And Your Point Is?
by Laurence M. Vance: The
War on Private Property
From a biblical
perspective, the worst thing about Christian apologists for war,
the military, and the warfare state is not their willful ignorance
of U.S. foreign policy, their blind nationalism, their childish
devotion to the military, their cheerleading for the Republican
Party, their acceptance of the national-security state, or their
support for perpetual war, but their misuse of Scripture.
are examples of some of the Old Testament Scripture verses often
quoted or referred to before or after some Christian warmonger seeks
to defend U.S. wars, the U.S. empire, or the U.S. military as a
friend of God" (James 2:23)," "armed his trained
servants" to rescue his nephew Lot (Genesis 14:14).
The LORD brought
the Jews "out of the land of Egypt by their armies" (Exodus
is a man of war" (Exodus 15:3).
The LORD told
the children of Israel that he would "destroy all the people
to whom" they came, and make their enemies "turn their
backs" unto them (Exodus 23:27).
The LORD commanded
the children of Israel to "destroy" the altars of the
Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites,
and the Jebusites, "to break their images, and cut down their
groves" (Exodus 34:11-13).
vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver
this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities,"
"the LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up
the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities"
the children of Israel to arm themselves "unto the war"
and war against the Midianites. So Israel slew all the males and
"took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones,
and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and
all their goods." Then they "burnt all their cities wherein
they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire." And "took
all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts."
But "Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the
captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came
from the battle" because they "saved all the women alive,"
which had caused the children of Israel to "commit trespass
against the LORD." So Moses commanded Israel to "kill
every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath
known man by lying with him" and to "keep alive"
for themselves "all the women children, that have not known
a man by lying with him" (Numbers 31:1-18).
When the children
of Israel went out to battle, they were accompanied by priests (Deuteronomy
"about forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the
LORD unto battle, to the plains of Jericho" (Joshua 4:13).
The Jews blockaded the city and "utterly destroyed all that
was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and
sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword" (Joshua 6:21).
destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai" and burnt the city, with
Israel taking "the cattle and the spoil" for themselves
"according to the word of the LORD which he commanded Joshua"
The LORD sent
Gideon to save Israel from the Midianites by smiting them (Judges
The LORD commanded
Saul to "smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have,
and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling,
ox and sheep, camel and ass" (1 Samuel 15:3).
a man after Godís own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), was "a man of
war" (1 Samuel 16:18) who had slain "his ten thousands"
(1 Samuel 18:7), and said: "Blessed be the LORD my strength,
which teacheth my hand to war and my fingers to fight" (Psalm
The LORD commanded
David to go and fight against the Philistines and he would deliver
them into his hand. David then smote the Philistines with "a
great slaughter," thereby saving the inhabitants of Keilah
(1 Samuel 23:4-5).
the Amalekites "from the twilight even unto the evening of
the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred
young men, which rode upon camels, and fled" (1 Samuel 30:17).
against the Philistines, Moab, Zobah, Syria, and Edom (2 Samuel
8:1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 13, 14), and "the LORD preserved David whithersoever
he went" (2 Samuel 8:14).
from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, "men able to
bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skilful in war,"
made war with the Hagarites. Many of the enemy were slain "because
the war was of God" (1 Chronicles 5:18-23).
When the Jews
rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem, half of the people worked and "the
other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows,
and the habergeons" (Nehemiah 4:16-18, 21).
My reply to
all of the above is simply this: And your point is?
is all I have to say.
are trying to say is that because the Jews in the Old Testament
did X, Christians under the New Testament should support the U.S.
government and its military doing Y.
But as I have
pointed out numerous times, both in lectures and in articles, it
is wrong to invoke the Jewish wars of the Old Testament against
the heathen as a justification for the actions of the U.S. government
and its military. Although God sponsored these wars, and used the
Jewish nation to conduct them, it does not follow that God sponsors
American wars or that America is Godís chosen nation. The U.S. president
is not Moses, Joshua, King David, or God Almighty, America is neither
the nation of Israel nor Godís chosen nation, the U.S. military
is not the Lordís army, and the Lord never sanctioned any Christian
to go on a crusade, commanded him to war on his behalf, or encouraged
any Christian to kill, make apologies for the killing of, or excuse
the killing of any adherent to a false religion.
