No. It’s not. Why do I have to talk about this?
There’s a white supremacist who’s been in the news named Richard Spencer. He famously gave a speech at a conference in Washington, D.C. last November which he started with a Nazi salute and the proclamation, “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” It goes without saying that he’s an evil guy. Not only is he evil, but he holds a particularly evil viewpoint, not so much because God is more offended by some evil viewpoints than others so much as because his particularly viewpoint has dangerous consequences on other people. Furthermore, Naziism and racism are the two most vehemently hated evils in modern America.
It is no surprise that there was much rejoicing when the following video came out:
Someone sucker punched Richard Spencer! Don’t you hate the guy? Don’t you live vicariously through that moment when he gets slammed to the curb? It’s hilarious! Don’t you get a thrill up your spine? Wasn’t it great poetic justice? Sure! I felt a lot of those emotions too and probably laughed for a solid minute after watching this the first time. Why? Richard Spencer has such a punchable face! Also, I like seeing evil get punished. After all, doesn’t the Bible have imprecatory Psalms in it?
But does this make punching Richard Spencer right? No. Just because someone is evil does not mean sucker punching them is right. However, some people disagree. There’s a photo album circulating facebook that argues for the morality/propriety of punching Nazis. However, it fundamentally fails to prove it’s point. Most of the time the author uses red herrings and avoids proving his case. That’s because, if morality is this subjective post-modern lefty slew of emotions, you can’t actually prove anything’s moral or immoral. As Christians we must instead look to objective morality as revealed in Scripture.
I’m going to assume most Christians hold basically the same view of violence that I do right now so I can more quickly get to the specifics of this kind of case. Violence against man is generally an assault on the image of God and must be condemned. However, during times of necessary war and other incidences of self-defense, Christians have the right and responsibility to fight in order to protect others. If this seems unclear, ctrl-f your way through the transcript of a certain Q&A here looking for the term “defense.”
The question, then, is this: is sucker punching Richard Spencer an act of self-defense? Unfortunately, it is not. Even though, yes, he arguably deserves to be punched in the face, it is not self-defense to sucker punch Richard Spencer. Richard Spencer has not actually threatened to act physically against other people in such a way as to harm them. There is therefore no warrant for violence against him to be labeled self-defense or standing up for the vulnerable. Honestly I’m kind of sorry I have to break that to you. Ultimately, we must leave vengeance to the Lord. Richard Spencer’s evil will be punished, and God will do it.
I feel like this might not be the most satisfying answer, so I want to address this particular photograph from the meme album:
The argument for the morality of punching Nazis hinges on this one point: non-Nazis are morally better than Nazis, and in fact, Nazis are so immoral they are subhuman. This premise is anti-biblical.
The Bible teaches us that all people are evil. In fact, not only are all people evil, but they are only capable of evil, and are incapable of doing anything good. People are completely evil. Romans 3 summarizes the human condition as:
There is none righteous, not even one;
There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.
Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,
The poison of asps is under their lips;
Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness;
Their feet are swift to shed blood,
Destruction and misery are in their paths,
And the path of peace they have not known.
There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Or in other words, no, Nazis have not sunk below human level. We only see Naziism as worse than our own sins of lying, pride, gossip, selfishness, laziness, lust, or whatever because we don’t understand the depth of our own sin (Perhaps read Mt 5 or Mt 23). We don’t understand the depth of our own sin because we do not understand the greatness of the God we sin against (Ps 51:4). In short, I am just as evil in God’s eyes as Richard Spencer. I hate to break this to you, but you are too. Worse, no joy can come from saying, “We’re all in this together,” because God is the source of all joy, and our sin separates us from the holy and beautiful God. We will all undergo the punishment for our sin, eternal death, together. And being together won’t make it any less painful.
But God, being rich in mercy, sent His Son to live a perfect life on earth, be punished in the place of sinners, conquer death through His resurrection, and return to heaven to intercede before God for the sake of His chosen ones (Ep 2:1-10; 1 Jn 1:8-2:2; 1 Corinthians 15). Those who submit to Him as Lord and place their faith in Jesus’ work for their salvation, God will save (Romans 10:9-10). Christians then are not good people God chose to help, nor are they in any way better than non-Christians. Christians are sinners chosen from an equal position as every other person on earth. Many Christians have sinned far worse than non-Christians; in fact, because they know the God they sin against, Christians arguably all sin far more than non-Christians. The apostle Paul recognized this.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Remember, Christian, when you see Richard Spencer, when you are repulsed by the evils of Naziism, that it is your own personal sin you should see, and your own evil that you should be repulsed by. That is the path Jesus delivered you from, and that should cause your to worship all the more. To argue it moral to sucker punch a Nazi is to deny this truth of the gospel: that all sin deserves hell, but God can save even the chief of sinners. Let us rejoice that God saves!