Is war always wrong? Should Christians never fight, and always turn the other cheek? Didn’t God command, “Thou shalt not kill”? These are legitimate questions for a Christian to ask; and God’s Word is where you will find the answers. In answering these questions, I believe it’s important that one looks at the whole of Scripture. You may be able to take a verse out of context on either side and make it say what you want it to; but honestly looking at every verse in context will reveal the truth. I would like to make clear, that I am not endorsing or opposing the current war we are engaged in. This is not a political article; rather, it’s simply an article on what The Bible has to say about a subject.
A well known song sung by Edwin Starr in the 70’s titled “War”, has these lyrics: “War, what is it good for, absolutely nothing, say it again”. I can certainly understand someone’s frustration with war; especially a war in which the reasons for going aren’t really clear. However, to say war is good for “absolutely nothing” just isn’t honest. For instance, I find it interesting that Edwin Starr, who was an African American, would say that The Civil War was good for “absolutely nothing”. Were the motives for both sides going to war completely pure? Probably not. But the fact is, it involved a righteous cause; and led to the abolition of slavery in this country. Was that “good for nothing”?
In The Word of God, there are no less than 75 wars and battles mentioned; and of those seventy five, over 50 would be considered a righteous cause. The Bible also mentions specifically nine different commanders, seven regular soldiers, five centurions, and twelve types of weapons. Now, I’m not some blood-thirsty war monger that tries to claim every war is just; I don’t believe that’s true. But at the same time, The Scriptures show us that there are righteous causes for going to war. To say all wars are good for nothing is not Biblically or historically truthful.
Prov 20:18 says “Every purpose is established by counsel; and with good advice make war.” (see also Prov 24:6). King David said it was The Lord that taught his hands to war, and his fingers to fight (Psa 144:1). Ecc 3:8 says there is a time of war, and a time of peace. Not that we should desire war; we should desire peace. But there are those who will want to war with you, no matter how much you want peace (Psa 120:7). At that point, you need to stand (Neh 4:14).
What about the New Testament? In Romans 13:1-4, we see that a duty of a good government is to stop evil, whether foreign or domestic. In our personal lives, we are not to take vengeance (Rom 12:18-21); but try our best to live at peace with all men. We’re not to make war with our neighbor, because they rejected us based on our faith in Jesus. We’re to turn the other cheek. Jesus was not saying that you shouldn’t defend those that are weaker; or your wife and children; or even yourself. He was simply saying, that if you’re persecuted for Jesus’ sake, don’t attack in retaliation. There is a difference between the two, and Christians need to know it.
What about “Thou shalt not kill”? Jesus made it clear in Mt. 19:18, that it is “You shall not murder”. Big difference. It’s not murder to kill if your defending yourself, your family, your community, or your country. Adolph Hitler tried to exterminate the entire Jewish blood line, as well as born-again Christians while he was at it. Was stopping that mad man from carrying out his demonic plan “good for nothing”? Would Jesus be disappointed? I don’t think so.
Christians should be peace-loving and peace-making people. We should recognize that our true war is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of darkness (Eph 6:12). We should not seek to make war, nor joy in it. However, we must also understand that there are just wars; and there are righteous, moral causes worth fighting for. To not be a defender of the weak; to not stand for what is good and Godly and righteous; to not live honorably: Not only shows one’s bad theology, but also one’s cowardice. Don’t confuse Jesus being humble and meek, with Him being weak. Look up these Scriptures about Jesus, and be reminded He is a mighty, conquering King; a Man of valor (Ps. 24:8, 45:3-6, Isa 63:1-6, Col 2:15, Rev 19:11-16). Until next time, rejoice in The Lord!