Note: Please forgive the text formatting bugs that I have run into on this post. I can’t seem to get it corrected…
Very few, even in our Christian church often give deep thought into the many military operations that the United States involves itself in. One of the major reasons for this is because church leadership is often “missing in action” when it comes to educating the flock regarding Biblical “Just War Theory.”
Biblical just war theory looks to the general guidelines (the general equity) of the Bible to formulate a template to evaluate military campaigns
in light of Scriptural revelation. When this is done, the following points must be considered to decide “if” a war or military action is “just” or justified per God’s revelation. Some of these points are listed below:
- It is relevant to the country
- It is justified
- It does not target civilians
- It must be of last resort
- It must protect its citizens
- It must have clear and limited intentions
- It must be proportionate to the threat
- It is defensive
Noting these points, please take a look at today’s article from the Associated Press regarding the Libya operation and the U.S. involvement therein;
“By SEBASTIAN ABBOT, Associated Press –
AJDABIYA, Libya – An apparent NATO airstrike slammed into a rebel combat convoy Thursday, killing at least five fighters and sharply boosting anger among anti-government forces after the second bungled mission in a week blamed on the military alliance.
The attack — outside the strategic oil port of Brega — brought fresh questions about coordination between NATO and the patchwork of rebel militias in a conflict described by a senior U.S. commander as a stalemate that could eventually require the Pentagon to reassert more power, and possibly even send in ground forces.”
Noting the portion of the article above (especially the bold print), it is essential for the Christian to ask “if” the current military force against Libya comports with what God has authorized regarding just war? Is the force against Libya relevant to the country, of last resort, is it protecting American citizens, does it have clear and limited intentions (or have they changed over the course of the weeks, with the initial intent to create a “no fly zone), is it a defensive action that is protecting AMERICAN citizens? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding, “NO,” and with that said, it is easy to see that God has not authorized the United States of America to expend it resources, and
maybe even American lives on a group of people who are totality opposed to Christian ethics. God has made the leaders of America sovereign over America, not other countries and we have no right, per the Bible to intercede on behalf of a people who do not support or share the burdens and responsibilities that Americans share.
Romans 13:4 declares that the civil magistrate is to be the “deacon of God” when it states; “for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do
wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:4, ESV). Please notice that this “deacon” is to bear the sword, not in vain. A verse such as this presupposes that there is an absolute standard that is supposed to be followed by the state; for they can hardly be rightly bearing the sword in a correct manner if the standard of ethics is left to the individual country to decide. Hence, the civil magistrate is just as much bound to the law of God as the individual is in their everyday experience. But what do we see in these days? We see the state acting as an autonomous entity that does what they feel is right. This is very similar to the message given in the Book of Judges where the author writes; “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Jud. 17:6, ESV). The greater application of this verse would read; “In these days there was no Godly leadership in America. Every politician did what was right in his (or her) own eyes.”
The old adage goes; “The United States of America is not called to be the policemen of the world” and there is a ring of truth to this statement. We have no right, per the Scriptures to intercede in Libya and thus, the military action that is taking place should be condemned by those in the church. Example: what if my neighbor had some horrid children that were uncontrollable with no discipline? Has God given me the right and authorized me to discipline those children? Do I have the right to infringe on my neighbors sovereignty because “I” feel that it’s the correct, just and moral thing to do? The answer to this is I hope clear because the Bible does not authorize me to inflict discipline on another’s
children; but I do have the right to protect my property and family if those Children were to attempt to inflict harm on my household. Hence, my action would be defensive, just, it would protect the citizens of the home, it would be relevant to my household, the force used would be proportionate (or should be) and it would be of last resort. Thus, it would fit the above criteria that is needed to have a just war action. However, it would not fit if I were to decide to take matters into my own hands prior to my household being threatened; as America is doing in Libya (because they were not a threat to our country). I believe this is indeed a fair and cogent parallel to our actions in Libya and with that said, the United States in Biblically wrong for its intercession in that countries affair.
One more example if I may. What if my neighbor’s kids were attacking their parents and attempting to kill them? Then would I have the
right to intercede in that families affairs? The answer to this is of course, yes. However, that would be a personal decision that “I” would make for myself and I would have no right to make that discussion for others; which is exactly what the politicians do when they decide to send others into a combat situation. Meaning, they have no moral right to authorize or command others to engage in combat action unless that action meets thee afore-mentioned criteria for just war per God’s revelation. Hence, even if the example is switched around and killing is placed into the scenario, the same criteria must be left in place to call the action just per God’s revelation. With that said, I do hope it is clear that we as a country do not have the right to take matters into our own hands, despite the intentions of our leadership to save lives. For a greater understanding of this topic, download the free MP3 on this subject by Dr. Greg Bahnsen below. It is well worth the time.
For Further Study:
(CLICK ON “WAR, IS IT EVER JUSTIFIED” BY GREG L. BAHNSEN FOR THIS FREE MP3)