Self Sacrifice – Religion and Politics

Kurt's Religion and Politics

For those keeping track, yesterday I wrote an article entitled Self Defense in which I made it plain that, as a Christian, I’m not a fan of the concept for its own sake.

That said, I also indicated when the process of protecting oneself is for the express purpose of making sure one is able to stand between innocents and those intent on evil—particularly mayhem, and even more pointedly murder—I believe it’s possible even for Christians to count keeping themselves alive, a reasonable thing.

There may be other reasons one might legitimately claim self defense to be appropriate. Certainly, if this one exists, others might as well.

The point though, is that self defense is something I believe a follower of Jesus must be able to at least marginally justify, and as a base cause, I have a hard time imagining you can.

Self sacrifice is another matter. To some degree, I think it’s reasonable for those who are among the Chosen, to have expectations of regularly sacrificing at some level much of the time.

I make the distinction between sacrifice and self sacrifice, because there seem to be a great many people who expect others to lay down at least their desires, if not their needs, and most significantly their lives.

I’m not arguing that it’s somehow faulty to have such a world view, particularly when talking about persons who claim it’s a primary tenet of their beliefs. That said, it’s wholly different to have such an expectation of another, than it is to realize one’s own need to act in unselfish ways, and do for others, things they have no reason to believe might occur.

Put simply, it’s easy to argue others should give things up, but much harder to accept that we should or must do so.

Moving on, let’s talk about making the decision to lay down some part of or all of one’s life for another.

The thing is, self defense and self sacrifice are almost inverse in how they work in my mind.

You should assume that protecting yourself is something that ought be done as an exception. On the other hand, you should accept that giving part or all or yourself away for the good of others, is a thing you really need to expect as a standard practice for yourself.

Because that’s true, yielding to others should be a practice for you in almost all circumstances. It should be in exceptional situations that you should not do so.

That doesn’t mean the best thing to do, is to give your life, your property or even your time to and for others. What it means is, you should make it your business to do what’s best for those around you.

Let me see if I can explain by giving an example.

I said in my last post, that I could imagine my performing acts that might keep me safe from harm or death due to the onslaught of another, but I made it clear that would be something that would likely require extraordinary circumstances.

In my case, because I have a son, and am the one who looks after him as a primary care giver, I consider my continuing to be around—at least for a time—to be in his best interest.

The result is, I might be prone to act in self defense if I were threatened, for my son’s sake.

So instead of being willing to lose my own life if attacked, I might even be willing to take the life of another if it appeared I had no choice.

In this case, the act of laying down my life for a person who wanted to do me harm or kill me, would be a sacrifice I was not willing to make.

It can definitely be argued a large part of the reason for that, is that I’ve pledged to be there for my son. Put differently, one might argue that I’m in a “sacrificial relationship” in which my child is the one for whom I’m laying down a part of my life.

At this point, it’s hard for me to see my way clear, in general, to forsaking that relationship. At some time in the future, or for some special circumstance (where, as an example, I could keep him alive if I were willing to die), I can see it being proper. Otherwise, that’s just not generally the case.

On the other hand, had I no child, where I won’t tell you I wouldn’t seek other options, it would be a much easier and probably more correct thing for me to be willing to give up my life, rather than to take the future of another on the Earth.

I have to admit a couple of things. To begin with, to date (somewhat obviously), I’ve never been placed in a situation where I was given the choice to take a life, or lose my own. I could’ve killed another, but that hasn’t occurred.

On top of this, a person can say he or she will do a given thing—act in a certain way—before experiencing a set of circumstances, but when you do go through them, you may find that you fail to act as you thought you would.

Succinctly sated, “There’s no substitute for being in a given moment.” As such, it’s hard to say if you’ll do as you thought you would when you get there.

I can hope I would behave as I contend, but without being in that moment, it’s more or less impossible to say for sure.

In the end though, as I say, my intention is to act in ways that’re consistent with my beliefs.

The way I view things—and have done for quite some time—unlike self defense, self sacrifice is something that I should expect to have as a part of my life on an ongoing basis. That may seem like an odd thing to say, if you have a different belief set than do I, but it’s where things are in my world. That said, there may be exceptions, or situations where a choice must be made to whom I will give myself in some regard. Hopefully this helps you to better understand my outlook, as well as those of other people with whom I hold a common core of base tenets.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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