>Pacifist Not Passive-ist

>It’s inevitable; whenever I mention that I’m a pacifist, there is always someone, somewhere who has to try and come up with a ridiculous scenario in which I would be forced to take someone’s life or at least respond violently. This is a gross misunderstanding of the word. Most people don’t realize that pacifism has nothing to do with being passive.

Pacifists pacify, it’s that simple. We pacifists often engage in some very active responses to violence and injustices of all kinds.

For me it stems from how I understand God’s creation of humanity;

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

God created man (not just men but man in the non-gendered sense, the implications of which are far too deep to go into at this point) in his own image. Just a few verses later, in looking back over all that He had created He pronounced it “good“.

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31

So – if you truly believe that man is created in God`s image, and that all of His creation is good – then you cannot treat anyone as worth less than yourself. I once heard it said that the greatest lie ever told is that some people are just worth more. Logically if that were the case then some people would have to be worth less and it is that sentiment of worthlessness which leads to poverty, disenfranchisement, oppression and ultimately war.

One of the most effective ways to diffuse violence or just to short circuit oppression is to help people see each other`s humanity. That`s what Jesus was talking about when he told his followers to turn the other cheek.

If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matthew 5:39

It`s important to note a seemingly small detail about Jesus` words here. In a time when left handedness was shunned the fact that Jesus made the distinction that it is the right cheek is significant. Think about it, if you are facing someone who is right handed, in order for them to strike you on the right cheek, they have to hit you back hand. An act of aggression like that implies a disdainful attitude toward the victim, as if they are an inferior. By standing there and taking it and then turning back the victim is forcing the aggressor to look upon them as an equal. The other examples Jesus uses in that same passage, like offering the cloths off your back or going the extra mile are also acts that would reinforce a person`s humanity in the eyes of their oppressor.

Honouring humanity is what active pacifism is all about. It`s refusing to take up arms for your country not because you don`t want to take sides but because your loyalties do not lie solely with your government. (Another spicey meatball that I don’t have time to get into right now.)

Pacifism is about getting in the way of conflict and forcing the combatants to look at each other as humans, created in the image of one loving God. And that my friends sure as hell isn’t passive…


  1. >I like this blog and its topic, I have long struggled with my commit to The Lord and the constant struggle to break free from the chains of this world and my inner self that bind me and undermine my loyalty and ability to serve him and only him.

  2. >To me this is a different way of looking at issues. Should one of those scenarios that people try out on you come to reality, who knows what the reaction would be, unless you are actually in the situation. The rest is speculation. One thing that comes to mind on reading this was the old saying that there are no athiests in the foxholes. Wonder why? There are in a real situation.

  3. >I have been both attacked for my beleifs and had the opportunity to "get in the way" of conflict. I've had enough real world experience to have a pretty good idea how I would react, trust me. The assumption you're making here is that it's always a binary choice – defend yourself or be killed – but that's not really the case is it? There are infinite outcomes to any situation. The only thing you can control is how you respond. You have to work out what you beleive before you get into a bad situation and trust your convictions. Otherwise you're a hypocrite.I also disagree with you that there or no athiests in foxholes, I have a lot more respect for athiets who hold their convictions right to the end. I'm pretty sure a lot of the so called foxhole conversions don't last long after the shelling stops.

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