Okay, for some reason Blogger is giving me problems when I try to post a comment, so I am posting here. After 30 comments, it is about time anyway
Like I said before, this is the busiest week of my year, probably, and I should be somewhere else right how, but I am going to try to do this in ten minutes, which means that I am not going to dig out my Bible and cite verses but only reference teachings and situations in it.
A commenter named la maintains that she is concerned about voting for McCain because he seems much more eager for war, and as a Christian, she leans more toward Obama because he puts forward a platform that emphasizes diplomacy over might, and is willing to sit down with our enemies and try to bring forth peaceful resolutions.
She also maintains that war is also murder, and cites some very good verses in the comments section regarding Jesus's commands to love our enemies.
First of all:
1. No one, including McCain is saying that diplomacy is not a first priority. He is saying that the State Department is the one that sits down and works out a satisfactory situation for world leaders to meet. Some common level of agreement needs to be made before this happens.
This is a good idea for many reasons:
a. Those trained in diplomacy in the State Department are the first wave of trying to get to a solution. That is their job, it is what they studied, are trained in, etc. They understand cultural situations and differences that a President just can't get at, and can undermine in his ignorance.
b. If a common ground can't be found, diplomacy can merely be broken off without offending the leaders of either country irreparably....an issue that has led to war throughout history. Preliminary negotiations are not the leader's job, and haven't been since ancient times. Even chieftains of tribes send emissaries to get agreements worked out, and then they meet to finalize the process.
c. If the President agrees to meet with the Irani president, for instance, in such a circumstance, but decides that he doesn't have the time or desire to go to Ethiopia when they have a crisis, should a situation arise...he has just insulted Ethiopia, terribly by treating whatever crisis they may have as not as important as Iran . So now our President is doing the job that the State Department was set up to do in the first place -- in order to fulfill the role of serving the President. A leader of a country always is the one to complete a deal, not the one to start it or hammer out the details. And once Obama is in office, I really and truly believe that is the way he will do things as well, despite what he says now, because that is what his advisors will recommend. You don't break with a tradition that all countries have abided by really since ancient times.
Jesus's command to love our enemies was not a new command. It is shown throughout all of the Old Testament. It was shown when Joseph did not kill his brothers, it was shown when God sent Jonah to Nineveh, it was shown when Amos married the prostitute who continued to shame him and didn't have him stoned, it was shown so many other times, and most of all, it was shown when God had mercy on the Israelites time and time and time again. And it was shown in the Garden of Eden when God promised a Savior. It was shown in how Joseph was going to put Mary away rather than bring her and her pregnancy before the elders of the community. All examples of how God loves us and forgives us, His enemies.
Yet God was also pretty harsh when it came to justice. He often has used war to administer this justice, both in favor of the Israelites and against the Israelites when they were disobedient. His laws have death as a punishment for so many crimes, for the sake of the well-being of the Children of Israel, yet there are so many times when we are shown examples of mercy rather than strict accordance to the Law.
When God gave the Promised Land to the Children of Israel, he told them to kill everyone living there, or they would struggle with the evils that were in the land for the rest of all time. There were wars against the Philistines, the Midianites, and many others and God showed His favor to the Hebrews time and time again, unless they were in rebellion. God said David was the Apple of His eye, even though David was a king of war. He was not the man to build God's temple because of it, but God blessed David through a period of war in Israel. God used the Assyrians and Babylonians to punish Israel, the prophets say it, again through war.
We don't have much of an example of that in the New Testament because The Judeans were already in subjection to the Romans -- it was in the midst of the Pax Romana (Roman Peace) . They were between wars when Christ lived. But Revelation certainly has images of wars that Christians fight.
Christ also said that He did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
Like I said, I don't have a lot of time to go into it. I don't know your background, la, but I am Lutheran, so I am going to explain it in Lutheran theological terms, and if any pastor or layman out there wishes to do a better job than I , I would appreciate it.
Most often, the fifth commandment is translated "Thou shalt not kill." But Greek is a very accurate language, and "murder" is actually a better word. Murder is when someone takes the life of another when they do not have a right to take that life. Abortion is a good example of that. God has bestowed life through the act of sex, and has promised that there would be blessings through that life. No one has a right to take that life. Nothing has been done to earn death (aside from being sinful from conception).
Lutherans describe the world in terms of Kingdom of the Right and Kingdom of the Left. The Kingdom of the Right is The Church - eternal, and under God's authority. The Kingdom of the Left is Government, put in place by God to act in the interest of His people. God uses the Government to do His will. There are good governments and bad governments though, just like there are good and bad in everything in this sinful world...to varying degrees.
The governments are given the right to keep order in society. We would not have a safe society if everyone who commited a crime was forgiven without repentance, without penalty. And some are just not safe to have in society, so they are kept in prison or put to death. This is an authority that God clearly gives to government. The government also has a right to take taxes (give unto Caesar) and wage just war -- which means recruit its citizens to serve the government in facing another government or situation that is threat to its well-being. There are just wars and unjust wars. I don't have the time right now to discuss whether or not Iraq is a just war, but despite the debaucle of the WMD intelligence, etc., I still believe that it is. This is not murder. The soldiers do not commit murder, the government does not commit murder in the act of war....it is terrible all the same, and I will not say that it is good. But just like God saw fit to kill animals to put clothes on Adam and Eve, in a sinful world, death has become a way to solve problems. Some things cannot be settled without war. Does it mean we leap to it with callous disregard for the lives we are sending to the battlefront and those left behind on either side? No, not at all. May it never be. That's what dictators do. That's what Hussein would do with his troops and with his people...torturing and killing them for his amusement, treating them and his neighboring countries like his pawns.
When a shepherd knows that there is a wolf about, they hunt down the wolf and kill it before it comes into the pen and kills the sheep. Christ does that for us, sometimes through governments...sometimes through wars. He has given a government the right to do that.
I don't believe that the Republican candidate is EAGER to go to war with anyone, he seems to understand the seriousness and evils of war from personal experience...but if it is necessary, he is willing. He also knows that you don't send troops into a war that can be won and pull out before it is. That dishonors their sacrifice even more.
However, one caution. I did not "hear" the tone that you attributed to Barb. I know Barb somewhat over the last few years, and I know her writing style, and she is a straightforward one, but not rude. Sometimes we all hear the tone that we think is there -- when I am nervous about an argument I make, those who respond in writing sound more critical than they often are to my ear. Remember, this is a written media, and you may be placing your own impression of her tone. I did not "hear" her being anything but respectful. I was also respectful but straightforward when I wrote of my own concerns and fears that I truly believe to be worthy of concern. Yet you cautioned me against causing offense. At times, offense cannot be prevented when one worldview goes against another. We just have to work within that.