Reject Acts of Violence and Do not Kill

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Overview

Throughout the history of monasticism, our ancestors have not fought. They rejected violence, even when it meant their own death. The monastic tradition we are a part of is unwavering in its rejection of violence. We are to be people of peace, people who stand against the killing of anyone.

Invitations to Engage

  • Meditate and examine the exceptions that you have carved out for violence in God’s love.
  • Meditate on the humanity of the Old Testament’s authors in how they did their best to understand God and violence without the person of Jesus to guide them.
  • Meditate on the ways you are understood to be a person of peace within your neighborhood, place of work, with your family, and with your friends.
  • Meditate on the ways you speak to others and how you can be more life-giving when you do speak.
  • Reflect on the ways you have been conditioned to protect the powerful, and the state. Pray to be freed from your conditioning.
  • Meditate on the ways your life may need to change to stay safe from violent people and places.
  • Contemplate the ways in which rejecting acts of violence may cost you, and those close to you.
  • Reflect on any of your possessions that can be used for violence, and pray for guidance in getting rid of them.
  • Meditate on the language you use and work towards excluding violent phrases from use.
  • Reflect on how your vocation aligns with rejecting acts of violence and not killing.
  • Reflect on ways that you live that may result in the death of others (now and in the future), and on changes you can make.

Explore

The way of Jesus is to carry our cross. A cross implies and assumes that we will accept, in our flesh, violence and death. This is in stark contrast to inflicting acts of violence and death. In the millennia since Jesus, many theologies have been constructed that condone and support violence. Our posture as Urban Monastics is not to enter into those theological arguments. We place ourselves within the monastic tradition of the church, which has always rejected the use of violence and the killing of others.

Each one of us is a child of God: a God who is love. Each one of us is called by God to be People of Peace. Peace is not built or sustained through violence, or the threat of violence. We understand that peace through violence is only ever a pause in violence. Peace that rejects violence for love has a chance of lasting. There is no space for violence in the fruit of the Spirit and the descriptions of love in 1 Corinthians 13. For all that remains for us is faith, hope, and love. The greatest of these is love. Only love can extinguish hatred and anger. It is only through love that we discover and dwell in God’s peace.

It is love that empowers us to let go. Letting go of the notion that we can call on the violence of others to protect ourselves. Instead, let us speak clearly as we reject the violence and killing that ravages the bodies of our neighbors. Every person is a child of God that God loves. There is no one beyond the mercy, blessings, and love of God. There is no one so wicked that they are beyond hope of redemption. No one will wake up today without the love of God waiting for them with great anticipation.

There is nothing more contrary to the reality of God’s love than violence. Being like Jesus means we cannot act violently, kill, or endorse either. We are invited to a life that rejects the cowardice and weakness of violence, killing, and acting in self-defense. May you see the truth of these acts clearly through the eyes of the Spirit.

There are implications for our vocation. This rule prohibits us from work that expects you to use force, violence, or to kill a person. You cannot be a monastic and act violently, or take the life of another person. You cannot be a monastic and direct or instruct those who are expected to use violence or kill another person. Your vocation must be free from this.

Meditations on this Rule