Sunday, May 13, 2007

just war

There's always a lot of discussion when our nation is at war, whether it is a just war or not.

Now there are Christians who feel there is nothing wrong with answering the government's call to take arms against another nation during a war. This is a matter of individual conscience, and I have to say that it is an area I cannot in good conscience ever agree to. I don't believe that any war can be considered just.

War is such a fundamental abrogation of what God intended for the human race, so contrary to how Christ desires to relate to one another, that I cannot see myself ever supporting a war. Evil must be stopped, and evil men must be stopped, but I'm unconvinced that war is the best way to do it.

Hitler invariably comes up in these discussion, with the question "What could you do to stop someone like him, that doesn't involve military force?" And my honest answer is, I don't know. I don't know what other response makes sense against something as mindlessly evil as the Third Reich.

And yet, I can't see a way for the Romanians to overthrow a totalitarian government with all the firepower, and yet they did, in 1990.

I can't see a way for blacks, shoved to the margin of American society in the 1950s, to step forward and make tremendous strides in securing their right to vote, in securing equal protection under the law for their civil rights, in ending a prevalent culture of racism and segregation, without resorting to violence,and yet they did.

I can't see a way for Mahatma Gandi to drive the British out of India without inspiring an armed uprising, and yet he did.

War is easier than peace. It allows the mighty to triumph and to get what they want, and it forces the lesser party to acquiesce, swallow their pride (and even their dignity), and admit the superior claim of the other party.

Earnestly seeking peace means putting another's needs first, putting yourself in the position of weakness, and risking real and serious loss. It requires trying to understand enemies, listening to their needs, and putting them ahead of yourself and your own interests. Isn't that what Christ calls us to do?

War may at times be "just" to the extent that bombing cities, killing civilians, and blowing up men and women because we disagree with the policies of their leaders can ever be said to be just, but I don't think we can ever claim that it is good or even best. David was barred from building the Temple because his hands were stained with the blood of war, and Jesus himself declared, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." I can't see war fitting into that equation.

War happens because Caesar too often is a small man who thinks his sword gives him the right to rattle his saber and compel us to do his bidding, even if it's something as odious as killing. I think as Christians, it's more our responsibility to see that everyone discovers the freedom that Christ brings, which includes the freedom to take back for ourselves the right to self-governance that Caesar keeps presuming to take from us.

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