There are certain things in the Christian faith that I hold to be evident from the Scriptures and what we can be sure was the major part of Jesus’ teaching. The most important of these is the Sermon on the Mount, with the Beatitudes and Jesus’ most important teachings on forgiveness. For me, this along with the Golden Rule is a sufficient ethical framework for Christian life.
Because I am a Christian Anarchist, and one who above all holds peace to be paramount to all of our works as Christian people — radical peace — then all actions that I take in my life should (I hope and trust with God’s help) adequately demonstrate my commitment. All of our striving for justice, love, and mercy in the Kingdom of God we are called to inhabit find their origins in this peace that I believe in so strongly.
In my opinion, the nation/state is an entity fully and unapologetically committed to violence. Aside from the wars it fights, it’s systems have been set up to perpetuate the power of the powerful, protect the landed and monied classes, and to regulate the behavior of the poor and marginalized to ensure that they do not rise to challenge the elite classes. Because I believe that the state is the antithesis of the Kingdom, and find the state a primary perpetrator of violence, I have committed myself to participate in the mechanisms of the state as little as possible. I believe that God and not the state is the ultimate authority over us. Naive perhaps, but it is my starting point nonetheless and I am committed to where that point leads me.
The “one man revolution” that Christian Anarchism calls us to means that my decision to follow the laws of God and conscience rather than the laws of men is my own, deeply personal, and relies solidly on the teachings of Jesus summarized in the Sermon on the Mount. Here is where I believe that the laws of God as taught by Christ are most adequately summarized, and that the implied ethics of this teaching are, in fact, complete. It is a radical decision to live my faith in action deeply and honorably, but it means making decisions that people don’t often understand.
There are some ways that I am forced to participate in the systems of violence that the government creates. A primary example is being forced to pay taxes that pay for war. My goal is to continue to strive to reach a place where my income eventually falls below the threshold required to pay taxes that subsidize the systemic violence of the nation state.
There are concrete ways I can choose not to participate. I can avoid investing in government bonds. I can choose not to vote knowing that our government comprised as it is of elected individuals, is corrupted by violence. And I can avoid jury service where the government forces me to sit in judgment over another human being – a human being whose truth and story I will never really know because wealthy lawyers are paid to twist the truth into one compelling tale versus another to make their case. Truth be damned. I can avoid fighting in their wars. I can engage in civil disobedience and protest. And I can do all of these things committed to nonviolence.
I avoid what I avoid because I truly believe that these systems simply perpetuate more violence. There are countless ways that I can and do work for justice, peace, and forward the work of the Kingdom that Jesus talked about — without having the be a tool of the state and the government, or participate knowingly or unknowingly in the violence of the system. And all of my decisions are based on discerning how, whether, when I am actually participating in these systems and to make decisions to eliminate or mitigate my own complicity in them.
So, I hope you understand that my choice is at least a principled one, even if you may not agree with my decisions or my means of reaching them. For me, it is a form of radical discipleship and a concerted effort to live with integrity the values that I believe Jesus taught us.