or Why Sometimes Just War is Necessary
It seems like of all people, Jesus’ love would be the most effective to compassionately defeat hate, yet even his love wasn’t enough to overcome hate and violence, thus his death on the cross. So why do some Christians think that our imperfect love has any chance to overcome hate and violence today?
Likely they’d say following in the footsteps of Jesus, all the way to the cross, will display the kind of love that will overcome hate and violence. But after over 2000 years of Christians dying for their faith, wouldn’t we see at least a little decrease in the hate and violence? Yet, it just seems to grow.
Next, they’ll probably say that not enough Christians are loving and dying to produce any noticeable decrease in hate and violence. But even in those countries where large numbers faithfully die because they are Christians, the hate and violence continues. In fact, knowing what we do of the most prominent terror groups killing Christians today (and seeing what we’ve seen them do), if we assembled a mass crowd of believers to march toward the terrorist to love and serve and even die, the terrorist would just cut them down (or shoot them, drown them, burn them or behead them -after raping them) and move forward to the next group who seek to love, serve and die. It has been stated by experts as well as the terrorists themselves, it is not because we don’t love enough that they want to kill Christians, it is because of who we are, what we represent. In fact, sharing the love of Christ, just magnifies the reason of their hate and violence: that we are Christians.
The problem is that those Christians who believe love will overcome hate and violence are looking to the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God instead of the “not yet” of the Kingdom, the period in which we are now living. Similar to the Jews of Jesus’ day, and even his disciples for a while, who were looking too far ahead in prophecy to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, many Christians today are looking too far ahead into the Kingdom, when the lion will lay with the lamb, instead of realistically looking at the world, and yet-to-be-fulfilled Kingdom, we live in today.
I am not suggesting that Christians shouldn’t love since it can’t have widespread impact. We absolutely should be all about love and have a real and lasting impact on those people our lives and love can touch.
What I am saying is that it is counterproductive to rail against other Christians and policies that support limited military action and ordnance to protect innocent civilians who, despite all the love they may show, are unable to stop the hate and violence that threatens the safety and even civilizations of so many people around the world.
Certainly, however, Christians should speak loudly to ensure military engagements are just, proportionate and the last resort. Being the compassionate and ethical voice in a world which seems to be out of control is the best way to ensure hate doesn’t drive military action, but is rather a means to end the violence borne out of hate, that love alone can’t abolish.
We need to remember that going to war, even in limited engagements or isolated attacks, to decrease the number of those killing others unjustly and protect those who can’t defend themselves, can be the greatest -and most tangible- display of love we can show.