I Can't Stop Myself


Steve Hays

"I take this position, which I call 'pacifism': 'Attempted theft: Ex.22:3 says that someone who kills a thief in daylight should be "executed.'"

Here I go, replying again.
That's a self-refuting prooftext for pacifism inasmuch as it involves the taking of life. Capital punishment. You say "capital punishment." Nice and "legal."

The Bible says "shed blood." The Bible says "make atonement." (Numbers 35:33)

The point I'm making is that the Bible says intentionally killing a thief is wrong. I'm not saying someone who kills a thief in violation of the command to love one's enemies should have his blood shed to make atonement. So my position is not "self-refuting."

"Jesus says 'Give to him who asks.'"  
One of Kevin's problems is that he will absolutize one particular command, which, in turn, forces him to relativize all the others. Both sides inevitably do this. You're absolutizing the command to "protect" or "provide" and relativizing "Thou shalt not kill" and "love your enemies." I'm trying to get above that and suggest Biblical ways of looking at the apparent conflict.
If you give away everything, you will disobey the command to honor your parents in case they require your support in their old age (e.g. financial assistance or moving them into your home). To use your own word, that's "myopic." It's short-sighted. If obedience to the commands of God ultimately -- after doing everything else -- requires me to give away everything (and you ridicule the idea only at the expense of ridiculing the very words of our Lord) then I start over, I work overtime, I do some crowdfunding, I do whatever it takes to obey the command to see that my parents are taken care of when the time comes.

Obviously I wouldn't "give everything away" without a conversation. Thieves have a duty to "be content" as well as anybody.

Likewise, you can't provide for your children if you give all your belongings to strangers. Kevin's position quickly degenerates into chaos. You assume that "witnessing" to and counseling criminals inevitably and inescapably leads to the complete and total dispossession of all my goods. That is, frankly, ridiculous. The command to "love" enemies does not include being an accomplice to sinful requests which are not in the enemy's best interests. I've been accused of not being "nuanced"; this is a pretty un-nuanced objection.

We already have chaos. See your comments on Baltimore. Those riots are not happening because pacifists are in charge. They are happening because the U.S. is a model of violence as a solution to problems, and prohibits public schools from teaching students that God says not to kill and not to steal and not to riot. They are following the Steve Hays school of ethics: "better to kill or steal to obtain my immediate objective."

"Such a thief should be the target of "church discipline," not death."  
i) There's no biblical warrant for extending church discipline to those outside the church community. Scripture doesn't begin to equate penology with church discipline. I've given the Biblical warrant.
I've shown that there is no such thing as "penology" in the Bible.
I really get the feeling that you're not reading my links.
ii) Moreover, Kevin is too shortsighted to appreciate that church discipline presupposes an inside/outside distinction: excommunication. But if pacifism were the rule, then excommunication would be unenforceable. Thieves could do whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want. I've shown how a pacifist society could "enforce" arbitration agreements to deter crime.
"A thief is someone who violates the stewardship God has given you over possessions which help you feed your family…It is better to be stolen from than to kill a thief."  
One again, Kevin is too myopic to perceive the conundrum he's generated. You can't feed your family if you allow yourself to be robbed. That violates a basic social obligation (1 Tim 5:8). I can't feed my family if that includes having a 60" HDTV from Best Buy. But exactly one chapter after the verse you cite, Paul says,
1 Timothy 6:8
And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.

You're putting abundant possessions ahead of obeying the commands of Christ.

