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Is pacifism moral?

sherbsherb Senior MemberPosts: 6,405 Senior Member

I was having dinner at the neighbors house last night. Nice people. Anyway he was talking to me about his beliefs. He’s German Baptist, similar to Mennonites. He said that, following Christ’s example, if I came into his home to kill him, he had no right to use force to resist.

I thought a lot about that last night. Certainly it’s noble to be willing to die for your beliefs. But doesn’t this present a dilemma? Because if your principles dictate pacifism, doesn’t this mean you’re willing to let others die as well?

discuss

Replies

  • bushart1bushart1 Posts: 1,678 Senior Member

    Not sure on this as well

    We were created with a will to live

    Wonder how many Chaplains in wartime had this discussion about beliefs and killing others?

  • WetdogWetdog Senior Member Posts: 5,955 Senior Member
    edited January 17 #4

    messed up

    I find the assault on free thought disturbing,
    I find the willingness to give it up frightening.
  • WetdogWetdog Senior Member Posts: 5,955 Senior Member
    edited January 17 #5

    It is as moral as any other ism.

    I wonder about the no "right" to use force to resist aspect. That is choice depending on one's own moral code. The fact is that we each have our own despite what your moral philosophy or what religions that we may adhere to. If one can live up to their beliefs, that is noble. I applaud it even if I think that it is a misguided one or a stupid one. If one made the choice to kill and it was against ones "moral philosophy" the issue is then can they live with it? They have been talking about this since the ancient Greeks.

    I find the assault on free thought disturbing,
    I find the willingness to give it up frightening.
  • George KGeorge K Super Moderator Posts: 11,657 Senior Member
    edited January 17 #6

    Did you ask if he would defend his family or others? If he would not, I think it's a cowardly form of pacifism that relies on others to protect him, his family and property.

    An analogy would be Irish neutrality, especially during WW II when American aviators who crash landed there were interned. Ireland could safely be neutral with no armed forces to speak of, unlike Switzerland for example, because it hid behind Britannia's skirts. Things are a little murky today as Ireland's professed neutrality is not in accord with the EU's common security policies.

    The GOP big tent now is the size of a pup tent, its floor splattered with guano.
  • WetdogWetdog Senior Member Posts: 5,955 Senior Member

    "cowardly form of pacifism"

    one of those things that should be hard to live with. If you want to make a statement that doesn't endanger others lives excellent, if it does, you are deplorable. At least according to my moral code.

    I find the assault on free thought disturbing,
    I find the willingness to give it up frightening.
  • EdBEdB Senior Member Posts: 3,094 Senior Member

    Does this dilemma contribute to the terrible number of 22 veterans committing suicide daily? They had to kill regardless of their moral or religious beliefs.

  • fishingcomicfishingcomic Senior Member Posts: 26,541 Senior Member

    @sherb said:
    I was having dinner at the neighbors house last night. Nice people. Anyway he was talking to me about his beliefs. He’s German Baptist, similar to Mennonites. He said that, following Christ’s example, if I came into his home to kill him, he had no right to use force to resist.
    I thought a lot about that last night. Certainly it’s noble to be willing to die for your beliefs. But doesn’t this present a dilemma? Because if your principles dictate pacifism, doesn’t this mean you’re willing to let others die as well?
    discuss

    I believe that a peaceful option should be considered first, unless if the loss of another life is involved. Was it moral to stand by while Quadafi and Assad killed thousands of civilians? Was it moral to ignore Rwanda? What about letting the Turks slaughter Kurds? I don't think so.

    'I've spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.'" Ronald Reagan
  • sherbsherb Senior Member Posts: 6,405 Senior Member

    That’s where I’m at too

  • jbillyjbilly Senior Member Posts: 6,012 Senior Member

    I guess I’m having trouble understanding how you’d just give yourself or family up instead of fighting back.

  • tim_stim_s Senior Member Posts: 2,442 Senior Member

    @EdB said:
    Does this dilemma contribute to the terrible number of 22 veterans committing suicide daily? They had to kill regardless of their moral or religious beliefs.

    didn't any vet post vietnam volunteer?

