When is someone called to Christian martyrdom and when is someone called to defend the innocent?
Sometimes there are no easy answers. It’s also a fact, that one-size-fits-all is rarely true. I am not a pacifist, but I refuse to condemn Canon White and his fellow Christians for their own principled stand to be as lambs to the slaughter.
I thought of this while reading John Zmirak’s piece in Human Events, “‘Vicar of Baghdad’ Unarmed on the Front Lines, Standing Up to ISIS.”
He tells of hearing Canon Andrew Wright describe the plight of fleeing Christians.
Perhaps it was tasteless of me, but I wanted to know exactly why they are so defenseless. I have Lebanese friends, so I realize that not everywhere in the Middle East are the Christians helpless scapegoats for Muslim aggression. I raised my hand and asked: “There are Shiite militias and Sunni militias and Kurdish militias…. Why aren’t there Christian militias, to defend people like you and your parishioners?”
Canon White nodded thoughtfully, “I have heard this question before, especially from Americans. I’m afraid that the people of my church would be deeply offended to hear you say that. They would answer that as Christians they believe in peace, that all they ask for is to be left to live in peace. They have no wish to fight against anyone.”
My stomach dropped. People who can defend themselves and their families from harm, but refuse to fight out of some misguided principle, are almost impossible to help. Pacifism is simply the perverse, flip side of militarism
I do not agree with John Zmirak when he writes: “Any position that asks that you passively watch your spouse or children be raped, enslaved, or killed is intrinsically antihuman.”
Was the Father in Heaven “antihuman” when he watched His perfect Son, Jesus, tortured and murdered? No… it was the most pro-human moment in history—the Creator, Himself paying the penalty for human sin, and making eternal union with the Father a reality.
I will not call the Canon’s position sin, just as I would not begrudge anyone who chooses to defend the innocent with lethal means.
I end as I began: Sometimes there are no easy answers. But I leave Christians to provide their own answer, as guided by God’s Spirit. Throughout history the answer has not always been the same for every Believer in every circumstance, and it is not today.
May God have mercy on Canon White and his fellow believers.