Fighting Back – Must We Always Turn the Other Cheek?

When do Christians fight back? Many are asking that question after the horrific beheading of 21 Christians in Libya, followed by the kidnapping of more than 200 Christians in Syria.

Some continue to believe that Jesus enjoined us not to fight at all. That we must always turn the other cheek.

I prefer to listen to Andrew Grills, formerly an Anglican chaplain with the Australian Defence Force, who witnessed monstrous atrocities by the Indonesian military against Christians in East Timor.

“There was a house only 30 meters from the fort where I worked for seven months,” he wrote. “It was called the kissing house. Timorese Christian girls would be taken from their homes by Indonesian militia, raped, then taken out and shot.

“If you are a Christian pacifist, you will not lift a finger directly to help people who suffer like this. And if you do encourage a peace-keeping force to help them then you are asking others to do your dirty work, work that you believe is immoral. Which is the greater evil?”

Another Australian, Desmond Ball, a professor at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, was a witness to atrocities against the minority Karen ethnic people in Myanmar (Burma). He actually acted on his principles. (Note that Professor Ball did not respond to my request for an interview, and I do not know if he is Christian.)

“A couple of particular guys were involved in taking large numbers of girls,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation last year. “[They were] raping them, mutilating them, and, when they’d finished with them, putting them in the bark and thatch huts and then burning the huts – burning the girls alive or just machine-gunning them.

“I was very uncomfortable with all of that and thought, ‘I just can’t go home and forget about this. I should be doing something.’ So I took my contacts with the armed groups another step forward in terms of working out operational techniques for in fact tracking down and getting rid of these guys.”

For many years he secretly made regular trips to the jungles of Myanmar to advise members of the Karen National Liberation Army – many of whom are Christians – on guerrilla warfare tactics, including the interception of enemy radio transmissions. He also instructed them on how to initiate ambushes that would inflict maximum damage on the Burmese army, while minimizing their own losses.

Now we are witnessing genocide against Christians in parts of the Middle East. Surely it is time to fight back.

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