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Effects of War and the Opposition

One issue that must be resolved in wars is the effect that it presents to those involved. There is little doubt that wars can bring economic and ecological damages, but more importantly, we must recognize that wars can bring serious psychological effects not only for the combatants but also to the civilians, especially women and children. Post-traumatic stress disorders and deep depressions are common to those who have been affected by the violence of war.

“They rip apart the mind and soul in the same way that bullets and bombs mutilate the body,” according to Bob Herbert in an article relating to the story of a soldier who served in Iraq when the US declared war five years ago. In World War II, a Catholic soldier wrote: “during the war, I went to the Catholic army chaplain and asked if it was right for me to fight in this war. He said a clear yes—the British had a just cause against Hitler… But to this day I want to know whether German Catholic soldiers were told by German priests that they were fighting in an unjust war? ” (PPU).

If soldiers who have been trained in combat situations could be afflicted by war like this, how much more could civilians’ experience? The Peace Pledge Union, an opposition to the just war theory, argues that “Just War rules are either completely ignored or only held by a few. ” There is no neutral referee to reprimand the side who broke Just War rules. They argue that there has been no war in which either side has fully obeyed the rules of a just war. They claim that people could not acquire accurate information to judge whether a country’s war is just or not and that “the real truth about a war is usually hidden by governments.

” Furthermore, they argue that “nobody can tell in advance if a particular war will bring more good than evil, or that its method will be ‘proportionate’ to its results. ” Opponents of just war theory, or pacifist if you may, find war to be immoral. They argue that intentionally killing someone is universally accepted as immoral. In Christianity, killing is directly prohibited by God as part of His commandments. In war, killing is a matter of fact. Hence, pacifists claim that nothing can justify war. But if killing is a basis to which wars are renounced, then we should abolish all policies that involve killing.

Death penalty is another issue which involves “unnecessary” killing of individuals, of which the morality is also being debated. If wars are prohibited in the ground of killing, death penalty should be as well. So should euthanasia and assisted suicide be made unlawful. Eventually, the issue on animal rights, as it also encompasses killing of animals, should also be resolved. Early History of the Just War Theory The just war theory, according to Mark Evans in his book Just War Theory: A Reappraisal, “is used to denote that specific body of moral doctrine found within Christianity” (p.

1). Jesus’ teachings were radically opposed to the martial virtues of the Roman Empire: that “wars could be glorious and warrior’s heroic embodiments of humanity at its noblest” (Evans 2). Instead, Jesus taught about loving one’s enemies and “to turn the other cheek” when offered violence. However, while Jesus rejects violence and advocated living a life of peace, Christians could not easily avoid the need to confront wars and had to work out a method that would sufficiently be compatible with the teachings of Jesus.

The conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantinople I brought about changes in the Christian view of war. A century before Jesus, Roman diplomat Cicero outlined the concept of a just war. It includes just cause such as to impede an invasion; a formal declaration of war such that the other side may have the chance to put things into right; and that war should be conducted with justice—that is, innocent civilians must not be included in the violence. Milan Bishop Ambrose, in the fourth century, borrowed the idea of Cicero for a just war.

By 416 AD, only Christians could be soldiers in the Roman Empire. In the fifth century, St. Augustine wrote in The City of God that in the face of civil disorder, the resort to violence is justified but regrettable. He outlined the necessary conditions for a Christian leader to wage a just war, but he was quick to insist that the faithful not engage in wars of religious conversion or for the purpose of destroying heresies or pagans. He argued that war is not supposed to be a tool for the Church.

Evans explained this by saying that to restore a just order as best one can, “violence may be necessary if no alternatives remains viable. But it must be used as sparingly as possible, never wavering from its moral intentions and only ever to be deployed by legitimate civil authorities” (p. 3). The City of God was written in response to those who criticize that the fall of Rome was due to its abandonment of pagan religion for Christianity, arguing that the use of force is justified only if done in the service of Christ.

From Augustine, the concept of just war became a more important idea than being a pacifist. The fall of Rome was succeeded by barbarian influences in Europe, which once more gave rise to highly militaristic cultures based on warrior code of glory and honor in battle. With the fall of the Carolingian Empire and the relative stabilization of European borders after Christianization, there would be “an entire class of warriors who had very little to do but fight among themselves and terrorize” the peasants (CBN).