    Fly Fishing in Maine - www.flyfishinginmaine.com
  • tim_stim_s Senior Member Posts: 2,442 Senior Member

    doing some quick reading, they are really leaning on the sermon on the mount for that belief, while there's plenty of contradictory scripture out there, too

    that's the problem with the 'extreme' sects within any religion - and extremists in general, it seems - they seem to fixate on one aspect of teachings/beliefs while discounting/ignoring other teachings/beliefs (in this case OTHER SCRIPTURE) that may contradict that very narrow belief

    but yeah, it's pretty ****........

    Fly Fishing in Maine - www.flyfishinginmaine.com
  • NZ IndicatorNZ Indicator Senior Member Posts: 12,225 Senior Member

    Maybe a second dinner is required and you can find out if his pacifism extends to letting others die.

    Maybe he's conditional pacifist that believes while violence may not be the best answer, there may be situations where it becomes necessary.

  • George KGeorge K Super Moderator Posts: 11,657 Senior Member

    @tim_s said:
    doing some quick reading, they are really leaning on the sermon on the mount for that belief, while there's plenty of contradictory scripture out there, too

    that's the problem with the 'extreme' sects within any religion - and extremists in general, it seems - they seem to fixate on one aspect of teachings/beliefs while discounting/ignoring other teachings/beliefs (in this case OTHER SCRIPTURE) that may contradict that very narrow belief

    but yeah, it's pretty ****........

    The Foreign Affairs Manual, a multi volume set that stretches for several feet on a book shelf that lays out in excruciating detail how every little thing should be done. It hovered over me for my entire career, but early on a wise supervisor pointed out that the FAM as it is called is just like scripture. First you decide what you want to do, then you go find some regulation that lets you do it.

    The GOP big tent now is the size of a pup tent, its floor splattered with guano.
  • StevenSteven Senior Member Posts: 5,083 Senior Member

    A socio-religious culture steeped in more than 2000 years of Talmudic tradition says, "Oh, h3ll no".

  • sherbsherb Senior Member Posts: 6,405 Senior Member

    @NZ Indicator said:
    Maybe a second dinner is required and you can find out if his pacifism extends to letting others die.

    Maybe he's conditional pacifist that believes while violence may not be the best answer, there may be situations where it becomes necessary.

    Based on my conversation with him, I'd have to say there's no conditions under which he would raise his hand to another. He did say he would stand between an assailant and his wife and kids, but he was pretty clear that he wouldn't meet force with force. Which means the practical effect is the same. After the assailant kills you, he moves on to your family.

    Christlike, but hard to stomach.

  • tim_stim_s Senior Member Posts: 2,442 Senior Member

    but was it Christlike? It was if you follow just one part of the Scripture, but it is contradicted in many others

    "Sermon on the Mount Christlike"

    Fly Fishing in Maine - www.flyfishinginmaine.com
  • LandoLando Posts: 266 Senior Member

    How big is his house? What kind of car does he drive? My bet is this guy picks and chooses what "Christlike" actions he follows.

    Anytime someone talks about "Christlike" behavior, I tend to look at Kanye.......

  • George KGeorge K Super Moderator Posts: 11,657 Senior Member

    See my post above.

    For every cleric who preaches "the Gospel of Prosperity" there's another who preaches about camels going through the eye of a needle. There probably still are some Catholic priests plugging "Liberation Theology". All of them cite handy bits of scripture to make their case.

    The GOP big tent now is the size of a pup tent, its floor splattered with guano.
  • ShawnC2ShawnC2 Posts: 1,694 Senior Member

    As I'm reading this, I'm thinking, "Holy hell, Lando's gonna burglarize this guy!" Then I got what your point was.

  • creekguycreekguy Senior Member Posts: 4,363 Senior Member
    edited January 20 #22

    In my life experience, people will do what they will do by instinct, regardless of any moral consideration or adopted belief system. Question, if it was a bear attacking his family, would he attack the bear? What would the J man do if it was a bear attacking his family? What if it was a man attacking his family the neighbor Knew was deranged, a madman?
    I don't want to judge the neighbor, but I wouldn't want him him on a jury judging me.

