The Virtue of Violence

In the church, our unity and peace can only be as deep as our theology and our obedience. Out of the church, there is no peace, can be no peace, and shall be no peace. Christ brought a sword to cut families in half, far be it from us to say he came bringing peace among men!

It is true that he came to bring peace between God and the elect, but peace between the world and the chosen? Hardly. Peace with the world is enmity with God. You will not have peace with the world if you will have peace with God. You may want something to do with peace, but peace will have nothing to do with you. We forget this today in an ironic twist of fate. At the inception of the church, people did not wear crosses; crosses wore people.

The truth these words paint find stony ground in hearts because we forget the virtue of violence. Being a good Samaritan demands violently killing if the situation demands it. Extreme love will use extreme measures to protect life.

Life is worth defending, with life itself.

To condemn war, is really to condemn life itself, for the essence of human life does not permit itself to be measured and assessed like beans in a bean counter, or quantified by some kind of super computer.

This is why we humans have such difficulty when reality hits home in movies like Black Hawk Down. Here, one man is allowed to die, because attempting to rescue his life cannot be justified at the expense of losing untold numbers of others. Yet, paradoxically, we also find the inverse phenomenon in Saving Private Ryan, where numerous men lose their lives, all for the sake of one boy, simply because he is the last living boy his parents have.

Life is a paradox, and cannot be quantified, qualified, limited, or delimited. It cannot be measured, nor dissected. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Living God, has declared that human life is so important, that the entire breadth of a man’s commodities are not enough to pay if he were to unjustly take another man’s life. The highest earthly good one has is one’s own life. And this is what is demanded for payment, by the Living God.

Al Mohler rightly observes that to remove capital punishment is to decrease human value and dignity. For demanding anything less than human life as the penalty for destroying life, is to cheapen the value of life. To uphold capital punishment is to uphold the noble idea that life is of the highest value. Besides, with matters like these, I never find compelling the arguments from people who justify the cruel destruction of unborn lives, while turning around and attempting to argue for a supposed high value of life elsewhere. Such behavioral inconsistency should cause thoughtful Christians to reconsider any such moral argument against capital punishment.

To eliminate war, is to eliminate life. That is, war will always be necessary in a fallen world. As Christians we look with great expectation to the Reign of Peace by the Prince of Peace himself. But this age is not yet over. To eliminate war is to eliminate the high calling of protecting life, with the threat of life. If life is not worth protecting with life itself, then abolish war. If life is not worth protecting with great violence, then abolish all weapons. If the value of life is so meager and paltry, that no risk, no pain, no suffering is worth paying for the price of life, than in time many may find life not worth living.

Is death really so terrible a thing? A Christian could never so so, for us death has been tamed, the sting is now gone. Prudent Christians, and prudent people everywhere, will bear in mind that it is not our choice whether we shall have war or peace, it is only our choice how we shall great her ugly face, when she comes knocking on the door. As the Culture of Death spreads its toxic indifference to human life, Christians everywhere must be prepared to give an answer.

Taking life is good, bringing glory to God. For often times, taking life is the only way to protect it.

For Further Discussion:

Albert Mohler on: Should Christians Support the Death Penalty? (audio-MP3)


The Reformed Conservative aims to reunite gentlemanly virtues with scholarly conversation. Standing in the great Reformed and conservative heritage of thinkers like Edmund Burke and Abraham Kuyper, we humbly seek to inject civility into an informed conversation, one article at a time, bringing clarity out of chaos.