wrestling

Being home these past few snowy days has given me lots of time to think, and one of the things I’ve been pondering are the lyrics to a Derek Webb song. Here are the lyrics…

My Enemies Are Men Like Me

I have come to give you life
and to show you how to live it
I have come to make things right
to heal their ears and show you how to forgive them

Because I would rather die
I would rather die
I would rather die
than to take your life

How can I kill the ones I’m supposed to love
my enemies are men like me
I will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
my enemies are men like me

Peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication
it’s like telling someone murder is wrong
and then showing them by way of execution

When justice is bought and sold just like weapons of war
the ones who always pay are the poorest of the poor

How can I kill the ones I’m supposed to love
my enemies are men like me
I will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
my enemies are men like me

SO. I know, from what I’ve read about Derek, that this song is a comment about war and nonviolence. During the song, he plays part of a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. From what I can hear, he says, “Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence.” Interesting. I’ve been wrestling with this “turn the other cheek” concept: namely, how far does it extend? How far should nonviolence go? Just take one look at how Ghandi convinced Indians to use nonviolence to win their independence from Britain, and you have one blazing example of how far it can go.

Is war ever appropriate? “…Wars and rumors of wars…” but does that mean we instigate them? The paragraph in bold above is are the lines I’m wrestling most with: is that true? If so, is capital punishment the answer for crimes committed? Let me ask it: what would Jesus do? He’s described in the Bible as a powerful sword-brandishing warrior (the book of Revelation) and yet he let himself be tortured and nailed to some wood and left to die. “If you’re really the Son of God, save yourself!”

“He uses the weak things of this world to confound the wise.”

How do you reconcile the God who told the Israelites to make war on the other nations in the way on their quest for the Promised Land, and the God who allowed Romans to whip the flesh off of his back, in sacrifice for us? How much should we let our enemies do the same? Does that prevail in interpersonal relationships only, or does it extend into the political arena? Are people who claim to be Christ-followers called to be nonviolent? “Love your enemies.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

These are the things I’ve been wrestling with lately. Sticky stuff. Polarizing too. I am finding that a committment to nonviolence–for Christ-followers, anyway–is a committment to wholeheartedly trusting a just and loving God with your very life; and that your life cannot be more important than that trust – it seems to me that you have to be willing to lose your life (potentially) in order to remain nonviolent – the ultimate expression of “turning the other cheek”. I’m not sure what the answer is here, especially as it relates to war, and the support or protest of war. Join me in reexamining our politics as it relates to nonviolence – no matter where we land, I’m sure we’re better for it.

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About lindsay

just a girl, creator, reader, learner, homeschooler. wife to one and mother to two others. in the city and loving it. in pursuit of God and community.
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