Monday, December 10, 2007


Here's why I'm torn on nonviolence.

Most of you have probably seen the stories about the two shootings in Colorado churches yesterday. The shootings were stopped by a security guard shooting the gunman, most likely preventing the further loss of life.

So the question is: Does act of preventative violence justify the death of a man who most likely would have killed many people at that church? And if the death of one man that prevented the deaths of dozens is ok, is the death of thousands to prevent the deaths of millions morally acceptable?

Or should Christians simply accept that the world is a violent place and attempt to non-violently react in the best way possible? And what about Christians in America who are protected on a daily basis by the violent acts of police men and women?

This is why I'm torn.


Anonymous said...

I am torn on this too....the question that is with me is why did the church security guard have a loaded gun?

I am left kind of speechless about yesterday as a whole.

Brian said...

A friend of mine works at the YWAM Base where the four people were shot (two killed), and having worked with YWAM for 11 years, I feel for them so much at this time. Having said that, I can't justify shooting the gunman. Restraining him, yes. Killing him, no.

I was stunned to hear that the church retained an armed guard, although many will now say that it was for just this type of occasion, but if Jesus had started a church, I don't think he would have had armed protection. He didn't approve of Peter using his sword to protect the group.

If our treasure is not in this world, why use force to protect it? Even the loss of life is not the end for believers, and if we believe that we are in God's hands, then any loss is only temporary.

But I haven't personally experienced such an event. Maybe I'd think differently if I had.

gavin richardson said...

since this isn't all over the news today, which i thought it might be. the guard was a congregation member. she was activated, along with others (i assume) because they had heard of the YWAM shootings earlier in the morning/night. they had an organized security force due to other church violence reasons. so maybe their actions are preventative.

our augustine relation of just war could be considered here. they didn't go out looking for, this was completely defense oriented. this is simple marks of "just war"

it doesn't make it any easier. someone was hurting that they sought out to hurt others. why couldn't the church help prevent that hurt?

my heart breaks for all that are involved. shooter & the innocent victims of their hurt.

i do not look forward to hearing about various uses of this as an example of why we need loose gun laws for citizens to protect themselves. i see that only promoting a future where anyone is judge jury & executioner. or maybe we are already there.

to claim a full pacifism is tough. partly because we are so ingrained to protect what is ours. to protect our safety. i thought it eerie that there were all these large gun toting police men around the new life church to give sustained feeling that people are now safe.

can the implement that sustained the terror really be the same implement that brings peace? or is it the hearts of the person that are the difference?

Justin said...

What if everyone in the church ran towards the man, insisting that he shoot them first?

I think we too often see something like this and see no other way of stopping the killing. I just wonder what it would look like if all believers were completely willing to lay down their life. It might have resulted in more deaths, but it also has the opportunity to result in redemption, forgiveness, and true peace. We believers believe in the Resurrection. Death isn't the end of ends. Its terrible. Its sad. But if we love every person like Jesus does, we should be willing to do everything possible to stop something without violence, even if that means losing our life.

Jonathan said...

Not that I'm arguing against Jesus setting a clear example of nonviolence, but the case of Peter's sword isn't a slam dunk in and of itself in my opinion. Jesus' explanation in his rebuke of Peter was predicated on knowledge that it was God's will that he be delivered to the authorities.

This situation makes we wish for more effective means of non-violent restraint.

Snapshot said...

Autopsy results show the gunman killed himself, but was injured by the security woman with the gun first. She was activated after the first shooting in another location and after the mall shooting of last week. Security shouldn't be needed in churches but when things like this are happening, especially when it's a large congregation, it's not such a bad idea.

As for shooting the gunman, you will never know what you would do until you are in the situation. But regardless, this woman did what she felt she should to save the lives of innocent people. And lives were in fact saved and the killing ended.

Non violent restraint sounds great and wonderful and highly spiritual until you are faced with reality of a gunman randomly killing people. Then saving innocent lives looks far more noble.

It's one of those situations that I feel requires lots of prayer and mediation. Pleading with God to help you understand His will should you ever be in the same situation.

judy thomas said...

You don't ask easy questions, do you? For my answer, I would have to picture my grandchildren in the line of fire. How about Kinsey and Connor?

jim voorhies said...

This is a hard one. To bypass a commandment against killing or to protect those you love. You don't always ask the easy questions. Justin's idea seems awfully idealistic at first but there is a draw there and a wonder. The pragmatist and cynic in me says that more would have died but if the alternative is to bring guns to church...

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