Occasionally people email me asking for my opinion on various personal or church issues. I recently received the following question which I have reprinted below, followed by my response.
“Bob, How should we as Christians feel about the persecutors of the 21 who were beheaded by ISIS? I know we are to love our enemy and pray for them, but what about conservatives calling for the obliteration of them (terrorists)? I am totally confused, being a conservative Christian! Can you give me some scripture to help? Thanks!”
The Bible teaches us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. The Scripture also teaches us to turn the other cheek and not take revenge.
However the Bible does give us the right of self-defense and teaches that there is a time for war. Exodus 22:2 reads, “If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed.” Moses goes on to caution that the principle of self-defense was not to be taken to the extreme…but a person has a right to defend his life, his family and his property.
Ecclesiastes 3:8 says there is, “a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” If an evil neighbor attacked and slaughtered an entire family in my neighborhood and then I saw him charging toward my house toting a rifle, I have a right to use physical force to defend my wife and children. My love for my family would motivate me to protect them, even if it meant killing the intruder. To be passive at the expense of my family would be unloving and cowardly.
If I saw the same man stalking the home of other neighbors, I would have a responsibility to try to intervene – even if it meant using force. Proverbs 24:11-12 reads, “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?”
That’s a simplified version of the “just war” theory. (See more below). Admittedly, it gets complex at times, but I think it’s a principle that very clearly applies in the case of ISIS. To stand passively by and let terrorists continue to slaughter our brothers and sisters in Christ is, in my opinion, cowardly and uncaring.
“Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind” (Genesis 9:6).
“If the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood” (Ezekiel 33:6).
“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:3).
“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe” (Luke 11:21).
Christians should come to the aid of their fellow believers in the Middle East by putting as much pressure as possible on President Obama and congress to intervene. Urge politicians to take the necessary action to stop the escalating persecution against Christians that is taking place in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other predominantly Muslim countries.
Additional information from bizpacreview.com
“A group of Coptic Christians marched to the White House on Tuesday, demanding that President Obama protect Christians from the genocide that is taking place in the Middle East.
“Obama, Obama, did you see? Christian blood in the sea,” they repeated as they marched in D.C.
As U.S. allies push back against ISIS, the Islamist militants take every opportunity to inflict acts of barbarism across Iraq and Syria. Even in retreat, they’ve taken over small villages, kidnapping Christians, and separating the men from woman and children.
No one can be certain of their fate, but if recent history is any indication, the men will be paraded out, tortured and murdered. And the Christian women and children will be sold as sex slaves.
Juliana Taimoorazy, with the Assyrian Philos Project, described the situation for CBN News. “These women were sobbing, saying, “What is our fault? Why is the West silent? Why is the Church not talking about our persecution?” Taimoorazy said.
“And they’re asking, they’re questioning the foreign policy of America and also other world powers and Europe, saying, ‘Why is it that there’s nothing; there’s no agenda.’ There’s really nothing being done to help the persecuted in the Middle East,” she said.
The gruesome situation compelled the group of Egyptian-American Coptics, wearing orange jumpsuits to commemorate ISIS victims, to gather at the White House.”
A just war can only be waged as a last resort.
A war is just only if it is waged by a legitimate authority.
A just war can only be fought to redress a wrong suffered.
A war can only be just if it is fought with a reasonable chance of success.
The ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace.
The violence used in the war must be proportional to the injury suffered (every effort must be taken to avoid killing civilians).