Just War Sunday School – Concluding Session
please feel free to continue the discussion anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org
Iraqi Children’s Fund website http://sicfiraq.org/
Hauerwas (hat tip Feucht)
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” not “blessed are the non-combatants.”
Responding to what we’ve learned
Inform our skepticism of our government? Our media?
Inform our view of history?
Spur us on to think critically about our foreign policy?
Give us pause when the next war is being sold to us?
Reflect/Resist war culture in everyday living?
Re-orient our political conversations and voting?
Create a need to take action?
Chip away at some of our idols? Which idols?
What are your thoughts?
Worries for Christians Enlisting:
Doesn’t it seem that, given what we know about the US military and the conflicts of the last 100 years, the probability is high that an enlisted member will be required to participate in, or materially support unjust war waging? Enlisting does not allow selective objection to particular conflicts. So shouldn’t a Christian avoid putting himself into a position where he might have to choose between waging unjust war or being locked up?
Or given the difficulty of getting good information and discerning whether a war is just in the heat of the conflict, should a Christian enlist and then hope that he has both the information he needs to judge whether the war is just, as well as the moral fortitude to take the consequences of refusing to serve, if he finds the war is unjust?
Or given the increasing scope and frequency of covert operations, might a Christian in almost any role in the military assume that he is at times materially supporting covert actions, the justice of which is almost certainly not open for him to examine? And aren’t most covert ops ipso facto unjust?
How would the church adequately prepare a Christian young man to join the military?
Course in Christian ethics and just war? How to get better information and discern the truth? How to stand up to leadership and peer pressure when asked to violate principles?
Jonathan Webb in response to these worries:
These questions are of exceptional importance and very practical. I will do my best to give an answer.
2 Timothy 2:4. A soldier does his duty with the greatest respect for life and is unconcerned about why.
Acts 27:43. It was a soldier for the evil empire Rome that protected the Apostle Paul.
As a general rule I am convinced that even bad policy when implemented by faithful Christian soldiers can be redeemed. My caution to Christians is the line of work they choose in the military. An Christian infantry man can be very effective in turning bad policy into a blessing because he Is the tip of the spear. The point where the policy has impact. An example of a job in the military that may be problematic is a position such as the person that pushes the button that fires a missile from a predator drone that kills a person in a country from which we get our intel from the local about who the bad guy are.
So what I am saying is that it is better to be at the tip if the spear where policy has impact. In my experience this place is the safest morally and most effective place for a Christian soldier.
Finally, there are any number other positions that a soldier could fill in the military that in my understanding would fall under the 2 Timothy 2:4 guidelines.
I would love to see the bulk of the armed services be Christians as opposed to Christians leaving the armed forces. If Christians no longer serve we may have a very large corruption problem indeed. Luke 3:14
There is much more to say on the subject. I hope this helps.
Some dialogue on Jonathan Webb’s response
Jonathan’s focus is on the possibility of a good soldier bringing relative good out of a bad situation based on bad policy. He does not address the larger policy issue and though he discusses the relative moral flexibility within different positions within the military. The burden of the worry outlined is more about the individual’s decision to join the military, given the dubious nature of the war it wages.
Problem: the fact that God can and does redeem many of our actions does not give us a moral ground for those actions
Other issues you wish we had covered
Other spin-off classes:
Christians against Torture
Christians and Politics
Christians Ethics: Drones, Torture
Christians and History
Christians and Genocide
Christians and Justice
What are your thoughts?