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Christians and Violence - A taboo Subject

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Christian teachers avoid discussing the Christian attitude towards violence, even more try not to talk at all about actual violence. So, almost no-one talks about it – except to condemn it in all circumstances. In the same way they prefer to refer to God as “A God of Love”, while ignoring or downplaying the “God of Wrath”.

We are in days when Christians may well find themselves in the middle of violence. And, already throughout the world, Christians are violated, harassed and murdered by Muslims, just as they were under Chinese and Russian regimes. It is time to look at this and come to logical, godly conclusions, some of which can be uncomfortable.

I have related elsewhere how, when I was a psychiatric nurse, I was at my wit’s end because on the one hand I was told Christians should not enter into violence, and on the other hand, my life was put in grave danger by violent psychiatric patients. I had tried holding back, but the harm came anyway. It took a near-death incident, when I was strangled by a convicted ‘mental’ murderer, for me to find my own solution to the problem... a problem that should never have existed.

When I took my problem to elders, I was told to ‘pray’ about it. But, when violence erupted it was sudden and literally murderous. No time to pray, and no option to run away! One elder had the temerity to tell me that he faced ‘violence’ every day... he was a manager in a paper mill, who had to argue with union representatives! For him, that was equal to my life on the line every day when dealing with violent psychopaths and others who had already murdered! Hence, I had to find my own solution.

I was, most of the time in my work, the only Christian in the entire hospital. I was ridiculed daily for my faith, usually very publically when I entered the crowded staff canteen, with shouts of scorn; a favourite jibe was “Here comes John the Baptist!” Another ‘Christian’ joined the staff and it was clear that he ran away whenever violence occurred. I will not repeat what non-Christian staff called him. After I was strangled, I had to decide on my life’s worth. I decided never again to allow a patient to try to kill me. I would do whatever it took to remain alive.

After that, everything ‘clicked into place’ and I was at peace with my soul. I concluded that I would not willingly submit to violence that could lead to my death, when I had a wife and two young children to look after. Staff noticed I was very different from the staff member who was never around when violence took place. I realised that though very few in number, the staff were the only barrier against patients breaking out of the ‘violent’ ward and possibly killing a member of the public.

I began to devise tactics – what to do and when to do it. If attacked I would fight back and do whatever was necessary to stay alive. I will not relate the many incidents that involved violence, including the times patients banded together and openly proclaimed they wanted to kill me. Fellow staff knew they could rely on me in a ‘rumble’, so though they scorned me for my Christian beliefs, they respected me for being a useful member of staff.

Whether I was sent out of the hospital to locate and bring in a ‘fugitive’ patient who was being violent in the home or elsewhere, or was stuck on my own in a ward where violence was breaking out, my approach was always the same. That is, though fighting to maintain supremacy over a violent man (and to save my own life), I would use minimal force.

This is now the modern approach, but no such approach was ‘official’ at the time. Whilst I would determine to use minimal force, I was also aware that in a close encounter with someone who had done whatever he liked for most of his life, the patient would not hold back, and even if he killed staff nothing much would happen to him. After all, he was already ‘mentally ill’.

Thus, I would do whatever it took to subdue the man. My reasoning was simple – I would stay alive. On one or two occasions this almost led to a patient’s fatality, but this did not deter me... to me, my life was of greater importance than his. I developed the attitude that if a fatality occurred while fighting for my life, I would never feel guilty. The fault would be his, not mine.

I wanted to be utterly professional. So, I devised many plans – what to do if this happened, or that. I worked out strategies for dealing with an attack from the left, right, back or front, or even if an attack was sudden. When I detected signs of pending violence I took off my watch, removed my tie and pen, and sometimes took off my white coat – so nothing could be used as an advantage against me! My colleagues did the same thing.

Before an attack took place I would try to stand sideways to the attacker, and never turned my back to him. My eyes never left his face, because his expression was the first signal of an attack. When the attack took place I would resort to one of my well-worked-out responses, so that nothing I did was ‘knee-jerk’. Because I expected such attacks, I was usually one step ahead. At times, too, I had to make a ‘pre-emptive strike’, and acted against the patient before violence began.

When I was attacked I always attempted to get behind the man, to bring him down backwards, even if he landed on top of me, or we both crashed to the floor. (I will not a public article how I did this). Then I would hold him using my arms and legs until help arrived. This was my usual response, though my primary action was to try to talk-down the potential attacker... which was not always possible.

