I hate war. War is an unimaginable horror. If one could gather up all the sights and sounds and smells of war and experience them all at once he would either go insane or die. War is a banquet of death and gruesome human injuries of the mind and body. War accelerates the process which translates a human soul from the temporal to the eternal. It is literally impossible to understand all the profound implications of war which impact generations to come.
Wives lose their husbands and in these days husbands lose their wives. Children lose their fathers. Families are changed forever. Innocent people die in war and many are dispossessed from their homes. Your children are afraid of the dark. Can you imagine what goes through an child’s being when he attempts to sleep with the sound of bombs in the distance growing ever closer? Fear is a consuming currency in war and indeed in its aftermath as well.
In former years, before men could communicate via the telegraph, leaders would accompany their armies in battle. But after Samuel Morse refined the telegraph the leader could communicate with his generals while sitting in a chair. Today our leaders can gather in an air conditioned room and watch the war in living color and make decisions about men’s lives instantaneously while sipping a latte. It has become more political than human. It now deals in the manipulation of information and wielding communication like a tool in order to guide public opinion to a place that our leaders desire.
Now we have recently entered the drone era. No longer do we need to carpet bomb places like Dresden and set the entire city ablaze. Now we can rain down fiery terror simply by the manipulation of a joystick guided by the on board camera. And when your shift is over, and after guilty and innocent people have just been blown to bits, and while a certain community begins to dig through the rubble looking for any survivors, you can punch out and meet your wife at Starbucks. It is a spectacular achievement of human ingenuity. Those who have the better technology have the power of life and death over those who do not. It is so antiseptic and allows men to kill without the messiness of traditional war and even without witnessing what carnage has been inflicted.
In fact it allows men to use innocent lives as necessary casualties if they happen to be in the circle of death meant for some terrorist who may or may not be there. It is a treatise on modern warfare and it is done without the knowledge or even the approval of anyone except a small handful of military people. It is a great feat of military engineering which shields us from the cries of mothers or children or some blood scene which includes missing heads and limbs and dogs licking up human blood mingled with dirt. We may be willing and even eager to watch fake carnage on movie screens while munching on popcorn but we have no stomach for the real thing. We will take the popcorn without the carnage thank you.
The death of one human being is a sacred event since that human being’s birth was also sacred. But war sees people as good and bad, friend and foe, and expendable and worth protecting. It is a dehumanizing spectacle, and millions watch as body counts are given on color televisions while people are reassured when their side has less casualties than the enemy. The object is to win the war and when a culture is built on the competitive spirit then war is a competition which must be won at all costs. And instead of placing their own lives in harm’s way our leaders today make life and death decisions for thousands of men and women in the comfort of a modern “war room”.
And let us not be naïve. These decisions are arrived at through personal and subjective means, and many times the desire to go to war was already in men’s hearts and therefore they can repackage information and intelligence and present it in ways which demonstrate the necessity for whichever war they want. And as our leaders leverage the patriotic spirit most of the country is resigned if not overwhelmingly supportive of war and they leave it up to the President and his generals to carry it out in whatever way they deem necessary. The enemy is presented in the most unfavorable light and the most dire future scenarios are placed before us in order to maximize the perspective that this war is absolutely necessary.
And let us not forget how wonderful war can be to a capitalist culture. I have addressed that HERE.
Now I have outlined what war is and how it operates and just how manipulative and sometimes lucrative it can be. But that is completely how fallen man goes about the business of war. It would really be impossible to understand all the ways in which the war deals in the fallen nature of mankind. But then we must as believers allow ourselves to be confronted with a question which is fundamental to the entire question of war and violence. If the entire narrative of human war is vicious, sordid, and contemptible at the foundational level, and if everything about war goes openly against all that Jesus lived and taught, then can we really be called follower of Jesus and support war even under the guise of a “necessary evil”? And term “necessary evil” itself is antagonistic to the teachings of Jesus.
But where do the teachings of Jesus begin and where do they end? Are they absolute or are they confined to certain situations but can be ignored when your desired end must include means that go against His ways? But if we admit that everything about war is antithetical to the teachings and life of Jesus, then in order to support war we must have some kind of reason why. In fact, we must find a reasonable caveat in those same teachings which can provide a truth which opens the door for a believer’s support for war. And since the entire catalogue of Jesus’ teachings are openly against violence of the body AND the mind, it not only would be doctrinal gymnastics to suggest some asterisk in His teachings allowing war in certain circumstances, but in reality it would just be an open lie.
