When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead,
And the White Knight is talking backwards,
And the Red Queen’s off with her head,
Remember what the door mouse said -
“Feed your head, feed your head.”
~ from the album ‘Surrealistic Pillow’, 1967
What are you feeding your head?
The more I draw closer to God, the more I find myself rejecting large portions of so-called mainstream culture. Not to mention questioning all of the beliefs and assumptions I used to take for granted. As Lev Vygotsky outlined in his various theories of child development, cultural mediation and interpersonal communication play significant roles. They influence higher mental functions, shape who we are, or at least who we think we are based on the roles prescribed for us by the dominant sociocultural paradigm. It’s the shared cultural knowledge that lets us know just what’s right or wrong, and whether or not we’ve met or failed to meet the popular ideal(s). This whole process called internalization, followed by appropriation where the individual concept of self is developed. These are all good things, because they lead to innovation, and the great historical schisms that have shaped our civilization.
Unfortunately, there’s a downside.
Right now, it’s obvious that our species is reaching a tipping point. When I look at the world, nine years after my conversion to the Christian faith, I can see that our planet is mired in madness. There are so many examples, I could go on and on, but the one that jumps out at me is our willingness to embrace a culture of violence. Admit it, we’re warriors, and we think ill of those who aren’t. The reason why we like the Klingons on Star Trek is because they remind us of ourselves, specifically, of the bygone age where being a warrior was the in thing, and skewering a guy while riding full gallop was akin to a touchdown at the Super Bowl. We like seeing it when the bad guys ‘get it’, and the good guys ride off into the sunset.
Before you start e-mailing me, I am well aware that we prohibit certain types of violence. We can all agree, murder is a bad thing, same for rape, and the like. Yet, what about the way the church has embraced the use or practice of violence over the last 2,000 years? Somewhere along the way, being anti-war and anti-violence became synonymous with being a pansy, and yet peace is what Christ taught. If that’s the case, then Christians are supposed to be the healers of this world, promoting conciliation and cooperation, and yet our voices are the loudest when it come to actions involving violence and war. Despite the fact that God says over and over again that vengeance is his (Romans 12:19), we have no problem ‘helping’ God out with that, and taking matters into our own hands.
I admit, I struggle with this in my own life. There is a significant part of me that rejoices at the thought of violence. I experience a distinct sense of satisfaction when someone ‘gets their lumps’, or I’ve been the one to dish them out. This afternoon, as I lay in bed wrestling with a bad case of laryngitis, I started wondering if my attitude was really Christian? Should I be an advocate of warfare? Of violence? Is this attitude in line with the teachings of Christ, or have I along with countless others been lulled into accepting another aspect of the Kingdom of The Enemy?
When in doubt, read the Bible, and find out.
One online concordance, and some strategic thumbing later I found the answer which is a resounding ‘no’. Christians cannot be advocates of revenge, warfare, or violence of any sort. In Matthew 5:9 we are told -
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
I admit, we live in a world where brutality is the norm, but the only kingdom where killing, stealing, and destroying is the custom is the one with the heat problem. According to scripture, the God of peace isn’t really big on that sort of thing. The willful injury or slaughter of man, is unnatural. The same holds true for oppression, subjugation, and exploitation. Yet at one point or another, all of these things have been promoted by secular and religious society.
In reality, if we really are striving towards spiritual and intellectual enlightenment, if we really are working towards being the light of the world and salt of the Earth then we must abandon the culture of violence. The Bible teaches us that ultimately Christians are supposed to be mediators promoting peace. After all, we are supposed to be bringing forth the Kingdom of God, not that of The Enemy. The same holds true for those who have been called to be leaders. Instead of using their influence to tout ‘might makes right’ as the answer, they should be working to foster reconciliation between opposing factions.
This adherence to peace applies to all aspects of a Christian’s life, because acts of violence, of any kind, are not of God. Attacking or killing a person because they are of another faith, have a different colored skin, gender, or sexual orientation is wrong. Beating your wife and kids is wrong. Heck, kicking the dog because it was lazy, and wouldn’t move out of your way is on the list too. At no point has God ever said violence was the answer to anything, and neither did Jesus. When the Romans turned up to arrest Jesus, no thanks to Judas, Peter sliced off a guy’s ear. Let me repeat that – sliced off a man’s ear. With a sword. Did Christ cheer him on? No, instead he rebuked him, and healed the very man who came to escort him to his execution.
The same sentiment applies to war. Time and time again I’ve seen bumper stickers in Anchorage claiming that we have God’s favor for whatever conflict we are involved in, and after having my eyes opened by the Spirit I disagree. This whole nation against nation bit is little more than another ploy of The Enemy, and this is especially true for conflicts based on the concept of ‘race’. We are all part of the same human family, regardless of appearance, geneticists have proven this, and to believe otherwise is both ignorant and sinful. Yet, because of those who are under this deception, we are embroiled in glorified intertribal conflict on a global scale.
That said, it is obvious – based on scripture – that a Christian must be a peacemaker. Part of our role is to teach these radical concepts to those around us, and the best way to do that is by modeling instead of simply preaching. After all, we are told in Isaiah 2:4 that when man finally abandons the warfare culture of The Enemy, and embraces the peaceful one of God he will-
“…judge between the nations, and will settle the disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more.”
Violence is not of God.
What are you feeding your head?
- RJK + EJC