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Monday, March 10, 2003

Edifier du Jour-Matthew 5:43-50
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' 44 "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 "If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
As we seem to be on the verge of a war with Iraq and doing some serious saber-rattling in Korea, we need to check this passage out. How do we mix the kick-butt-and-take-names God of the Old Testament with the turn-the-other-cheek Jesus of the New Testament? I think the key is to look at the last verse of chapter 5-"...be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." In personal relationships, we are to be giving, forgiving and peaceful; I don't think Matthew 5 would preclude all personal self-defense, but the non-lethal head-slap is not to be retaliated. However, there is a place for righteous violence on the collective level, if the Old Testament is to be a model. Does the peaceful mandates of the Sermon on the Mount extend to international geopolitics? John Adams asks some interesting questions on this front
I think it is utterly simplistic to advocate peace based on your disdain for war. It is equally simplistic to advocate war based on your disdain for a dictator. I do not want to be caught in either camp. So let me reiterate my questions: Would loving our enemies to the extreme work? Is this the government's responsibility? If so, should we do this instead of bombing them?
Would "love-bombing" work? Would Saddam or the North Korean leadership changes their attitude if trillions of dollars of US aid flowed into his docks as the US is put into a subsistence budget in order to divert all available assets to send to Iraq? I don't think so. An individual, or even a large group of church activists, putting themselves and their resources at the Iraqi government's disposal would likely be just useful pawns to him. Where such extreme love might work is on changing the hearts of non-believers. Such devotion might bring a few of the people working with the love-bombers to Christ, but unless it changed the leadership's hearts, it wouldn't change the way the government's run. The money and man-hours spent of humanitarian projects would free up monies to be used in less-than-savory ways to prop up the military and the mechanisms of maintaining the dictatorship. The phrase "useful idiots" comes to mind. We are to be perfect, as God is perfect. We're now in WWJD territory-is this a time to love-bomb or to bomb-bomb? Remember, we don't have any Spirit-Filled Mind Tricks to magically talk Saddam into surrendering. If the damage caused by the war is far less than the good that likely can be gained from the war, and peaceful means have run their reasonable course, it would seem to be moral to do so and immoral to do otherwise. I think we have reached that point with Iraq, but it's not something that I'm happy to see.

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