Notice the cross dangling from the end of this Ukrainian protestor’s bat handle. It prompts me to ask the question that is the title of this post. Jesus and his early Church followers famously did NOT resist persecution with violence, except for Peter who seems to have been rebuked for drawing his sword. And we have the sometimes discomforting command of Paul in Romans 13 to ‘obey the higher powers,’ etc. Then again, we are told to ‘resist Evil.’ Jesus violently overthrew the money-changers, not in self-defense but in defense of that which is good. The medieval theologian John of Salisbury taught that failure to overthrow tyranny was tantamount to enabling sin.
So where does this leave us? Do we ever swing bats or shoot guns at people serving Evil? If so, when? If not, what about protecting others against whom the heavy hand of Evil is falling? For the Follower of Jesus, is violence an inherent contradiction… or a reluctant option?