  • Buffco2Buffco2 Posts: 861 Senior Member

    I might not stop you with all the bullets I'm gonna send your way, but I'm definitely gonna scare the crap out of both of us. Guess I'm not a pacifist.

  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 6,283 Senior Member

    I've been pondering this. I suppose the "Christlike" example is that personal pacifism is moral if there's a greater good to be gained by not fighting. But I think that if you're couching it in terms of using Christ's example, you need to keep in mind a few things:

    1. Christians profess that Jesus was the Son of God, God incarnate, with the power of God in a human body. I'm not saying this to proselytize, but to point out that a true Messianic figure would have powers, abilities, and resources at His disposal ordinary humans don't have. He'd know if there was an actual threat and be able to avoid it ahead of time (the Bible speaks of this,) He would have the very armies of heaven at his disposal to take care of him when needed (the Bible speaks of angels tending to Christ when needed,) and He would, if needed, be able to avert violence through other means.
    2. While Christ talked of turning the other cheek, he did so in the context of avoiding retribution. He didn't speak out against the idea of force used by the government for criminal offenses, military force, or the Law of the Old Testament. He was directing His followers to sacrifice their pride for something greater.
    3. Related to the second point, while He was able to avert an execution of a woman caught in the act of adultery, it appears to many scholars that was more due to an unequal application of the law (the other person she was with was not also brought to be stoned, something the Law was explicit about,) and He pointed out that the teacher of the Law were using this more to catch Jesus in a trap rather than being concerned about an actual violation of the Law.
    4. He is known for taking aggressive action. Making a whip, entering the temple courts, flipping over tables, and chasing out livestock, vendors, and money changers were all premeditated actions. Some would even say violent. So it would appear He didn't have a problem with violence for the right reasons.
    5. I haven't been able to find a scriptures where soldiers were told to stop soldiering. They were encouraged to act properly, but not told to leave the military. Revelation even talks about Jesus leading the armies of Heaven in the great battle against Satan and his minions. It's doubtful this will be a peaceful battle.

    That said, while the scriptures say we should be peaceful, it also says to be peaceful as much as we can. That would imply that under certain circumstances, peace should may not be avoidable. Also, in the Sermon on the Mount he mentions being peacemakers. There's a difference between that and peacekeepers. One rolls over to allow for a lack of conflict, the other actively seeks to minimize conflicts. I think society has conflated them. I also think that trying to apply Biblical standards outside of their stated scope is bad theology. I mean, we'd fire a general if his plan of attack on a fortification is to march around it once a day for 6 days, 7 times the seventh day, then having the band strike up a tune and everyone shouting.

    While pacifism may be the default position, I'm not sure it's the only position. What if, by not fighting, you allow another to be harmed? You have, by your own inaction, allowed an evil to be perpetrated. Bible says we're held accountable for our actions and our inactions.
    What if, by your inaction, you're harmed and that will affect others? Say you're the sole source of income for your family, or you're the source of healthcare via insurance. How will your death affect your family?
    Expanding it more, what about on a national level. By avoiding conflict in Sudan and Rwanda is the US more righteous than it was when it fought WWII?

    While I guess you could say pacifism is moral you're the only one affected by your lack of resistance, I think in the real world, given how interconnected we all are, that not fighting back is more immoral than stopping evil when it needs to be stopped. I'm not saying folks are justified in seeking out opportunities to "stop evil" in some sort of vigilante head movie as Monkeydoes used to reference, not at all, but I do think that to simply roll over and die because someone is attacking you is a wrong choice.

  • NZ IndicatorNZ Indicator Senior Member Posts: 12,225 Senior Member

    @Buffco2 said:
    I might not stop you with all the bullets I'm gonna send your way, but I'm definitely gonna scare the crap out of both of us. Guess I'm not a pacifist.

    Same here.

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