Sunday, March 14, 2010

Blogging through The Orthodox Heretic day 20

Day 20 hooks a lot of my issues from the very beginning. The title is "God Joins the Army." A significant part of my formation took place in one of the historic peace churches - The Church of the Brethren. I believe that a follower of Jesus should not ever engage in violence and must not serve in the military. When we lived in Pennsylvania, a hotbed of historic peace churches, there was a popular bumper sticker that said, "Loving One's Enemies Probably Begins with Not Killing Them." Makes sense to me.

From the title you can see this involves the military and indeed, a war with the central question being, "whose side is God on?" The answer in the parable is that when God is involved, the "oppressed always win."

I certainly believe that God always sides with the oppressed but to say they always win is naive at best... which raises questions regarding the weakness of God.


James' Muse said...

Hey Roy,

I have been enjoying your blogging through this book. In fact, this has inspired a couple of us to go buy this and start reading through it. Should be getting the books soon.

A question for you: I too have struggled with the Christians and violence/military question.

What does this mean for police officers? These are not people that exist soley for violence, but in defense of self or others they are sometimes called on to meet violence with violence...

roy said...

difficult question James... and a personal one for me as my 20 year old son is talking about becoming a police officer. Add that a friend of mine who is a police officer had to shoot and kill a man a few years back and it was devastating for him.

I have real difficulty with this one. As you said, their role is not solely to inflict violence but actually to contain or stop it... yet at times, violence is the only means available. And I worry about the soul of a person who lives in that kind of environment all of the time, how do they "live" there and not be effected?

So... I don't have a satisfactory answer.

I should say too, that I know some committed, serious followers of Jesus who either are or have been in the military. I don't know how they justify it, but I cannot and will not question their faith.

James' Muse said...

Good answer, Roy. It is something I struggle with. I am currently in the process of applying to be an officer, and I've had to stop and think seriously a few times. For example, I applied to the DEA to be a federal agent, and it specifically asks on the application, in multiple locations, for you to sign and initial that you are aware of, and okay with, the fact that you may have to take someone's life in defense of self or others.

I think that for some Christians there is a calling, much like the biblical David. David was called to be a warrior, AND a man after God's own heart. But that doesn't mean that he didn't have consequences to that life--God did not allow him to build his temple, but had his son do it instead.

I like the sheepdog analogy, and could take it further with those of faith: There are sheep (people), wolves (those who prey on the sheep), and sheepdogs (those that are related physically to the wolf, but who protect the sheep). Maybe God calls some to walk that line of violence solely to protect others; to answer agressive violence with defensive violence.

An example from my personal life: When I was in high school, one of my best friends was a weight lifter. Most gentle guy and best friend you could hope to have, and he could bench-press well over 300lbs. If people tried to pick a fight with him, he would just walk away, turning the other cheek in essence. But once, when someone was trying to do the same to me, and wouldn't leave me alone, he stepped in and told the bully that he needed to leave his friend alone, and that he would enforce that order if need be.