Shouldn’t Christians Consider the Cost of War?

Osama is dead. Obama is celebrating. Mother’s day is just around the corner. What a roller coaster of emotions. Mother’s day is a lot like this week. One moment you are laughing at a child’s funny moment, the next moment you are overwhelmed that you have no idea what you are doing. Imagine the challenges of being a mother to Osama Bin Laden. Imagine the complexities of mothering a known terrorist. Imagine the prayers, the pain, and the horror of seeing the world celebrate your son’s death. Imagine the smile and proud look of Obama’s mom, knowing her son caught the worlds most famous terrorist.

Jesus spoke of the complexities of both war and emotions of motherhood. He said:

Luke 14:28-3128 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?

Jesus notes that a leader and wise builder will weigh the cost of battle before going into war. Why? First, to ensure victory. Second, to consider the huge cost in human life, financial commitment, and loss of young men and women.

The Bible takes a nuanced view on war which explains why Christ followers can disagree. While the Bible clearly teaches us not to murder, the word murder is different from the the Hebrew word kill. The Bible forbids murder: unjust killing. The Bible makes exceptions for self-defense and lays out ethics for war taking a realistic view of our broken world and the reality of evil.

I once spoke with a dear friend, a Quaker, who was a strong pacifist… Until he got married. His wife once asked him, “If an intruder broke into our house and attacked me, are you saying you wouldn’t fight him off?” My friend said, “No, I am a pacifist.” He told me the look in his new bride’s eyes will haunt him till the day he dies. She was horrified that her husband wouldn’t love her enough to protect her from evil. He made a decision that day to take evil more seriously and relook at his position on “just” violence vs “unjust” violence. He changed his position and provided his wife with the security she needed and hoped for.

War is terrible. My father in law still aches from the things he saw in Vietnam. My grandpa fought in WWII as a marine; my other grandfather was in the army. They fought the forces of evil and did “the loving thing” by serving in the military and fighting off Hitler. I know first hand the challenges to mothers and grandmothers who see the complications of war on their sons and daughters and long to hold them tightly. Jesus knew this feeling well when he referenced feeling like a mother and grieving like a mother hen seeing the coming war and destruction of his people in Jerusalem.

Matthew 23:37-39
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! ’”

Should we rejoice in Osama’s death? Should we celebrate Obama’s military strategy? A follower of christ can have mixed emotions. They can celebrate that evil is judged and innocent lives will no longer be victims while grieving the lost of a human life. They can support a war that punishes evil while questioning the cost of it. They can support just war while questioning if this particular war meets the criteria.

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