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- EverVigilant.net -
"The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." - John Philpot Curran


Killing and Governing Authority

What is the difference between "murdering" and "killing"? Is state-sanctioned killing always justified? Does the mere legality of the taking of a life negate one's culpability in such an act? In an age when the sanctity of life seems to be an antiquated notion, I think we need to seriously consider these questions.

Take abortion, for instance. Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, abortion on demand has been considered legal in the United States. Therefore, any woman seeking to murder her...sorry, terminate her pregnancy has been given full license to do so. Does that make it right? Absolutely not.

Those of us who think abortion is murder realize that the Supreme Court overstepped its authority. We know that the Constitution does not allow judges to legislate from the bench. We also know that even if there were no constitutional conflict, abortion would still be murder in the eyes of God.

We can conclude, then, that not all killing done under the authority of government is justified. So, what about the war in Iraq?

We are told that we must "support the troops." The reason, so we are told, is that those men and women in uniform are putting their lives on the line -- and in many cases making the ultimate sacrifice -- to see to it that you and I are safe. The least we can do is let them know their sacrifices aren't in vain. In short, we are being asked to support the killing of Iraqis and anyone else who stands in the way of our troops completing their mission -- whatever that may be.

But just what does it mean to "support the troops"? Does it mean that I am to stand in agreement with the cause for which they are fighting? Does it mean that even though I may disagree with their mission I will encourage them in their efforts? Does it mean that I should refrain from criticizing them or their leaders because they are only "doing their jobs," and that for me to do so is tantamount to treason? Or is it as simple as driving around with "Support Our Troops" and "God Bless America" bumper stickers on my car?

I don't understand. First of all, the troops are just as capable as anyone else to see through the lies this government perpetuated in order to start this war. Secondly, they are there by choice; they weren't conscripted into the military and forced to fight against their will. Thirdly, they swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States, not to blindly obey any and all orders given to them. Believe it or not, there was a time when refusing to obey an immoral, unconstitutional order was actually considered noble.

What gets me is that so many Christians vehemently support this war and their so-called "Christian" president. Many of them point to Paul's epistle to the church in Rome as evidence that we should support the war in Iraq.

Let's take a look at the passage in question:
    Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (Romans 13:1-7)
See, Saddam Hussein was evil, and our government was merely exercising its divine authority to carry out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.

But the Iraqi people were not and are not subject to the same governing authority we are. In addition, despite what many Christians may think, scripture does not condone government doing whatever it wants simply because it was instituted by God. As we can see in the abortion issue, just because something is "legal" does not mean it is right.

In our striving to be good American Christians (rather than good Christian Americans), we seem to have forgotten one very important fact: the earthly governing authority to which we are to be subject is the Constitution of the United States, not the selfish desires of a small group of pompous, over-paid, bureaucrats. In other words, "we, the people," are the governing authority.

We know the president and other leaders in government lied about the threat Saddam posed to our country. We know that the Constitution grants the power to declare war only to Congress, and that Congress cannot cede that authority to the executive branch by passing some meaningless resolution. Therefore, our actions in Iraq stand in defiance of the legitimate governing authority of this nation of states. Just as the Supreme Court refused to abide by the Constitution, so too has the Bush administration ignored its biblical obligation to govern justly.

As a Christian, I must be consistent in my views. I must see all unjustified killing for what it is: murder. And as far as I am concerned, whether we're talking about abortion or an unconstitutional war, the state is guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.

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Blogger D.J. Cimino said...

Good post. As a American Christian fundamentalist, when the war first started I supported it. Now that I am a Christian(reformed) American, I see the war as wrong. Once again, good post.

9/24/08, 10:55 AM  
Blogger The Militant Pacifist said...


This is some good writing.

I take encouragement in the observation that Christ will still be King long after the failure of the American experiment. I (like you) am striving for consistency - it's not easy.

Some other interesting observations on Romans 13 can be found here (http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig8/baldwin1.html).

9/24/08, 11:15 AM  
Blogger Lee Shelton IV said...

Thanks! I appreciate the comments.

9/24/08, 11:59 AM  

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