Loving Enemies and Turning Cheeks

My grandfather was Mennonite, but after he emigrated, for reasons of his own, he left the “Meno’s” to hook up with the Baptists.

Perhaps there is some residual pacifist DNA in me; I have more than a passive interest in what it is that makes peace, or what things, make for peace. Maybe it’s because I see a hard knot of violence at my own core. It may be a refined sort of violence, the socially acceptable sort, but it is violence non-the-less.

Still, I see myself as a pacifist; at least in principle. But I haven’t been tested, not really. Admittedly, pacifism in principle is easy. In practice–difficult. And in consistent application, next to impossible. But there have been cases where the “next to impossible” has been eclipsed, and that, with a certain ardour.

During the Roman wars of the fifth century no one was safe. Teutonic hordes, namely the Vandals, raided and laid waste to everything in their path. Rome and Roman towns and villages as well as monasteries were all razed along with any humanity within reach.

During one such raid, the story goes, a Warrior-chief rode up to one solitary monk who had decided not to flee his monastery. The Warrior-chief said, “Do you not know who I am? I am the man who can drive my sword through your heart with out blinking an eye.” And the monk responded, “Do you not know who I am? I am the man who will let you drive your sword through my heart without blinking an eye.”

Regarding violence, is there any other avenue open for the Christian other than loving enemies and turning cheeks?


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *