Do you enjoy entertainment or attempts to entertain yourself (or your friends) that involves depictions or dramatizations of violence? Why?
I can appreciate the real-life events that led to movies like Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, and even The Lord of the Rings (LOTR). It’s gripping to witness the visual violence that movie-makers show on screen regarding historical events, even fiction brought to life from a book. It’s agonizing to see, hear, and even feel what is was like for the soldiers who landed on the beaches of Normandy, or gaze upon the evil of the Germans toward the Jewish people in World War Two. Anger wells up inside me as I contemplate what I am seeing. I recall not being able to talk for over an hour after I watched the story of Oskar Schindler and his life-saving efforts of Jews under the savage treatment of the Nazis.
Yet, I also tend to avoid movies that include graphic violence, language, and images that I do not need to see. I realized over time that it is not good for my eyes, heart, and soul to see such violence. I have seen how consistent exposure to violence, real or imagined, has deadened my ability to appreciate God’s more perfect way, which is peace. I also recognize that violence is not God’s perfect way.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians in the first century and said, “It is shameful to even mention what the disobedient do in secret.” Violence is to be generally avoided.
Yet in our sinful world, it is also necessary to confront and deal with evil and violence, sometimes with violence in return. The Allies invaded France to take on the Germans and the Pacific theater to take on the Japanese, with both nations intent on world domination. There are intended and unintended consequences to any action, and in war that often results in tremendous loss of life, destruction of property and national mourning. One result of necessary violence is that it does affect our relationship with God.
King David was a man of valor, strength of character, great accomplishment, and was said to be “a man after God’s heart.” But God denied his wish to build a temple to honor the Lord because he was a man of violence. The Lord said to him in 1 Chronicles 22:8 that since he (David) shed so much blood on the earth, that he was not to take on building a house for the Lord.
It is ironic and true that David went into battle at the Lord’s command, and violence made him a man with blood on his hands. It seems God wanted to separate the violence he ordained from His greater and ultimate plan of peace. So the task of building and completing the temple of God fell to David’s son, Solomon. His name actually means “peaceful.” Further, the location of the temple was to be in Jerusalem, which means, “city or refuge of peace.”
Read Isaiah 9:6.
Jesus is described by the prophet Isaiah as the “Prince of Peace.” He will come one day to set up His kingdom of eternal peace, where violence will no longer exist. In the meantime, I think followers of Jesus should be uncomfortable with violence of any sort, except in self-defense, and should generally avoid dramatizations of violence in social media and popular culture.
Think theologically. God’s justice will lead to final and lasting peace.
Love is a verb,
©2016 by Mike Olejarz