Theological Thursdays: The Myth of Redemptive Violence

A woman was stabbed outside of Roxy’s as 2009 was ending, and it appears that her sexual orientation was a motive in the attack.

This, like all of the violence in our city, is a moral issue.

Walter Wink, a Christian Theologian is best known for coining the phrase, “The myth of redemptive violence.”

Although the phrase is recent, the concept of redemptive violence is ancient.  In short, good must confront evil, and defeat it.  “If god is what you turn to when all else fails,” Wink writes, “violence certainly functions as a god.”  Wink argues that the myth of redemptive violence is the real defining myth of the modern world.  Many who claim to practice faith with other names, show, by their action, that they are more devoted by this myth.

And on New Year’s Eve, this myth was repeated, and a person was attacked–apparently because she was a lesbian.

The idea that violence can solve problems is bigger than any religion.  It has infected many–including my own.  We learn it as soon as we can watch cartoons, but it is not only a myth in the sense the mythological power we give it, it is a myth in the sense that it is simply not true.

Because violence against gays is too often perpetrated by Christians (though we have no idea in this case), I–unfortunately–have to make this clear.  We are called to be passionate about rooting out sin in our own lives, and to leave judgment of others to God.  We have no business examining anybody’s sex life except our own, and a violent attack on a perceived enemy is completely foreign to the way that Jesus practiced and proclaimed.

Justice comes not through violent defeat, but grace, healing, and restoration.

Our city has too much violence.  As long as we think additional violence will curb it–a myth that hold sway on a personal, local, national and international level–violence will remain with us.

The myth of redemptive violence tells us that violence is the natural response to difference, and that more violence is needed to restrain that violence.  Creative theology can and will allow us to find other ways of living together.


(Photo is in public domain, and is chosen as an illustration of violence, not an endorsement.

About the author  ⁄ Drew

31 comments
Buffalo Rising
Buffalo Rising

United We Stand: A Celebration of Diversity - A Plea for Peace

In light of the alleged hate crimes that have been reported and/or are under current investigation, along with the many that have not, United We Stand - Buffalo is presenting an event to bring people of all backgrounds together.  Their hope is tha...

grad94
grad94

hey, just another free service i provide!

brownteeth
brownteeth

My comment about her being an instigator came from people that know her, I'm not saying she instigated the fight either, but rather she's a hot headed person in general. I heard she wouldn't let it go and that let to the physical altercation. Not that it's right but she would have been better off ignoring the verbal bashing and walked away. She is absolutely a victim and did not desreve this in the least. With all that said it's easy for me to suggest ignoring these situations however since I am not gay I eally do not know what it's like so in any case I hope she's ok.

JohnQBuffalo
JohnQBuffalo

I was not taking sides or blaming either of the girls nor was I saying that either deserved it.

What I was saying was that Roxies is a known lesbian bar and straight women do not go to lesbian bars if they are homophobic. So this was either an incident of a dispute between a bisexual and a lesbian, an incident between 2 lesbians, an unwanted advance upon someone un-interested, perhaps some type of harrassment. To which again, its doubtful a straight women would make the trip to a known lesbian bar just to create an incident so my money would be on the testosterone masculine type lesbian.

As was said, the appropriate thing would have been to walk away even if provoked though i know it is hard to do.

My comment about HIV/AIDs was not that they deserved it but that the whole civil union and gay marriage movement started because longterm monogomous relationships were proving to be the solution while the typical la cage a faux stereotypes of a hypersexual fetish and polyamorous and temporary relationships resulted in numerous sexual partners and a spread of the disease. I would never say anyone deserved HIV/AIDs and I think that everyone deserves a lifetime of companionship, intimacy and unconditional love.

Lastly, it sickens me that there are people like grad94 that look for every example to maintain their secular humanist religion of atheism and agnosticism while reaching for every tragedy to blame christianity in one form or another. Far from hate...I truly pity people like grad94 because they truly do not want to see.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

As I pointed out in my previous comment there is a covert intolerance of gays and minorities that gives cover to these ignorant and hateful attacks. Blaming the victim is easier when so many are less than comfortable with anothers sexual preference or race. It is this quiet accommodation that allows this behavior to continue.