On one occasion I did this for a full shift of eight hours, going home utterly exhausted (See later section). But, if talk did not work, I knew I could handle the man, even if he was totally violent. Despite all this, some situations defied any planned response, and I had to think on my feet. At such times I had no option but to fight. Not what you might want to hear, but that is reality.

Anyone who knows me will remember I was very slim at that time, with little weight behind me! I also hated violence and fighting, and still do. But, I had a duty to perform, and I did it – with the proviso that my life and safety came first. I always attempted to be objective, and always stopped action once the patient was subdued. I used whatever force was necessary.

I had nothing physical to help – pepper spray, baton, handcuffs, taser, etc., so it was remarkable that I mostly had the upper-hand in any violent situation, even if I sustained injuries. Planning and attitude, plus minimal force, were the only helps I had. And I knew that if any of my church, including the elders and deacons, knew the details of my life in a locked ward, they would have been horrified. They did not wish to know the details; they only wanted to know that violent men were locked up.

The net result after a few years was that I was crippled by an unknown disease with horrific symptoms, caused by injuries received, and my psychiatric hospital days were over, after being ill and literally crippled for almost a year. But, I knew I had quitted myself as a man and human being, and had nothing to be ashamed of. Violence is a sad part of life, and there are many today whose hearts are so black, they will kill willingly, without thinking or remorse.

So, with that introduction – what is your view? Can a Christian be involved in violence? Below are a few scenarios for you to think about. We are in ever-darkening days when violence may come at you when you least expect it. Or, as with some Muslims, we can expect it to occur. Murder is already a casual affair, as is death by terrorism. I believe, given the current situation, that Christians will soon have to decide what they will do when personally confronted. They must understand that ‘turning the other cheek’ does not apply in these circumstances and should be properly interpreted.

In my own account and in those below, I take no pride in what I had to do, or in what others have to do. Nor do I feel guilt. Rather, dealing with violence is a fact of life. Someone has to do it. And when they do, I resent greatly that such men are blamed for what they do, or are hampered by ridiculous rules of engagement that belittle or stop their actions.

Why should a police officer, soldier, or psychiatric nurse, be killed because of a foolish rule that prevents them from responding fully to threats on their lives? And why do Christians look down on fellow Christians who are in these situations? For my part I feel neither shame nor anxiety. I did what I had to do, and no fellow believer at the time cared or knew about it. Below are questions of Christian ethics... can your answers match up to reality and God’s requirements?


A soldier’s training is tough. And some training is even tougher, if not brutal. The ordinary soldier does a basic training course. The one who joins an elite regiment such as the Royal Marines, will have to be very tough to reach the end of his training. And beyond that there are the Special Forces, such as SAS, SBS or SEALS. Their training is extra to that found even in the Marines. But, one thing is the same in every kind of military training – fighting and training in killing, whether by hand or by machine. Frankly, a few enjoy it, but most appear to do it as duty.

As a Christian, what do you think of that? Society is quite glad to have soldiers around, whose duty it is to subdue an enemy, even if they kill. And in many branches of the military men who are Christians have had to kill. If you are shocked to hear this, you are very naïve. My father was based in northern India for about five years, fighting guerrillas in the Himalayan foothills, just before WW2 erupted. In that time he had to shoot tribesmen who today would be called ‘terrorists’. And because of the tactics used by the tribesmen, he even had to shoot women. And this included hand-to-hand fighting, where he had to come into physical contact with a man he was about to put to death.

When WW2 began he immediately applied to join the parachute regiment. After training he was dropped many times behind enemy lines, which again involved ‘personal’ shooting of enemy soldiers. On ‘D’ Day he landed again behind enemy lines and fought his way to the bridge at Arnhem, but was shot before getting there. Later, as a civilian, he joined the police as a Special constable, who, on times, had to subdue criminals in no uncertain terms.

What is your view of that? At the time he was not a Christian – but many he served with were Christians. As I have said before, my father was a very tough man, who was afraid of no man, and he never backed down from a threat. Yet, at home, he was very quiet. The two do, and can, be combined!

