Archive for violence
Is it okay to kill? I don’t mean a bug in your house, a snake in your garage, or a deer in the woods. Deer tastes good; you may not know if that snake in your garage is poisonous; and bugs are home invaders.
I mean is it okay to kill a man, a human being, a person? Again, I don’t mean someone trying to kill you, rob your business, rape your wife, harm your children, or break into your house. Killing someone might be perfectly justified in those circumstances if it involves defense against aggression.
Specifically, is it okay to kill someone who has not threatened or committed violence or aggression against you, your family, your friends, your neighborhood, anyone you know, or any American you don’t know? Read More→
Tags: aggression, ethics, freedom, militarism, military, self-defense, violence, war
Is killing another human being ever justifiable? Is committing acts of violence ever permissible? Is murder ever legitimate?
In an otherwise good article on self-defense, "The Use of Deadly Force in Self-Defense," a Christian writer in the Berean Searchlight looses his way when he brings up the subject of killing in war. Here are the relevant paragraphs:
War is another area where the taking of human life is legitimate in the eyes of God. When the soldiers asked John the Baptist, "And what shall we do?" it is true that John advised them to "do violence to no man" (Luke 3:14). However, these instructions must be considered in light of the fact that he did not insist that these soldiers quit being soldiers. This means that the violence in which he forbad them to engage must have had to do with some sort of illegal violence. The Greek word for violence here has the idea of shaking, and just might be the idea behind our modern word shakedown, the illegal use of power or authority to extort money from people. The rest of John’s words here would suggest that this is what he had in mind, as he went on to tell them to "be content with your wages."
We know from Ezekiel 45:9 that the orderly execution of judgment and justice by soldiers in the line of duty is not considered violence, for here God says to "remove violence" by engaging in the execution of judgment and justice. In addition, David said, "Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight" (Psa. 144:1). Clearly, the taking of human life in times of war cannot be a sin if God Himself taught David how to be good at it.
The writer’s opening and closing statements are not only irresponsible and careless; they are also evil and dangerous.
On John the Baptist and soldiers, since I have written an entire article on the subject here. I will just say:
1. Is not killing in an unjust war the highest form of violence?
2. Too much should not be read into John the Baptist not telling soldiers to quit since the Apostle Paul likewise never told slave owners to free their slaves (Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1).
3. Nothing said or not said by John the Baptist or done or not done by Roman soldiers can justify the actions of the U.S. military in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The context of the passage the writer refers to in the book of Ezekiel speaks of a future time when the princes of Israel shall no more oppress the people of Israel (Ezekiel 45:8). It has nothing whatsoever to do with soldiers, then or now. Just read it: "Thus saith the Lord GOD; Let it suffice you, O princes of Israel: remove violence and spoil, and execute judgment and justice, take away your exactions from my people, saith the Lord GOD" (Ezekiel 45:9). It also doesn’t say anything about how anyone is to "remove violence," although it seems clear that stopping the committing of violence is what is meant. One thing is for sure, it certainly doesn’t say to "‘remove violence’ by engaging in the execution of judgment and justice."
It does not follow that because the Lord taught David to fight and war for him as the leader of the Old Testament Israelites that the taking of human life in times of war cannot be a sin.
It is wrong to invoke the Jewish wars of the Old Testament against their enemies as a justification for the actions of any government and its military. Although God sponsored these wars, and used the Jewish nation to conduct them, it does not follow that God sponsors other wars, any country is God’s chosen nation, any country has a divine mandate to wage war, any leader is like King David, or that any army is the Lord’s army.
The LORD commanded the children of Israel to "destroy" the altars of the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, "to break their images, and cut down their groves" (Exodus 34:11-13). Does this mean that the U.S. military should invade Muslim countries and destroy their mosques? Only to imperial Christians.
And besides, David obviously abused his skill set because the Lord said to him: "Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood" (1 Chronicles 28:3).
I said that the writer’s opening and closing statements were evil and dangerous. Take a look at them again:
War is another area where the taking of human life is legitimate in the eyes of God.
Clearly, the taking of human life in times of war cannot be a sin if God Himself taught David how to be good at it.
Notice that the writer did not offer any caveats; killing in war is legitimate and is not sinful.
