an evil person but to turn the other cheek.
But what happens when evil starts threatening our country, our loved ones, and their lives? What happens after that second mile? What should we do if the picture is way bigger than only our personal welfare?
Today, parts of the world are combusting into disaster zones. Places like Sudan, Ukraine, Israel, Palestine, etc. are examples of how relevant this subject is. The questions are hitting closer and closer to home, and now is the time to find the answers and act on them.
For some persecuted Christians, responding to persecution took place in the form of peaceful resistance and even submission. They “were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.” (Heb.11.35-38). For others, persecution turned into a war, and they became soldiers uniting and fighting for themselves and each other!
“Who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.” (Heb. 12:32-35)
We see modern examples of these polar opposites. Within India itself, some organizations peacefully protest, taking “initiative… in protest of Manipur Violence condemning the Barbaric act of the state Government of Manipur and Central Government of India through a peaceful rally/walk, submitting representation addressing the President of India.” (Credit to Orion); meanwhile, the people of Manipur themselves have turned to warfare to protect their homes and loved ones— the stark difference in approach being reasonable in consideration of the fact that one set of people are directly in the line of fire while the other is not.
There is no judgment meant, only two questions: what is the responsibility of individuals and of society/community, and what freedom do we have to carry out that responsibility? These are questions that apply both to those who face persecution themselves and also to the society that has a duty towards humanity.
Orion informs us that part of the calamities occurring around the world is “due to the inactiveness of Christian community” and a consequence of this community “not being organized.” Our failure to do what we need to has been pointed out, and we can easily see the devastation which results: “Therefore the minorities are being killed, abused and torched.”
There is no doubt that we do have a certain amount of obligation to the rest of the Church and to humanity. However, how far does our responsibility extend? Is it our job to physically protect our families and neighbors in the event they get attacked, or are we supposed to let the circumstances form whichever way God allows them to? What do we do if they get sued, bullied, harassed, discriminated against, etc? To what extent does our role go?
After being certain of our duty, we must find the answer of how that duty may be carried out.
The study of civics will tell you that the upholding of a government depends on cooperating with the fact that an entity requires a certain amount of power and freedom to implement certain procedures in order to fulfill its duty. A government cannot make laws if it does not have the authority to enforce those laws.
Similarly, in order for us to carry out our responsibility, we need the moral freedom to do what needs to be done.
What types of freedom do we have, and how far do they extend? If we ought to protect our families, which measures are we allowed to take? Sue? Verbally contest? Harm? Kill?
Currently, based on your situation in life, what would your answer be?
If you were in Israel, in Manipur, in Sudan, in Ukraine, or anywhere on earth that is spiraling into havoc and destruction, how would you respond to your children, your spouse, your parents, siblings, friends, small and innocent children,— and anyone else near you— being threatened? What if it were a possibility that, at any moment, a gun would be pointed to their head, a knife to their stomach, right in front of you? What if you walked around with a baby or a kid, knowing that a bomb could explode under you or on top of you at any time, blowing you both to pieces?
Then, what would you consider your duty and role as a protector and survivor? Would your answer change? What lengths would you consider yourself free to go to for yourself, your loved one, and those around you?
Even if we are not directly in harm’s way, we cannot let ourselves have apathy. If we were in dire straits and heard of those who were better off and could help us but wouldn’t, our hearts would rage. Therefore, it is right that we should act as though it were our lives and deaths on the line.
The time has already arrived in which action must be taken, and each of us must be the ones to take it and take it without delay.
Through it all, the question does arise: do we fight peacefully, or is it time for war?