Now of course, there are special ‘rules of engagement’ that favour the enemy and may give rise to our own personnel being killed! This is the result of a socialist, unthinking attitude by governments. Would I shoot back if I was in danger of being killed? Yes, I would. In my eyes, the enemy is attempting to murder me, so I can justify shooting back. If he gets killed, well, that is not my problem if I acted sincerely and professionally.


More than ever today, police officers are daily in potential danger. They have a non-lethal arsenal of equipment to be used against a violent suspect or criminal. Even so, police are given very strict rules of engagement that can, to my mind, leave them open to serious violence or even death. (There are also rapid response teams who use firearms, who can shoot to kill).

An officer will do all he can to catch and subdue fleeing criminals. This may mean using pepper spray, tazers, or batons. And then they can use handcuffs or even Velcro strips to keep legs together. Even then, and with other officers nearby, an officer can be injured.

Daily, officers might need to use violence to maintain control, or to subdue a person, perhaps using one or more pieces of equipment. What if the criminal is injured in the process? Personally, I would say “Serves him right”. It would not bother me in the slightest, if the force used against him was legal, the officer acted professionally, and he truly felt his own life was in danger. It is my view that if in the process of subduing or chasing, the criminal died, then it is his fault, and the officer should not be grilled about it.

What is your view of all this? Do you accept that police do a great but dangerous job, but that their lives come first, not the life of the criminal who wishes to do them great damage? The officer should be able to say “He wants to kill or badly injure me. I will make sure I do everything I can to stay alive”. Then, if the criminal dies, the officer should not be taken to task. The same goes for chasing a fleeing car – if the driver crashes and dies, it is his own fault, not the fault of the chasing officer.

Do you think any of this is terrible? If you do, have you had any experience at dealing with head-to-head violence? Do you see why any injury or death to a criminal comes second to the life of a police officer? (I am not talking about the few rogue officers who enjoy violence). Do you understand that police are acting on your behalf and must deal with many things that are not ‘nice’? Or, do you still treat violence by professional officers as ‘bad’? If so, I sincerely hope you do not need them if violence happens to find you!

Psychiatric Nurses

Modern mental hospitals now rarely contain violent patients, but some do, in high-security hospitals such as Broadmoor. There are other forensic hospitals in the UK, and they contain patients known to be violent. My own hospital had its own forensic ward, which I ran as a deputy for a while. It had a central office with all-glass (toughened) observation walls that looked out on all main communal areas.

Just a few years previously, every ward had iron-bar doors, and barred windows. In that era nurses more senior to me had worked in dangerous circumstances, and some even had to literally fight their patients before their shifts began! I will not talk about the reasons, but suffice to say it was necessary to maintain full control. For these reasons psychiatric nurses did not last long and often died in middle age.

Running a ‘violent’ ward means being called a ‘screw’ when out shopping! This is because patients who had a day pass hated nurses who kept them locked up. (Those on the violent ward did not get a pass). As I said earlier, the day was spent being very cautious, because violence erupted daily, several times, at any time. This often meant dealing with a violent man on one’s own until help came, which could take a while. The ward underneath was the ‘warning’ ward... if they heard banging and crashing coming from upstairs they would send male nurses up straight away, and advise the office so others could follow.

In that place anything and nothing was used as a weapon, even chairs and tables too heavy for ordinary men to lift. On many days all the window glass was broken, and furniture was destroyed. The staff did not have the luxury of calling for help – it either came or it did not. As nurses we did not have equipment – no handcuffs, no batons, no sprays. We only had ourselves. Make no mistake, men on the violent ward were there because they were guilty of murder or attempted murder. They had no qualms about attacking anyone, and if they had the chance they would murder staff.

Therefore, staff had to think on their feet, devise their own personal tactics to stay alive, and often make pre-emptive strikes to stop violence before it began. In most cases, when staff were available, strong drugs were used, injected through clothing if necessary, as half a dozen nurses kept the patient down on the floor. The patient was then held until the drugs took effect. Even with drugs, staff had to literally fight patients, some of whom were big and very used to violence. They did not care, and did not care if they killed anyone. Hence the fighting.

Eventually, bullet proof toughened glass was put into every window, and secondary defences were built in the dormitories, to give staff momentary protection. (Made necessary after a tinker group barged through the locked doors to release their friend, using shot-guns). But, even with this limited defence, fighting was normal, at least three or four times a day. Like most staff I went home with injuries, and these finally ended my career in hospitals.