If the victim is a straight white middle class blond girl there is less second guessing of the part the victim may have played in provoking the attack. I am often dismayed how much attention is given on cable news to such stories while ignoring the similiar plight of those less fortunate.

jimmy
jimmy

I agree completely! I could not imagine that Lindsay and friends were yelling expletives at the other party to instigate them while they were leaving Roxy's. It is safe to assume that the conflict started with the attackers, and Lindsay and friends were defending themselves. Even if they did verbally retaliate to the first threat, the physical violence was started by the instigators who were obviously armed and looking for a fight. It is sad that people are raised with such hatefulness and ignorance in this day and age.

scottw
scottw

I believe that you're right grad94, especially in this case when you consider that Roxy's is rather off the beaten path if you will. It's not as if the place was part of a string of bars where a situation like this is more likely. Say Roxy's was on Chippewa st in the middle of that mess, I guarantee that this sort of assault would be happening on a nightly basis. Those [people] went there LOOKING for trouble.

grad94
grad94

i strongly disagree with "the victim was an instigator" nonsense.

there's nothing like blaming the victim to reassure ourselves that the world is just and if something bad happened to you, you must have "asked for it" or deserved it. if a group of people decides to shout bigoted slurs at you, then -they- are the instigators, especially if they are the ones slicing open your face.

does it not occur to anyone that that group of gaybashers was looking to attack someone and would have done so regardless of whether the victim resisted or not?

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

Speaking of anti-gay rhetoric from the pulpit, did anyone catch the following in yesterday's Artvoice:

"...Darius Pridgen will get some votes, too—though not from Ellicott’s substantial gay community, members of which fired off a letter today asking Pridgen to explain his opposition to same-sex marriage and this comment on HIV/AIDS: 'You have to call sin sin, but HIV/AIDS is not the sin, it’s the disease. Until you separate the sin from the disease, people are not going to get tested.'"

Link: http://artvoice.com/issues/v9n1/week_in_review/seven_days

I'm wondering if anyone has seen the letter referred to, or if it's been posted online--?

jimmy
jimmy

I agree with you scottw, and as an openly gay man I have been in similar situations many times myself. One must stand up for himself and what he believes in, especially when it comes to ignorant bigots like the ones who attacked Lindsay. It doesn't do any good to back down to the people who troll outside the gay bars looking for a fight. At 6'2" / 240 I can handle most the bullet heads who want to start something, but I also know when it is best to just walk away.

scottw
scottw

We couldn't agree more my friend, and thank you.

brownteeth
brownteeth

Fortunately, I have not had to endure the hardships of being a homosexual who has to deal with the ignorant scum out there, and I agree with defending yourself 100% if you are attacked or assaulted in any circumstance. But name calling is something to walk away from so that it doesn't get to those extremes. I hope she recovers and the ignorant low lifes who did this are caught. And good luck to you in your travels, but for godsakes don't provoke these idiots, losing your eyesight is not worth proving a point.

scottw
scottw

I agree with you brownteeth in so much as this sort of confrontation more times than none will lead to a sad ending, however...as a homosexual man I have managed to avoid this type of thing many many times over my life but absolutely WILL stand up for myself and my friend or partner in ant given circumstance. And if that means one of us being dead or in the hospital (meaning me or the assailant for lack of term here) so be it. If someone comes at me with a gun, knife or words they had better be sure they know what they've gotten themselves into. I believe that these "hate mongers" expect inaction out of gays if they choose to offend or attack them, I would prove them wrong if they try to. Standing by or walking away has gotten us little [reward].

biniszkiewicz
biniszkiewicz

I hear Muriel Howard was a closeted Roxie's patron:)

brownteeth
brownteeth

I have a mutual friend with the girl who was stabbed and from what I am told she is a bit of an instigator. From what I have read in the news (quotes from her)she was called anti-gay slurs and then was attacked. Instead of ignoring the slurs and getting in her car like she initially was doing, she decided to engage herself with the group picking the fight. In no way does that justify her injuries but she really should have walked away. I do not blame her for sticking up for herself but 99.9% of the time it's not worth it, case in point. I am an adult who has NEVER been in any fight because I refuse to acknowledge any instigators I encounter. I have a feeling there is more to this story regarding her actions. Once again I want to reiterate that I think this was a terrible tragedy and she did not deserve this but this could have been avoided had she got in her car and left.

