War is Bad

Just so you’ll know where I stand on the issue:

  • War is bad.
  • War is never the best way to solve anything, though sometimes it may seem to turn out to be the only way.
  • War is never just. Not when innocent civilians die or are butchered yet alive: old ones, young ones, men, women, children. Not when young and strong and brave people die or come home maimed beyond repair or psychologically scarred for life.
  • War is never the choice of the strong, but of the weak wishing to appear strong.
  • War should only be the consequence of all other alternatives having been exhaustively tried and miserably failed.
  • War therefore admits defeat at its outset.
  • War is not the way to deal with a terrorist, unless you are particularly successful at killing mosquitoes with a shotgun.
  • War is never to be the pastime of kings in the springtime.
  • War is not what Jesus had in mind when he advised his followers to get a sword. If you must quote that verse, don’t skip the next few when his followers present a certain number of swords they already have and He answers, “That’s enough.” Circle that number in blood-red in your Bible and refer to it frequently when you are tempted to quote only the first part of the story.
  • War is never God’s will. It may be within God’s will, just as many other horrific consequences of sin and failure are, to remind us that sinleadstodeath sinleadstodeath sinleadstodeath. Sin is sufficient to lead to death. We do not need to help it along by having wars.
  • There is more than enough warfare going on within the hearts of humankind, without spilling it out through our mouths and weapons grabbed by our hands.
  • I could not willingly go to war without hate in my heart. It might masquerade as love for my country or my family or my God, but if I could ever be willing to go to someone else’s land in order to kill some of their people, there would have to be some form of hatred within that I cannot dispassionately dismiss. You can be thankful to God that I am not called to be a soldier. I am not a hateful person, but I know what it is like to hate and be hated and I want no atom of it.
  • Hate is not the characteristic which defines God, His Son or His people. We may hate evil – but we had better be very blanking sure it is what God has called evil and not just what we’ve decided evil is. Because we have a tendency to label what we don’t like “evil,” without ever seeing it in the mirror.
  • Going to war is never the same as defending your life or your loved ones in your home or your hometown. Don’t ever use that analogy to justify war. They are two different things. If you cannot understand the difference between them, there are no simpler words I can use to explain it to you.
  • There may be wars that are justifiable by some, and actions within wars that are justifiable by some, but what counts is whether we try to avoid them in the first place and ask God to forgive us through Christ’s blood if they happen anyway. Then it’s justifiable if He says so. But, for God’s sake, don’t glorify it with regaling tales and paintings drenched in red and shoot-em-up-bang-bang blow-em-up-real-good movies that make my 12-year-old’s heart race and yearn for such “glory.” Glorify God instead.
  • Stop acting as if war is always inevitable. There are always alternatives. Only a few times in modern history have people acted smart enough and brave enough to try. Ask yourself: Is it more important for the mission to succeed and to kill thousands of the uninvolved through open warfare, or to attempt the mission undermanned and underpowered, with stealth and courage, even when the odds are long against you?

I could say more, but that’s enough.

For those of you who read my blog, know my heart and are aware how infrequently I use words like “never” and “ever” and “always,” then you know I have posted this with passion.

You are free to comment – though I’ve started requiring verification on anonymous comments because of spoggers and spammenters – but you will not convince me otherwise; you will simply be wasting pixels.

16 thoughts on “War is Bad

  1. Thanks for this post, you eloquently expressed my views on war for me. Not to question ones faith, I find it difficult to comprehend how one can advocate going to war in such a matter to “destroy those extreme muslim fanatics” with Christs message of love, respect, forgivness and compassion.

  2. Keith, you know I love you and I appreciate your passion. Most of all, I love your heart.Thanks for sharing.Your brother till He comes,DU

  3. Oh, my. This is really moving, Keith. Thanks so much for this. I’m rather speechless, frankly, but I still find myself typing sentences. I’ll stop now.Except to say just one more thing…It’s a shame that we often hear the Bible quoted to justify starting a war, but we rarely hear it quoted to justify STOPPING one.Thanks again for this.

  4. You know? I now think the same way. I didn’t always, though. Since I’ve changed my beliefs, I’ve felt like a turncoat, like I’m exposing a weakness deep within myself. But, after reading your post, after reading it out loud to myself, I hear a strength and power in your position I’ve never, ever been able to express. Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. I’ve been reading “God’s Politics” by Jim Wallis. He has a lot to say about what he believes are moral issues, versus what some politicians have deemed moral issues. In one chapter he talks about War being a moral issue and the imperitive for providing alternatives. Very moving. Thank you for your heart.