This means that not only are U.S. troops off the hook for killing tens of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan (and millions in Germany, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam), but that German soldiers who killed Polish, Russian, British, French, and American soldiers in World War II did nothing legitimate. It also means that Japanese soldiers in World War II did not sin when they killed Chinese or American soldiers. The writer’s blanket and careless statements mean that no soldier who ever has taken the life of "the enemy" while engaged in war has ever done anything illegitimate or sinful. This is ludicrous.
Killing in a war that is unjust or not a war of genuine self-defense is wholesale murder. And yes, that goes for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wearing a government uniform doesn’t make it legitimate. Using a government weapon doesn’t make it legitimate. Getting a government paycheck for doing it doesn’t make it legitimate. Flying a government plane or helicopter doesn’t make it legitimate. Sailing on a government ship doesn’t make it legitimate. Killing government-declared enemies doesn’t make it legitimate. Killing government-demonized foreigners doesn’t make it legitimate. Following a government order doesn’t make it legitimate. Fighting under a government flag doesn’t make it legitimate.
Murder can never be legitimate.
Originally posted on LewRockwell.com on December 11, 2012.
Tags: Bible, ethics, murder, theology, violence, war
Almost anyone with a connection to Facebook in the last 48 hours has probably heard of this “Kony 2012” thing making the rounds of the Internet. But what exactly is it?
At the core, Kony 2012 is a propaganda meme spread by the Invisible Children political-activist group. Their 30 minute Youtube video has received well over 55 million views in just a few days. Now, if you watch the video you would be completely justified in feeling mortified and stupefied by the violence discussed therein – everyone ought to feel such things when aggression is used against the innocent. Nonetheless, you need to know what it is really about. As Shaun Connell has well noted:
Like many “youth” targeted movements these days, the focus of the video is extremely vague about what exactly social media “activists” are supposed to do, while making it seem incredibly romantic and important that the social media users have the ability to click the “share” button to help their organization become more famous. It’s a clever way to get users pumped up on powerful soundtracks and clips to click the share button. And it’s worked.
Don’t get me wrong, Joseph Kony has definitely caused a lot of suffering, although I think it is probably a stretch to call him the most evil man alive today as IC wants to imply. I can think of others who might deserve that title more. Even George W. Bush is indirectly responsible for far more deaths and more destruction than Kony could ever hope to accomplish. It is remarkable that we tend to forget such perspectives in the face of rock music and catch phrases.
Kony is ultimately a small fish in a large pond of African warlords, not extraordinarily different from the others. We have to look through the Invisible Children propaganda – they are just a publicity organization that wants to get money so they can lobby the government to start another violent conflict. Sure, it would be nice if Kony were not around anymore, but we should not point the U.S. government’s guns at U.S. citizens’ heads to extract the wealth and lives necessary to do it. Moreover, removing Kony will not do much good because somebody else will inevitably rise to take his place. Don’t think that the Ugandan government is an improvement either.
Africa is a mess, and another war is not going to help.
Non-interventionism is still the solution. We can do a lot better by allowing free passage of goods and people to let people escape and thwart their economic controls over the area. Missions of mercy that get the innocent out will accomplish far more than missions of war which will only result in more death, especially of the innocent. The United States should not police the world, as it has done little good in any continent where it has been tried. We cannot expect that the results will be better this time.
Yes, Kony is a bad guy. No, we shouldn’t get politically involved. We should never forget the deadly lessons of past interventions.
P.S. Shaun Connell has written an excellent piece on this Kony 2012, and I highly recommend you check it out.
Tags: Africa, government, interventionism, Media, memes, politics, violence, war
It is bad enough that Republican warmongers like Mitt Romney, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Allan West are whining about the supposed cuts to the defense budget that are due to take place because of the failure of the congressional "supercommittee," but it is disgusting and shameful that a professor of practical theology and seminary chancellor would do likewise.
The defense "cuts," of course, are not really cuts at all, just reductions in the rate of spending increases of the bloated defense budget.
So, who is this Christian warmonger that is so upset about defense budget "cuts" that he thinks they are a deeply disturbing, draconian, recklessly dangerous, self-destructive absurdity.
