Jesus the Anti-War Hippie?
My post last week addressed an image on the internet claiming that Jesus is an anti-war, socialist hippie. The image is obviously directed at Christian conservatives, attempting to show an inconsistency in their acceptance of Jesus Christ but their rejection of President Obama’s policies. We looked at how even though Jesus wants his followers to be charitable to the poor and needy, this doesn’t mean that Jesus approves of the government forcing people to be charitable. In a similar way, Jesus is anti-war but this doesn’t mean he is against all government force. He is neither a pacifist nor an anarchist.
The Bible teaches that war is a result of man’s rebellion (Romans 3:10-18); that war is not something to be desired (1 Peter 3:8-12); and that Christians are looking forward to a day when all war will be eradicated (Isaiah 2:4). In this sense, Jesus is anti-war and his followers should be as well. But not all physical violence is immoral. The Bible teaches that physical violence can be a noble and righteous engagement.
Throughout Scripture God gives individuals the authority to use self-defense against criminal attack (Exodus 22:2; Luke 22:36). This authority is also granted to societies of individuals. In Deuteronomy 20, God reveals his guidelines for ordinary war in Old Covenant Israel. What we find is a defensive-only war policy:
When you go near a city to fight against it, then proclaim an offer of peace to it. And it shall be that if they accept your offer of peace, and open to you, then all the people who are found in it shall be placed under tribute to you, and serve you. Now if the city will not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. And when the Lord your God delivers it into your hands, you shall strike every male in it with the edge of the sword. But the women, the little ones, the livestock, and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall plunder for yourself; and you shall eat the enemies’ plunder which the Lord your God gives you. Thus you shall do to all the cities which are very far from you, which are not of the cities of these nations.” – Deuteronomy 20:10-15
How do we know this is a defensive-only policy? First of all, offering peace to a city doesn’t make any sense unless you’ve already been at war with them. Having to offer peace assumes that you are not currently at peace. Secondly, the text tells us that the city would be made Israel’s slaves if they accepted the peace offer. Slavery in the Bible is for the purpose of restitution when crime has been committed. If a criminal was unable to pay restitution for his crime, he could be ordered to work for the victim until any loss or damages had been compensated for (Exodus 22:3). Since a crime has to be committed in order for restitution to be demanded, we can safely conclude that the city in question was the aggressor. Israel was to fight in self-defense, not as the initiators of war. Jesus – being the same God who revealed these guidelines – obviously agrees with himself. Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus repudiate the principle of self-defense or defensive war. His admonitions of peace are consistent with the policies of Deuteronomy 20.
The most ironic part of this image is the implication that Obama is anti-war! To the contrary, Obama has proven himself to be trigger-happy ever since his first term. Among other things, he has continued the aggressive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; dropped bombs in Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan; and now his administration says he can assassinate American citizens on U.S. soil without due process. It seems there is no limit to Obama’s power over your life. He has disregarded the Constitution that he is supposed to uphold and he has ignored Christ’s guidelines for peace and war.
Let us pray that Obama repents of his ways and begins to seek wisdom from the words of Jesus Christ. Let’s also hope that liberals stop supporting this hypocritical presidency and instead follow the true King of Peace, the true Anti-War hero.
by Adam McIntosh