By Keith Pavlischek
When Paul Ramsey retold the parable of the Good Samaritan asking, “What do you imagine Jesus would have had the Samaritan do if in the story he had come upon the scene when the robbers had just begun their attack and while they were still at their fell work?,” he was not merely concerned with asking what Christian love required of the individual, but what the implications were for the responsible political use of force.
As we saw in my last post, Ramsey rejected the notion that “nonviolent direct action” of some sort was always “qualitatively more righteous than the use of force.” Once you decide that you would be complicit in the evil if you were entirely passive, and once you decide that charity requires action, it is difficult to see how it is more charitable to the victim to pursue an ineffective nonviolent strategy than an effective violent strategy. As Ramsey says, “if one judges that not to resist is to have complicity in the evil he will fail to prevent, then the choice between violent and non-violent means is a question of economy and in the effective force to use.”
Now, many pacifists, despite attempts–and I would say delusional attempts- to pay homage to the notion that “nonviolent” action is always effective or would be more effective if we just tried harder, have become sufficiently realist to recognize that nonviolent direct action just isn’t that effective in the face of great evil. That’s why you will find many pacifists retreating from their pacifism to support, or at least not object, to things like armed “peacekeeping missions,” as long as they are run by the United Nations.
That’s why it has become fashionable of late for pacifists to make a distinction between the use of force or violence by a police force, which they say is permissible, and the use of force and violence by a military force, which is not. The former, we are told may be something the Christian can and should support, and perhaps even participate in, while the latter is impermissible for the Christian.
Read more here.