Celebrating Remembrance Day As An Anabaptist

WARNING: The views expressed in this blog post, may be controversial.

A Pacifist Celebrating Those Who Fight in Wars?

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day (Photo credit: belkin59)

As an Anabaptist, I am a pacifist. Pacifism is defined differently by many people. In the past year or so, I’ve struggled with defining exactly what it means for me. The World English Dictionary defines pacifism as “the belief that violence of any kind is unjustifiable and that one should not participate in war.” I don’t agree with war of any kind. I never have.

So it leaves me in a little bit of a predicament in celebrating a day celebrated here in Canada called “Remembrance Day.” This day is celebrated every year on November 11th. It is a day where we are supposed to remember those who have fought in wars. As someone who doesn’t support war, I don’t know what to do with this day.

Are We Really Free?

A peace symbol, originally designed by the Bri...

A peace symbol, originally designed by the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament movement (CND). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I’ve started talking about not knowing what to do with Remembrance Day with my brothers, they make the comment that war is the reason we’re a free country. But I’ve started wondering, are we really “free?” And what do we gain from this so-called freedom?

A little over a week ago, my aunt passed away from her fourth bout of cancer and it has caused me once again to think of life in view of eternity. I feel like this “freedom” we are supposed to have is more just freedom to be more immoral. We aren’t really free from the threat of being bombed.  We do seem to be free to flaunt our sexuality, though, with what sells and what is rampant in Hollywood and the entertainment industry.

In the past while, I’ve really doubted that we are free to believe what we want. One specific example is in regards to homosexuality. I don’t agree with homosexuality and I feel like I’m not allowed to have that opinion. Someone will probably call me homophobic just because I think homosexuality is a sin even though I’m not scared of it. Am I “free” to have this opinion? It depends on what your definition of “free” is.

In some ways, I think North America is worse off in view of eternity than a lot of other countries. In some countries that aren’t considered “free” according to North American standards, true Christianity is rising while true Christianity is declining rapidly in North America.

Remembering Those Who “Fought” For My Faith

Zürich-Schipfe quarter : Memorial plate for th...

Zürich-Schipfe quarter : Memorial plate for the Anabaptists, murdered in early 16th century by the Zürich city government: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All this thought about what I believe and wondering about whether we are actually free, has muddied the waters even more for me about what to do with Remembrance Day. So this year, I plan to celebrate it a little differently. I plan to remember those who “fought” for what I believe. (I use “fought” in quotations because they never used violence, although they were persecuted.)

During the Reformation, the Protestants split from the Catholics, which a lot of people know if they’ve heard about the Reformation. However, fewer people know about the Anabaptists who also rose up during this time. They initially were with the Protestants but felt the Protestants didn’t go far enough in their reformation of Christianity and split from them and became their own faction.

The Anabaptists were persecuted because they opposed the church which was together with the state. They were tortured, drowned, burned at the stake, had their tongues ripped out, etc. Despite all this persecution, they never resisted or fought back with violence. The church and state tried to snuff out the Anabaptist belief but they didn’t succeed and the persecution fueled the spread of it.

Spread of the Anabaptists 1525-1550

Spread of the Anabaptists 1525-1550 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These Anabaptists are my forefathers and my ancestors. They endured a lot for what they believed and play a huge part in me believing what I do today. They have influenced my life immensely even though this happened over 400 years ago. This Remembrance Day, I plan to remember these forefathers that suffered for their faith and have played a huge part in my faith.


4 comments on “Celebrating Remembrance Day As An Anabaptist

  1. Michael Snow says:

    Great post. It would be wonderful if more of us Christians remembered our heroes of the faith.
    Just a note on Remembrance Day–here in the States is has been Veterans Day since 1954. Before that it was Armistice Day, a celebration of the end of the fighting in WW1. That Armistice took effect on 11 November.
    One well-known hero of the faith: http://spurgeonwarquotes.wordpress.com/

  2. M.D.J.R says:

    I can see where you are coming from, although I am hesitant to say I prescribe to your way of thinking about this. I do not think war is “right”, but I also acknowledge the horrible atrocities and suffering that our war veterans had to endure to fight for the sake of our country. (Whether that was specifically for “freedom” I will not say). Surely the fact that they endured such horrors for whatever noble cause is reason to give them honour and respect, and specifically remembrance of their sacrifices. (fighting Hitler in WW2 as one example). What they have been through, and the atrocities they have experienced to ensure that justice prevailed and evil was stopped is surely reason to give them honour. We do not have to experience the horrors of having our homes being bombed, our friends and families murdered, and our lives meaninglessly ended, they did. And because of their sacrifices, our world is a safer place to be in. (Don’t even tell me that its not, supposing Hitler won and had his way, who knows if we’d even be here to have this conversation. Never mind all of the senseless genocide of millions of defenseless people coming to an end) And truth is, even though you may feel a little miffed that mainstream society today may not like some people’s opinions (religious opinions namely) that still doesn’t mean that we aren’t much more free than we might have been otherwise. At least we can have and, perhaps more importantly voice, those opinions no matter how unpopular they may be. I know I cannot speculate on what history might have been like if things had turned out differently, but the fact that people fought and gave their lives for the for the greater good of humanity, I certainly think is worthy of our respect. And perhaps we do not appreciate fully the freedoms we enjoy because of what they did. Regardless of our ethics of war, their sacrifice warrants our utmost appreciation.

    • I understand what you’re saying. I don’t mean to say that I don’t respect those who have gone off to fight in the war. They have made a significant example and I think we need to support those who come back a lot better than we do now. I know that our world is corrupt and wars will always happen, although I wish they wouldn’t. I also don’t want to say that we should have just let Hitler take over the world and do the things he did. Part of this is the reason why I have struggled with what exactly I believe about pacifism. In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be war and there wouldn’t be a chance of war but our world is not perfect and wars happen. I don’t want to take away from what the veterans did or what they say. And in no way am I expecting or trying to get people to see things the way I do because I struggle with knowing what to do with it.

  3. M.D.J.R says:

    I suppose we aren’t technically free from the chance of being bombed and attacked today. (to expand more on this) I get what you are saying, but I would separate “possibility” from “reality”. Simply because something could theoretically happen doesn’t meant that it necessarily must. I could buy a lottery ticket and have a theoretical chance of winning millions, but that doesn’t mean that I must. I know this is a flawed analogy, but I do think that being the First World country that we are, we are considerably more safe and “free” from random bombings than other parts of the world might be. We may not live in a perfect world, but to live in a country that is by standard of other countries relatively comfortable and safe, I’d say that is overall not a bad thing. The fact is, Canada hasn’t been the target of very many terrorist attacks that I am aware of. And although there is still the slight theoretical chance of that happening, so far that seems to be a very slight chance and something again to be thankful for.There is little reason to fear for our safety here in Canada. The sacrifices our veterans to ensure that it stays that way is commendable.

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