Just War: A Christian Perspective Part 5

Read Part 1 , Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Expanding The Principles To Nations

Let me quote an old proverb, “What is good for the goose is good for the gander.” The goose represents the female and the gander the male. The moral of the proverb is “what is good for one is good for the other.” In our case, it means what is good for the individual is good for all individuals. A nation is nothing but a large group of individuals located in a single geographic jurisdiction.  

Offensive warfare, where your army is the invading army or warfare not predicated on a violent attack on your nation, is not self-defense and therefore against God’s law. Just war is waged in defense of nation, not in offense to maintain or expand your nation’s influence financially or geographically. Such is murder, plain and simple. No matter how pure a country portrays its motives. Offensive war is not according to the Law of God. Christian principles demand that we encourage and protect life, not take it. Just as an individual cannot act with violence against another, neither can a nation act violently against another. There must be a just cause.

Further, if civilian non-combatants are killed in battle, determinations will have to be made. Was it an accident? Did we indiscriminately kill without restraint? Were the strike coordinates wrong for a missile attack? Was their negligence on our part? Were our enemies using women and children as human shields? Were they placing ammo dumps next to hospitals or schools? At the time of this writing (mid-2022), Amnesty International recently released a report about Ukraine using this last tactic. 

The answers to these questions matter, and our behavior in humbly seeking forgiveness and making restitution also matters. Nations must be humble and seek forgiveness, just as a person must be humble and seek forgiveness. Rulers do not live under a different standard than those they rule, or at least they shouldn’t.

Nations sometimes use deception to make it appear justified in warfare. These are called “false flags.” President Lyndon Johnson engaged in this behavior in a famous event that supposedly occurred in the Bay of Tonkin in Vietnam. We placed our destroyers in position to receive fire from tiny Vietnamese gunboats. The Bay of Tonkin was used as the justification for the United States entering the Vietnam War, which was not a war but a U.N. policing action. The result was the death of over 50,000 American men, not to mention hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. The moral wounds inflicted upon our surviving soldiers that engaged in warfare, killing other human beings without believing in or being unsure of their moral good, led to terrible societal problems when they returned. To murder doesn’t just take a life; it damages the integrity of the soul and causes psychological wounds that cannot be born by some. Psychological wounding helps to explain the elevated suicide rate among soldiers. They are men who deal death. They are the rough men at the edges of our society that keep us safe and for whom we should be thankful. When we ask them to violate the law of God in warfare, we often end up taking their lives too. Unjust warfare afflicts the conscience. Not only is suicide the result, but broken marriages, psychological disorders, and homelessness also come in the wake of moral wounding such as this. Society as a whole is damaged because wounded people wound others.

What determines a just war is the principles of the 6th commandment. Whether our enemies are a democracy or not doesn’t play into it. Whether they have an upstanding and trustworthy leader should not be considered. The religion they follow should not be a determining factor either. Did we shoot at them first, or did they shoot at us? Did they invade us, or did we invade them? Did they take actions to provoke us by putting their ships, tanks, planes, or people in harm’s way to provide justification, or did we? Who is innocent, and who is guilty? A Just War is waged when it has to be waged to defend our nation, not for the sake of democracy, or N.A.T.O, the E.U., or the U.N. This is the principle followed by the people of this great nation up until World War II, though not always by our government. It took the sinking of the Lusitania by a German U-Boat shedding American blood before we entered World War I. We did not enter World War II until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. Pearl Harbor remains to this day the only attack ever to have been committed on American soil. Congress declared war the very next day on December 8th. 

Look for the final section of this essay along with the testimonies our congregation has made based on these truths next Friday.

May God be with you!

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