Statesboro, GA, USA
I am of the opinion that the advice found in the Bible is for personal spiritual growth, in our relationships with God and our neighbor, and isn't necessarily something that can or should be applied to the affairs of a government, whose primary responsibility is the protection of its people.
This may be true. God gives the sword and the task of judgment to "The nations of the world", as something necessary under law. But it still raises the question of whether «hristians (living in grace) can or should take part in such a responsibility. It seems to me that Christians are really summoned to a different and higher calling than bloodshed. I'm not saying that they should never be a part of Government; But perhaps there are certain roles of Government which are not really fitting for Christians. Lawful perhaps, but not expedient.
I do know that David wasn't permitted to build the Temple because he had "blood on his hands", and was a "man of war". These acts of judgment were from the Lord too. But some callings require a separation from things tainted with judgment and sin. Protection, at the price of bloodshed, is a necessary evil, and a reluctant provision for this present age. One of the Old Testament prophets spoke of God's "strange work". I've always felt that these kinds of things fall in the category of that cryptic saying. The lightest feelings of war, carry an unmistakeable melancholy with them.
I know there are things I've had to do because they "had to be done", and then there are the things that I've loved to do, because they are conformable to my truest heart. Or to put it another way, Moses (representing humanity under law) saw the "hinder parts of God" on the mountain. But in Christ we see the face of God unveiled. Some jobs may be fitting for one dispensation, but alien to another. Moses allowed certain provisions "because of hardness of heart". But Jesus always comes with "But I say to you ...", and changes things. Does that make any sense?
But I also don't think the Bible instructs people, even on a personal level, to "turn the other cheek" when their life, or the life of someone else, is at stake. I think that would be taking a good spiritual principle to the extreme, in most cases.
But this is exactly what the early Christian Martyrs did isn't it? Stephen, the Apostles, and the Christians who suffered persecution at the hands of certain Roman Emperors? I wonder what would have become of their witness / testimony had they taken up arms.
Personally I suspect that when we try to moderate the shockingly pacifist things Jesus said, we are playing the revisionist. Don't get me wrong, I struggle with what he said too. Was he kidding?? "That's so impractical and idealist, and goody-two-shoes, and impossible, and ..." I can generate more objections than you probably. And yet, I think we were meant to struggle, since for me, beneath those objections is an ever present undercurrent of calm acknowledgment ... "No matter, you know he's right".
I'm currently reading a book called "The Hard Sayings of Jesus" by F.F. Bruce. In the preface he says the following about his endeavor:
"... I quickly found that the exposition of the hard sayings of Jesus is a difficult and responsible task; yet I am glad that I undertook it, for it has proved specially rewarding. His yoke is easy and his burden is light, but his sayings are often hard because they run counter to well-entrenched presuppositions and traditional assumptions about life and human relations. When they are hard for a reason, I hope I have not made them easier, for that would be to obscure their meaning ..."
I guess to summarize, I think the spirit of Jesus presents to me, almost a reversal of what you said. Most situations should require an extreme mercy, and anything else, if at all, should be the exception.
Ghandi was shot dead . . .
Is it ever appropriate to say "blessed are the dead"? I think so. And while sometimes I'm sure I don't, I remind myself that I'm just too alive to embrace such a truth. Give it some time.
Another way of stating this, is to say its better to die right than to live wrong.