I'm rejoicing this morning in the news that three of the Christian Peacemaker Teams volunteers have been freed in Iraq. The three were freed by a multinational task force of soliders, who found the hostages unguarded. No shots were fired and no one was hurt during the rescue operation.
Of course, joy in the release of the surviving three is tempered by the sorrow at the murder of a fourth hostage, a Quaker from Virginia, Tom Fox. And as I celebrate, my inner pacifist finds myself wondering how I would feel if the rescuers had had to shoot the kidnappers. I'm delighted that the men are all safe, of course, but I could not endorse or support the use of lethal force to free them. I say that, mind you, in the full knowledge that if one of these men were my father or my brother, I might feel differently. It's harder to adhere to one's pacifist commitments when one's loved ones are in harm's way.
It's the old question that always gets thrown at pacifists: "what would you do if someone threatened your family?" John Howard Yoder, the greatest Mennonite theologian of the past century, gave the best and most impressive answer to that question, and I recommend his little book to everyone. I try and reread it fairly often.