"I don't think this position has been read, much less refuted."  
It would be redundant to refute a self-refuting position. Kevin has refuted his own position by its glaring contradictions. Sounds like an admission of my charge: you don't feel an ethical obligation to read your intellectual opponent's writings before responding to them.
"The exception proves the rule. We should conform our actions to God's rules."  
That confuses "rules" with promises. It's an elementary blunder to treat Proverbs as a promise box that makes infallible predictions if you follow the rules. Proverbs aren't prophecies. As one commentator notes: We already discussed this. I noted your objection and said "The exception proves the rule." We should obey God's rule, even if there is no absolute guarantee that obedience will turn out exactly the way we hope it will, to our benefit, with no sacrifice on our part.
"It is the in the nature of a proverb not to give promises but rather to indicate the best route toward a reward–all things being equal. We illustrate what we mean here by an examination of a commonly abused proverb, 22:6." Longman, 85.  
Sadly, many grown children do cast off their Christian upbringing. That's not an isolated event.  
"The criminal element is also morally obligated to 'unilaterally disarm.'"  
Which won't happen. I've provided a well-reasoned and factually-supported argument that a pacifist society would have less crime than a society which relativizes God's pacifist commands. I don't believe you've even read it. You certainly haven't refuted it. You just say, "Which won't happen." That's all. Just a bare naked claim.
"But yes, "unilateral disarmament" is God's requirement for us. "Swords into plowshares.'"  
The Isaian passage is an eschatological prediction. You say that as though it somehow refutes my claim or negates God's commandment. It is merely proof that you're not reading my argument. Another bare naked claim.

I've argued (and plenty of  mainstream theologians agree) that we are now in the "eschaton." The "last days" in which the Messianic Kingdom was established are behind us, and our present job is to extend the Messiah's reign, or "build" the Kingdom. "Swords into plowshares" is a command for our day.

"but to repudiate God's Commandments just because our life is not a bed of roses 100% of the time is foolhardy."  
i) As usual, we're treated to Kevin's incorrigible intellectual frivolity. He chronically asserts that opposition to pacifism means disobeying God's commands. Yet that's the very issue in dispute! He doesn't engage opponents on their own grounds. You mean I don't assume what you haven't proven.
ii) Moreover, he's too shortsighted to perceive the consequences of his own position, if carried out. If everybody except the criminal element unilaterally disarms, the result won't be something less than a bed of roses 100% of the time. Rather, you will have a sociopathic conflagration in which looters, cutthroats, arsonists, rape-gangs, &c. terrorize a defenseless community–engaging in wanton torture and destruction. There are many historical examples of this. Name one "historical example" of where Christian pacifists successfully abolished the military-industrial complex and atheistic compulsory schools, replaced swords with plowshares and atheistic schools with Christian education, and as a result you had a "sociopathic conflagration" as you describe. Name just one of the "many" you claim exist.
"Your son is dead meat unless you agree to indemnify Mr. Asian for whatever your son the thief takes."  
That hypothetical does nothing to address all the cases in which Mr Asian will be driven out of business by looters or arsonists who don't have sugar daddies to remunerate the storekeeper. It is not a real-world scenario. It is in the interests of a pacifist society to incentivize unconverted would-be thieves not to rob. I've described how that could be done, and I've provided Biblical promises which, while no guarantee of a 100% problem-free rose garden, are a clear indication of the Biblical direction we are morally obligated to pursue.
"The thread began with TV's at Best Buy. That was not me who brought that up."  
It was not me who brought that up either. It's dishonest of you to act as if that's the only relevant example. It's dishonest of you to act as if that's the only example I've dealt with. Read the links above.
"We're talking about TV's at Best Buy. I call that 'luxury.'"  
Once again, this illustrates your persistent unwillingness to argue in good faith. And it also evinces your failure to take pacifism seriously, since you duck other examples. I haven't ducked any examples. Unless you define a non-myopic trust in the promises of God as "ducking." For every example, I've offered counter-hypotheticals that show we are never forced to disobey God.
"Eliminating the "night" doesn't 'abrogate' the law."  
Mal 4:2 doesn't eliminate the night in Exod 22:2. That's just your fanciful allegorization. You haven't begun to demonstrate that Malachi has Exod 22 in mind, or anything like it. Instead, you're indulging in silly concordance exegesis, where you act as if the same word always has the same meaning or referent. Someone who kills a thief during the day was "executed" under the Old Covenant. Do you think Jesus relaxed that requirement, and said it is now OK to kill thieves during the day, or do you think it is plausible, arguable, rational and potentially Biblical -- even if you ultimately disagree with the conclusion -- that under the New Covenant, after the Sun of Righteousness has arisen, that we should have love for our enemies and faith to avoid killing thieves even at night?
Likewise, the Noahic covenant is not the Mosaic covenant. Punishment is not conterminous with atonement I've made the argument that what is called "punishment" by legal scholars in our secular age was for purposes of "atonement" in the Old Covenant. You've never even touched my arguments.

