Blogswarm – March 19th – Five Years of War

ed note: i originally wrote this blog on 2/25/2008 and then updated it on 2/26/08 at 9:30am PST. Scroll down and look for the paragraph marked UPDATE ~MM

I committed to writing a blog post for the March 19th Blogswarm marking the five-year anniversary of the beginning of the “war” in Iraq (see right-hand sidebar, about 1/3 of the way down). As it turns out, I will be freshly moved to Redding, CA on March 19th and am not sure if I will be able to post that day. To that end, I am writing today and will probably change the post timestamp later and make this my March 19th post.

I was/am conflicted about what to write. The folks over at offer some suggestions on their site:

You are encouraged to write against the war from a variety of perspectives. The war is a huge problem, and that makes it an enormous subject for blogging. Here are some things you might want to consider if you are having difficulty making up your mind:

* Attend an anti-war event and report on it.

* Interview military families and veterans.

* Examine current plans and the rather shadowy oil laws as well as long term military bases.

* Compare and contrast candidates stated intentions on what they claim they will do with their records.

* Publicize online action alerts by pro-peace organizations.

* Discuss the economic impacts of the war on people in Iraq and/or western countries.

* Discuss the casualties on both sides.

* Explore issues and impacts often ignored by most media outlets.

* Analyze war propaganda.

None of these really rang true with me. I am not your typical “anti-war” blogger. I don’t “hate” the war. I don’t “hate” George W. Bush. What I hate is people dying… any people, all people. Death is the enemy. 2 Peter 3:9 says the Lord does not want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”(NIV). War is Death so War is the enemy. This becomes a frustrating concept as you look at the history of war. Can a war be called just that accomplishes good ends? I don’t believe so. I don’t believe, for example, the American Civil War was justified because it freed the black slaves in the southern states. I don’t believe, as another example, the Second World War was justified because it stopped Hitler and the spread of the Third Reich. These things would have been accomplished if men and women of God had prayed without ceasing, as we are commanded to do. Either God is in control or God isn’t. I have heard people argue one minute that we, as Christians and as Americans need to fight back against the terrorists who hate our God and our Country, indicating that God needs our help, that He is not in control. These same people will then say, “God caused the tornadoes to rip through Union College because God’s glory will be made known.” OK, so God needs help fighting terrorists, but He’s in perfect control of tornadoes? This doesn’t make sense. Christ taught us if a man strikes us on one cheek, we are to turn the other to him as well. “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”(Rom 12:19) says the Lord. Instead of fighting, we Christian men and women AROUND THE WORLD should be praying. Praying for our Muslim brothers and sisters who are being slaughtered by our armies. Praying for our Muslim brothers and sisters who believe that Allah is commanding them to strap bombs to themselves and blow themselves up. Praying for the governmental and religious leaders who are ordering this bloodshed on both sides. Praying for Osama bin Laden, that he will come to a personal relationship with the One True God through the saving blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. My Calvinist brothers will say, “bin Laden isn’t elect, we don’t need to worry about him”. We have ALL sinned and fallen short of God’s perfection (Rom 3:23). We need to pray. Pray constantly. Pray together. Pray alone. We need to pray the prayer Jesus Himself taught us and consider it, don’t just recite it.

Our Father in Heaven, holy and blessed is your Name,
Your Kingdom come to us, Your will be done,
Here on earth just as it is in Heaven.
Provide for our physical needs.
Forgive our sins. Help us to forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from temptation and from the Evil One.
Because yours is all the power and all the glory, for ever and ever,
Amen. ~ Matthew McGraw Paraphrase Version of Luke 11:2-4 aka “The Lord’s Prayer”

As March 19th approaches, spend time in prayer, my brothers and sisters in Christ. If you do not have a personal relationship with God through Christ Jesus, ask questions. Write me. I will be honored to talk with you about my God.

March 19th, in addition to being this horrific anniversary of death, is also my Bug’s birthday. He was born in 2002; one year to the day before this war was “born”. It is because of my Bug that I know there is hope for this world. He is a lover. He cares about people. He is tender. He will be an amazing man. God is so good. God will be faithful in all things.

***UPDATE 2/26/08 @9:30am PST***
Below in the comments, my dear friend Andi expressed some frustration. She wrote:

But the impression I’m getting is that we shouldn’t defend ourselves – we should just lay down and pray. Is that the advice you’d give to a woman who is being abused by a man? You didn’t pray hard enough for it to stop? The Bible says to turn the other cheek….

I want to respond to both of these comments.

Firstly, I want to say that I would never say to any one who was being abused, “well, you just need to pray harder.” Absolutely not! My advice to someone in an abusive situation is this: run, flee, go, get out, leave, remove yourself from the situation. However, my advice would NEVER be to go get a gun or a baseball bat and attack your abuser.

Secondly, I want to say, what we should do as Christians and what we should do as Americans is not the same thing. As a Nation, the United States has the right, duty and privilege to defend itself against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But a Nation is not a Christian. As a Christian, I believe that taking life is wrong; all life, any life. I would never be a part of any armed service because I would be expected to take life. God said, very plainly, “Thou shall not kill”. Period. He didn’t say, “Thou shall not kill unless someone else killed first.” To this end, then, the “war” in Iraq has been deemed vital to the National Interests of the United States of America, but we should never, ever confuse this with it being blessed by God. God is horrified by this war. God is horrified by all war.

