Probably My Last Reply to Steve Hays


Steve Hays

"I've answered this argument. I've outlined how a Christian/pacifist/FreeMarket society can incentivize criminals to make restitution. That page links to Biblical promises that larcenous hearts will outwardly conform to Christian ethics in a Christian society that does not depend on systematic violence to achieve its goals. "When a man's ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him" (Proverbs 16:7). Your scenario comes out of Hollywood, not the real world that God created and that Christ saves."

I take this position, which I call "pacifism":
  • Attempted murder: it is better to be killed than to kill.
  • Attempted rape: it is better to be raped than to kill
  • Attempted theft: Ex.22:3 says that someone who kills a thief in daylight should be "executed."
    • Jesus says "Give to him who asks"
    • A thief is someone who violates the stewardship God has given you over possessions which help you feed your family and exercise dominion over the earth.
    • Such a thief should be the target of "church discipline," not death.
    • It is better to be stolen from than to kill a thief.

I don't think this position has been read, much less refuted.

i) Proverbs doesn't make universal promises. It states general prudential policies, but there are many exceptions. The exception proves the rule. We should conform our actions to God's rules.
ii) On the one hand you propose a scenario in which everyone else unilaterally disarms except for the criminal element. That will have utterly predictable consequences. There's no effective deterrent and no effective means to restrain or repel them. They can do anything they please, and they will exploit the opportunity you afford them. The criminal element is also morally obligated to "unilaterally disarm." But yes, "unilateral disarmament" is God's requirement for us. "Swords into plowshares."

But disarmament is not the only requirement, and obedience all the other requirements will ensure a peaceful and prosperous society, not the dystopia which Steve pictures. There are many ways to deter crime besides death or violent vengeance. Steve is correct to point out that not all crime will be deterred (Proverbs 16:7 is not "universal"), but to repudiate God's Commandments just because our life is not a bed of roses 100% of the time is foolhardy. If we follow the pacifistic model and Commands of Christ for us, we will enjoy "the blessings of liberty."

This only happens in Hollywood movies because only in Hollywood movies are citizens as Pollyannaish as pacifists. If, in real life, enough citizens laid down their arms, utter mayhem would ensue. I think I have made an argument in the link above (here it is again, for like the 10th time) that "utter mayhem" would not ensue if we followed the pacifistic model and Commands of Christ for us.
"Would you be willing to indemnify your son by promising to compensate Mr. Asian for whatever your son takes from Mr. Asian if Mr. Asian won't skewer your son?"  
i) Even if we grant your utterly fanciful hypothetical for the sake of argument, that only works in case there's a credible threat that Mr. Asian can and will fight back, with legal force if necessary. Since, however, you actually disallow the morality of that action, your hypothetical is predicated on an assumption which your overall position repudiates Re-read what I wrote. Mr. Asian has the MaulPanata2000 crossbow aimed right at your son's heart, remote control in his hand. Your son is dead meat unless you agree to indemnify Mr. Asian for whatever your son the thief takes.

You're not paying attention, Steve.

ii) At best, moreover, your hypothetical does nothing to address more common, more realistic scenarios. There is nothing "realistic" about anything that's been said against pacifism from the first time the word "cross bow" was used. I think my suggestion (here it is again, for like the 11th time) is "realistic" and conforms to the model and Commandments of Christ for us.
"Where does the Bible say I have a right to put my stuff ahead of the life of another human being?"  
i) To begin with, the Bible doesn't confine capital punishment to murder. For instance, kidnapping is a capital offense. Juvenile delinquency is a capital offense. So is killing a thief during daylight (Exodus 22:3).
ii) Your objection is utterly disingenuous. You fixate on the stolen TV scenario, as if you were only opposed to shooting armed robbers. But, of course, you oppose lethal force across the board. The thread began with TV's at Best Buy. That was not me who brought that up. If it is better to be killed than to kill, it is a fortiori better to be stolen from than to kill. "Thou shalt not kill."
So you're like a demagogical abortionist who makes a big deal about rape, as if she thinks there should be a rape exception, when in fact she believes in abortion for any reason at any stage of gestation. Ad hominem. "Thou shalt not kill." "Love your enemies." "Give to him who asks."
iii) You continue to erect a false dichotomy between "life" and "stuff," although you've been corrected on that point. You're someone who argues in bad faith.  
People need "stuff" to live on. We're not just talking about luxury items. We're talking about TV's at Best Buy. I call that "luxury."
If you steal the livestock of an ancient Israelite, his family will starve. If you steal his farm, his family will starve. If a society puts into place the mechanisms I describe in the article I linked to (which nobody has read yet) (here it is again, for like the 12th time), you will not have MORE cattle rustlers and more "enclosures" than we've had in the last few centuries under a social theory which rejects pacifism.

