How do we men determine when to fight and when to take our lashes?

I am catechising a group of 12 year old boys. Obviously, I want to teach them about the peace of Jesus (“turn the other cheek” Mt 5:39, “love your enemies” Mt 5:44), and the peace that is the gift of the Holy Spirit. But, on the other hand, I am attracted to the parts of the bible that reveal God as a warrior: “he trains my arms for battle” Ps 18:34 and “God is a warrior…Pharoah’s army he flung into the sea.” (Ex 15:3-4).

It is my intuition that both aspects are important and somehow complementary. But, I would like to know if there is a principle one can formulate which captures the delicate balance between fighting for the truth (sometime), and accepting the lashes (other times).


It is most important that boys learn that the greatest strength a man can have is moral strength. Such strength can call forth from a real man the ability to endure pain and difficulty for the sake of others and for the truths of the faith–or the ability to take up arms and physically defend and protect the innocent and vulnerable, even to the shedding of his own blood.

It is the moral strength (making God our first priority) that comes first. Situations will determine how it ought to be used.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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