Monday, December 10, 2007

So....what about war?

Not long ago we started an in depth session of bible study offered by our church. This is a two part series that consist of meeting for about 2 hours a week for 32 weeks. We took the first part a number of years ago---the "beginner" part ---and are now taking the second part which I would call the "advanced beginner" coarse :-)

Anyway, this past week was the in depth study of the ten commandments. This is a particularly sticky issue with me and if you will stay with me I will ramble around to a point.

As with all things when you get to the commandment "thou shall not murder"---there are many opinions on the exact meaning of that command since some remember the phrase as saying "thou shall not KILL (not murder).

If you have never come across (or even knew you could look it up) the actual Hebrew word to get a greater understanding of the translation , you can see it here under: ratsach

Now many people have spoken with me on this subject as I continually try to grasp an understanding of it from a Christian perspective. Usually those that take the translation as you won't murder say that the bible justifies killing for specific purposes and so there for that is why the translation speaks the way it does. They go on to say that as a Christian as long as we are justified in our reasons---it is o.k and possibly even sanctified.
I won't go into all the reasons for "justified" killings or wars since most of us---Christian or not ---have heard them whether they are biblical or more current.

O.k--moving forward into the issue with war.
One example a biblical teacher once gave me for this in regards to war was that the soldiers where doing their duty and they weren't killing in anger---and that it was generally justified so there for o.k. This man was an ex soldier from the Vietnam era just to help you understand the whole issue but of coarse even he gave me that well over used "remember WW2" reason for it being o.k.
However I continually struggle with the idea that a man (or woman) in a foreign land, bombarded daily with others trying to kill them---won't fall to the "other side" of that statement and turn it into murder. Intentional or not. Obviously the people that live in that land can make a greater case for their killings being justified since they feel they are protecting family and property.

Then there is the other issue of the taking back of the land of Israel. So so so many Christians that I speak with say, emphatically, that Palestinians need to go and if they won't---the Israels have a right to forcefully evict them OR kill them if they resist. Why? Because this is a biblically "sanctified" war. Sanctified by God.

History lesson: the jews where forcefully removed from Israel during the Roman era and have pretty consistently been trying to "go home". During those 1500 hundred years or so others have moved in and settled there. Also, during WW1 and then on through and ending with WW2 other countries (England very heavily and then the U.S and it's allies) have "fiddled" around in that area. So....

So....what about the people that have had family living on some of that land for the past 400 years? Are they personally responsible for the Jew's loss? If the Jews come in and forcefully remove them from their land should they not at least be compensate for it? See this article here at dollars and sense.
Besides---maybe they too want to stay there and don't want to go because they have family and history right there also.

O.k---don't tell me the same thing I always hear "the Muslims are trying to kill them and they are defending their selves" I know that. But I still haven't come to my point if you will hang on.

Many years later, I got a new thought on this issue and I brought up the American Indians as an comparable analogy to the Jew/Palestinian issue. I pointed out that the American Indians were also forcefully removed from their property. So...shouldn't my husband (who's grandfather lived on a reservation in Montana) be able to go up there---pick a piece of property we like----and take it without compensation to whomever currently lives there? Especially if they are of European descent. If you want to take it even further--my husband was never personally compensated by anyone for his historical loss of his family heritage and land so wouldn't it be o.k for us to do that?
The answer to my question is that the land wasn't specifically given to them by God (they just migrated here) and that they didn't attempt to consistently get their land back like the Jews have. Ha!

Now to totally change subject (but not really) here's another issue.

As a Christian aren't we suppose to be against abortion? Well, to put my feeling right out there let me say that I always said this:
I personally am against abortion but feel that the government should stay out of it (they shouldn't fiddle in people's personal life) and everyone should make their own choice. Hence---it should not be outlawed.
However recently I heard a man on t.v say this in response to that oft spoken statement:
"Well," he said, "many people believe that slavery is wrong but if we had said, I don't personally believe in it but everyone should make their own choice, then we would still have slavery."
Extremely good point which I will admit makes me at least slightly re think my stance.

Unfortunately though many a case can be made for slavery in the bible---both old and new testament. God didn't say a thing about it other than you should let them rest on the sabbath and Jesus pretty much didn't say anything about it one way or the other. So, if I can coerce or physically force someone into slavery to me---can I claim it as my religious right?

As far as I know there isn't one reference specifically addressing abortion in the bible---other than "thou shall not murder". I would pretty much say that most woman that get abortions are not, thinking back to the example given to me by the older soldier, murdering their unborn children with hatred in their hearts. I mean--- going by the definition that some people are trying to pass off as the correct one to interpret "thou shall not murder".


Isn't there a point as people ---- Christians or Jews or Muslim or Buddhist or whatever----that MORALLY (irregardless of which book we read) we are responsible for correct action? No matter how we try to interpret it out of the Bible? Come on---we know right from wrong. I have had some try and tell me that I have to remember the historical context ie: God was speaking specifically to the Jews. So....does that mean only that Jews can't kill Jews? Or maybe Christians can't kill Christians----but everyone else is far game as long as they aren't of the same beliefs? What about a Catholic and a Methodist? Or a Protestant and a Seventh Day Adventist---is each group fair game for the other?

Can we really say that we personally or our government or France's or Venezuela's or whomever's---can say with certainty that we or they has had God tell us for sure who needs to be bombed,killed or put to death? If we are so great (both as a country and also as a person) shouldn't we take the MORAL high road?

Unfortunately, and probably for good reason, I have never heard it called the Biblical high road.

So...what about the case for War?


MommyMommy said...

okay, you have thouroughly confused me. But I do know, that as a Jew, we have some "rules" that only pertain to other jews, although I do not know if they are included in your bible. An odd one that sticks in my head ( because I don't agree with it) is that adultry is only considered adultry if both parties are jewish, if one is not, then it does not count. Weird, huh?

Michelle said...

This war is about resource
depletion, not morality.

Woody said...

You didn't lose me with this argument. I've run this one through my rock filled head a few times along with the case of justified anger. I don't have the answers so I keep asking for direction. I do know that I fear those who say they speak for God.

Robbyn said...

OK, I'm totally loving this post, Monica! You've singlehandedly pulled me out of my doldrums...THANK you for voicing these REAL questions so openly :) I'll respond after giving it a good think...just loving that this subject has come's SO important to KNOW WHY we do things, especially these! OK, off ponder your points, and then will be back