September 28, 2013

The Rev. Rodney B. Weaver: To war or not to war

— Recently with the state of world affairs, the U.S. has been faced with the imminent question “to go to war or not to war.” As a nation, the situation in Syria threatened national and international security. The idea of a war is not a popular notion. It makes us contemplate the death of young soldiers, stressful days praying about their welfare, not seeing loved ones for months at a time and having to adjust our lifestyles to accommodate missing loved ones.

If one were to survey the Bible for comforting words about warfare, the individual would  observe that the Scriptures have an abundance of wartime events. Beginning in Genesis and going through Revelations, there is both physical and spiritual warfare.

War is commonplace in the Bible. The Israelites fought foreign nations. God ordered the Israelites to go to war with other nations (I Samuel 15:3 and Joshua 4:13). They were held in bondage. They fought and grumbled among themselves. They killed others. Others sought to kill them. As aforementioned, war was commonplace.

The question comes to mind, when will it ever end? When will we, as a people under God, ever learn to study war no more. The answer to this ever-present question has baffled man for generations. The great world wars were negotiated  to bring peace for all. The War Between the States, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, the Afghanistan War all produced causalities not only in body bags, but also in contrite, broken spirits.  

To war or not to war is the question. Shakespeare asked if “it is more nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of trouble, and by opposing end them?” This is the pressing question when war is considered.

Some say that war is inevitable. It is the only way to keep sinful people/nations from doing great harm to the innocent. Some say war is never a good thing but sometimes necessary. Some  say that some wars are more just than others. For example, if Hitler has not been defeated by World War II, more Jews would have been killed. If the American Civil War had not been fought, more African-Americans would have had to suffer as slaves.

To war or not to war is the question. Which is more noble? Who knows? Certainly not this author. But if war is inevitable, Philippians 4:6-7 shares some great advice.

The most important thing we can do in a time of war is to pray for godly wisdom for our leaders, pray for the safety of our military, pray for a quick resolution to conflicts, and pray for a minimum of casualties among civilians on both sides.  

Until the day shall come when we can study war no more, the overriding question that shall challenge us is whether to war or not to war.

Rodney Weaver is the pastor of Alexander Chapel United Methodist Church. His column appears on the fourth Saturday of the month.