Steve Hays Cont.

"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) The child-rapist is not my enemy. The child-rapist is the child's enemy. Your fanatical attachment to pacifism forces you to be willfully dense. Christ doesn't command me to love the child's enemy. The rapist of any child is my "enemy." I'm surprised you would not concur.
ii) There's no scriptural command to treat a child-rapist as my own son. Once you agree that the rapist of a child is your "enemy," the scriptural command is to love your enemy.
iii) But even if there were, OT Jews were commanded to execute disobedient relatives. The word of Steve is "execute." The Word of God is "shed blood" to make "atonement."
iv) If my own son was about to violate a child, it would be my duty to protect the child at the expense of my son. It is your duty to love both.
v) Kevin has no "nonviolent" way of stopping a child-rapist. He has no fallback if nonviolent measures fail. He'd just stand there and preach to the rapist who's sodomizing the child. It is, as you say, "myopic" to contend that there is no possible way to stop the rape of a child, say, by pulling the rapist off the child, and shielding the child with my own body, but that there is always a way to kill the rapist, and that should be our first resort.

You violate the Ninth Commandment by saying I would "just stand there." I wouldn't "just stand there." I think you know that.

vi) Kevin is too morally blinded to appreciate that in a situation like that, the welfare of the innocent takes precedence over the welfare of the perpetrator. Our job is to guard the welfare of both. There is no Scriptural command to disregard the welfare of (which I would define as "hate") the perpetrator (which I would define as "enemy").
"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).'"  
i) One of the problems with a false position like pacifism is that it betrays the proponent into morally compromised argumentation. Despite repeated correction, Kevin continues to reduce everything to a 2-party transaction, as if it always comes down to me and my enemy. And he constantly misattributes that position to his opponents. Any rapist of any child is MY "enemy."

Now, what command did Christ give to us regarding our "enemies?"

If, however, a mugger is threatening an old lady in the park, he's not *my* enemy–he's *her* enemy. He doesn't pose a threat to me but to her. Any mugger of any old lady is MY "enemy." Anyone who mugs today could mug me tomorrow. I need to "witness" to him NOW.
In fact, if I want to play it safe, I will look the other way. I won't interfere. If you want to play it safe, you'll kill him. But Christians are not allowed to play that game. We do not have a right to "safety."
By intervening to protect her, I draw her fire. Only at that point does the mugger become a threat to me. Wrong.
Kevin can't muster the intellectual honesty to acknowledge that rudimentary distinction because so much of his pacifist reasoning would crumble if he did.  
ii) And, as I've explained on more than one occasion, defending yourself and defending another are frequently linked. There are often people who need us to survive for their own benefit.  
"Romans 13 says 'Be subject' to evil governments, and you say 'Not if I want to overthrow them or kill all their soldiers.'"  
This is a nice example of Kevin's scripture-twisting. For instance, he complains about American foreign policy. But if we're to be "subject to evil governments," then Kevin should support American foreign policy. "My country, right or wrong." He should volunteer for military service. "We must obey God rather than the generals and the defense contractors." (Acts 5:29)
Like Santayan's classic definition of fanatic, Kevin is such a zealot for pacifism that he can no longer perceive his blatant self-contradictions.  
"Labeling the idea 'unrealistic' is not probative."  
Kevin does a two-step. On the one hand pretends that there are nonviolent alternatives. And he castigates opponents of pacifism for overlooking these. When Kevin is in this mode, he acts as if he does have a practical or realistic alternative. You "pretend" that there are only violent alternatives.
When, on the other hand, Kevin is pressed, he admits that nonviolent measures may be futile. He concedes that he doesn't have a realistic, practical alternative. God demands faithfulness, not "success."
So we're constantly treated to Kevin's duplicity. He begins with false advertising by lowballing the consequences of pacifism. That's to foster the misimpression that pacifism isn't as disastrous as it seems to be. Even though God does not guarantee "success," doing things God's way leads to greater prosperity than pursuing a violent, self-centered, short-sighted path.
But as soon as he's pinned to the wall, he reverses himself and admits that he has no fallback position if nonviolent measures prove to be ineffectual.  
Like a slick salesman, he lacks the integrity to show the customer upfront what the product really amounts to. And even after his true position is exposed, he bounces right back to the throwaway line about "nonviolent alternatives." Jesus said "Take up your lethal injection."

