see also Memorial Day 2007.
So God enters human flesh under a military dictatorship. During His short mortal life the freedom fighters try to enlist Him but He declines; He has other interests. This lack of interest in political freedom is one of the things that gets Him tortured to death. He does not resist His torturers. He had taught His followers to not return violence for violence. His chief follower wrote letters to literal slaves and was not interested in talking to them about freedom.
Two thousand years later the Christian churches celebrate in their services “those who died to protect our way of life”. In my church this weekend we literally studied the passages in Revelation describing the martyrs, who submit to the sword for their confession that Jesus is king. We study the martyrs, who do not resist, and we celebrate those who kill to protect our freedom to live and work where we want. We would die for Jesus, but kill for everything else.
It’s at this point the disclaimers have to be added, because it is easy for the reader to hear something I am not saying:
- I do respect the heroism of the men of Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, Normandy. Those men, “who gave the last full measure of devotion”, might indeed have been better men than I, every last one. They were certainly braver than me. And they gave me a precious gift of freedom, yes.
- The American military has acted, in its history, with as much nobility and rightness in its causes as any military in history. Jane Fonda and fellow travelers are idiots.
- I do not believe that countries can or should follow the ethic of Jesus. The state wields the sword, not the shepherd’s crook. Political pacifism is just another word for suicide. Anybody who thinks good things will happen from trying to be nice to Hitler, Saddam, or that Iranian sociopath is, well, cf Jane Fonda.
- I do appreciate there are libraries of books on the theory of Just War.
But. I am not able to reconcile the churches’ celebration of war dead with the NT ethic. They gave us something good, but not something so good that Jesus thought it was important enough to Him to talk about, or us to die for. These values we did not get from Him.