Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Love Your Enemy, but in Love for Your Neighbor, Put a Bullet in his Head.

Luke 6:27-31 (ESV)
"But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, [28] bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. [29] To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. [30] Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. [31] And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

It’s a tall order. The truth is, this is the way God’s kingdom works with us. It isn’t how society is supposed to work. And Christians will find that loving their enemy is not always going to play out singing “kumbaya my Lord” around a campfire. But God’s kingdom receives us despite everything we deserve. Despite the fact that we are by nature enemies of God, he still loves us, and sends his son to die for us. We live in forgiveness in communion with Christ. Because this is true we are also able to forgive others, and love those who hate us. We will also find that, we fall short of God’s admonition here, and will realize all the more how much we need forgiveness.
I’d like to expand a little bit on this though. These sorts of verses are often brought up when convenient at war protests and so forth. Often it seems by people who themselves couldn’t give Jesus Christ the time of day. You really wonder if any of them have ever set foot in church. And one is reminded that the devil knows scripture quite well. They will quote verses like this to argue that we shouldn’t go to war, in a self-righteous tone they will despise the soldier that defends his neighbor by shooting his enemy. This sort of nonsense can’t stand. Sad to say, I’ve known not a few chaplains in the service that don’t know what to do with verses like this. At least, so it would seem from some of the sermons I was subjected to as an Airman.
Really, we are suffering as a nation because of Biblical misunderstandings about these things. Military personnel come home from war feeling guilty, thinking they have broken the 5th commandment, and violated such verses as these above. I remember in my time serving our nation, dealing with pious Christians who felt such guilt. There is insanity involved here. Even when reformed and now Roman Catholics too, translating the fifth commandment as thou shalt not “kill” rather than “murder,” just add confusion to a poor struggling conscience. When mom’s try to train their boys to not play soldier, and teach them that such things are wrong, (this is the message you send whether you intend it or not) you create a psychological environment that leads to such troubled consciences.
These sayings are not to be applied as a rule for society, but as a personal thing to be employed with good judgment, balanced with the whole counsel of God’s word. This has nothing to do with society and how it must operate.
Soldiers go to war. And we should be thankful they do. Boys playing war, in my mind, ought to be encouraged. It is a blessed thing to be called upon to protect your neighbor. Yes love your enemy. Pray for them, pray for our soldiers too. They aren’t murdering, or breaking the fifth commandment. They aren’t breaking the admonition that Christ gives here. They are loving. That they love their enemies, does not mean that they should not also love their country, and their neighbors, try to protect them. The soldier in fact, while loving the enemy, and yet doing his job, is fulfilling the fifth commandment of loving his neighbor, and the seventh commandment by not stealing but protecting his neighbor’s property. And in that light, a war does not have to be strictly one of home defense, or defense of one’s own country. In the book “The Knight’s of Rhodes” mercenaries come from all over Christendom to help the knights fight against the Ottomans. Boys from Crete enlist in droves against their own ruler’s orders. They do so because they know what is right. The mercenaries are not just there for money. They come to fight a war that is theirs, to assist the Knights in their battle. It is a noble thing. These men, they knew what it meant that greater love hath no man, than that he lay down his life for his friends. To say, as innocent people are being killed, and embroiled in conflict, that it isn’t my battle, well that isn’t exactly true. And to demonize others for fighting along side those who have a just cause is an awful thing to do in the name of Christ.
Yes, we would all like to live in a world of peace. We don’t. And sometimes loving your neighbor means killing your enemy. I really need to sit down and translate “On Whether Soldiers Too can be Saved.” No soldier ever ought to be forced to buy that piece of work.


Unknown said...

I'm from the 1950's and1960's. Something you didn't experience firsthand is the beginnings of our entry into the Vietnam War. Then to watch it in the news daily and you raised your children...
The Bible verses you mentioned and the protests using them were horrible. The soldiers and sailors that returned were not given honor but had to return to being protested against...you've read it...
Fast forward to today, and the outward appearances of our people showing thanks, welcoming our soildiers home, stands in stark contrast to the past; however, there are still those who insist on bringing up these verses.

I was on a blog recently where the defense of out home and neighbor was talked about. Here the pastor mentioned that Jesus himself told his disciples taking 2 swords to defend themselves, was enough. (He was sending them out...forgot the verse-Luke?)

Am I correct then in understanding that these verses do not apply to defense but rather one-to-one interactions? I want to make sure I understand this as not being applied to our soldiers involved in a "just war".

There was an article at the beginning of the Iraq War in The Lutheran Witness on "just war". I will try to find it and sent it to you...
(BTW-Both my parents were WWII vets.)
Sue J in NJ

Bror Erickson said...

Which verses are you talking about.
Jesus did tell us to turn the other cheek. This had to do with personal offense. It has nothing to do with whether we should defend home and family and so forth.

Unknown said...

Luke 22:
36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

Unknown said...

The Bible verses you were talking about were for personal offence, as you confirmed.

(I'm sorry, I left off my reason for those verses in Luke...) When Jesus sent these disciples out, and they took the two swords, I am thinking that they were to protect themselves from attack.
Do these verses in Luke refer to defense then similar to the soldiers, then? We are allowed to defend ourselves in a "Just War", then, based on Luke 22: 36-38?