Jesus said you must be willing to lose your life if you wish to find it.

That's the problem with defending a false position: it commits you to dishonest tactics in defending your position.  
"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."  
As usual, Kevin never thinks through the consequences of his position, if carried through. If everybody except the criminal class unilaterally disarms, you can't have 501(c)(3) organizations. There's nothing to protect financial arrangements if people refuse to fight back against the criminal element. I guess the reason I keep responding to Steve Hays in this column is because I imagine (suffer from the delusion?) that someone besides Steve Hays is reading, and might be reading my links which show a practical path to a non-violent Christian pacifist society.
Kevin operates with this compartmentalized view of pacifism, as if social institutions as a whole will be left intact after society unilaterally disarms. So it's just a case of how to deal nonviolently with isolated criminals. Everybody continues to play by the rules except for a handful of easily manageable miscreants.  
That's an imaginary abstraction with no factual basis in fallen human nature. If society unilaterally disarms, the criminal element won't be contained in a hermeneutically sealed compartment. If society follows Christ's commands, the criminal element will either repent or pretend to be Christian. There will be less violence under my scenario than we have now. I never claimed zero violence.
"Or form a human barricade."  
This is another example of how Kevin doesn't take his own position seriously. He doesn't pause for a moment to think a few steps deep.  
If society unilaterally disarms, then the criminal element has the grenades, machine guns, tanks, flamethrowers, &c. How effective will a human barricade be against what the criminal element has at its disposal of society unilaterally disarms? It's another empty gesture. Hollywood.

Right now, machine guns, tanks, fighter jets, destroyer warships, and weapons of mass destruction are manufactured by "practical," responsible, patriotic, disciplined, middle-class heads of families like Steve Hays -- not by undisciplined low-life criminal scum, who God promises will collapse under His curses. They will not prosper.

And this isn't just hypothetical. For instance, look at what happens when Latin American drug cartels become too powerful to restrain. Once the situation spins out of control, it takes a civil war to put the cork back in the bottle. And that only succeeds when a gov't hits back with all it's got. Drug cartels are the creation of anti-pacifists in Washington D.C., who don't even pretend to be following Jesus the hippie pacifist.
"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."  
Notice that Kevin resorts to stipulating that his definition is true. Notice that Steve doesn't falsify it.

Steve Hays BTW, the rioting in Baltimore, examples of which could be easily multiplied, illustrates what happens then the authorities unilaterally disarm and allow the criminal element to behave with impunity. That's what pacifism leads to in a real-world situation. The rioters are not protesting pacifism, they are protesting un-pacifistic killings by police.

If the un-pacifist killers would repent, the protesters might be silenced. I've seen reports that church leaders are meeting with gangs to restore peace. Pacifying the riots seems more sensible than resorting to violence against them.

There are more "enemies" (rioters) in Baltimore than there are non-pacifists (armed police) who might be called upon by people like Steve Hays to crush the rioters in a wave of righteous armed violence. If police decided to mow down a street-full of protesters with machine gun fire, like the Boston Massacre, to show that rioters cannot "behave with impunity," THEN you would have a "sociopathic conflagration" that hasn't been seen since the American Revolution. Every anti-police troublemaker in the country would get on a bus to Baltimore.

Pacifists have a better chance of pacifying Baltimore than soldiers and SWAT teams.

10,000 Strong Peacefully Protest In Downtown Baltimore, Media Only Reports The Violence & Arrest of Dozens

America was not based on the idea that order could be maintained by lethal force. It was built on the idea that churches and schools would teach the commands of Christ and keep Americans on the pacifist side of the spectrum.