And as Philip
Kapusta writes in Blood
Guilt: Christian Responses to Americaís War on Terror (New
Covenant Press, 2011):
against these nations, the armies of Israel acted as Godís agents
of wrath and were used to execute His judgments. The wars of Israel
were always to be at Godís command, subject to His laws, and for
the occupation and the defense of the Land of Promise. The children
of Israel could only kill when killing in the name of God Ė that
is, when killing in obedience to a direct mandate from God.
children of Israel, who were brought out of Egypt and given a
land of their own and provided with a set of laws to govern them
within Godís divine kingdom, Christians have not been given a
similar tract of land to defend or fight for. Neither have Christians
been given a king upon earth who enforces Godís laws when
Christian warriors, evangelical warvangelicals, Catholic just war
theorists, reich-wing Christian nationalists, Red-State Christian
fascists, pro-life hypocrites, theocon Values Voters, Christian
Coalition moralists, and Religious Right warmongers are a little
To sound a
little more scriptural, they will also quote or refer to some verses
in the New Testament before or after they seek to defend U.S. wars,
the U.S. empire, or the U.S. military as a divine institution.
a centurion he had "great faith" and healed his servant
into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought
in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and
the seats of them that sold doves" (Matthew 21:12).
John the Baptist
told soldiers: "Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely;
and be content with your wages," but did not tell them to leave
the military (Luke 3:14).
a parable about a king going to war (Luke 14:31).
his disciples: "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment,
and buy one" (Luke 22:36).
a scourge of small cords" and drove the moneychangers out of
the temple (John 2:14-15).
Roman centurion was a just man that feared God, gave much alms,
and prayed always (Acts 10:1-2).
Paul said: "The powers that be are ordained of God" (Romans
is commanded to "endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus
Christ" (2 Timothy 2:3).
of heaven" will follow Christ when he returns (Revelation 19:14).
is depicted as bearing a "sharp sword" and using it to
"smite the nations" as he rules them with "a rod
of iron" (Revelation 19:15).
Again, my reply
is simply: And your point is?
officers are not surrogates for Jesus Christ. Whatever Jesus Christ
did or will do has absolutely no relevance to what the U. S. military
does in Afghanistan. And if a Christian warmonger wants to do what
Jesus did, then why not start with doing "no sin" and
not having "guile found in his mouth" (1 Peter 2:22)?
New Testament does liken a Christian to a soldier (Philemon 2, Philippians
2:25), as soldiers Christians are admonished to "put on the
whole armor of God" (Ephesians 6:11), not Marine body armor,
have on "the breastplate of righteousness" (Ephesians
6:14), not a Navy uniform, shod their feet "with the preparation
of the gospel of peace" (Ephesians 6:15), not Army boots, and
wear "the helmet of salvation" (Ephesians 6:17), not an
Air Force pilot helmet. The weapons of the Christian soldier are
not carnal (2 Corinthians 10:4). His shield is "the shield
of faith" (Ephesians 6:16), not an M1 Abrams tank, and his
sword is "the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17), not an M-16.
The only warfare the New Testament encourages the Christian to wage
is against the world, the flesh, and the devil.
soldiers and centurions, isnít it strange how that apologists for
the U.S. military never refer to the ones scourged, stripped, crowned
with thorns, mocked, smote, spit on, and crucified Jesus Christ?
there is a big problem with justifying the activities of the U.S.
military because soldiers are not condemned in the New Testament;
slave owners are not condemned either (Ephesians 6:9; Colossians
3:22, 4:1; 1 Timothy 6:1; 1 Peter 2:18).
On John the
Baptist and soldiers, I have written a whole article here.
Is not war the highest form of violence? On Romans 13, I have written
When all else
fails, the Bible does say there is "a time of war" (Ecclesiastes
3:8). But of course, that doesnít justify the war in Iraq, even
Falwell implied it did.
To hear some
Christians talk about war and the military just like Republican
politicians, one gets the impression they think the GOP is Godís
Own Party instead of a pack of rabid war-crazed defenders of militarism
Which is worse,
"deceived" Muslims using the Koran to justify jihad, suicide
bombers, and IED attacks or "enlightened" Christians using
the Bible to justify war, torture, and drone strikes? The answer
should be quite obvious.
M. Vance [send him mail]
writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity
and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, The
Revolution that Wasn't, Rethinking
the Good War, and The
Quatercentenary of the King James Bible. His latest book
War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom. Visit his
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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