Christians and War

soldierMany Christians have debated whether or not Christians should partake in war for their country. There are many factors to this debate and many parties debating. Some think that Christians (as well as the rest of humanity) should be entirely pacifist and find diplomatic solutions to problems between countries.  Some believe in “just war” or war that is justified based on whatever they are fighting for. For example a just war might be fighting for the freedom of our brothers and sisters in another country. Some believe that it’s up to the individual Christian and God’s calling specific to that person. Others think that because our Government is ordained by God, so also are the wars of the government. The possibilities are endless as to the differing beliefs of Christians on the topic of their participation in wars.

 When I asked a person in my life whose faith I look up to about their opinions on war they referenced David and Gideon and said that War can often be God ordained. I find that many Christians look to the Hebrew Bible when faced with the question. However, when asked about war through a purely new testament perspective, many people are stumped. Although the popular consensus seems to dictate that the “just war” perspective is most popular. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, (http://ethics.sandiego.edu/Books/Texts/Aquinas/JustWar.html) “Wars are lawful and just in so far as they protect the poor and the entire common weal from suffering at the hands of the foe.”

Other opinions range from drastically different to extremely similar. Some people range on the side of pacifism, saying that no matter what the cause or government Christians should not in any way participate in war. They like to state that we are to turn the other cheek. We are to love our enemies. God is the one who should take vengeance, not us. Innocent lives will be taken. There’s no such thing as a just war since each side thinks that it is just.  They have many reasons to promote pacifism. In an ideal world that would work perfectly. Diplomacy would solve all problems and there would be no violence, ever. But the fact of the matter is that this is not an ideal world. It’s full of sin and sinful people and if no Christians rise up and help, minister to the dying and participate in assisting their government (who was ordained by God) then the world will only fall to more violence and the soldiers will have no one to minister to them in the hardest moments of their lives.

Ultimately I think that the just war theory is the most probable. John Piper offers up his opinion saying that I, “know that’s a huge issue, but I think the Just War theory is an appropriate biblical reflection on which wars are warranted and which aren’t. Almost everybody agrees that in World War II it was right for the Allies to engage in violence against the aggressors, Germany and Japan.”(http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/ask-pastor-john/was-dietrich-bonhoeffer-wrong-to-plot-against-hitlers-life )Greg Boyd says, “But suppose, for the sake of argument, we grant that political freedom is a just cause worth killing and dying for. This doesn’t yet settle the matter for a kingdom person contemplating enlisting in war (or not resisting being drafted into war); for one has to further appreciate that there are many other variables alongside the central criterion of justice that affect whether or not a particular war is ‘just.’” (See more at: http://reknew.org/2008/01/does-following-jesus-rule-out-serving-in-the-military-if-a-war-is-just/#sthash.xioywnfq.dpuf)

Just war is much more akin to my personal beliefs. I think that God ordained the government and can exact his vengeance through them. I think that it’s good to follow our government as God ordained (except for specific cases of being extremely ungodly). Also there are cases, such as the aforementioned world war two case, where it does seem just for a Christian to go to war to defend those people that Hitler was unjustly killing.  I think that in the case of defense it’s just for a Christian to participate in a war. So I guess ultimately I’m more for just war, and it seems that many other Christians are as well. When it comes to cases like the war in Iraq where it was a preemptive strike, it’s harder to justify. Some say it was wrong and Christians should not have participated due to the lack of justice, others say it was defense, just going on the offensive before we needed to be defensive. I think that along with just war there are a lot of gray areas.  It would be a lot easier to be pacifist and say no violence ever, but because I believe that it is sometimes necessary, I can’t choose to think that way. I know that sometimes the issue of war can be very gray, so in the end each Christian needs to rely on God to help them make the choice for how much they will participate.

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2 thoughts on “Christians and War

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