He is not a member, with Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Hal Lindsey, Cal Thomas, and Pat Boone, of the Christian axis of evil, although he should be. He is not a Christian killer par excellence, like Doug Giles. He is not a Christian warmonger on steroids, like Bryan Fischer. And neither is he the greatest Christian warmonger of all time. That designation goes to Ellis Washington.
He is Michael Milton, the newly elected chancellor/CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. Milton holds a B.A. from Mid-America Nazarene University, an M.Div. from Knox Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from the University of Wales, Lampeter. He is the former pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee, in addition to founding two other churches and a Christian school. Milton is the host and speaker on Faith for Living, which can be seen on television and heard on radio. He has also released three music CDs and is the author of several books.
But perhaps I should also note that Dr. Milton has a diploma from the Defense Language Institute, holds a commission in the U.S. Army Reserves as a chaplain, and was elected in 2010 by the Chief of Chaplains to the College of Military Preachers and appointed an instructor at the Armed Forces Chaplain School. He is also the founding director of the Chaplain Ministries Institute in Charlotte. I also note that on October 14, 2001, it was announced that Reformed Theological Seminary had "been approved by the NC SAA Program to receive the GI Bill under the provisions of Title 38 and 10, United States Code!"
Milton is a theological schizophrenic. Schizophrenia has been described as a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness that most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking.
I know of no other way to describe Milton after reading his latest post on the Faith for Living blog hosted by his seminary:
The failure of the bipartisan super committee to take decisive action to reverse the 15 trillion-dollar debt crisis this country needs from becoming another Greece has, predictably, failed. Now the Washington blame game begins. However, the greatest losers are the American people and, specifically, those Americans who courageously and proudly wear the uniform of the armed services.
As threats of cuts are made to their very mission, our brave troops are on the ground, in the air, and on the seas fighting, defending, and protecting this nation from the continuing threats to our very existence as a people. The absurd decision to tie massive cuts to the US military as an "incentive" to force action by the super committee was one of the biggest mistakes ever made by Washington DC, and they have made a few recently. Of all the things that the government does, providing a military to "defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" just happens to be one of the clearest.
Scripture teaches that God has ordained government for the good of man. Civil authority, according to St. Paul, has been granted the power of the sword to punish evil, thereby protecting the innocent: "For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil" (The Epistle to the Romans 13:4 KJV). The present talk of defense cuts flies in the face of our nation’s duty and our proud heritage.
We have had draw downs before – after WWII, after Vietnam, and after the Gulf War, but we have never had to think about draconian reductions while we were in the middle of a war! It is this very point that is deeply disturbing, and recklessly dangerous. The consequences of even the talk of such tinkering with our defenders, even if reasonable heads prevail to stop this absurdity, will have their consequences.
Have we not learned our lesson? Reagan’s military build-up in the 1980s reversed the ill-advised draw downs after Vietnam (just one front in a larger, trans-generational Cold War) and, according to scholars like Paul Kengor of Grove City College and the American Center for Vision and Values, "All of these ventures [the strengthening of defense] had the effect of demonstrating a stronger, resurgent America, not only economically but also militarily. Suddenly, the country that had left Vietnam no longer appeared to lack resolve" (The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism by Dr. Paul Kengor, HarperCollins, 2007, 82).
Kengor went on to demonstrate that President Reagan understood that America was still at war. According to this preeminent Reagan scholar, his action in strengthening the military greatly contributed to bringing down the Soviet Union. Why now, when our sacred military members are risking their lives to fight "over there" so we don’t fight "over here," would the president and other congressional leaders think that it is any different? To reduce military strength or even to talk about it as an option is to demoralize our troops while they are literally in the midst of a battle for our way of life.
Some may call it treason. I would call it self-destructive. As a minister of the gospel I would also call it irresponsible and immoral, given that God has called our civil authorities to protect our people against evil. May God have mercy and bless the troops who bravely carry on their mission to defend this nation, even while others who have taken the same oath are allegedly using the military as pawns in a Washington election year. There are times when the Church should speak up. Because our life and liberty is at stake, I think that time is now.
Milton holds to every armchair warrior, red-state fascist, reich-wing nationalist, imperial Christian fallacy known to man.
