Many Christians believe that killing another person is always wrong, regardless of the circumstances (war, for example). Others say that war is fine and God is totally okay with it. And everyone in between is left confused because in the Old Testament, God actually commanded the Israelites to kill their enemies, but then in the New Testament, Jesus told us to love our enemies. Most people look at this verse and get that they are supposed to love the difficult people at school, be nice to everyone, etc. Nothing is wrong with this; we do need to do those things! But does this also apply to the terrorists in the Middle East that we are trying to protect other people from? What about the wars we have started in the name of justice? When Osama bin Laden was killed, was it okay that people were dancing in the streets of Boston? Is it okay to celebrate when someone who has done great harm in the world has died?
So what about all the biblical wars that took place? In the Old Testament, God was very strict about how the Israelites were to live. He gave them very specific laws in regard to sacrifices so that they might remain pure and sinless in God’s sight. The Israelite men were not allowed to marry women who weren’t also Israelite, and same for Israelite women. I think that the destroying of Israel’s enemy nations had to do with God making sure there would be no inter-marrying between nations. It was a way to keep Israel pure in His sight. In the New Testament, that changed. God didn’t tell us to kill people with evil intent, or to kill for purely selfish purposes.
Does that mean that it’s okay to go to war as long as our motives are not those of evil? As long as we’re trying to help others, is it okay to kill others? I think killing should be the last resort. If you take a terrorist, for example, he should first be arrested and then if that doesn’t stop him, killing would be necessary. But I don’t think that it is right to just kill people because they are doing bad things.
Jesus said that we should never rejoice when our enemy suffers or dies. In the case of Osama bin Laden, it is wrong to rejoice in the death of an enemy, no matter how much wrong he did. It is okay to celebrate the fact that justice has been done, but not to be happy he was killed.
World War 1 started when the Archduke of Serbia, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated because he took over another country. Imagine how many lives would have been spared if all those countries hadn’t erupted into a chain of violence! Imagine how many families would not have lost loved ones if the country would have forgiven with peace instead of retaliating with war.
Peace should always — always — be the first option. I do not believe there is anything wrong with defending one’s country, but Christians should never initiate wars.
This is a grey area among Christians. But as for me, I want to always choose peace over war. I’ve thought of the martyrs of old who have laid down their lives for Christ even as their enemies pointed a gun at their face. They could have defended themselves, but didn’t. And in the end, others came to faith in Jesus because of it.
But in the end, no matter what you think, it is most important to mimic the unconditional love that was modelled for us by Jesus.