ReginaldQMerriweatherIV
ReginaldQMerriweatherIV

I'm so confused...What the heck is a (deleted) Lesbian???

anyways, Chris69/JohnQBuffalo, don't forget...GAYS WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR HYATT ATRIUM AND THE CONVENTION CENTER BLOCKING GENESEE ST!

AND LET US NOT FOR GET THE LARKIN ADMINISTRATION BUILDING!

keep fighting the crazy fight

PaulBuffalo
PaulBuffalo

So, Lou, a/k/a Chris69/Buffalo21stcentury/Queencity/Christine is now JohnQBuffalo. I guess you just wanted to be Christine long enough to become an expert on lesbian issues. Based on your comments above, you're about as learned on that topic as you are on everything else you write.

Hmm, how much undercover research did you do to know so much about S&M, spandex, and cross-dressing?

Well, at least we can give you credit for ruining the comment section on yet another article. Way to go, Christie Lou.

PaulBuffalo
PaulBuffalo

I had no idea you're the anti-christ. You thought radical, you.

NBuffguy
NBuffguy

JohnQBuffalo, That was one of the scariest comments I have ever read on Buffalo Rising. I don't know if I am more offended as a Christian or as a gay person. All I can say is WOW. You should probably get yourself into therapy to deal with your warped way of viewing the world and history. It sounded to me like you were blaming this girl for getting herself stabbed in the eye, and then it sounded like you were implying that the gay people who died from AIDS (and continue to die from AIDS) are to blame for their own illness. I hate to point out that there are more heterosexual people worldwide living with HIV and AIDS than gay people, and in fact, the epidemic most likely started out among straight people. That's not to say that anyone, gay or straight, deserves to suffer like that. What all people do deserve, actually, is love and compassion. You should try it. You'd probably feel better about yourself.

grad94
grad94

thank you johnqbuffalo/christine/queen city for slavishly conforming to every ugly stereotype about christians and reinforcing my decision to avoid people like you.

scottw
scottw

Rev. Drew,

Allow me if you will to apologize to you for anything in my comment to JohnQBuffalo that may offend you. Men like you who try to teach tolerance regardless of religion or background ought to be praised and commended. It is my hope that over time Christianity will take the turn that you and men like you have taken.

Christ himself, I believe, would never have tolerated the forms of hate and abuse that people have suffered in his name or his father's. If only people would take the messages of Christ for what they were really about, LOVE.

scottw
scottw

Absolutely agree ILPBs. JohnQ, that is the most arrogant crock of nonsense any educated person could put in public view. Especially in trying to insinuate in ANY WAY that Christians were the care takers of dying people throughout this horrific plaque as if no one else cared enough.

Your post only goes to UNDERLINE the disgusting arrogance of Christians. In my opinion ALL organized religions are the sick of mind with Christianity and Catholicism being the main culprits of the perpetuation of hate and intolerance hands down! We can take this back to the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, ancient Rome and beyond. Even now, in the 21st century Christians are preaching hate from the pulpit in so much as wishing the president dead and feeling justified in doing so, hiding behind crucifixes and getting away with crimes of all sorts.

enough, shame on you JohnQ. I'm surprised at BRO for even posting that.

Rev. Drew
Rev. Drew

"It was my understanding that Roxies was a (deleted) lesbian bar and this altercation was between 2 (deleted) lesbians. Whichever they choose to be called."

I have received different reports of what happened. I was informed that the attacker was not a Roxy's customer, and that the confrontation began with anti-gay slurs.

Regardless, the point remains. The idea that violence might resolve the disagreement is a stupid idea that too often, we believe.

You'll have to speak to an editor about the "policing" of comments, but I have not experienced a bias. The only regular writer on religion IS a Christian minister.

As for your statement about who "God, Christ and straights" will accept, I disagree. Regardless, my point still stands--God is judge, not us. If one believes working on the sabbath (or anything else) merits eternal condemnation will lead to eternal punishment, then an eternity of burning should suffice--no need to pile on during our short time on earth (especially if said reaction is put our own souls at risk).

