Thursday, September 05, 2013

Should Christians Support Military Strikes on Syria?

This week's question for the Q&A in the Sun Burst (Sunshine Cathedral's weekly newsletter) came from someone at the church Labor Day picnic. It doesn't answer people's political views or their emotional needs, but it does frame the issue in the context of an avowed non-violent tradition:

Q&A with Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
Question: As Christians, should we support attacking Syria?

Answer: The answer to questions of military intervention are always complex and defy simple answers. I can tell you that early Christians were pacifists and I can remind you of the angelic prayer from the Nativity story, “Peace on earth, goodwill toward all people.”

There is also an ancient Jewish tale of God reprimanding the people of Israel when they were celebrating the drowning of Egyptian forces. God, according to the tale, reminded them that the Egyptians were children of God also and God was very sad that they had perished.

And, of course, we know that peaceful revolutionaries such as Gandhi and Dr King changed the world with non-violent resistance.

From political or national security perspectives, there are probably arguments for and against military action. Ethicists might weigh in with their own understandings. From a theological viewpoint, or at least from my theological viewpoint, I always prefer peaceful solutions, or at least attempts at peaceful solutions to major conflicts. I always hope military action will be a last resort.

If a dictator has committed genocide against his own people, then it would be obscene to remain silent in the face of such atrocity. However, there may be ways of showing disapproval of such action and of standing in solidarity with the oppressed short of drone strikes that will also cost human lives. I also wonder why we find one act of atrocity to be worthy of military action and another to not require such action. We seem oddly selective about our moral outrage in these situations.

My opinion, or yours for that matter, will unlikely change the course of events. But I hope as a faith community we never are comfortable with rushing to violence. And, come what may, we should continue praying as we do every Sunday, “May peace prevail on earth.”

1 comment:

Kittredge Cherry said...

Thank you! I’ve seen far too few Christians wrestling with or speaking out on this issue. I tried to find statements by major religious groups about Syria for the 9/11 anniversary today, but the Pope was the only one I found who spoke clearly for peace. I did discover an excellent set of interfaith peace prayers: