Skip to comments.“Turn the Other Cheek” and the Violence of Shari (Christians strike back)
Posted on 02/21/2006 8:59:09 PM PST by jecIIny
Turn the Other Cheek and the Violence of Sharia
Nigerias main Christian body has said it may no longer be able to contain Christians from retaliating after Muslim rioters killed dozens of Christians and torched churches.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which says 50 people died in anti-Christian rioting in the northern city of Maiduguri at the weekend, described the violence as part of a Muslim plan to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state .
Religious violence has killed thousands since 12 northern states introduced Islamic law in 2000, alienating Christians.
In a public statement released on Monday, Feb. 20th, Archbishop Peter Akinola, Anglican Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, declared:
From all indications, it is very clear now that the sacrifices of the Christians in this country for peaceful co-existence with people of other faiths has been sadly misunderstood to be weakness. We have for a long time now watched helplessly the killing, maiming and destruction of Christians and their property by Muslim fanatics and fundamentalists at the slightest or no provocation at all. We are not unaware of the fact that these religious extremists have the full backup and support of some influential Muslims who are yet to appreciate the value of peaceful co-existence.
This violence, the Archbishop stated, is connected to the effort to impose Islamic law upon the nation:
It is no longer a hidden fact that a long standing agenda to make this Nigeria an Islamic nation is being surreptitiously pursued. The willingness of Muslim Youth to descend with violence on the innocent Christians from time to time is from all intents and purposes a design to actualize their dream.
Acknowledging that Christian reluctance to retaliate is being misunderstood as weakness, Akinola then issued this ominous warning:
May we at this stage remind our Muslim brothers that they do not have the monopoly of violence in this nation. Nigeria belongs to all of us Christians, Muslims and members of other faiths. No amount of intimidation can Change this time-honoured arrangement in this nation. C.A.N. may no longer be able to contain our restive youths should this ugly trend continue.
Clearly this is a time when our Nigerian brothers and sisters in Christ need our fervent prayers and support.
Question for discussion: If you were living in Nigeria, what would you do? What would you do if you were a pastor of a Christian congregation? Are there limits to the dominical exhortation to turn the other cheek? Was Akinola wrong to warn of retaliation if Muslim attacks against Christians continue?
It seems crazy to say that oneself would kill in the name of Christ.
It seems crazier to say that oneself would not kill to protect the ones one loves because they risk being killed in the name of Christ.
As the troops who chased the Jihadist scum out of Srebrenica learned, sometimes you have to kill the Muhammedans to stop them from killing.
When He said "You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, do not resist the evildoer. But whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well." (Mt 5:38-39), he was referring to insults; not lethal attacks. Think about exactly what He said: "whoever strikes you on the right cheek...". Picture such a blow being delivered. How is it that one can be struck on the right side of the face when the attacker is most often right handed? A punch, thrown with the right hand, would land on the left side of the face. A backhanded strike, however, would hit the right side of the face. When the desire is to insult someone, a backhanded strike is used. The Lord is not referring to an attempt to do physical injury.
Later, the Lord advises to the disciples to arm themselves, selling their cloaks if need be. "Then Jesus said to them, When I sent you out with no money bag, or travelers bag, or sandals, you didn't lack anything, did you? They replied, Nothing. He said to them, But now, the one who has a money bag must take it, and likewise a travelers bag too. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me, And he was counted with the transgressors. For what is written about me is being fulfilled. So they said, Look, Lord, here are two swords. Then he told them, It is enough. (Lk 22:35-38) A sword is a lethal weapon. Clearly He is teaching us that a lethal attack (as opposed to a backhanded slap to the cheek) may be repelled with lethal force.
Christians are under no blanket obligation to be murdered. A particular Christian may be called to martyrdom, but that does not mean that all Christians are so called.
This is a terrible situation, but one with which I think we Christians are going to become increasingly familiar in many other parts of the world. It's certainly good to have our response thought out in advance.
