On May 2, 2011, the elite SEAL Team Six swept over Pakistan’s dark landscape, dropped down ropes into a compound, exchanged gunfire, confronted Osama bin Laden face to face, and killed him. (Calvin Woodward, AP, May 5, 2011) Were these actions immoral? According to the Bible they were not.
The Old Testament is replete with divinely sanctioned wars, one of which is when Abraham fought against the kings of the Valley (Gen. 14). They aggressively took Abraham’s nephew Lot, as well as Lot’s possessions. Abraham responded with force by attacking them and rescuing Lot and his possessions. After this victory over the enemy, Melchizedek (A priest of the most high God) blessed Abraham. He said, “And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. .” (vs. 20.)
When David returned “from the slaughter of the Philistines” women greeted him, singing, dancing, and chanting, “. . .Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” (I Sam. 18:7) David killed many people in justifiable wars. God said of David, “. . .I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart. . .”(Acts 13:22).
The New Testament reaffirms that God has approved the use of deadly force by a government to protect innocent lives and administer justice . Paul wrote to the church at Rome, “But if you do wrong, be afraid, for (the government) does not bear the sword in vain.” (Rom. 13:4)
Luke 3:14 tells of some soldiers who had accepted Christ as their Savior. They asked John the Baptist what they should do. He did not tell them to get out of the army, but to be good soldiers.
In an evil world, force will always be needed to restrain evil people. A just war is often punitive. Hitler had killed millions of innocent people. It was just for the United States and the Allied Forces to invade Germany and stop him. Thousands of people died because of Osama bin Laden . It was just for the SEAL Team Six to stop him.
In The Sermon on The Mount Jesus taught that we should “turn the other cheek” and “ resist evil.” (Matt. 5:39) Christ was speaking to individuals, not governments. Only governments have the right to kill during a just war. God gave them “the sword” to protect and defend their citizenry. (Rom. 13:4) What is immoral for an individual may not necessarily be so for governments. It is wrong for one to murder a person, “Thou shalt not kill.” (Ex. 20:13) It is not wrong for a government to take the life of a person justly, “He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.” (Ex. 21:12)
I think it is immoral not to attempt to protect the innocent. The Bible says, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17) Jesus entered a Temple and found that moneychangers were cheating people that had foreign currency and were exchanging it for Roman currency to purchase animals for sacrifice. They were charging exorbitant exchange rates, and no one could protest. This angered Jesus, and He overturned their tables and drove them out of the Temple. (Matt. 12:12-13, Mark 11:15-16) He did not ask permission from the Priests, He did it because it was the moral thing to do. If walking by a neighbor’s house I hear an innocent child scream for help, and upon investigation I see a man molesting a young girl, it is my moral duty to stop the man. I am not obligated to ask for permission to enter the premises.
The army of Israel introduced the use of “Special Forces”. We read in the Old Testament, “Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at a hair breadth, and not miss.” (Judges 20:16)
I never had the honor of serving in the United States Armed Forces. My father, Sherman Harmon, served in a Airborne United during WWII. My younger brother, Ron Harmon, joined the Marine Corps. My cousin, Jerry Harmon, was a member of the Green Beret and was killed in Cambodia during the Vietnam war. Both of my sons, Mance and Mannon, enlisted in the Air Force upon graduating from High School. Because of people like them, we enjoy freedom. I like the message on a sign from the Marine Corps, “Nobody likes to fight, but it is good to have someone around that knows how.”
We should pray daily for the men and women who make the decisions during war; pray that God will give them wisdom. We should also pray for the men and women who carry out these orders.
In an ideal world we would need no military or police. In an ideal world we would not need to lock our doors. In an ideal world the innocent would not be harmed. This ideal world is coming. The Prophet Isaiah described it, “. . .and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isa. 2:4)
The Prince of Peace is coming. William Gladstone said, “We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace.”