To talk about war in a Christian sense, it is imperative that we begin by talking about peace. The commandment “thou shalt not murder” is our first and foremost witness that the Lord deplores violence. I can understand this when I recall my own kids when they were young and fighting each other. The fighting was not a surprise strangely enough, as I knew that siblings fight, but the knowledge of one of my children being hurt, or both, that truly made me hate when they fought. I would always try to find a way to confront the brewing hostilities before they got physical, and this is what God is asking us to practice. St Augustine, later clarified by St. Aquinas set forth a ‘Just War Theory” that has since been the gold standard for letting a Christina know when it’s time to fight, but not surprisingly the use of these saintly guides has more often led us to peace. So, let’s look at the Seven steps to a peaceful existence.
- The conflict must be started and controlled by a government, or in a personal fight, by a trusted advisor. This on a government level seems straight forward enough, no vigilante wars. But on a personal note, a trusted advisor? This should be a friend that you have confided in about your brewing troubles. They will be the impartial observer that can cool you when needed or tell you that abuse is truly occurring.
- There must be just cause. “He needed kill’in” may still be on the Texas legal code but it has no place in Christian conduct. Just cause must be proven, again to another observer. We get way too passionate about a perceived wrong, somebody else needs to have a vote in our response.
- There must be right intention. Just to inflict harm because someone inflicted harm upon me is not a right intention. There must be a strategy for completion of the conflict, and it must be proportional to the original cause, which we will talk about in a couple of steps.
- The war must be a last resort. Everything else has been tried to avoid conflict. Talk, bringing in arbitrators, separating parties, yes even moving needs to be considered before conflict can come into play.
- Proportionality. You can not nuke someone for cutting you off in traffic! Eye for an eye has a bit of a gruesome connotation, but it is a good guide. If someone has offended you by words, and all above steps have been tried to no avail, then let loose your own words, proportionally, but no fisticuffs!
- There must be a chance of success. No suicide missions, no scorched earth policy, there must be some form of success to conflict.
- Violence is only acted out when it outweighs the evil that might happen if nothing is done. If a known rapist enters your house forcibly and he will not stop, self-defense and the possibility of injuring the rapist pales in comparison to the violence that might have been done if you let him loose in your house.
All of these have a commonality; look before you leap! Take a breath, count to ten, and then go find a non-biased source to hopefully reason you off the war path! We should demand that our leaders use the Just War theory as stated above, and we must also make certain that we abide by it also. Not simply because it is God’s will, but because a peaceful life is a happy life.