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A Biblical case against Pre-emptive War.

A friend of mine asked me why I was against pre-emptive war. The question kind of through me since we are both Christians and the answer seems pretty obvious to me; but, there are a lot of Christians that do support it so I took the opportunity to explain. After a series of emails back and forth the subject migrated a little into whether Christians had the right to defend themselves at all and do I use the Old Testament (OT) or the New Testament (NT) as a guide. The following was my latest response.

WARNING!!! This was a Bible based discussion, if you are offended by the Bible then lets all put on our big boy underwear and extend the same respect and liberty that we want to receive from others.


I really do enjoy when people ask me things like this because it forces me to think about what I believe and why I believe it. So your questions was whether to use the "OT or the NT in formulating a position for defending violent action against enemies." That's really tough because I'm not sure if I can restrict myself to either the OT or the NT and I'm not sure if I want to. I don't think they are in contradiction to each other and Paul writes in 2Tim 3:16 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." And Hebrews says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." So, I hope you don't think that's a copout but, I think that the OT and the NT complement each other and not contradict each other. The NT doesn't really have any "war stories" except in the book of Revelation and those are pretty one sided battles.

It always seems easier to me to get to the lowest common denominator. Like when people discuss our deficit and debt and we knock off a bunch of zeros and make the connection to a household income. Or when we talk about the Government and how it should be run like someone would run their business or their personal checkbook. We/I do it to make it relatable to the average person so that they can, hopefully, understand the scope of what's being discussed. So when I look at war or the potential for war I bring it down to a personal level of self-defense. So to be sure I am not a pacifist, as you'll read. In fact I hope I don't shock or offend you with my theories of war; which is why I wanted this a little less public...so as not to offend. I believe in Biblical warfare fought using General Patton's theory of how to win a war. Patton said, "The way to win a war is to use the weapons and means at your disposal in order to inflict the greatest amount of wounds, death and destruction in the shortest period of time." And your probably wondering how this jives with my other, previous statements.

Every year, for the last 10 years +/- I've taught a "black belt seminar" either in So. California or N. Carolina depending on different circumstances. This year it's in N. Carolina in about 10 days. And every year I give a little speech before we start the weekend. Some people have got to be tired of hearing it by now but, there are always new people and parents there and I have to give it as a disclaimer...And because it's at a Church and I don't want to offend anyone; people are so easily offended nowadays. You'll notice a lot of verses that you quoted are in my little speech. It's not written down or anything so I'm sure it's a little different each year. It goes something like this:

"So from this point on, all weekend, we are working off of the 'basic rules and assumptions'. There is only one rule...there are no rules when it comes to fighting. You opponent doesn't use rules therefore if you do...you'll lose. Boxing has rules, the Octagon has rules, Jujitsu has rules, Te Kwon Do has rules...the street has no rules. We will have safety rules so that we can continue to train but you have to be able to turn those rules on and off as need be. We will be making a couple of 'assumptions'. The first assumption has two results (the other assumptions we make have to do with actual fighting and don't really have anything to do with my opening remarks). We 'assume that our opponent in the street is absolutely the toughest, baddest human we are ever going to run across. The first result is that if this person in front of you is the most dangerous person you're ever going to meet then you had better find a way out; either talk your way out or run your way out but, you had better avoid this conflict. The second result of our assumption, that this is a very dangerous person, is if you are forced to defend yourself, if he has left you no options; you are 'backed in a corner with no place to go' then you had better fight this person with everything you've got in you because you're fighting for your life. So, everything we're working on this weekend is predicated by that second result of our assumption. We're commanded in Scripture to 'live at peace with one another as far as it depends on you'. So when confronted with a situation it's you Christian responsibility to be a 'peacemaker'. There are some exception, that you as an individual have to work out; between you and God. Jesus said we are to 'turn the other cheek'. But, in context it's turn the other cheek if you are being hit because of the name of Jesus. So you have to work this out in your own heart just like I had to. For me, if someone wants to beat me up BECAUSE I'm a Christian then I will let them...I'll probably cover up to protect my noggin but I won't fight back and destroy them. If someone wants to beat me up because I'm skinny or fat or because I'm black or white or I got big ears or they just don't like my t-shirt...then I revert back to the 'basic rule and assumption'. As Christians we are to show mercy to others. If you have never been in a fight and are terrified of the thought of being in a fight; if someone tries to start a fight, is it 'merciful' of you to walk away? No...it's fear that caused you to walk away. But, if you have the ability to defend yourself, more than that, to really hurt the other person, and someone tries to pick a fight with you and you walk away; what is it? That's mercy. Whether the other person knows it or not is irrelevant; you know it and God knows it. Another thing that you have to work out within yourself is 'what are you prepared to do?' At the point that most of you are in your training, you have a lot of 'tools in the toolbox'. Are you mentally prepared to use them? Do you understand the moral and legal requirements to use them? If someone wants my wallet; I'm going to give it to them...I can make more money, it's not worth my life. If someone wants my car; here are the keys, I have insurance. Now, if he wants my car and my son is in the car then things have changed a little. I'm going to say something like, 'let me get my son and it's all yours'. If his response is 'NO, GIVE ME THE KEYS NOW OR ELSE!!!' then I'm forced to respond accordingly. So, what am I prepared to do?...anything I have to. The sound an arm makes when it breaks is disgusting. The only thing more shocking is the sound a person makes when they've just had their arm destroyed. If I have to shove my thumbs two knuckles deep in a guys eyes to keep him from taking, hurting, killing my son; that's what I'm going to do. So what are you prepared to do? If you don't think you could handle that then you had better get very, very good at the first result to our assumption and you had better figure out how far your able and willing to go and train up to that level. I tend to think that it's better to have it and not need it then to need it and not have it. So, legally....there's a common phrase, 'assault and battery'. Assault, in most states, is usually defined as a verbal attack. A guy is across a parking lot, cussing you out for taking his parking spot and as he is walking toward you he is yelling at you and threatening you the whole time. That's assault; it's illegal, he can be arrested for it. But, you can't do anything unless he either physically touches you or attempts to touch you. You cannot try to counter his threats with threats of you own; if you happen to carry a gun like I do and you think, "I'll just flash my gun to him and he'll back off"...that's brandishing a weapon and now you're the one who's going to go to jail. Now, as he approaches you, you should be trying to talk him down, apologize for 'taking his spot'...whatever. But, as he approaches and gets within your 'bubble', if he so much as pokes you in the chest with his finger...that's battery and you are legally allowed to defend yourself...within reason. If your 6'4" and he pokes you in the chest and your response is to gouge out his eyes and break both his arms the authorities are probably going to consider that excessive and you're going to be in a lot of trouble. The response has to be equal to the threat. But, if he has a club in his hand as he approaches and he attempts to hit you with the club and you disarm him and whack him upside the head and knock him out...problem solved. If you then continue to beat him with the stick after he has been subdued...we're back to excessive force. So for the rest of the weekend, from this point on, we are assuming that we are dealing with the most dangerous person you're ever going to meet, that you have exhausted all efforts to avoid a conflict, and his actions are dictating your reactions."

