T Nation

War and Christian Love


#1

I started this thread as an offshoot of a hijack in the serious religious debate version2 thread.

The question revolves around the seeming incongruity of Christians being known for their love and the fact that Christians participate in war against other Christians and non-Christians.

First, it is important to note that the Bible is very specific about the fact that Christians are to respond to persecution for their faith with love (turn the other check, bless them which persecute you for your faith, love one another). This does not apply to direct physical threats to property, person or family. Nowhere in Scripture can you find an injuction against protecting yourself and your family from criminal activity or defense of home in times of war.

Now, can the Christian exercise love beyond the proscriptions concerning his faith - certiainly if he or she so chooses - free will again - if you choose to allow someone to steal all of your stuff, rape and kill your family and burn your house to the ground and choose to love that person and refuse to punish or prosecute them - good on you. But it is not required of you by Scripture.


#2

Right, but I wonder how Christ would look upon so-called Christians who choose to drape themselves in costume to travel around the world -- all in the name of "peace, freedom, and democracy", mind you -- and kill people whom are no threat to them.


#3

Jesus and angels and the father on occasion stood up for people to protect them from violence.


#4

^and how did that work out for them...?


#5

Same way we do - if you spot one, let me know


#6

I do not think it is wrong to defend yourself against those you try to hurt you or your family. In the US of A, most wars are not fought to defend the country from other attackers. Is it right to engage in violence when it is not in defense.

As dmaddox mentioned in the other thread, Christians are commanded to live by the laws of our place of residence. But when the laws of the land conflict with the laws in the bible, what are we going to do?


#7

Pretty well for the ones I'm thinking of. Talking angry mobs out of stoning and such.


#8

If you are referring to Laws then that is in the Old Testament, and there is nothing wrong with Wars. The Hebrews did it all the time both as agressors, and as defenders.

If you are referring to the New Testament and the thought of Love your neighbor as yourself. I would like to throw out there that Discipline is a form of Love. If your neighbor, universal or actually our next door neighbor, out of Love they might need some discipline. This should be a last resort of course. For example, Sadam Hussein. He murdered his own people because they did not do exactly what he wanted them to do. As Christians should we stand by and do nothing to help these people? I would say Sadam needed a bit of discipline. We tried sanctions, but people went around those, we tried diplomacy but he kicked them all out of his country. What should we have done? God gave us the ability to help those that can not help themselves. As Christians we are to act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. To turn the other cheak is a personal idea when you are unjustly dealt with, but when it comes to others if we have the ability to help then I think Jesus would want us to do so. You can argue that Iraq was better off under the Sadam regime, but I think the people over there would say differently. Only time will tell though.

These are just my $0.02 though. I am open for debate on this one though.


#9

Matthew 5:38-40 (King James Version)

38Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

41And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

42Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

I think that's pretty conclusive IrishSteel?


#10

No.


#11

As a non-christian, I would appreciate a slightly more elaborate explanation as to why AtomicFootball's quote should not be construed as an abject embrace of pacifism.


#12

If you find the scripture not conclusive the perhaps your opinion is wrong Sloth?


#13

I would also like to hear Sloth's point.

I will say that this scripture used is talking about the individual and not a nation or group of people. I can see why someone would see it that way though. It is talking about going the extra mile to show love to an individual and not a nation to a nation. Jesus originally came to witness to the nation of Israel, but when it turned its back on him, when the scholars, pharasees and Saducees called him acting for Beelzubub (Luke 11:14-28 for reference) his ministry turned to the individual person's heart.


#14

Actually, I've been told some pretty interesting things about the quotes in question. They aren't apparently strict pacifism, but more passive resistance.


#15

Turning the left check would have forced the aggressor to either use his unclean hand (an act that would make him unclean) or to not slap you again.

Giving the guy your cloak (leaving you naked) would have been against the law and would make the person taking your clothes a criminal for leaving you naked.

Once again, it was legal for a roman soldier to make a person carry his things, but it was limited to one mile. Carrying a soldiers things for 2 miles could get the soldier in trouble.

