America and Christians Part Two: Military

Disclaimer: This are only my opinions, presented to generate discussion on the issue. It is completely fine if you disagree. I respect the fact you may have another opinion and ask you respect mine. Comment on any part of this, whether you agree or disagree. Again this is presented to generate discussion.

Should a Christian be apart of the military? Some would say yes and use Old Testament examples of how military force was and is necessary and therefore a Christian can be in the military. But is this view congruent with the whole of the Bible?

The Old Testament is full of war and God commanding war, so is it alright for us as Americans to participate in the military. I think we have a better standard to look at than the Old Testament and that would be (the stock answer of) Jesus. Jesus seems to turn around the view of war. If your enemy strikes you on your right cheek then turn and give him your left (Matt 5:39). Also the earliest Christians were antiwar and pacifists. It is not until Constantine really that this began to change. Now that the emperor is a Christian and part of his job is to protect the empire he and theologians had to needed to did make war okay. If you notice, there is a connection between patriotism and military force being justified. Unfortunately 11 September 2009 seems to have affected our beliefs and engrained in our beliefs that military response is right and responsible. Again going back to Jesus, they struck our right cheek so should we not offer them our right? (I am not sure how that would work, I do not believe we should provoke them into attacking again.) America as a nation obviously had to respond but to see evangelicals to have also responded in such a way is disheartening to me. We should have been seeking a peaceful way to have this taken care of (this does not mean for Afghanistan to just kill the Taliban). We should be pushing for world peace (though it is not likely to occur). The just war theory, while endorsed by the Catholic church, U.S., and more, it is not a correct theory according to Jesus. The crusades were wrong1 and together we (Christians) should apologize as a whole for them. Most of the crusades were failures and only strengthened the hate between Christians and Muslims. We should be working to repair the relations, this would then increase our chances in the evangelization process. If they hate us why would they listen (especially if we continue to blame them, which we are finally lessening) but if we can build a dialogue relationship with them, it would create opportunities for us to witness to them.

So getting back to the main topic, should we as Christians be in the military, no. We should be attempting to make peace and be willing to be martyrs for the cause of Christ. It is our job to love and respect (love your enemies [Matt 5:44; Luke 6:27,35]). If that endangers our lives then we must trust that God has an ultimate plan. Take for instance Jim Elliot and Nate Saint. They were both killed attempting to witness to the Huaorani tribe. However in the long run many of the tribe have become Christians including two members that were in the party that killed Jim Elliot and Nate Saint. I am not promoting a martyr complex for we are to try to attempt to broker peace without violence. The military does not fall into line with this idea. Sorry Augustine but the only Just War is no war according to Jesus. Does this mean we should not support the troops, no. We should not support the military or the wars. People, yes; actions, no. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword (Matt 26:52). Does the sound like a promising statement?

1. See Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller for an interesting take on this.

Come back next Wednesday for the next part Politics.

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