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The Call For Justice
“Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely.” Proverbs 28:5 (ESV)
When we hear of, read about, or see a person being wrongfully treated, an anger builds up within us. And I would even go as far as to say that this anger over wrongful treatment of another human being, or animal, is a Righteous anger because I believe that this anger is a result of our godly call of upholding the Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. We want to fight for others because we have a sense within us of what is right/fair and what is NOT right/fair. N.T. Wright, a well-regarded New Testament scholar and Christian author, even starts his book “Simply Christian” with a first chapter that is dedicated to proving just this; that humans have an innate sense of Justice, and how that sense comes from God.
It is in this understanding that we can understand how a Christian supporter of war would justify their position in stating that the military is fighting against and preventing further injustices, and that it may even be quite Christian to join the fight themselves.
I believe that to desire to act against injustice is Righteous; however, where I part ways with many is when I make the claim that any use of violence against another human being (no matter how “bad” they are), that is not blessed or commanded by God, is against how God calls the Christian to respond to their world.
To give you an insight into who I am, and how I come at things: I was raised Mennonite, which is a tradition that has consistently advocated against Christians engaging in violence since its inception. However, I am also a gun owner and I have handled rifles and shotguns ever since I was a young child under the careful supervision of my father who always taught me that guns are never toys, and that they are a tool used to help us hunt and provide for our families. I own a shotgun now because I would like to get more into Deer Hunting (My area is Shotgun only), and I also have an itch to go for water fowl as well in the future. I tell you these things so that you can know that I am not someone unfamiliar with guns, and I am not writing this post with the agenda to take away anyone else’s guns – this is NOT a political post…I am writing this post out of my devotion to Christ, and out of my discontent over how many of His followers do not bat an eye over the prospect of killing in War, Service, Self-Defense, or Intrusion.
I do not take this position out of ease, but out of a direct calling for me, the Christian, to FOLLOW Christ, and as a good friend reminded me of the other day – to be a SLAVE of Christ. It is in recognizing that I am a SLAVE of Christ, that I am affirm that Christ is my Lord. This affirmation would naturally necessitate complete obedience in as much as I am able, and it would also place the call and Lordship of Christ over my life over all else.
But even in recognizing all of those things, even in carrying that logic through, I still am a man who wrestles with this very topic because my nature is one that would retaliate evil for evil if I saw injustice before my eyes. This nature to retaliate with violence is not just my nature, but it is human nature, and I would also argue that it is our fallen nature. In this understanding I derived the title of this project – Redeemed Natures, for our Natures need to be redeemed in order to make sense of NOT responding to violence with violence.
I would like to think that I would remain steadfast in my pacifistic confessions in the midst of trial, but no one knows for certain. My only hope is that I would be able to resolve any given situation without killing anyone, and if I do not “fight” for non-violence NOW in the intellectual sense, how will I ever truly desire to go against that which comes naturally when the time comes when action is needed?
Before I go on, it is important for the reader to know that I hold the position I do because of careful study of the Scriptures, through engaging conversation with people of many beliefs, and through prayer. I believe that the bible clearly says that murder/killing is wrong; not only within the Words and teachings of Jesus, or in the Ten Commandments, but all throughout scripture (I will expound on this later). And to make the line even finer, I do not think that there is a difference between killing someone, and murdering someone; to kill is to murder, and to murder is to kill. This is important because I have spoken with several people who would make the distinction when the duties of a government position calls for the use of violence. Their reasoning stems from Romans 13, in which the Government is allowed to “wage the sword” (We’ll get to that one later on as well).
A Glimpse of my argument from the Old Testament
Most of us know Christ’s famous words “turn the other cheek”, and “love your enemies”; however, we also know that the Israelites in the Old Testament were notorious for war, they were good at it, and that God even helped, and commended them in battle. A quick read through the books of 1+2 Samuel, and 1+2 Kings will tell you all that you need to know about how God used the kings, prophets, and soldiers of the nation of Israel to carry out His will during those times.
These truths are present in the Scriptures, and they are not to be ignored. However, I have come to realize a pattern in the Old Testament in regards to warfare, which I will expound upon in more detail in the next chapter. To provide you with a glimpse of the argument I will be presenting, I wish to provide you with this:
- The Lord is justified to take life
- If anyone is justified to take a life on their own authority, it can only be God who is perfect in knowledge, and who has absolute authority over all creation.
- The Lord is justified to command others to take life
- We see this in the Lord permitting, blessing, and commanding the Israelites to take life in war.
- Man who kills without the Lord’s command/Instruction/blessing will be punished because it is doing that which is outside of the Will of God.
I am simply a follower of Jesus who desires to share the message of Christian non-violence because I believe that we are commanded by God not to kill, and that that commandment extends to Christians in government, and it even extends to those messy situations where violence seems like the only hope. I desire this message to spread because it is one of the most noticed yet overlooked commands and messages of Jesus, and I believe that Christians should take His word’s seriously. In having this desire, I also realize that the people who are okay with Christian involvement in the military most likely do not hold the position that I advocate for, or are simply unaware of a consistent biblical argument for Christian non-violence that extends past an individual’s every day interactions. That is the purpose of this project: to humbly attempt to make a biblical case for my deeply held convictions addressed to an audience who may not have heard one.
Wright, N. T. “Putting the World to Rights.” Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006. 3-15. Print.