Matthew R. Perry

War! What Is It Good For? Plenty!

In Culture, War on Terror on November 20, 2006 at 7:42 pm

I recently wrote in to our state Baptist newspaper, the Western Recorder, about the topic of war. As you will read, it is in response to those who say that it violates Jesus’ command to love our enemies. I’m not completely happy with the wording or the flow, but my thoughts are there.

Over the last couple of years, I have read letters from many of our Kentucky Baptists urging us to take up Jesus’ teaching to love our enemies and use that as a mandate for America to stay out of war. While I am not promoting our administration’s actions (I’m an Independent, for the record), I believe this is a great misuse of our Savior’s teaching.

Jesus did teach us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, but here He is speaking on how we as individuals should treat one another — this is not for governmental action. God speaks that “vengeance is mine, I will repay.” Note though that when Jesus was approached by a Roman soldier on issues of faith, Jesus never told the soldier to quit being a soldier. Why? Because soldiers in military, as well as police officers for that matter are ordained by God to help keep the peace — and sadly for many of them it often involves drastic measures to make sure the citizens of our country are at peace.

Paul notes that every governing authority has been given and “instituted by God” (Romans 13:1) and that God ordains those rulers to take care of injustice and crime and evil doing that threatens the harmony of the citizens (Romans 13:4). Some want to take Jesus and put Him against the Apostle Paul, but that is misguided as well, for all Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16).

If we are going to teach the Word of God that we are to “love our enemies,” then tell them that this is not for countries in general, but for individuals. For the same Bible says that our government should protect the sanctity of life and peace here in this country. God often uses these administrations that he has placed in power as a vehicle of his justice.

Matthew R. Perry
Lexington, KY

  1. Except for ending communism, naziism, fascism, and the holocaust, war has never solved anything.

  2. Oh yeah, it also ended slavery.

  3. Just like having God’s peace, we have to go to war daily to beat back our sin (Mark 9:42-50).

  4. I struggle all the time with “turning the other cheek,” even though I know it’s the right thing to do. But I would never presume to turn someone else’s cheek, which is what pacifists want. When a country refuses to make war simply on the grounds that “war is not the answer,” then it has consigned every one of its citizens to repeatedly being slapped (to put it mildly).

    I think that argument works for the war in Afghanistan. The Iraq war is a more difficult case to justify. I believe it is a just war, but I can understand people who disagree. But in any case, there certainly are such things as just wars.

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