How should Christians understand and respond to war?
With the events unfolding in Ukraine, it is not hard to imagine that many Christians are asking a number of questions about war. In Matthew 24:6-ff, Jesus tells His hearers that there will be wars—and rumours of wars—before the end comes. We have not seen universal peace at any point in history. Many wars are fought on a small scale. Some, like what is happening now, play out on a much larger scale.
In biblical times, war was a common part of life. This does not mean all wars are just or that God turns a blind eye to the atrocities of wartime. In some cases, God calls His people to go to war. At other times, He calls them to turn their swords into ploughshares (Isaiah 2:4; Joel 3:12; Micah 4:3).
While the Bible is candid about the realities of war in the ancient world, it promotes peace and calls on believers to love their enemies. The Bible makes allowance for war but does not promote war as the first step to solving conflicts.
We must now ask ourselves when it is right to go to war and when it is right to abstain. We must also ask ourselves how Christians should respond to those who are involved in war directly—soldiers, leaders, etc.—and indirectly—displaced civilians, refugees, etc.
The Bible makes allowance for war but does not promote war as the first step to solving conflicts
But before we consider war, we have to consider what it isn’t. ‘Terrorism’, for starters, is defined as targeting non-combatants with lethal or severe violence to achieve political purposes, perhaps through the creation of fear, and perhaps including the targeting of property that is related to life or security. Terrorism is often motivated by revenge and has no clear end goal. Terrorism is not war and is universally condemned.
Some have concluded that war is always wrong, including on religious grounds. It is said that the evils of war outweigh the good that might be produced from winning a war. This belief is called ‘Pacifism’. Others have concluded that sometimes war is justified. This is known as ‘Just War Theory’. For a war to be morally justified under this theory, it must fit the following criteria.
War is morally justified if:
In the current situation in Ukraine, we have seen Russia as an aggressor who does not seem to have a just cause. Needless injury has been inflicted on soldiers and civilians. There was no danger apart from war, and more evil is being caused than good through this invasion. As a result, we can conclude that the war is not just—and that Russia has no right to be doing what they are doing.
On the other hand, Ukrainian citizens are trying to protect their land, their resources, their lives and their country. They have been forced into a fight that should have never been started. They are just in protecting their country and other countries are just in providing them aid. Other countries must be wise in how they go about doing this to avoid making the situation worse for the rest of the world as well.
God walks with His people during their suffering, and He has not forgotten about the people in Ukraine
With this situation, Christians must ask:
Below I would like to suggest seven things in response to the events that are taking place in Ukraine.
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