from Father John Parker in Soundings:
I am an unworthy man, unworthy to be called an Orthodox Christian, not to speak of the priesthood, and I write, admittedly, from the comfort of my Mount Pleasant, SC, home. There is no Mount nearby, but it is, indeed, a pleasant seaside community on the East Coast of the United States.
As such, I ask myself: how to deal with ruthless, pitiless, pitiful souls who are so darkened that their life is spent taking the life of others-- and worse, thinking that they are doing this at the direction of and with the blessing of God himself, with eternal reward?
Perhaps I will be criticized for my suggestion, sitting in my pleasant, mountless town, but we read recently that we must receive the Gospel as a child; and even a child will ask how could murder be returned by murder. Is violence-- individual or large-scale-- a possible Orthodox response?
What were the apostolic and post-apostolic, and later saint's reactions to such vicious, vile, demonic actions?
On the precipice of martyrdom, St Stephen, the Proto-martyr begged God to forgive his killers. Was there an apostolic uprising following that?
Hieromartyr Eutychius, disciple of St John the Theologian, was beheaded after starvation in prison, an attempt to burn him alive, and cruel beatings with iron rods…which were made to cease by his prayers. There is no account of retribution.
The saints prayed for their torturers, and relentlessly clung to Christ. To my knowledge, there are no recorded acts of violence returned for violence. It is the case, however, that with Ss Adrian and Natalia (August 26), one of their captors converted by their stalwart faith. Was this also not the case with the 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebaste?
"Vengeance is mine," saith the Lord.
We stand proudly with the martyrs, whose blood is the foundation of the Church. And we beg God to grant us equal strength when we have to face what they did.
The entire post can be read here.