A sword in the hand of a Christian is a sure sign of an unchristlike violent mind and a violent person. But a Christian does not become nonviolent merely by throwing the sword away. Gospel Nonviolence, the Nonviolence of Jesus in the Gospels, does not require simply refraining from participating in violence. It means rejecting the option of violence in thought, word or deed in the actual lived moral moment and choosing instead to return good for evil, Christlike Love for unlove, in that same moral moment. Since society nurtures people in retaliation, an eye for an eye, the Christian must commit daily to entering the struggle to reject, perhaps many times in a day, the temptation of retaliation and choose in its place Jesus’ Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, the Way of returning good for evil. Of course, Gospel Nonviolence requires the Christian to do what Jesus told Peter to do, “Put up your sword.” But, it also requires going, as Jesus did, to the person who had come to do Him evil and doing good to him, i.e., healing his severed ear.
Nonviolence is a word with an indefinite number of meanings to it in our time. But Gospel Nonviolence, the Nonviolence exemplified by Jesus in the Gospels, has a discernible minimal content, the absence of which removes it from being Nonviolence as taught and lived by Jesus.