Over the centuries of Christianity there has been an internal debate about whether or not Christians are required to be pacifists. Some have said, for instance, that it's wrong to be a Christian in the military. This was put forth in the early church. Others argue that Jesus said, "All who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matt 26:52), so we must not bear arms. On the other side, they point out that the early church opposed Christians being in the military because being in the military in their day meant mandated idolatry, and Christians are certainly not to be idolaters. And when Jesus said that those who take up the sword will perish by the sword, He wasn't warning about the sword, but simply reiterating God's command that "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His own image." (Gen 9:6) If God's standard was pacifism, then He wouldn't commend the authorities having swords (Rom 13:4) or tell Christ's followers to carry them (Luke 22:36). Well, I have good news. I'm not going to solve that argument for you. I'm writing here about the new pacifism.
"I think it's a shame," a dear Christian sister told me, "that Christians harm others with their words." Now, of course, I could agree with that. Harming others is not a good thing to do. I could agree until she clarified. "It's wrong to say that their particular behavior is a sin because it hurts their feelings." Welcome to the new Christian Pacifism. We are being told and we are taking in, drinking up, and converting to this argument that Christians should not take a stand, should not hold ground, should not fight. But it's not physical fighting in view; it's ideological.
We were told this was coming. Paul told Timothy, "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths." (2 Tim 4:3-4) So today we're supposed to accomodate sin silently. Don't recognize it as sin. Don't think of it as sin. Don't even mention it. We are to think and act as if there is no error. We are to be moral and religious relativists. "Whatever you think is good." And this is touted as not merely right by unbelievers, but morally superior by Christians. The new Christian Pacifism. Don't stand for what is right.
Over against this we have the teachings of Scripture. We are warned not to be people-pleasers, but to fear the Lord (Col 3:22). We are warned not to be conformed to this world (Rom 12:2). We are told not to love the world, that is, the ways of this sinful world. "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15) We are commanded to "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 1:3) We are told to always be "prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." (1 Peter 3:15) The command is to "exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you." (Titus 2:15) Further, if it is true that those who make a practice of sin will have no part of the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10), how could we not say something? How could that be considered loving? If believers are straying down the wrong path, in what sense is it kind and considerate to hug them, pat them on the back, and encourage them to go? Why would we think that the world, in its sin, deceitfulness, brokenness, and its wish to drag all -- even believers -- along with it would be better off if we are happy about it?
There are those in the realm of Christendom that argue that we must be silent. "Jesus never said ..." is one of their favorite lines. Others are just naïve, taking as true what the world is saying. "It's hate!" they are told, and without analyzing it they nod and agree that Christians mustn't hate. And they mustn't. But they also mustn't allow the world, hostile to God (Rom 8:7), to define hate. We have the Word. It is "living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Heb 4:12) It is capable of completing and equipping God's people for every good work (2 Tim 3:17). It is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." (2 Tim 3:16) Why, if we trust God, do we then discard His Word, redefine love, discard His instructions, and cry "Peace!" when there is no peace? This is the new Christian Pacifism, but it is not biblically supportable. It is, biblically, sin. Sin does damage. And there is a solution.