Francis posted an interesting screed this morning on having the courage to name one’s enemies. It got me thinking, as his posts often do. Tom Kratman has explained to me on more than one occasion that pacifism is moral cowardice. If you are unwilling to fight for your beliefs, if you are unwilling to confront evil, how can you call yourself good? This was one of the reasons I abandoned the Seventh Day Adventist church to swim the Tiber, as it were. Adventism preaches pacifism, and though there have been those Adventists like Desmond Doss who absolutely could not be described as cowards, the ideology as a whole comes uncomfortably close to it. Even Desmond’s heroism and sacrifice meant that someone else had to do the fighting. In other words, a nation full of nothing but Adventists would be conquered in short order.
In this sense, pacifism requires a sort of freeloading in order to exist. Someone must fight so that you do not have to fight, or else evil walks in the front door, kills you, takes your stuff, and your pacifist ideology goes extinct. History gives us a few examples of what happens when pacifism exists without someone willing to fight on its behalf, including the story of the Moriori.
Francis took issue with David French and the man’s constant bleating about Trump’s supposed disobedience of Christian morality because Trump names his enemies, and fights his enemies in the political arena. Pre-Trump, this trait was relatively rare in the Republican party. Most members were content to play the game as gentlemen, secure their sinecures, and fill the role of polite opposition to the Democrat party. A role, it should be noted, that suited men like David French well enough.
Now for one, I think it’s a mistake to ascribe “Christian values”, especially those derived from an Evangelical line of thinking, to Donald Trump. It’s silly when Trump supporters cast him as a being a gift from God or something. And it’s silly from the other side, when the Frenchies of the world disparage him because, in their mind, he’s not a good enough Christian. But more importantly, the notion that Trump defending himself from a barrage of media and political attacks is somehow immoral is idiotic at best, and cowardly pacifism at worst.
Consider what a regular person would do when accused of a crime. Would he defend himself from the accusations? If he knew himself to be innocent of the charges, and suspected his accusers knew likewise, would he not regard the accusers as his enemies? And if they were his enemies, trying to railroad him for personal gain, is he not permitted to say so? Is the Christian supposed to sit idly by and allow himself to be unjustly tried and sentenced? Why?
If the answer is “because Christ did”, you might want to rethink that. Christ had a higher mission that required sacrifice, to save humankind from its own mistakes. To knowingly sacrifice yourself for the good of others is a great and noble trait. This is not the equivalent of pacifism, however. If Trump did not fight his enemies, and let himself be defeated by them without a fight, what good is he doing? For who or what is he sacrificing himself? For the peace of mind of talking heads on CNN? For the sensibilities of Leftist politicians? For the aid and comfort of his enemies? That’s not Christ-like in the least. It’s stupid, though.
Christ’s exhortation to “Love your enemies,” in the theological lexicon of First Century Judea, simply means to regard them as children of God like yourself. You are not to wish them harm, nor to harm them by any action you can avoid. But if you must fight them for a good reason, you do so.
Love your enemies is not an exhortation to allow yourself to be conquered, enslaved, or murdered by them. It is, rather, to regard them as human, like yourself. When you regard your enemies as less than human, you become like them. You become what you hate. Tom Kratman has explained that your enemy will learn from you. If you do [some horrible thing], he will likewise do it to you, sooner or later. If you must fight, then fight. Sell your cloak and buy a sword. But never forget that your enemies are human, too. They are children of God, also. He may be your enemy, but after you have defeated him, it is well and good to pray for his soul, for his redemption from whatever evil was afflicting him. Consider, also, the possibility that you have been touched by evil too.
Trump has many flaws, far too many for a quick blog post. But his willingness to name his enemies and to fight them on the political stage is not one of them. That is a virtue. And David French’s virtue signalling about his moral superiority is, in fact, a vice. Christ tells us not to trumpet our works before us. Those who do good have their own reward. Virtue signalling is not required. God already knows your heart on these matters, and the opinions of the mob don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
In this respect, at least, it is possible Trump actually is more Christian than David French, at least. Not, in my opinion, that this is saying overmuch, or is even particularly relevant to politics as a whole.