Saturday, July 30, 2005

Warfare: Give the Innocent the Benefit of the Doubt

There has long been a strain of pacifism in Christian thinking and practice, and it's beyond my scope here to reargue the debate. I merely wish to point out that unlike the basic tenets of the faith--Mere Christianity--it is quite debateable whether or not principled pacifism (the opposition to all violence) is taught. The verses that principled pacifists use to support their position ("Thou shalt not kill", "turn the other cheek", etc.) would seem to leave, if read in isolation, little doubt that we should never kill and we should never resist an enemy. But many pacifist don't advocate pure pacifism but a form of pacifism that leaves room for certain unusual circumstances. For instance, Deitrich Bonhoeffer was pacifist until he made room for the defeat of Hitler in his ideology.

And this brings me to my first point: there is clearly room in the Christian pacifist debate for benefit of the doubt. So let's give the benefit of the doubt to the innocent rather than to the wicked, and resist the wicked when they are doing an injustice. It's good and righteous for me to practice forebearance when personally offended, but I can't conceive of a universe in which I would be called to not resist a murder when it's within my power to protect the innocent. After all, isn't it said that no higher love can a man have that he would lay down his life for a friend (John 15:13)? What good does it do my friend if the act of laying down my life doesn't serve the protection of his own?

My second point is this: man has a built-in sense of honor and a desire to protect his loved ones and his community. I don't believe that this is at all a manifestation of our sin nature, but an expression of our higher natures. Of course the corruption of this trait is plain to see, but in its purest form it is an expression of man's willingness to endure hardship and suffering, to the very loss of his life, for a higher cause. God built us to be warriors. He just demands, to my way of thinking, that we wage war for righteous reasons, that we wage it to protect and defend the innocent, and that we practice reconciliation rather than revenge.

Cowardice offends me to my core, as does "the last resort" thinking that dithers while innocent blood is shed. When the removal of evil is most simply and effectively accomplished through the use of violence, then violence should be used. Let the committed men of honor step forward, endure the risks, and make the world a better place. Fight the Saddams and Osamas and petty warlords of this world. I believe that when we do so with forebearance and honor, that this is pleasing to the Lord.

I understand that faithful and loving Christians would disagree. For my part, I will give the benefit of the doubt to the innocent and resist the wicked.

1 Comments:

At 12:22 AM, Blogger CJ said...

Left you a little note about a comment on my blog, but just in case you missed it....

"You must have some kind of twisted mind to read that passge and assume that the men wanted sex with the angels. There is nothing in the context that would suggest anything of the kind, unless you were REALLY looking for it.

BTW, what kind of a sick MF is Lot to offer these jackasses his virgin daughters just to leave them alone?!?!?!?!?!?"

 

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