As I mentioned above, cutting the bloated defense budget is to Milton a deeply disturbing, draconian, recklessly dangerous, self-destructive absurdity. The "cuts" fly "in the face of our nation’s duty and our proud heritage." Never mind that the real defense budget is $1 trillion, that the United States spends more than the rest of the world combined, and that most defense spending is really spending on offense.
Milton idolizes members of the military. They are our "brave troops." They "courageously and proudly wear the uniform of the armed services." God should "bless the troops." U.S. soldiers are never Christian killers, murders, accomplices to murder, criminals, dupes, mercenaries, or part of the president’s personal attack force willing to obey his latest command to bomb, invade, occupy, and otherwise bring death and destruction to any country he deems necessary. They are "our sacred military members."
Milton is likewise deceived about the real mission of the military. He thinks they are "our defenders" who "defend this nation" and protect "this nation from the continuing threats to our very existence as a people." The government provides a military to "defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." U.S. troops "fight ‘over there’ so we don’t fight ‘over here.’" They are "in the midst of a battle for our way of life." But is this what the U.S. military actually does? Unfortunately, most of what the military does is more offense than defense, more foreign than domestic, and more civilian than martial. I think Milton needs a course in DOD 101.
Milton says that we are "in the middle of a war." The United States is actually in the middle of several wars. But rather than saying we should not cut defense because we are fighting wars, why not examine the wars we are fighting to see if they are just, right, and necessary? Since the undeclared, unconstitutional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Yemen, Pakistan, and everywhere else, are clearly – except to Christian warmongers and imperial Christians – unjust, immoral, and unnecessary, the only sensible solution is to end the wars, not increase the defense budget.
Like other Christian apologists for the state, its military, and its wars that I have written about who appeal to Romans 13 to justify their blind nationalism, their cheerleading for the Republican Party, their childish devotion to the military, their acceptance of national-security state, and their support for perpetual war, Milton seeks to justify a large defense budget by doing the same thing. This, of course, is ludicrous, since the passage has nothing to do with the government providing national defense. But let’s assume for a moment that it does. Fine. How does that justify bloated military budgets, foreign wars, militarism, imperialism, and policing the world? When it comes to the military budget, conservatives adopt the same fallacy as liberals do when it comes to education. To liberals more spending on education means better education; to conservatives more spending on defense means better defense.
And finally, why do conservatives always invoke the name of the criminal, warmongering, budget-busting, deficit-increasing, liberty-destroying, government-expanding, economic and foreign interventionist St. Reagan? Anyone remotely familiar with the Reagan record would not be impressed with Milton’s name-dropping. For the complete and utter evisceration of Reagan, see Murray Rothbard’s "The Reagan Phenomenon," "Ronald Reagan, Warmonger," and "Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy."
What is so bad about theological schizophrenics like Michael Milton is that they have a position of influence over many young people. We can only hope and pray that this is one college administrator that students never get to know.
Originally posted on LewRockwell.com on December 9, 2011.
Tags: Bible, culture, education, national defense, national security, nationalism, Romans 13, theology, violence, war, war on terror
"Like all members of the military profession I never had an original thought until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service." ~ Major General Smedley Butler
"If soldiers were to begin to think, not one of them would remain in the army." ~ Frederick the Great
"I find in existence a . . . dangerous concept that the members of the armed forces owe their primary allegiance and loyalty to those who temporarily exercise the authority of the executive branch of the Government, rather than to the country and its Constitution they are sworn to defend. No proposition could be more dangerous." ~ General Douglas MacArthur
"There is one thing in the world more wicked than the desire to command, and that is the will to obey." ~ W. K. Clifford, mathematician and philosopher
After almost ten years of fighting in Afghanistan, the deadliest day for U.S. forces was just a few weeks ago on Saturday, August 6. On that day thirty U.S. military personnel were killed when their helicopter was shot down. The majority of those killed were said to be elite Navy Seals from the same unit that killed Osama bin Laden.
The question that was never asked about this event by any major news media outlet is a question that I (and a few others) have been asking since the war in Afghanistan began: What is the U.S. military doing in Afghanistan?
Tags: Afghanistan, bush, history, iraq, militarism, violence, war, war on terror