Why the Revolution in Egypt Could Be Dangerous for Our Youth

Luke 6:27-36 and Matthew 5:44-45 speak of loving one's enemies and doing good even to those who hurt us. Some argue that this only applies to personal relationships, not to countries. What do we think? What might these passages have to say to us about how we treat enemies during times of war?

Mark 15:15-37 describes the abuse, torture, and execution of Jesus at the hands of the Romans. Jesus was seen as an insurgent by the Roman Empire, a political enemy of the state. He was legally tortured and executed by a recognized government. For Christians who follow a man who was tortured by a lawful government for presumed crimes against the state, what should be our response when our own government uses what they term "enhanced interrogation techniques" against suspected enemies? How do we imagine Jesus himself responding to the use of violent force against another person? How do we understand the idea of peace that Jesus speaks of in the gospels? How do we react to the argument that sometimes that peace is only achieved through violence?

Matthew 10:16-31 depicts Jesus giving instructions to his disciples to go out into the world of wolves as if they were sheep, knowing that they will face violent persecution and even death. Jesus further declares to the disciples not to fear those who may harm their bodies for they cannot harm their souls. How might this passage be heard by those engaging in protest against a violent regime? What are the implications of this passage for someone contemplating self-defense?

The end result of exploring these challenging passages in light of the events in Egypt is not to suggest proof-texting as a way to encourage youth to consider the question of pacifism and the Christian life (one could find plenty of scriptures to argue this issue in various ways). Rather, what I'm suggesting is whether we are willing to take the risk of engaging teens in an honest consideration around the question: What would it mean to live in such a way that refuses to return violence with more violence? If we live in this way in the world, how might we be transformed and how might the world around us be transformed? Is such a way of life even possible?

Of course, the dangerous answer to this question is "Yes" and your teens have only to look to the Jesus of scripture or the youth of Egypt to know this is true.

2/16/2011 5:00:00 AM
Brian Kirk
About Brian Kirk
Rev. Brian Kirk is an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and currently serves an inner-city church in St. Louis, Missouri. He also teaches as adjunct faculty at Eden Theological Seminary, and co-writes the blog