“Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” In these simple but profound words, Martin Luther King spoke truth to a people in bondage. King understood that as a Christian man, he could not use hate, or violence, to destroy segregation. He refused to fight the racists with his fists. He did something braver; he fought them with civil disobedience. When the bigots came to unjustly throw him in Birmingham’s prison, King stood firm. While King was eventually killed, his beliefs and actions inspired civil rights for millions of black men and women.
Perhaps King was wrong. Perhaps killing the racist was morally correct. Maybe. I can certainly sympathize. If some mockery of a police officer let the dogs loose on me as he sprayed me with a high powered hose, I would want to get even. Worse still, if some ignorant rednecks thought it would be fun to lynch my son to an oak tree, I would want to kill every stupid hillbilly in that town. Would it be right though? Through a non-Christian prism, absolutely. However, looking at the question while believing in the Bible, it’s simply wrong.
Put bluntly, if you believe in Jesus Christ as your savior, you cannot accept killing as acceptable. It’s a fact of theology so basic that it should be put in with the existence of Heaven and Hell. Jesus preached against not only killing, but the act of violence itself. “Blessed are the peacemakers” he says, “All who draw the sword will die by the sword” he says. Jesus goes even deeper by commanding his followers to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Finally, the most descriptive Gospel verse on nonviolence is “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
As Christians, we are to love our enemies and not revert to our barbaric evolutionary ancestry of being red in tooth and claw. It takes a better man to not exact revenge. I know this is difficult. We have this comfort, however, that God himself died on the cross in our place. God loved us so much that he chose crucifixion, so that everyone may be offered the same chance to be with him in paradise. Knowing that, how can we not proclaim from the rooftops that God is love? If evil men see our example, they might be changed. Before our salvation in Jesus, we were just as spiritually dead as Hitler or Stalin. God tells us that “There is no one righteous, not even one”, so how can we judge and decide to end someone’s life? We can’t.
If we fight back darkness with darkness, or hate with hate, then how are we better than the godless man? As Jim Morrison said, we are “lost in a Roman wilderness of pain.” Out of the wilderness, only God remains. If that truth means that we can no longer bomb a nation’s children, then so be it. Don’t give in to evil, but fight it in a loving way. Following God is the only way to change this broken world for good.