I don't these commands denying self defense. And it certainly doesn't prevent you from defending someone else.

I was working from memory on those passages, so correct me if I'm wrong, but as I understand those teachings, it isn't strict pacifism.


#16

When Christ said turn the other cheek it was not meant as passiveness but a way to humble your enemy. Usually, in the ancient world, one would strike someone of a lower status with the left hand because it was unclean. By turning the other cheek, you were forcing them to strike with their right hand putting you on even level with them.

The Bible makes it clear in the Old Testament that God rewards those that follow his ways and punish their enemies. There are several instances in the Old Testament of the Jews winning battles thanks to their righteousness and losing due to their unfaithfulness. However, they were not really trying to spread the word of God.

I would say that love is the best way to spread Christian values not war. This is something that I, along with countless others, have harped on for years.


#17

I can most certainly see that. Turning the other cheek is in fact a challenge to a man to be most wholly consumed by evil to strike again.


#18

I have never heard that before, but I will say sounds legit.


#19

Matthew 5:38-40 (King James Version)

38Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

41And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

42Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

I think that's pretty conclusive IrishSteel?
/quote]

I was hoping someone would cite that passage - Thanks!

Very important to begin that passage from verse 20: "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."

And then he goes into explaining for the rest of the passage that merely fulfilling the letter of the law was not sufficient - you had to fulfill the spirit of law. That was the basis for all of the statements that followed - "you have heard it said - but I say unto you"

BUT IRISH THAT MEANS BEING PERFECT ENTAILS DOING THOSE THINGS!?! - yep, exactly right. to avoid failing at not keepong the law (the only other means of going to heaven) means that you have to have kept the letter and spirit of the Law of Moses.

SO DON"T WE STILL HAVE TO DO THOSE THINGS? - most certainly, see the last verse in that chapter. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." A lofty goal to be sure.

DOES THAT MEAN THAT CHRISTAINS CANNOT PROTECT THEIR LIFE / FAMILY OR BE A SOLDIER IN DEFENSE OF HIS NATION? Romans 13 settles the soldier/state action question - Governments do not bear the sword in vain, but use it to punish evil - thus evil acts deserving of death are able to be dealt with by the sword (death). If the government can punish evil by death from a military arm, then it must have a military to effect the punishment of evil men, thus serving in the military to protect the homes and lives of your fellow countrymen from evil threats is not only good but as part of the God-given responsibility of a government - a virtuous act of the citizen called to military service.

Luke 22:35-38 - the twelve disciples are sent out without money, or even extra shoes, but they do take 2 swords for protection and Jesus tell them to leave the swords? No, he states, "it is enough" - directly allowing for the disciples to take and use these swords for their own personal defense.

Now, i am running out of time for posting today - so I'll have to close here - but the point is this - the Bible does not forbid war, being a soldier (just be content with your wages) or having weapons for self-defense.

Thus there has to be some kind of connection between the Sermon on the Mount and personal defense of one's life and family. here it is - Just because I love you, doesn't mean I will let you kill or injure myself or my family - nowhere in the Sermon on the Mount is there a requirement to allow someone to rape your wife or kill you, or harm your children to prove your righteousness - what is required is this:

you do not allow petty insult to lead to violence based on your pride
you do not hold a grudge for a lost judgements from a lawsuit - if you lost - give even more, because you were in the wrong.
you demonstrate more than the legally required service to your nation - roman law allowed for soldiers to compel civilians to carry their equipment exactly one mile - the Christian should be willing to go farther.
you should give your coat to someone in need and see what else you can provide as well - charitable in your dealings with the less fortunate.

the last part of that passage is self-explanatory, but let me know if you are having trouble with that. Bototm line - the sermon on the mount does not prohibit one from defending his life, his family, his property or his nation from the deeds of evil men.


#20

I don't believe Jesus was a "just let bad shit happen" kinda guy. In most of the confrontations he holds up the proverbial mirror and forces people to confront themselves, these teachings included. If Jesus wasn't god, he was at least one of the best philosophers ever.

You could delete all miracles/revelations out of the text and still have a wonderful book of teachings.