November 12, 2011

Patriot and Peacekeeper

I was reluctant to post a Veteran's Day piece on this fine 11-11-11 since I knew I would feel compelled to share my thoughts on the military. This might not have been a problem, except I am the first to admit that I don't know what to think. Let me tell you that I am as proud, grateful, and reverent towards America's veterans as any one of you readers, but I am something else as well.

I am against warfare.

War is a horror. I doubt that any non-sociopathic person would disagree. War takes physical lives and tears apart the emotional, mental, and spiritual lives of survivors. War destroys God's children. "Do not kill," says Exodus 20:13, and with good reason. Killing is terrible for all involved, and I am tempted to think that it should not happen under any circumstance; however--

I support the military.

Two of my beautiful cousins serve in the military--one in the Marines and one in the Navy. Josh and I also have a wonderful family friend who served as a mentor of ours while we were dating and is now serving with the Marines in Afghanistan. My grandfather was in the National Guard, and my uncle and great grandfather were in the Army. I love these men, and I respect their judgment and convictions when it comes to the sanctity of human life. This alone is enough reason to make me rethink what might be otherwise be a pacifist stance . . .

Cody Wells, stationed in Okinawa, Japan
I get convicted by Romans 12:18 which my mom used to read to me for devotions. It says, “If it is possible as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

It seems that as far as it depends on me, peace is usually possible, otherwise I get very uncomfortable and either fight to make it so or avoid entirely the individual(s) by whom I have been treated unjustly--letting them win, in a way.

But what about when peace isn't possible?

What about when the security of the innocent is jeopardized by abusers? What about when turning the other cheek means watching your loved ones live in fear until they are slaughtered? Some say that Christians should sit back and trust God to overcome our enemies. Some say that we should take a stand for righteousness even if this means violence. Who is right?

I have to be honest. I don't know; but I dare you to watch this short film without crying.

I cannot.

For me.

America's veteran's fought and her soldiers continue to fight for each of us. Most people take this to mean that they fight to protect us. I prefer to look at their sacrifice in terms of this: they fight instead of us. They subject themselves to the emotional, mental, and spiritual tortures of taking a life so that we will never have to know what this feels like.

It's probably an irreverant analogy, but soldiers remind me of Batman. They are our Dark Knights. They can take it. They can be the "bad guys" and do the dirty work so that I can afford to sit at home with my comfortable convictions, knowing in my head that killing is wrong but having no clue how I would react if I felt the pinch of my life or liberty being threatened.

Yes, my Jesus said to love your enemies and pray for those who curse you, but He also turned tables. He whipped hypocritical temple merchants, and commanded his followers to take up swords in defense of the Kingdom.

Jesus loves all people, but He hates all injustice.

As far as I can see, the men and women in the United States military who fight and ultimatley kill people like Adolf Hitler, Sadam Hussein, and Osama bin Laden in order to stop further killing--those men and women are ambassadors of Christ's justice, and they have a job that I personally could not do.

I could be wrong, but I think it is possible for me to oppose war while supporting the men and women who fight my wars for me.

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