You might think I must have been happy to be violent. No, I had a job to do, to protect the public. But, I also had a greater duty to protect myself, and I decided to do so whatever it took to stay alive. If by doing so the violent patient was hurt, it did not bother me one bit, because he began the fight and wished me dead!

This kind of action was not automatic. Whenever possible I tried to ‘talk down’ a violent man. But, experience told me when to stop talking and jump in feet first. My colleagues still remember the day I was alone on my ward and the police brought in a man who had been violent in the town centre. After that incident I was dubbed “Mr Cool”! (Though, internally, I felt very anxious). It took six officers to bring him in. His legs and arms were tied, he was handcuffed, and was carried bodily off the floor. He had even bitten through an officer’s radio! Before they set him loose, an officer warned me of the man’s violence and asked where the other staff were.

He looked concerned when I said I was on my own (even then there were staff shortages!). There was a female nurse, but I left her to simply watch what was then a quiet ward. I put the man into a cubicle containing nothing but a bed. He kept his eye on me, possibly wondering how one nurse was equal to six police officers. He could see I had no equipment.

The man just sat at the head of the bed, watching me intently. I stood at the bottom of the bed; there would be no sitting – I needed to move fast if necessary. He tried testing me all the time, throwing out insults, threatening what he would do to me, and so on. I just stood there calmly, and speaking quietly. My aim was to keep him subdued for as long as possible, by using words. However, all the while I developed a plan in my head... no matter what he did I had a plan! This went on for eight hours, and by the time I finished my shift I was hoarse and exhausted. But, I avoided violence. That was my aim every day, but it did not work in the violent ward.

The point is this – fellow believers did not have a clue about what I did, or that my day was spent fighting violent men! Nor did they want to know, because if they knew they would have to deal with it properly. It was easier to ‘tut-tut’ at me, than to face those men themselves. They wanted their safety by patients being locked up, but did not wish to know the details. To my knowledge no-one prayed for my safety.

So – what do YOU think? Are you disgusted by what I have said? Of course I prayed before I began my shifts... but this did not stop the violence, or my injuries. There are times when prayer is offered and nothing happens (for God’s reason). I have no doubt that those poor Syrian Christians beheaded by ISIS had prayed. But, the violence still continues. What is YOUR solution?

I believe that all of ISIS should be hunted down and shot where they are found. No talking, no prison, no mercy. Why? Because psychopathic people who have their thoughts will never give up. If left alive they will again kill when given the opportunity. When terrorists attack in the West it is my view that police/soldiers must have the freedom to shoot to kill. Forget catching them. This is consistent with genuine warfare, and is what happened in ancient times with the Israelites. They were commanded by God to kill their pagan enemies. Can you stomach that?


I have given just a few examples of jobs and instances where violence is justified. Personally, I hate violence. But, when confronted by it I took action and did not persecute my own mind with thoughts of guilt. Mostly, in my job, I did not discuss what I did with my wife or others – I did not want my wife to worry (she already saw my injuries) and I did not want ridiculous accusations coming from Christians.

So, what do you now think? Can you see that even a Christian must sometime use violence? If not, what if a thug with a knife wanted to kill your wife? Or, you? Or, your child? No time to chat! This is a very serious article... especially with Islamic violence gaining more and more victims in the West.

There is much more to say, but the above is sufficient to hopefully get you talking. I am neither ashamed nor happy about what I had to do. It is just factual. Think before anything happens! Do not go into an ‘holy huddle’ and condemn. Many protect you. But, they must also protect themselves. Do you ever think of them, or thank them?

In my former work I often went home exhausted, sometimes still shaking, whether or not I had been injured that day. Some who do this work (soldiers, police,  and psychiatric nurses) are big and tough. Others, like me, were ordinary and very unused to violence. It took quite a few years after leaving to ‘climb down’ to an ordinary level of thought. We were left on our own to sort out our own minds and feelings!

I can assure you that violence leaves its mark, no matter who you are. So, if you know anyone in these positions, please pray for them, for their safety, and that they will do what is right. And pray they will not become hardened to what they have to do. Perhaps you have never read anything like this before. That is why I wrote it! Consider your response carefully, before the dark clouds of evil gather over your head and burst through your door.

(I might be sorry I wrote this article, given unrealism in our churches today and the hyper-righteousness of critics. However, the content is necessary).

© September 2017

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Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
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