A few weeks ago I gave a sermon at church basically outlining the Mennonite Peace stance. More specifically I said that what Jesus and the New Testament is really talking about isn’t simply a non-violence that sits on the sidelines, but rather an active non-violence that works to bring about the Kingdom of God.
In the sermon I addressed a number of criticisms that are leveled against people who hold a peace stance. One of the classic hypothetical situations that often comes up is the question, “what would you do if someone was trying to harm a loved one?” While for many people this question is asked honestly, it is not an honest question. Contained within the question are a number of assumptions that are not necessarily true. For one, the question assumes the success of any violence that would be used against the aggressor. Basically, the question assumes that if you were to wake up in the middle of the night, grab a gun and find a way to harm an intruder in your groggy state, that you would, in fact be successful in stopping the intruder. If you ask any police officer they’ll tell you that in the above scenario, you are more likely to harm a loved one than the intruder.
Another assumption within the question is that the only option is to respond with violence. Yes, you could respond to the intruder with a gun. You can also disarm them by offering to make them pancakes. The online version of The Mennonite had an article that contained the following video. It’s a first hand account from a former member of the KKK who was ultimately transformed by the unexpected, non-violent, creative resistance of an African American pastor. When people who are committed to working for peace talk about creative non-violent resistance, this is the kind of thing we’re talking about.
One of the greatest factors that fuels the culture of violence that we live in is not a desire for blood, but rather a lack of imagination in a better way. Cultivating an active imagination is essential to what it means to be follower of Jesus.