I think your points are absolutely right on target: Christians have a right to defend themselves and are not all called to be martyrs, but at the same time, this should stop simply with defense and not go into vengeance.
We are seeing a total failure of a government to protect its citizens, which is one of the universally acknowledged duties of a government. Granted, the government of Nigeria might be a little shaky in general, as governments go, but to some extent, I think we saw the French government take the same hands-off attitude when the Muslims were roiting over....what was it now? (Oh yes, two Muslim teenagers who had gotten electrocuted hiding in a power station ... makes sense to riot, no?) Granted, they weren't attacking Christians in particular at that moment, but they will be in the future. I think this means that Christians not only have to be prepared to defend themselves, but that they have to start demanding protection from their governments now. This means that we have to demand that civil society do its part, and not let the situation get to violence and vigilantism in the first place.
Sadly, a lot of existing governments are either on the side of the Muslims, or too scared of them to do anything to restrain them.
Turning the other cheek is for each of us, individually.
I have often pointed out that it is a blessing that except for the woman taken in adultery, we have no example from Our Lord of how to respond to violence toward another. Plainly Christians must imitate His example: diplomacy first.
But, if one can't talk down those intent on violence, how does the Christian respond?
Sometimes it is better to be a pacifist and permit evil, while not doing evil. Sometimes it is better to fight, yes, even to kill, though that is evil, to resist a greater evil.
This tension is plain in Orthodox tradition, which has never forbidden military service by the laity (once being in the legion didn't require pagan practices), but requires clergy in major orders to be pacifists; has services for blessing the arms of Orthodox laymen going to war and special versions of the trisagion prayers of mercy for Orthodox warriors, but prescribes penance for those who kill, even in a war sanctioned by duely constituted authorities, even by an Orthodox emperor.
My wife and talked of this some time ago when remembering 911.
She said that she would start singing hymns and prepare to meet the Lord. I said I would not go quietly if there was a possibility of saving others.
As Christians, we do have a right to self defense. There is such a thing as just war. The hard part is that we often believe that violence is just more because of our own pride than reality.
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"Turn the other cheek" was an admonition to bear insults, not a call to pacifism. Then, as now, a slap in the face signfied an insult.
If Christ meant us to be pacifists, he wouldn't have commanded, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one (Luke 22:36)."
Is there a ministry where we can donate guns to Nigerian churches? Sort of like the NRA's appeal in 1940 to donate guns for the British home guard?
It appears that Nigeria's brave Christian community has not been sufficiently dhimmified as some others in the world have, in particular the Middle East.
The Lord Jesus' blessings and love to our Nigerian brohters and sisters.
At ancient times, only the right hand was used to beat servants.
"But whoever strikes you on the right cheek..." is a master beating the servant standing behind him, his right hand hitting the right cheek of the servant.
... turn the other to him as well." (Mt 5:38-39)
This means that if you have been beaten, turn around and face the opressor.
Protecting oneself with force is a Christian thing to do.
Odo of Bayeux (note the club to prevent the effusion of blood).
Leonidas Polk, C.S.A.
Anthony Bek, archbishop of Durham. He fought for Edward I, and even had his own army.
But Leonidas Polk wasn't Catholic. ;-)
. . . you know what they say, when the frontier went west, the Baptists walked, the Methodists rode horseback, the Presbyterians took the stagecoach . . . but the Episcopalians waited until they invented the Pullman car!
If men fight and hit a pregnant woman and her child is born prematurely, but there is no serious injury, he will surely be punished in accordance with what the womans husband demands of him, and he will pay what the court decides. But if there is serious injury, then you will give a life for a life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise."What's being referred to by the Lord is between two freemen and was regarded as an insult. The Lord is saying that we shouldn't return insults. He isn't saying that we should allow ourselves to be seriously injured or killed; a slap to the cheek doesn't do that.
If a man strikes the eye of his male servant or his female servant so that he destroys it, he will let the servant go free as compensation for the eye. If he knocks out the tooth of his male servant or his female servant, he will let the servant go free as compensation for the tooth."
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