Sunday School: Christian Ethics (Pt.10.1: War)
A. THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT DOES NOT PROHIBIT ALL PARTICIPATION IN
B. GOVERNMENTS ARE RESPONSIBLE TO DEFEND THEIR NATIONS AGAINST
ATTACKS BY OTHER NATIONS
C. HOW CAN WE KNOW IF A WAR IS A “JUST WAR”?
Big Question: Could the decision to go to war be a loving one? Are there occasions
when war is mandated under the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39)?
Big Answer: Yes. When just, war can be a form of love. Christians call this “just war.”
“Where an enemy is perpetuating its horrible holocaust, is it not an act of love that intervenes, even militarily, to prevent that holocaust if a nation has the power to do so? And is not restraint in such cases a display, not of loving pacifism, but of lack of love - of the unwillingness to sacrifice anything for the sake of others? Indeed, such a war may be, according to Calvin, a Godlike act, since God himself restrains evil out of love for his creatures. This is not to say that we fallen human beings can manage to conduct just war perfectly, without sin, the way God conducts himself without sin; it is to say that failure to do the good that is in our power to do may reflect not only a want of courage, but a lack of love.” (D.A Carson: “Love In Hard Places”).
The following principles will govern “just war.”
1. The only just cause for going to war is defense against violent aggression.
2. The only just intention is to restore a just peace to friend and foe alike.
3. Military force must be the last resort after negotiations and other efforts have
been tried and have failed.
4. The decision to engage in such a just war must be made by the highest
governmental authority; it is not a private matter.
5. The war must be for limited ends. In other words, to repel aggression, to redress
injustice, not in order to exploit or colonialize.
6. The means of just war must be limited by proportionality to the offense. In other
words, if someone comes and bombs one of your cities, you don’t nuke the
7. There must be no intentional and direct attack on noncombatants.
8. War should not be prolonged where there is no reasonable hope of success
within these limits.
D. SHOULD A CHRISTIAN PARTICIPATE IN A JUST WAR?
1. If a War Is Clearly Just
2. If a War Is Clearly Unjust
3. What If a War Is Not Clearly Just or Unjust?
The arguments commonly used to support pacifism are that:
1. Jesus commanded us to turn the other cheek (Matt. 5:39)
2. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:39)
3. Engaging in military combat involves failure to trust God
4. The use of violence always leads to further violence, and pacifism should be
adopted to stop that vicious cycle
A fundamental problem with pacifist interpretations of Jesus’s teachings is the
failure to distinguish between...
1. private and public duties
2. personal duties
3. and duties of a state
More in Sunday School: Christian Ethics
January 19, 2020Sunday School: Christian Ethics (Pt.11: Self-Defense)
January 12, 2020Sunday School: Christian Ethics (Pt.10.3: War)
January 5, 2020Sunday School: Christian Ethics (Pt.10.2: War)