And here is where the case for war being a part of following Jesus gets stripped of all pretentions and is revealed as a product of divided allegiances. There are no caveats that can be found in the teachings of Jesus. His teachings are so nonviolent that even violence of the mind is a sin. How can it be that those who loudly proclaim that the truth taught by Jesus is absolute and yet they themselves create their own exceptions? What kind of disingenuous logic is that? What standard of Biblical interpretation is employed when you can force feed human reason and national security into the clear revelation of Biblical truth and create a system of situational ethics? And of what value is your militant defense of Scriptural inerrancy when you take such a license and change the very nature of revealed truth? So you argue with great passion that Jonah was literally swallowed by a large fish but you do a tap dance around the teachings of Jesus? And yet you still demand to be called “orthodox”?
If you truly desire to understand the basis for such a phenomenon than it will be simple. Of course if you are resistant to any suggestion that would invade your patriotic spirit than you will feel a sense of indignity and quickly run to well worn bunkers. But if we truly desire to obey and follow Jesus then we must step back from the culture, the nation, and the world and allow the Spirit to guide us into truth without being refracted by those earthly realities.
The teachings of Jesus must be received and interpreted in a vacuum, or another words safe and apart from application. What I mean is that we must not understand His teachings as to how they apply to certain situations. We must first understand their principle and their essence and then we make specific applications without changing the essence and absolute nature of those teachings. So when your waitress is unprofessional and makes your dining experience unpleasant you cannot disregard the teaching on turning the other cheek and rail against her. You see, you cannot take a certain circumstance and then see how it can manipulate and dilute Biblical truth. You must bring Biblical truth into any circumstance and let it change the way we behave.
But let us be honest here. Who even thinks about the teachings of Jesus anymore? Who thinks about turning the other cheek even in the smallest of situations to say nothing of situations that are much more serious? But there you have a colossal problem. The culture has all but swallowed up the teachings of Jesus until we live and think apart from their influence. If you just take the Sermon on the Mount and receive them as absolute and pervasive in every and all circumstances how would it change our way of life?
It is time we step up and take responsibility for the metamorphosis that has taken place in the way we understand and obey Scripture. It is not enough to embrace the doctrines of the Trinity or the virgin birth or the inspiration of Scripture. We must now understand the blatant hypocrisy that is evident throughout American evangelicalism. I realize it feels dangerous to release your grip on the moorings you have been taught, but it is vital if we are ever going to recapture the life that is in embracing and living the teachings of the One we profess.
I have used war as a way to reveal a blatant way in which believers ignore the Scriptures, but the problem has always been divided allegiances and the refusal to see all things through an eternal and gospel lens. It all boils down to the essence of Christ’s teachings and if they are absolute in every situation. Be aware, though, if they can be changed in any situation then they are not absolute and are subject to anyone’s interpretation and which situations are applicable and which are not. This amounts to unbelief pure and simple.
Let us unpack that statement and uncover what has rarely been addressed. You cannot hold up the Bible and say “I believe the Bible!” and yet deny its complete application depending on competing allegiances. In fact when you embrace that kind of compromise you are a liberal. Wow, that will make many people uncomfortable but no one ever said believing and obeying Jesus would be comfortable. Here is one believer who says that he does not believe in abortion except in certain situations where the mother has some mitigating circumstances. We would call that compromising. But here is another person who believes we should love our enemies and do good unto them except in certain situations where there are mitigating circumstances. And yet that person gets to wear the moniker “orthodox”.
No, they both have made the Word of God bow to circumstances and they both have made application of God’s truth bend to some earthly situations. I understand that following and obeying the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament in general is a monumental task which should seem unreasonable and unachievable within the culture, but if the culture is fallen and if God’s Word is true then should we be surprised when we appear odd and out of touch with earthly realities? Just the fact that we can join hands so effortlessly with fallen unbelievers should immediately set off spiritual alarms.
But sadly, in the end the church has become so infused by the spirit of Babylon that it has no ears to hear, nor eyes to see, nor hearts to feel, and no minds to understand. And most arresting of all it has no faith to believe. That is either hyperbole or a horrifyingly bleak picture.