We haven't even come CLOSE to debating this proposition fully.

If breadwinners can't provide for their dependents, because criminals destroyed their business, then that puts their lives at stake. Read the last two links, then we'll talk.
"I'd rather read articles -- like those at -- on how human beings can form harmonious societies without mass murder and systematic extortion."  
Pacifism is an open invitation to systematic extortion. Read the last two links, then we'll talk.
"I made a reference to the part I ellipsed by quoting Romans 13. Nothing was "suppressed.""  
You cited Exod 22:3, but ignored v2. Your citation was deceptive. I did NOT "ignore" v.2. I qualified it by linking to Romans 13 and bringing up Malachi 4:2. You're beating a dead horse, Steve. Deal with my argument instead of saying I didn't raise it.
"It's the Bible's allegory, not mine."  
The Bible doesn't endorse your blatant equivocation. Mal 4:2 is figurative. By contrast, Exod 22:2 refers to literal darkness. A reference to something "literal" can also be symbolic of something else. Like the coming of Christ.
Moreover, Mal 4:2 doesn't say that abrogates Exod 22:2. It doesn't abrogate, if fulfills. Ex 22 still functions, commanding one thing at night, and another during the day. Just like Deuteronomy 22:8 isn't "abrogated" just because everyone lives in an A-Frame house and never entertains anyone on the roof. It still applies wherever applicable. Eliminating the "night" doesn't "abrogate" the law.
"Where does the Bible make this distinction?"  
In Scripture, punishment and atonement are not coterminous. Do you really need to have that explained to you? Are you so biblically illiterate that you need a list of examples? Let's assume I am, and anyone else reading this. Is the shedding of blood in Deuteronomy 21:1-9 "punitive" or "redemptive?" How about Numbers 35:33? Explain it for us "illiterate" folks. You can do it.
BTW, priestly oversight is not a stipulation of capital punishment in Gen 9. Not explicitly, you are correct. Does that prove that the shedding of blood was not "priestly" as opposed to "civil?" No, it doesn't prove that. Noah offered "burnt offerings" at the end of Genesis 8. Priestly or civil?

My argument is that shedding blood and making burnt offerings is "ceremonial" and "priestly" and should not be repeated in the New Covenant, given that Christ has High Priest has shed His blood.

What you said is factually correct, but argumentatively irrelevant.

"Are you saying Jesus commands me to love MY enemy but I'm not commanded to love my neighbor's enemy? Seriously?"  
You can't simultaneously "love" the child rapist and love the child he's in process of raping. If you refuse to restrain the rapist by any means necessary, you're treating the victim hatefully. Your duty to love the rapist is the duty not to kill him. It's the duty to treat him as your own son. You would use not "any means necessary" to stop your son from raping, but any non-violent and loving means to stop him. In short, if you obey Christ, and love your enemies, you are a pacifist.
"I think I've already explained why the Bible prohibits 'national defense.'"  
The question at issue is not whether you oppose national defense. As a pacifist, that's a given. The question at issue was what you said after I said:

"If it is wrong for you to engage in the violent overthrow of a government (and it is wrong), why is it OK for you to 'vote' for someone to destabilize a government by funding terrorists, or by directly staging a violent coup?"

For the obvious reason that citizens of one state aren't subject to another state. Moreover, national defense may require destabilizing a hostile state.

This is another example of how you negate clear commands of Scripture. Jesus said "Love your enemies," but you say "I don't have to if he's threatening me (i.e., being my enemy)." Romans 13 says "Be subject" to evil governments, and you say "Not if I want to overthrow them or kill all their soldiers."

The Bible says it is better to be taken captive and enslaved than to not love your enemies (i.e., kill invading soldiers). Here.

The question at issue is your misuse of Rom 13. Explain how I'm misusing "be subject to the powers."
"Go ahead a link to some evidence."  
It's not my job to do your research for you. Consult standard, up-to-date commentaries on Acts. I've consulted enough sources to be convinced that "Asiarchs" were part of the pagan religious polis, and I'm glad it fell into the dustbin of history. I'll bet you can't even tell me how this issue is relevant to the "pacifism" debate. You just like to argue. (So do I. I'm trying to repent.)
In addition, Kevin is too clueless to realize that a prohibition against extortion and blackmail is hardly equivalent to a prohibition against violence in general. His prooftext (Lk 3:14) falls woefully short of what he needs. I think I've raise a compelling argument. A nation that invades another nation and puts it under "tribute" is engaged in a systematic "shakedown" of violent extortion that violates Biblical moral standards. That's a huge point with vast international and foreign policy implications. Your response is bird poop on the windshield of moral and political philosophy.
"I talked about someone (call him Smith) who believes someone (call him Jones) might possibly murder someone in the future, based on Jones' past conduct. Smith has a responsibility to others, but has no right to kill Jones."  
You concoct a wholly unrealistic scenario in which Smith should hire a private security firm, out of pocket, to protect Jones. Labeling the idea "unrealistic" is not probative. "Love your enemies" has been called "unrealistic." Letting your enemies torture you to death might be called "unrealistic." Jesus was so young, after all. He could have done so much.

