Would Jesus bomb a nation?
March 8, 2008
There are very few bloggers on the internet that I respect more than Brian LePort. Always thoughtful, never caustic and many times right, Brian’s blog is required reading for anyone interested in some serious theologically cultural thinking. But I think he misses a few things in his recent post dealing with the nature of violence.
Let me first of all I say that I agree with Brian’s main thesis: Violence does beget violence. It’s pretty obvious: Just visit a group of 5 year olds to understand how contagious pushing and shoving can be. Christ taught this principle starting from the inside: That sin within the heart is the source of visible sin, or “violence.”
Where I disagree with Brian is in his line of thinking that seeks to apply these principle to republican government. This paragraph suffices:
On the other hand, whether the words of Jesus concerning the response to violence being “turn the other cheek” are pragmatic, or transferable to all cases of received violence, though debatable, must at least be recognized as a warning to those who believe that violence can somehow stop violence. It cannot.
When 9/11 took place we realized how terrible violence is. Our response? More violence inand (and now we talk about going further into or into ). While almost three thousand people died on 9/11, over four thousand coalition soldiers have died in Iraq alone (almost four thousand of those being Americans) and we have lost an addition eight hundred (rounded off) in Afghanistan. The Iraqi death total has almost reached thirty-nine thousand (13x’s that of 9/11!).
Admittedly, the numbers are staggering. But I think his implication is off a bit.
War is itself the result of sin. No one wars in heaven or will war in the New Earth. But the principle of a total fall seems to demand at some point that some sin in the world is so heavily built in that to seek to sweep it away on the surface would lead to more death and more sin. Example: God’s commands to the Israelites to destroy the nations they were entering. God made it clear that He was simultaneously fulfilling his covenant oath to Abraham and judging the nations for their sin. His command was war. Why would God command war? And why would Christ, a thousand years later command His disciples to “turn the other cheek”?
My answer is this: Because Jesus’ ministry was not concerned immediately with a nation, but with a people. The difference is significant: Christ called for repentance from the people, not for military success for Israel as a nation. God led the nation in an activity that no suriving culture has ever been able to avoid. War is simply something that happens between nations. That does not imply it should be done frivolously or for any reason. But sometimes it must, and I think the message from God to a republican government is much different than His message to individuals hearts.
Theocracy cannot happen because a nation endures a much more peculiar existence than a person. I have no problem a Mormon president, but I would definitely have a problem with a Mormon pastor or deacon. I have no problem with laws allowing homosexuals to practice homosexuality, but I do think homosexuality is sinful and harmful. The difference is my views on how a government exists on its level (as a dynamic entity to maximize protection and freedom) and how people exist on theirs (as a creation of God to honor Christ in all of life).
I support the idea of just war. Would Jesus bomb a nation? I think He would, but He wouldn’t be a racist. Government and the individual do not relate to God exactly the same, because their existence entails differences. Therefore, a government would be right to fight and kill for the freedom of her people. That these things must happen is a result of sin, but they must happen, and to ignore this would be a serious misunderstanding that would lead to catastrophic results.