Responses To War

The country solemnly celebrated Presidents’ Day yesterday as a nation on the brink of world war. Anti-war sentiments are high as well as fear and confusion. We asked our freelance writers to share their thoughts on the state of the nation, the impending war and how a Christian should react. We want to hear your opinion too. Log on to our message boards to continue this discussion.

[STATE OF THE COUNTRY]

"Confusion and anxiousness. Unfortunately this Presidents’ Day is covered by the tears of loved ones called to action and laced with the sweat of our President’s brow who cautiously treads through media and anti-war protest land mines. There is global confusion as to where, when and why we stand amidst a potential war. There are no solid answers, just media-driven dialogue that can give the average American viewer an ulcer as the tension builds. Thankfully, we can find peace and hope in our Creator who is already victorious over death and is the King of all nations. He removes confusion and provides clarity. He replaces anxiousness with tranquility. In Him we find shelter, knowing that whatever happens in the coming weeks, we are protected." -Marty Thieman

"You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance." —Psalm 32:7

HANDS IN THE AIR]

"I find myself unsure of where to go and what to do. Today, I am proud to be an American. America stands for many things that I would proudly die for, but I have been sleeping with some unease because of the actions we are about to commit. I am not sure this is a war that the U.S. will win, or should win. I stayed up late last night, here in Philadelphia, as a blizzard covered our streets, and watched interview after interview with specialists of all kinds discussing the upcoming war. I was left feeling very nervous and very uncertain that our government is making the right decision. Perhaps they are, but I have not been able to reconcile myself to either stand for, or oppose, this war. I am left with my hands in the air." —Jesse Eubanks

[THE POLITICS OF WAR]

"Politics makes it virtually impossible to evaluate the actions of a current president. When he does something proactive, like making moves toward war, people say he is only working in his best interests, in this case, by protecting oil industries, but certainly if he did less there’d be those crying out that he was being a wimp (we’ve heard that said before of a Bush). It makes me wonder whose impressions of historic presidents end up in the history books. George Washington must have had his detractors, and John F. Kennedy couldn’t have been loved by everyone. Call me a product of my generation, but my doubts of the present have been cast to the past and eventually may affect my outlook on the future." —Dan Buck

[WHO IS THE ‘MAJORITY’]

"What is most ‘laughable’ is the thought that 100,000 protesters are a ‘majority’ … If census statistics are correct, while the 100,000 protesters marched, 289 MILLION DID NOT! Now, explain to all of us again … Who is the ‘majority’? Also, history shows that prior to World War 2, France was demanding ‘diplomatic’ negotiations with Hitler and the Nazis, even after the Germans began invading … Shortly thereafter, the French screamed and begged for assistance. If the Eiffel Tower had been destroyed on Sept. 11, perhaps the sense of ‘immediacy’ would be understood by our beret-wearing pacifist friends. France: invincible at peace … invisible during war." —Ezra Boggs

"My concern is not whether God is on our side; my great concern is to be on God’s side." —Abraham Lincoln

[ONE PERSON AT A TIME]

"The world must be very confusing-and frightening-to people who don’t have a faith in something bigger. How should Christians respond to all of this? Do we rush into the streets and wave anti-war placards? Hurry to the store and buy duct tape? As unsettling as the times are, we have a tremendous opportunity. Now is the time to show how we apply that faith we claim. We can resist the temptation to cower in fear or lash out in anger. We can show compassion and love in a calm manner. We’ve got the peace that passes all human understanding. Individually we may not be able to prevent a war. Trying to live on our own power has never been the answer. Together, as individuals united in a common faith, we can help a hurting, suffering, angry and frightened world. One person at a time. —Tom Gilbert

"Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace." —Dwight D. Eisenhower

[CULTURE VS. FAITH]

"Many of us Americans have a hard time distinguishing between our culture and our faith. They are not mutually exclusive by any means, but we have a higher loyalty than American patriotism. My travels abroad have enabled me to see the church in the context of various cultures, and I’ve been privileged to realize that commonalities exist between the expressions of Christ’s body across the world. These commonalities make up a higher culture: God’s culture. Jesus referred to this ‘culture’ as the kingdom of God.

"In Christ, we have been made citizens of this kingdom. The ‘founding fathers’ we honor are not Washington and Lincoln, but those found in the 11th chapter of Hebrews. These fathers admitted that they were aliens and strangers on the earth and were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. We stand on their shoulders and follow in the footsteps of Christ, in the world, but not of it. And when the things God values are endangered, we fight valiantly together with those in the kingdom.