If not "out of pocket," then society should create 501(c)(3) organizations to help (in a non-violent, loving way) those who bear responsibility for children or others who are criminally disposed.

Keep in mind that, as a pacifist, you've disarmed the security firm. Bodyguards who "witness" to the murderer as he's in process of killing Jones. Or form a human barricade.
"Where is the Biblical argument that you have a right to kill someone in order to save your own life?"  
i) If there's a right (indeed, obligation) to kill somebody after he sheds innocent blood (e.g. Gen 9:5-7), what makes you think there's no right to kill somebody who's about to shed innocent blood? If anything, preventing the evil is better than punishing the evil. There is no right, and no obligation to shed the blood of someone who kills. I've made the argument here and more lengthy here. Still, after thousands of words, haven't heard an effective engagement with that argument.
ii) And, once again, you argue in bad faith by disregarding the link between self-defense and defending others. A breadwinner defends his dependents by defending himself. A caregiver defends his charge by defending himself. The lives are linked. "bad faith," huh.

I've said repeatedly that when Jesus said "Love your enemies," He included under the label "enemy" a total stranger that's assaulting someone else, who may be known to you or another total stranger. A pacifist opposes all violence, and assumes a responsibility to deter or prevent violence (in a loving, non-violent way). Excuse me for suspecting you are the one who is not arguing in good faith, but just arguing for the sake of arguing, and doing so simply by insulting me.

"But why reach for something with the intent to KILL instead of reaching for something that will gently put the assailant to sleep?"  
You're making the gratuitous assumption that when, say, a homeowner is surprised by an armed houseburgler, that the homeowner has a range of options at his (or her) disposal. You're pacifism is a fantasy. You assume that when a homeowner wakes up in the middle of the night and walks half-awake into the kitchen for a midnight snack, and encounters a threatening intruder, that the homeowner is wearing not just his Fruit-of-the-Looms, but also a shoulder holster with a loaded firearm.

In contrast, I assume that Christians follow Christ, do not kill their enemies, but prayerfully and creatively come up with more loving responses to threats.

Like these.

"I would rather be killed than kill."  
Brave sounding words by somebody who's still alive. Clearly you're not trying very hard to live by your creed. ??? More ad hominen. I do my best to live by my creed.
"I would rather follow in the steps of Jesus, who did not kill to defend Himself against those whom He knew were going to kill Him."  
That's because he came on a unique redemptive mission that required him to be killed. Irrelevant. We are commanded to follow in His steps. Just because He accomplished something by being a pacifist which we cannot accomplish does not mean we are not required to follow His pacifism.
If you're following in his footsteps, shouldn't you be dead by now?
  1. Give anti-pacifists a little more time.
  2. I'm an optimillennialist. Proverbs 16:7. We live in a less violent historical period than the first century.
"Where are the verses that say it's better to kill than be killed?"  
That's a disingenuous question, for you preemptively discount evidence that runs counter to your dogma. No, it's a disingenuous question because I know there is no such evidence.
"Where are the verses which say 'Kill another human being rather than allow the highest material standard of living in human history which you enjoy to be diminished?'"  
Which illustrates your chronic bad faith. The question at issue isn't mainlining the highest material standard of living, but the preservation of innocent life. It's about both, which illustrates your bad faith. It's about TVs at Best Buy and it's about whether we should kill or be willing to be killed. It is not about trying to preserve innocent life. Both sides agree on that, as you must surely know. The issue is whether we can intentionally kill someone to preserve innocent life, or whether we are morally obligated to find a more loving solution.
"So you're not doing a very effective job of persuading me I have a Biblical duty to kill rather than be killed."  
It was never may objective to persuade you. You misconceive your role in this drama. You're just a foil. The straight man. Talk about "bad faith."
"More empty invective, more evidence you aren't intelligently engaging my arguments."  
To the contrary, when I say On the one hand you have armed evildoers. On the other hand you have pacifists with foam baseball bats, that's exactly what your position reduces to if it were implemented.  
You lack the intelligence to follow through with the logical implications and practical consequences of your position. I ask the participants in this thread if the last two sentences are a philosophically effective and morally responsible refutation of my pacifist proposal (here it is again, for like the 13th time).