We should not assume we understand violence the way it was understood in Scripture simply because we know how to use the word in modern English.
The world today as we know it is not what God had in mind. I have no doubt He knew it was coming, but it was not what He desired for us. The world is broken; we are fallen. The ideals of Edenic Innocence no longer apply. Step by step, at pivotal points in human history, God revealed what was necessary to get the most out of this bad situation. Those portions of revelation apply to all human life, as what I refer to as Laws. Grace is another matter entirely. Though it overlaps, what we who have experienced grace and spiritual birth offer to the world is Laws as the path to entry into grace. If we don’t understand Laws, we cannot understand grace, and we cannot participate in God’s revelation.
A few people understand this. What most do not understand is the vast gulf between where we are today in our understanding of the world, and where folks were back when they were still rather close to Eden. God revealed Himself within a specific context, a cultural background which holds to a particular intellectual heritage now utterly foreign to us today — Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) Mysticism. Without embracing that context insofar as we are able, we cannot hope to understand Laws. My blather here warning people to divorce themselves from their Western roots is based on this very thing. Western intellectual roots are actively hostile to a proper grasp of God’s Laws.
So if I suggest a word study of the term “violence” in Scripture, and you approach it with Aristotelian categories of logic and epistemology, you won’t get it. You’ll find yourself trapped in one of several fractured threads of thought, all mutually exclusive, and all wrong. Violence in Scripture is understood in terms of context, not as a concept which stands alone. If you chased all the references in something like Strong’s Concordance, you might quickly realize the words commonly translated into English as “violence” are more accurately terms describing motives or the results, not the thing itself. In other words, they didn’t use the term(s) as we do. That’s because the biblical concept of violence is more about injustice.
That is, a vigorous action which brings physical harm to another is not intrinsically wrong of itself. We are smug in our modern Western world, considering it barbaric to spank children. We may put forward numerous studies showing how spanking leads to children becoming violent. You can gin up a study to prove just about anything you want when it comes to human behavioral science. The only reason kids grow up to become violent due to spanking is because their world was really screwed up in the first place, and their human development was never finished. Children who actually finish most of the tasks of human development are grateful they were forcibly restrained from the habit doing things which would harm themselves or others. In other words, as Scripture suggests, it is the failure of proper spanking which makes kids grow up to become violent.
You’ll most likely hear campaigns against spanking from people who don’t have kids. Most parents do it improperly if they do it at all. That’s because they adhere to another false notion about violence, that somehow society and the state have an unlimited grant to do violence, and call it “patriotism,” or even more asinine, “keeping the peace.” They place spanking into the same basket.
Both false views are threads of a whole tapestry of lies. If I say violence has its place in this world while calling myself a pacifist, you would call me an idiot. That’s because you don’t yet understand the proper ANE viewpoint on things. I use the term “pacifist” because folks understand what that means; I’m speaking the language of these times. If I then write several articles refining that position (as I’ve done here), that I am not a peace activist because organized political action as we know it today is always a failure, then they realize their standard definition of “pacifist” does not fit. But my actual position is closer to that than other terms I might use. It’s a way of opening the door to discussion about such things. It’s a way of unraveling the tapestry of lies.
I prefer to make peace. But peace can only come on certain terms in this fallen world. Those terms are inscrutable from the Western viewpoint. The first thing absolutely necessary is destroying the notion of the modern nation-state, the evil legacy of the so-called Peace of Westphalia. Such a construct is intrinsically evil, and the only peace involved is the silence which comes after killing everyone who wants something different from what the government has decided will be offered. It’s what we call an Orwellian abuse of the term “peace,” because the whole idea is the state has the monopoly on the use of force, and uses it generously.
The ANE culture would demand there be no state. Period. Government was required by God to be people, not impersonal structures. It must be people who are directly accountable to those they govern. Not simply held accountable out of fear of revolt, though that helps, but accountable out of fear of God. It demands accountability on that deep moral level of a good moral parent accountable for the well-being of a child. It requires severe cultural and personal character breakage to make parents willing to harm their own children. In other words, God says no one on this earth has any business directing your daily affairs unless they are bound to you by blood or covenant. The only enforcement God endorses is that of your own kin keeping you from making trouble for them or for any one else.
Who in this world is ready for such an idea? Not anybody tied to Western Civilization. Rejecting this idea is why we have so much filth in government. Step back; let it crash and burn.