I watched this video today of some of our Special Forces in action in Iraq. They bring the thunder. I love watching them in action.
This reminded me of Luther’s classic pamphlet regarding war and the duties of a Christian Soldier. Here is a Chaplain’s blog with some pertinent quotes from Luther.
…In the same way, when I think of a soldier fulfilling his office by punishing the wicked, killing the wicked, and creating so much misery, it seems an un-Christian work completely contrary to Christian love. But when I think of how it protects the good and keeps and preserves wife and child, house and farm, property, and honor and peace, then I see how precious and godly this work is; and I observe that it amputates a leg or a hand, so that the whole body may not perish…
…The office of the sword is in itself right and is a divine and useful ordinance, which God does not want us to despise, but to fear, honor, and obey, under penalty of punishment, as St. Paul says in Romans 13 [:1-5]…
…Self-defense is a proper ground for fighting and therefore all laws agree that self-defense shall go unpunished; and he who kills another in self-defense is innocent in the eyes of all men…
…When the battle begins…they [soldiers] should simply commend themselves to God’s grace and adopt a Christian attitude…everyone should also say this exhortation in his heart or with his lips, “Heavenly Father, here I am, according to your divine will, in the external work and service of my lord, which I owe you first and then to my lord for your sake. I thank your grace and mercy that you have put me into a work which I am sure is not sin, but right and pleasing obedience to your will. But because I know and have learned from your gracious word that none of our good works can help us and that no one is saved as a soldier but only as a Christian, therefore, I will not in any way rely on my obedience and work, but place myself freely at the service of your will. I believe with all my heart that only the innocent blood of your dear Son, my Lord Jesus Christ, redeems and saves me, which he shed for me in obedience to your holy will. In this faith I will live and die, fight, and do everything else. Dear Lord God the Father, preserve and strengthen this faith in me by your Spirit. Amen.”
How pertinent Luther’s words still are almost 500 years later. Obviously, many disagree about the legitimacy of this war and what we are doing in Iraq. Much of that disagreement is in bad faith (“Bush Lied, People Died” “No Blood for Oil” etc.), but I am willing to admit that many have good faith questions and disagreements about it. Is this a war of self-defense? Can premptive war ever be in self-defense?
I believe the answer to be affirmative on both counts. First, there is no disconnect between the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. It is the same war. We are fighting the same enemy.
Second, we were already at war with Iraq when Operation Iraqi Freedom began in 2003. Indeed, we had been locked in a struggle with Saddam Hussein from more than ten years since the end of the First Gulf War. We patrolled 2/3rds of his skies with our fighter jets (and were routinely fired upon). He had violated the terms of the original cease-fire coming out of the First Gulf War. Finally, go back and read the more than twenty counts of justification (WMD was just one) in the congressional authorization for war. All of them are still valid.
Third, (and this one will really make your head spin if you are a “Out of Iraq Now!” person) whether you believe the 2003 war was justified or not, what we are doing right now is certainly justified under a just war theory.
At present, we are fighting foreign fighters who have come to Iraq to kill Americans and Iraqis of good will. We are also fighting Iraqi militias bent on overthrowing the duly elected government of Iraq. We are fighting hand in hand WITH Iraqis (BTW, we were fighting against them in 2003) against those who are trying to kill them and us. We are fighting to preserve a fledgling, imperfect, democratic state in the Middle East. By every measure, the Iraqis still want us there and we will leave the moment they request it.
There is much to quibble with over President Bush’s management of this war and his (IMHO) too lofty goals for a democratic Middle Eastern state. But, I see no other course ahead but to pursue victory. We are seeing signs that we are winning. It would be disastrous and an immoral betrayal of the people of Iraq for us to exit without finishing the job.
As to the morality of the individual Christian soldier fighting this war. I say, lock and load boys! I pray that your aim is true and that you return home unharmed. Thank you! A thousand times, thank you!