Memorial Day is a difficult holiday for me. On the one hand, I realize there have been men and women, with the best of intentions, who gave their lives in service to the United States. I never want to diminish that reality.
On the other hand, I have to remember the reality that war is a terrible thing. War destroys families, wealth, and lives. I never want to glamorize war. Not only do I not want to glamorize war, but I want to stand in opposition to it.
One of the founders of the faith movement that I am a part of, the Restoration Movement, is Alexander Campbell. He was a man of deep convictions, including the conviction of pacifism. It is partly due to his writings that I changed my mind about the purpose of war in this world. I went from being a supporter of America’s wars to being opposed to them. While I am not an unconditional pacifist, I do believe that you will look in vain to find a just and necessary war that our country has fought.
I also believe too many Christians are pulled along by a sense of patriotism and a desire for justice making them blind to the real consequences of war. Not only have our current wars failed to deliver the justice our nation was hoping for, but those wars have also caused the death of many innocent men, women and children. They have also displaced other Christians from their homeland. As a Christian I considered it my duty to oppose war.
Today I want to share with you something that Alexander Campbell wrote about the difference between the way earthly kings conquer their enemies and the way God conquers His enemies.
He subdues by no other sword than that of the Spirit. Other kings subdue men’s persons and hold a sovereignty over their enemies, but he seizes the hearts of men. To conquer enemies is his grand enterprise. Philosophy as well as religion teaches us that to conquer enemies is not the work of swords, or lances, or bows of steel. It is not to bind men’s persons to a triumphal car, to incarcerate them in strong holds, or to make them surrender to superior bravery, prowess and strength. To conquer an enemy is to convert him into a friend. This is the noble, benevolent and heaven-conceived enterprise of God’s only-begotten Son. To do this all arms and modes of warfare are impotent, save the arms and munitions of everlasting love. By vivid displays of God’s philanthropy he approaches his enemies, and by the arguments with which this eloquence is fraught he addresses a rebel world. Such is his mode of warfare; a system devised in heaven, and like all of God’s means, perfectly adapted to the high ends proposed.
as quoted by Craig Watts in Disciple of Peace, p. 55
As Christians we should be quick to build bridges and slow to bomb bridges. As a nation we would be much safer and more secure if we followed this advice in our foreign policy. There is always a huge price tag that is attached to war.
I am going to leave you with some thoughts from another man who has influenced my anti-war beliefs.