That's basically the speech I give every year and the one I'll give in a few days. So that being the lowest common denominator I then scale up to a National scale. For example Afghanistan. Afghanistan was almost the most brilliant war we ever fought. 300 Special Forces Operators (Delta Force, Dev Gru, CIA, a handful of Combat Controllers and the US Air force) did in two months what the Russian Army couldn't do in ten years. But, we blew it. ( I can send you, if you want, some fascinating links to former Delta Operators, and CIA liaisons that say how every critical request they made in order to Kill OBL was denied.) So, ten years later we're still screwing around over there. But, imagine if they had used my (Patton's) theory of fighting/(war). Imagine if we had dropped every Airborne Ranger we had on the Pakistani side of the Tora Bora Mountains to prevent OBL from getting into Pakistan. Then the Spec Ops guys with the aid of the Air Force just killed their way up the mountain until there was nothing left to kill...then we just came home. The message that would have sent to the "jihadist" around the world would have kept us safe for decades. Interestingly enough I found out during the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, while watching a bunch of documentaries about the whole event and reading a couple of books and 1st hand accounts that that is exactly what the CIA liaisons and Spec Ops were requesting but it was denied. Kenny Berstine, a CIA operative on the ground, specifically requested 800 Army Rangers to secure the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan but, Bush turned him down.

I know this was long and it may have drifted from the point a little but, that's why I have the opinions that I do. I feel preemptive war violates the "basic rules and assumptions" and when we do go to war we don't Declare War (as the law requires) and we don't fight according to my "response number two" which is fight with all you have to win and once you've won (he's unconscious or incapacitated) you come home. So, I'll to try and wrap this up. I use the NT to guide me before a fight (all the ones that you mentioned) during a fight I use the OT (because it deals with fighting more than the NT). Specifically 1Sam 15, 2Ki 13:19, Jos 6:21 and a slew of others.

Before I was saved I had a few "altercations". I don't know if I was necessarily looking for trouble but, I definitely didn't try to avoid trouble. Since I got saved and I stopped going to certain places (where there is a high probably of trouble occurring), with certain people (that seemed to invite problems), and doing certain things (that seemed to cause problems) I've had very few altercations...in fact I can only think of two and neither of them turned physical. Actually there was a third...but I was in a really bad place mentally and emotionally after Dave's diagnosis of Autism and a guy was purposely pushing my buttons and I almost tore his head off...luckily there were some other brothers there to subdue the...situation. So, I'm not opposed to War per say but, I think we look for war where there doesn't have to be one. And if we go to war we should Declare War and then use "the weapons and means at our disposal to inflict the greatest amount of wounds, death and destruction on the enemy in the shortest period of time..and then come home. I reserve the right to alter my opinions as the Lord directs. :)

Be Blessed Jane