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

Our society seems to be more tolerant of violence than diversity.

Few today are openly racist or hateful towards gay people but their is a strong undercurrent of contempt and ignorance. As a older staight white guy from Black Rock I am always surprised how many people assume I share their less than generous view of minorities and gays. These comments come from people of all demographics and are not limited to the less educated or enlightened, not very encouraging.

Rev. Drew
Rev. Drew

@grad You're welcome. I've noticed the same thing you have, and it has not been good for the pulpit or for gay people.

And silence in the face of violence allows it to continue. Because the anti-gay voices in the church are the loudest, regular people feel like "bad Christians" for standing up for victims of violence. Reasonable people stay quiet, and what should be a simple matter turns into "us vs. them."

This ridiculous, of course. Nobody deserves to get stabbed in the eye.

The Kettle
The Kettle

A whole lot of nonsense in that post.

JohnQBuffalo
JohnQBuffalo

It was my understanding that Roxies was a (deleted) lesbian bar and this altercation was between 2 (deleted) lesbians. Whichever they choose to be called.

Therefore, I dont understand why there should be an accusation of it being an anti-gay attack. Sounds like it was either an assualt based on sexual orientation or some other non-sexual orientation reason. Neither justified but I dont believe in a special class of crime for a special class of people. A crime should just be a crime and a human being should be a human being.

Neither lesbian (deleted) was an active or lapsed christian as far as was reported. Therefore, I fail to see how christianity can and should be brought into this by grad94.

Further it is very clear to me that both deleted (lesbians) would have benefited and this occurance could have been prevented if they were active christians and churchgoers. So rather than grad94 rebuking christians perhaps she should be apologizing for their blatant left wing agnostic, atheistic secular prejudices.

Grad94 is of a long string of anti-christian leftwing thought radicals and marxists that want to politicize the church in an attempt to delegitimize it so they can be free to live their individualistic life where marriage is optional, husbands and wives are optional, birth and abortion are optional, pornography is expression, sex doesnt involve love, etc. In other words, they want the right to live the life of the anti-christ...a life without a soul or a spirit or a faith.

Infact...one has to wonder why BuffaloRising polices anything mentioning jews as antisemetic but it wont police anything remotely anti-christian. I smell hypocrisy! Is there a double standard that seculars and jews may accuse and demean christians but jews, feminists, gays may not be critized by any.

Last point. True, some christians believe homosexuality is wrong but then so do some jews, muslims, hindi, etc. Are they are to be blamed for grad94s atheism and agnotisticism and anti-christian prejudice? There are many christians that would say it is more how you love that determines god and christs acceptance...for which neither the straigh public nor god are going to say that acceptance of gays in loving relationships means acceptance of what seculars really want which is acceptance of a hedonistic anti-christ lifestyle. Neither god nor christ nor straights are going to accept cross dressing, spandex clad twinks, ball gag S&M, rotating and open relationships that last 1-2 months, etc. Butit is the humanity that the gay community and the radical leftwing marxists are fighting for us to accept.

For the record...its the christians that cared for the generations of gays that died slow slow deaths because of a dangerous lifestyle that even today the gay community wants to justify...even as the gay community embraced christianity and marriage and all the christian principles of compassion, commitment and caretaking for a monogomous lifelong partnership to end the plague of HIV/AIDs upon their community. Sadly, some people cannot evenunderstand the pro-christian movement in the gay and straight community because their so blinded by their own demons of secular atheism.

Thank you...

jimmy
jimmy

dude, can I bum a *** and a light?

KarlMalone
KarlMalone

I've never understood the whole gay thing. I mean when the Bills score a touchdown, you have 78 thousand gay people in the stadium. I won 40 bucks in a scratch off and was gay as good be. i wish more people could be gay, especially in the cold weather. Why should we stab happy people.

hamp
hamp

Thank you. There is no place for bigotry in this city.

grad94
grad94

on behalf of the many gay people who are my neighbors, friends and relatives, thank you thank you thank you.

having said that, the pulpit is the loudest ugliest source of antigay rhetoric in modern america. it is one reason i steer clear of religion. considering how many people get "homosexuality is an abomination" drilled into them every sunday, it is a remarkable that attacks like this do not occur more often.

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