  6. I can feel your passion–great post–another I want to print out–I don’t know about pixels, I am using trees on your stuff. I am praying for your family, too! I want to hear where God leads you.JB

  7. I am hoping when I post this comment I can go to sleep….This post brings to mind lyrics of a song from the 70’s, you all know the chorus, but here is a great line..War! It ain?t nothing but a heartbreaker War! Friend only to the undertaker Peace Love and understanding; tell me, is there no place for them today? They say we must fight to keep our freedom But Lord knows there?s got to be a better way War! ? huh ? yeah- What is it good for? Absolutely nothing Say it again y?all and goodnight

  8. I am sure that Hitler would have wished more Americans felt this way. You can add bin Laden and the rest of his nutty followers in that category. I have a quick question. If we knew that Luxembourg was planning on launching a war that would kill 100 million innocent Americans, would the pre-emptive war against them be justified? What if 1000 Luxembourgians would die? Would you trade 100 million innocent Americans for 1000 innocent Luxembourgians?I would. That is why we differ. Sincerely,A True Benthamite Utilitarian…

  9. Dear Baron Benthamite,Those who defend war have a tendency to frame their arguments in their own boxes. You offer no alternative to wiping out 100 million Luxembourgians in your box. It’s either this or that. Limited thinking. The world isn’t like that. God wants us to think outside the box. He asks us not to count our horses. He asks us to sip or lap at the stream. He asks us to go to battle at night, armed with pots, torches and ram’s horns. He asks us to let the enemy defeat himself.That takes faith. Faith is something that our supposedly “Christian” nation sadly lacks – in addition to imagination – my friend.How could we “know” Luxembourg would attack us? The same way we “knew” Iraq had WMDs?Let me just say that I also have the greatest respect and admiration for those who choose to serve … and can apparently do so without rancor. All I said was that I couldn’t. If I could kill without rancor, I could also kill without pity; passionless as one of Star Trek’s Vulcans. That’s not me. Never will be.I can’t see Christ mowing down an oncoming army of His Father’s creation – created through Jesus Himself – with a submachine gun. I can’t see Him bombing villages from an A-10. It’s just not in His nature.That’s the kind of person that the enemy wishes there were more of; you’re quite right. So I’ll try not to take your allusions to Hitler and Bin Laden too personally.

  10. Keith,I appreciate your words, but I disagree. You say: “I can’t see Christ mowing down an oncoming army of His Father’s creation – created through Jesus Himself – with a submachine gun. I can’t see Him bombing villages from an A-10. It’s just not in His nature.”I can, and I believe that it is.It was the same God who cleared Canaan. It was the same God who flooded the world. It was the same God who will come and establish a new earth and a new Jerusalem.So, it is in his nature. But, is it according to his will?That is a different question. In answering my hypothetical scenario, you changed the fact pattern before answering. Clever, but it doesn’t answer the question.The question was whether it would be okay to kill 1000 innocent Luxembourgians if we knew it would prevent 100 million innocent American deaths. I believe it is ok. Do you?I loving disagreement,Baron

  11. Baron,I didn’t change the fact pattern. I debunked the validity of unreal hypotheticals and refused to get sucked in by yours.My question in response – and I quote from <>Buckaroo Bonzai<>: “You gonna roll those dice, Casper?” What eminently qualifies you or me or anyone else to make the decision to destroy 1000 people made in God’s image? Is it any different from the decisions Hitler made, or Osama?I still don’t believe that war is in God’s nature. Man invented it; not God. He may well have let it accomplish His purposes – and I’m talking about spiritual warfare – in a primitive culture. But it is not the way He intended for us to live.God has the authority to clear Canaan and anywhere else to suit His purposes. I don’t, and thankfully, neither do you.Sorry, man; I love you but I can’t support your point of view. Your thinking is still limited to “It’s either this or that. It’s either them or us.”You’re wasting pixels on me.

  12. I generally think it’s cheesy to comment on a blog in simple support of a post. But I can imagine (from experience) that one holding the expressed views might appreciate a simple ‘thank you’ or an ‘I agree’. So, thank you, I agree with you. I often feel very alone in my church when this subject comes up. It’s hard for me to figure out when to say something and when to keep quite. When is it my place to speak up about this? I don’t want to disrespect those in our congregation that serve in the military, but I also want them to hear that I think it is inconsistant with the Christianity that they claim. Anyway, thanks for the post. It was encouraging.

  13. Brother, thanks so much for this post. You are right on with your assessments of war. I just put up a link to this post on my blog because I was impressed with your analysis and the way you presented it so concisely and convincingly. Thanks so much!

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