The best course for a fallen world

The Covington News - - RELIGION -

In the news this week was the an­nounce­ment that the US is in­creas­ing its weapons sales and mil­i­tary as­sis­tance in the Mid­dle East. Egypt and Is­rael will be re­ceiv­ing more mil­i­tary aid and Saudi Ara­bia will be per­mit­ted to buy more weaponry. Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleezza Rice said, “ It’s im­por­tant that Saudi Ara­bia, which has been an ally of the United States for decades, be able to de­fend its in­ter­ests in the re­gion.” The plan seems to be to re­strain your en­e­mies by arm­ing your friends. I can’t help but won­der what would Je­sus do if he were Sec­re­tary of State?

As Sec­re­tary of State, Je­sus might tell the Saudi lead­er­ship to “ love their en­e­mies” and to “ turn the other cheek.” Since hav­ing mil­i­tary equip­ment can en­cour­age vi­o­lence, he may have said “ no” to fu­ture sales and asked the Saudis to get rid of the weapons they now have.

Je­sus may have told them to look for ways to do good to those who op­pose them. ( There are Chris­tian groups — like the Amish — who would agree with this view.)

On the other hand, Je­sus may have agreed to the weapons sales. In fact, he may have en­cour­aged the Saudi’s to buy weapons, even if do­ing so meant their peo­ple had to do with­out other com­forts.

The truth is that Je­sus’ teach­ings here are more com­plex than many sup­pose. Af­ter the Last Sup­per, Je­sus told his dis­ci­ples that they were go­ing to have to be more care­ful when they trav­eled. While pre­vi­ously they had not wor­ried about money or se­cu­rity, now they were to pack both money and a sword.

This is so im­por­tant, that Je­sus re­it­er­ated, if they did not have a sword, they were told to sell their coat and go buy one. “ No need,” the dis­ci­ples said, we have two swords right here ( Luke 22).

Who knew that Je­sus’ dis­ci­ples were go­ing around armed? And even more of a sur­prise, Je­sus had not dis­armed them. Rather, he ap­pears to be en­cour­ag­ing the dis­ci­ples to bear arms. ( Now to be fair, some schol­ars sug­gest that Je­sus was speak­ing sym­bol­i­cally here.)

Do we “ turn the other cheek,” or do we “ buy a sword” ( or “ sell a sword” — as Con­doleezza Rice has done). Since Je­sus taught both, there is prob­a­bly a time and place for both.

This is con­sis­tent to what the rest of the Bi­ble teaches, “ To ev­ery­thing there is a sea­son, a time for ev­ery pur­pose un­der heaven.” The ques­tion be­comes then, what is the most lov­ing thing to do for the most peo­ple in this par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion?

Arm­ing a friend may be the most lov­ing ac­tion for both friend and foe.

Take a look back in his­tory. In Septem­ber of 1939 Ger­many in­vaded Poland and started a war that lead to 55 mil­lion deaths, in­clud­ing 10 mil­lion Ger­mans. If Poland — and the other neigh­bors around Ger­many — had been stronger mil­i­tar­ily, World War II may have been avoided. The war led 10 mil­lion Ger­man deaths, count­less Ger­man refuges and a di­vi­sion of the Ger­man soil that lasted 44 years.

The most lov­ing thing that Poland could have done, for Poland and Ger­many, would have been to be strong enough to op­pose the Nazis. Sell arms, or not to sell arms? What would Je­sus do?

The most peace lov­ing plan might well be to sell the arms to Saudis and oth­er­wise pro­vide mil­i­tary aid to the peace­ful na­tions of the Mid­dle East. In a fallen world, this may be the best plan — and the best way to pre­vent a World War III.

John Donaldson


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