"In the face of America’s impending war with Iraq, we continue to live as before: honoring our authorities, but fiercely loyal to the kingdom of God. How does God see this war? What was His original plan for humanity in the Garden of Eden? As God’s loving subjects, we have joyfully committed ourselves to serve His purposes. Let our response to this crisis be to raise the battle cry, to scream from every pore, ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’" —Ben Esposito

"Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong." —James Bryce

[MOVE FORWARD]

"The state of this country as a whole is disheartening. While true that what makes this country unique and beautiful is the freedom of speech and dissent, the nation as a whole seems to have forgotten the need to support our leaders and compromise, though we may not always agree. While no one (save those needing therapeutic counseling) truly wants war, this nation’s hands have been tied somewhat, due to either former staffs’ shortcomings, improper embargoes past, or simply due to tiny, hate-filled, foreign dictators’ needs to control everything around them using violent and terrible methods. America finds itself with the embittered task of defending its own rights, as well as the rights of others by pitting violence against violence. It seems these hate filled dictators understand no other language. Is this a call for lack of action on our part? Heaven itself forbid that. It is a call for more action than we have ever mustered. We need to move forward with our ministries, lives and relationships." —Carey Henderson

[CELEBRATE THE PRESIDENCY]

"The signs that I see posted around the neighborhoods of my hometown in Missouri say that "Peace is Patriotic." I agree. There is no conflict between recognizing President’s Day and striving for peace. To be unable to disagree with a current President’s policy or to celebrate the Office of the President and what that job offers our country is to miss something important about our nation. I want peace very badly; I disagree with President Bush’s approach to Iraq. I am proud of my nation and the presidency. Celebrating political holidays in the midst of an internal national struggle over war or peace may help us to realize that being patriotic and politically active may be the best way to deter war from happening." —Ryan Owen

"Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances." —Mahatma Gandhi

[FINAL WORD]

See Also

"Whatever the political climate, and whatever the outcome, one thing that seems certain to me is that the Christian voice needs to be present in this discussion. When I say this, I am not presupposing that ‘the Christian voice’ is, by necessity, one way or the other, or at a certain place in between. Rather, I firmly believe that there is a wide range of opinions on this subject within the body of Christ, and that wide range is a good thing. It does not signify, as some would say, disunity in the Body. It signifies diversity. I believe as Niebuhr said that, in the army of Christ (pardon the military analogy), many of the soldiers (us) are not aware of the full plan in the Captain’s (Christ’s) mind, but this does not mean that as we carry out our commissioned duties and wonder at the difference between our various activities, that there is not still a master plan which is above and over all of us.

As to specifics, in my mind, there are at least two important things about the ‘Christian voice.’

"The first is that it be Christian. Whatever our unique reasons are for believing what each of us does regarding war, are those reasons really founded in some way on our faith from the scriptures and the faith of the church? Do we let our faith go so far as to penetrate our politics, or do we hang on to our essentially petty view of things, with no concern for God’s kingdom above the kingdom of our city, state, nation or political party … or for that matter above the kingdom of the religious right? Are we willing really to look at the implications of scriptural principle on political reality? Because we should be, and we should be willing to embrace those ideas which we gather to be a part of the scriptural and ecclesiastical witness.

"The second important thing about the Christian voice, and really this is implied in the first, is that we actually care about these things. Often times, it seems the evangelical approach to life is too simply "Get ’em in; get ’em saved." There’s too little concern with the planet we live on and all the people, Christian or not, who are our brothers and sisters in the experience. The Bible-the story of God and the people of the earth-however, is indeed about the whole world, started at creation, ending (or being recreated or something) in the consummation of the age, and includes every last little hair-on-head and sparrow-on-ground in between. For us to blow off important political issues with a little snort, and ‘It’s all gonna burn’ is not just rude, it’s un-Christian. Jesus, it says, was frequently moved with compassion. Political issues may be complicated. They may be comprised largely of human struggles for power, but if there is no Christian voice in there somewhere, then we have abandoned the post in taking up Christ’s compassion for his children.

"I think we just need to look at this thing a bit more closely and challenge our own apathy and religious smugness … I unfortunately am challenging myself in this at least as much as I am challenging you." —Don Chaffer

"Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace." —John Fitzgerald Kennedy

RELATED LINKS:

PEACE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS

IN THE EVENT OF WAR, PART 1

IN THE EVENT OF WAR, PART 2

IN THE EVENT OF WAR, PART 3

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