Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Christian response to the "war on terror"?

Recently, I got into a bit of an email "debate" with a friend over my disapproval of certain American security techniques (including the practice of rendition) related to the war on terror. My friend responded that these measures are needed to protect America from the threat of another terrorist attack. Since we are both Christians, I responded this way:

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think the reasoning of (apparently) a majority of American Christians is somewhat backward: It seems that the Gospel has taken a back seat to fear. Clearly, the fear of terrorism is a primary motivator in our nations current security policies.

I am certainly not saying that safety isn't important. And I don't think we should abandon attempts to protect ourselves from the terrorists who threaten us. But it seems fairly obvious to me that an over-arching environment of fear leads to actions like the imprisonment and torture of innocent people, and I think as Christians, we are always obligated to stand against torture and injustice, no matter what. But it appears that our president (who also calls himself a Christian) has a different agenda, and while I understand the reasoning, I just don't think that's what Christ wants. It certainly isn't what Christ taught.

To be honest, I am far less concerned with America's comfort and safety than I am with seeking to follow Christ. That doesn't mean I would never defend my nation. I just think that national identity must always remain secondary to living as a disciple of Jesus. That is simply biblical. And a great deal of what the U.S. is currently doing in the "war on terror" strikes me as the opposite of following Christ. Now, I don't expect the government or military to be primarily concerned with Christian ethics. But I do expect Christians to take them seriously... and when it seems that many American Christians are content with the status quo, simply because our president claims to be a Christian... well, I have a problem with that.

I do agree that many aspects of the so-called "Islamo-fascism" are alarming. But I don't think that gives us reason to revise how Christ calls us to live. I might also add that simply appealing to warfare in the Bible is NOT a good reason to say that what our country is doing is OK.

This is the root of the difficulty: How do we, as Christians, balance defending/protecting ourselves, and others, from those enemies who are out to destroy us, while continuing to love those same enemies as Christ did? What does that look like? I'm not sure, but I don't think the way our government responds should be our example.

So, it's a complicated issue, to say the least. I don't think that the current U.S. strategy is really working, and even if it were, it certainly isn't a proper Christian response. And as a Christian, my main concern should be following Jesus and responding the way he would, no matter how many racists, murderers, or terrorists I may encounter. Again, I'm not saying this is easy, or that I have it all figured out. But I do think that we should look for a better way, and not simply acquiesce out of fear for our "national security." That is not a proper Christian response to terror.

1 comment:

Bea said...

This is great info to know.