War Ethics: When Hitler and Hannibal Lecter get into a Fight… it’s Best to Stay Out of it.

The President and Secretary of State tell  us we need to go to war because a country in the Middle East has Weapons of Mass Destruction.  The irony is not lost on most of us.  Before we rush into another war, perhaps we should consult the good book.  Since elephants and donkeys seems to love war, what would the Lion think? The evidence for the chemical weapons is suspect as well.

Some moral reasons we should NOT go to war with Syria.


1) As I mention in my book Godonomics, we as a nation are broke. 17 trillion dollars plus ten times more in unfounded liabilities. (All politicians reading this… Look in the mirror and say ten times, “We can’t afford it!).  Jesus didn’t forbid war -but clearly taught the need to weigh the cost-

Luke 14:  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? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.

We should weigh the cost of war financially as well as personally.   My father in law was in Vietnam and still suffers pts as well as survivor’s guilt.  Despite  counseling, the impact on kids and grandkids is incalculable. 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 war? 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.  In the case of the debate on the potential war in Syria, let’s consider the cost.

First, we can’t afford it: financially or personally.

Second, what is the just cause?   Did their government use chemical weapons on it’s citizens?  I don’t know.  Did the Rebels use the chemicals in order to make the government look like they did it so America would help them?  I have no idea.  Did a third party use the chemicals in order to pull America into another skirmish? Hard to say.   Should we arm and help the rebels?  Well consider the video of the Rebel commander who killed an enemy and then cut out his liver (or possibly heart) and ate it on a youttube video.   Was that staged?  Who knows.   The point is simple: When choosing between Hannibel Lector, a rebel leader; and a modern day Hitler (Syrian Chemical Dispurser) with incomplete information…. I think it’s best to stay out of it.    In fact, this is a good rule of them: When you see Hannibal and Hitler in a fist fight, don’t step in… I’m just sayin’.   There is also potential evidence that helping the “rebels” is synonomous with helping Al-Qua’ida.  Does this sound like a good idea?


2) God warned his people against large intrusive government in 1 Samuel 8. As I layout in the chapter, “What would God  say to FDR?”  God forewarned his people that the larger the government, the more wars they will pursue using your boys and girls as fodder.

Before Jack Black played the part, Ted Danson was Gulliver. The original tale was a parody showing the ludicrousness of current government and economic theory.   In this clip from the TV special, Gulliver tries to defend the current economic theory to a Queen of a far off land.   He tries to defend the corrupt government that rewards the politicians, denies fair trials to the poor, and inflates the currency.  It is a hilarious exchange that unveils a painful similarity to America today.


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The Queen: “How can a kingdom spend more than it receives in taxes?”

Gulliver: “Well, that’s simple. We just… Ur.. Um… We just borrow more from ourselves.”

Queen: “Why are you always at war?”

Gulliver: “We need to attack others before they attack us. Gaining the element of surprise”

God warned his people long before Gulliver of the problems of an intrusive government. He told Samuel to show them the behavior of a king. He clearly laid out that a big government would take excessive percentages of the population’s profits and funnel them into government luxuries, corruption, and “pet projects.”  He noted the insatiable appetites of kings for war -of which- he would use their sons as the “fuel” for the armies. 1 Samuel 8


4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and said to him, “Look,  make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD said to Samuel, “However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”

11 And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12 He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.  They refused to obey the voice of Samuel


For more information, check out or watch this clip of me explaining this warning from God about spending and government from 1 Samuel


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