In the 10th century, in reaction to the violence brought by war, the Peace of God movement was introduced by the Church which is an agreement that protected noncombatants who could not defend themselves. Excommunication was the punishment for attacking or robbing a church or monastery; for robbing or beating the poor or the peasants; or for robbing or attacking any clergyman who is not bearing arms. War in the Bible We can find in the Old Testament many accounts of wars. Suffice to say that Israel in ancient, or shall we say, Biblical, times was plagued by wars.

Contrary to the belief that God prohibited killing, some claim that God allows it in some circumstances and prohibits only murder. Millar Burrows had commented once that much of the Old Testament could be characterized by the title of the lost ‘Book of the Wars of the Lord’ mentioned in Numbers 21:14 (Wood, 3). Indeed, most wars engaged by the biblical Israelites were ordained by God and some were actually ordered by God. In 1 Samuel, for example, God commanded Saul to “attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them.

Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys” (15:3). God had even considered it as disobedience when Saul spared the best of sheep and cattle intending to sacrifice to Him (1 Samuel 15:22-23). Even as God had promised His people a land of their own, it was not that the people of Israel had to sit and wait for it to come. They had to fight to reclaim it, and engage in wars to defend it, which is evidence enough that God was not against war itself. It is a matter of fact that God had even promised his people that He will fight wars for them.

The Bible is not against war itself, only the method and reason in which it is to be waged. Fact of the matter is that God is often depicted as a mighty warlord as He delivered the people of Israel to the Promised Land. The book of Isaiah (42:13) states that “the Lord will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies” and in Psalms (24:8) “Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

” Even Jesus, who is known to be a pacifist, recognizes this when he said: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36). Even while he was against violence, Jesus knew that war was sometimes necessary. It is also remarkable that the story of the second coming of Christ found in the book of Revelations (19:11-21) is filled with the violence of war. John A. Wood explained that the theme of God as a warrior is evident in the Bible.

It is evident during the exodus and post-exodus traditions, in hymnic material, in the traditions of exile and restoration, and in apocalyptic texts. Wood explained that “the concepts of salvation, judgment, and kingship are inextricably tied to Yahweh’s involvement in Israel’s wars” (10). The difference in the perspectives of war in the Old Testament and the New Testament could be attributed to the fact that the New Testament community was relatively secure from the threat of invasion. As Israel was already under the leadership and influence of the Roman Empire during that time, Israelites in the New Testament have no military power.

Nevertheless, the concepts of Holy War are present in both the Old and the New Testaments, as God is believed to be actively involved in warfare as commander of both the heavenly and earthly armies. War and the Church Perhaps the most famous example to use in the examination of a just war within its religious context would be the Christian Crusades in the 11th through 13th century. The Crusades were asserted to be Holy Wars with religious justifications. Surprisingly, the Crusades brought upon moral issues that were against the concept of just war.

It started as a response from an appeal by Emperor Alexius I to the Pope for help to resist Muslim advances into the territory of the Byzantine Empire. The response, however, was much larger but less helpful than Alexius I desired. Pope Urban II had called for a large invasion force not merely to defend the Byzantine Empire, but to retake the Holy Land as well. In his speech, the Pope called for the Franks to “stop their internal wars and squabbles. Let them go instead against the infidel and fight a righteous war… Let none hesitate… God wills it” (Knox). He promised that “God Himself will lead them, for they will be doing His work.

There will be absolution and remission of sins for all who die in the service of Christ” (Knox). Medieval Christians believed that, as David had slain Goliath with a sling, God continues to favor his faithful with victory when they fought with just cause. The First Crusade, in particular but was not limited to, had sacked several cities on their way to Jerusalem and had “unleashed an unprecedented wave of impassioned, personally felt pious fury that was expressed in the massacres of Jews that accompanied the movement of mobs through Europe, and violent treatment of ‘schismatic’ Orthodox Christians in the East” (CBN).

Bands of poorly organized crusaders attacked and destroyed Jewish communities, forcing the Jews to convert into Christians and massacred those who did not. The Crusades had also caused the fall of Constantinople, which they were supposed to help protect in the first place. Clearly, the Crusades were not in conformity with what Augustine has preached.

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