A dear friend of mine who lives in the Land of the Lost located near Hollywood, CA called me the other evening and opened the conversation with a contrite preamble: “I have to apologize in advance, but I’m going to see “The Book of Mormon.” I told my friend, a screenwriter who is also a guest blogger on ReaganGirl.com known as “I Scoticus,” not to worry. I said that I don’t know anything about the play, I’ve never given it an iota of my attention or concern, and that he can attend any play he wants to. I suppose you could say that during an exchange in which I could have become defensive, accusing, the victim of a pop-culture monstrosity, I simply turned the other cheek. After all, the existence of the play, “The Book of Mormon” does not affect my faith, my goals, my personal inspiration, or my power to articulate Mormonism in any way. It makes no difference to me. The writers of the play, the theatergoers, everyone has the God-given right to view it, enjoy it, be offended by it, walk out, or laugh their little heads off.
Mormons and other Christians find themselves in a unique position in 2012. Abroad in North Africa, Indonesia, and other countries Christians are persecuted and killed by Muslims following the dictates of their religion to either convert or kill those who do not worship “Allah.” A convert from Christianity to Islam is rare, and so blood and injustice flow through those regions. There are a few Muslims who prefer the God of Love to the god of “slay the infidel,” but for those converts to Christianity, their baptisms brings with them a bounty on their heads. Nevertheless, Christians endure. Christians will flee their homes to avoid bloody war. And most will give up their lives before they give up their faith in Jesus Christ. The Christian cheek has been bloodied by Muslim extremists, Atheists, secular governments, the United Nations, pop-culture, and in the case of Mormons, other Christians. But they continue to bear with dignity the indignities of institutionalized blasphemy and slander.
What is it about the Christian character that gives them the patience to endure endless insult? I believe it is the nature of Christianity itself, the faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of the world that affords the persecuted a measure of forbearance. After the attacks on our embassies in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and elsewhere, a stream of thought wove its way through the blogosophere that asked these questions: “Where are the Christians rioting, burning and murdering in protest of the exposition of “Piss Christ?” “Where are Mormons running rampant and screaming “blasphemy” while a play that derides everything about their faith tours the country to sell-out crowds?” The answer is, it is not in the Christian nature to react with violence because their faith is a source of utter confidence and security. They need only to turn to God in prayer to seek comfort, direction, and strength. The God of Love calms the afflicted and raging heart. The understanding of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, its cleansing power and saving grace, is a source of constant psychological refuge, a haven of peace to which the Christian may turn at any moment. There is a truism familiar to teachers that says the bullies on the playground are the kids who secretly lack confidence, who have poor self-worth, who are insecure, and whose lives lack a refuge of love and understanding. As a world religion, Christians are the secure kids on the playground who are almost always bullied and derided by the kids whose hearts have no security or peace, and whose homes are places of brutal punishment with no liberty to act and no love.
Matthew 5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Chapter 5 of Matthew, the Sermon on the Mount, is a dissertation by the Lord Jesus Christ that lays out a new set of rules for the practitioners of the Law of Moses. Jesus Christ did not come to destroy the old Law, but to fulfill it. In this sermon He finishes His Gospel with a varnish, not of passivity, but of emotional maturity to be employed in both personal and group interactions.
The Judeo-Christian ethos of “the worth of a soul,” that being that all human beings are children, the divine offspring in spirit, of Heavenly Father, justifies the central idea in the Declaration of Independence; “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Creator who endowed us with our rights to life and agency, as a matter of reason, also endowed us with the right to defend them. Too many view the Christian commandment to “turn the other cheek” as a submission to violence, unrighteous dominion, or governmental oppression. That is not the case at all. It is a directive to refrain from retaliation. Self-defense is implemented through respect for the Heavenly gifts of life and human agency. Retaliation is a vengeful, mindless, random act of rage perpetrated in reaction to a perceived or actual attack. Personal self-defense is not retaliation, and our national wars ware designed to eliminate threats and to disarm enemies, not as revenge or a form of “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth.”
Matthew 38: Ye have heard that hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40: And if any man will sue at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
America’s history of using our military might as a force for defense and liberation bespeaks the Lord’s admonition to offer a cloak of comfort and warmth to one who may be regarded as our enemy. Germany and Japan after World War II were in ashes, their people starving in unspeakable suffering. When the threats they had posed were eliminated our treasures and humanitarian agencies went into those countries and rebuilt them, fed the people, and rescued them a second time from the consequences of totalitarianism. Our American approach fit the dictum of Christ to persuade strangers and enemies not by force, but by love unfeigned.
2 Corinthians 6: 4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses. 5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned.
Today Christians peacefully endure bloody onslaughts from the Islamic world. We are directed by our God not to retaliate, but self-defense against the unenlightened and barbaric groups–whose god directs them to butcher unbelievers, apostates, and sinner wholesale–that perpetrate violence against Western nations simply because we are free, self-determinant, and comprised mostly of Christians and Jews, is imperative. We have a grave responsibility to defend our lives, our culture, our institutions, and our precious faith against the evil and inhumane wave of Islamic fanaticism now washing across the globe.
As the individual has a sacred stewardship to defend his life and liberty, to the death if necessary, the United States of American has a sacred stewardship to defend her borders and her people against Jihad. Turning the other cheek does not mean offering up your neck to be severed by barbarians. Peace Through Strength. Safety Through Vigilance and Preparedness, and the Willingness to Strike when Threatened.
by Marjorie Haun 9/30/12