This is a difficult issue that we face as American Christians. So many of us were raised to believe that America’s interests are God’s interests and this is blatantly false. How do we reconcile Jesus’ call to be compassionate and to love our enemies with America’s need to protect it’s borders and interests. The answer is… I don’t have the answer. I only echo my above sentiment that we need to P R A Y.
***End of Update***

Grace and Peace to you all today and everyday.


11 Responses

  1. Hmmm, gotta say that I don’t agree. Yes, war is horrific. Do I think that we should be praying about it? Absolutely. But the impression I’m getting is that we shouldn’t defend ourselves – we should just lay down and pray. Is that the advice you’d give to a woman who is being abused by a man? You didn’t pray hard enough for it to stop? The Bible says to turn the other cheek….
    Your logic if flawed. WWII wasn’t justified – we should have prayed. The Civil War was okay because it freed black slaves… maybe we should’ve just prayed about it more. I know I’m being sarcastic but I just don’t follow that logic.
    I do believe our God is a loving god that desires reconciliation. But if you read those “stories” in the Bible, there were plenty of wars – wars that God was actively a part of.
    I honestly don’t know where I stand with this war in Iraq. I am saddened by all of the deaths. I am proud of our soldiers for standing up for our country. I do pray for peace. I know that God can choose to use our prayers for peace to reconcile a nation. I also know that God can choose to use a war to His good. So bottom line is that I pray for God’s will to be done in whatever manner He choses.

  2. Thanks for the update. I think you were able to better express yourself.

    Your point on America vs “Christian” America is true. I do have a question though… You stated that America as a nation has the right, duty and privilege to defend itself but that Christians are told “Do not kill” and that we should use prayer as our weapon (btw i totally agree that prayer needs to be used as a weapon!). I’m left wondering… if you believe America has the duty to defend itself but that Christians shouldn’t be in the armed forces…. who should be defending our country? How can you believe it’s their duty to defend and at the same time step back from the line and push some “unbeliever” forward to take your place in duty? I feel like I’m rambling again but hopefully you get the idea of what I’m trying to ask.

  3. Andi –

    I know. It’s an impossible situation. Nations have the duty to protect their citizens. Christians are commanded not to kill. This is where it gets so hard. I believe Christians should not be in the armed forces. I believe putting yourself in the position where you are forced to kill another human being is wrong, as a Christian. So, yeah. I depend on “unbelievers” to defend the country I live in. It doesn’t make sense. On some level, it seems unfair; it seems an untenable position. I have close friends and relatives who serve in the military. And, odd as it may seem, I am proud of them. But, I would never encourage my son to join up. In fact, I would try to discourage him from doing so. Matthew 6:24 says, “You cannot serve two masters.” Jesus was referring, in this instance, to serving God vs. the quest for material possessions, but the truth is more far-reaching than that. In this case, you cannot serve the Kingdom of God and the “Kingdom” of the United States of America.

    I know that this is going to rub many people the wrong way, particularly those who align themselves with the more conservative end of the political/Christian spectrum. I am not an American first. I am a Christian first. My allegiance is to Christ, not “the flag”, or the Constitution, or any other symbol of man’s government.

    I love my country, don’t get me wrong. I don’t agree with people who say “America is the greatest nation on earth.” I think, as a human being, that some form of democracy is better than the alternative. But I don’t believe that God has ordained democracy as His choice of government on earth.

    As I said previously, this kind of thinking is difficult for those of us who were raised to believe that being a Christian and being an American were synonymous, that love of country and love of God go hand in hand.

    Andi, thanks again for your comments and your willingness to work through these hard questions with me!


  4. Matt, I do not think this is an impossible situation at all. The only time I would consider taking another person’s life is when he is about to kill a family member or a neighbor. At that point I am responsible to prevent the murder of innocents.

    No country on this planet has sent troops across our beaches to kill people in our neighborhoods. If they did, I would pick up a weapon and fight back.

    I refuse to participate the warmongering “Christianity” exemplified by the Evangelical confusion of “patriotism” with godliness.

    What we have witnessed in America amounts to nothing less than a massive rejection of Christ by the church.

  5. Mike –

    Welcome to the discussion and thanks for your comment. For the purposes of this response, I am assuming you call yourself a Christian. If this is not the case, you can disregard my questions if you wish. However, even if you do not call yourself a Christian, how do you think a Christian might respond?

    The bible says, “Thou shall not kill”, period. Do you think that killing someone who attacks your friend, family member or a stranger is exempt from this?

    If a foreign country sent troops to the US to invade, would killing them be your choice as an American or as a Christian? How would that be in confilct?

    I’m not trying to assert an opinion, I am truly interested in your thinking on this.


  6. You ask:

    “The bible says, “Thou shall not kill”, period. Do you think that killing someone who attacks your friend, family member or a stranger is exempt from this?”

    Matt, I think protecting the people for whom I am responsible is HOW the commandment against killing is to be kept. There is no “period” at the end of that imperative that precludes the use of reason in regard to what the rest of scripture tells us about who may kill and under what circumstances.

    “If a foreign country sent troops to the US to invade, would killing them be your choice as an American or as a Christian? How would that be in confilct?”

    If somebody is shooting at my neighbors, I am forced to protect them as both an American and a Christian.

    However, I can see several points of confilict:

    1) I am in my fifties. I am responsible to fight because I have a vested interest in this country. My children are off the table. America may not feed them into its fighting machine. They are the ones who need protection. I am the one responsible to protect them. My 18 year old deserves a life. I must ensure she has one.

    2) If an “enemy combatant” does not represent an active threat to anyone, I will not kill him. This is Christian but it is no longer American.

    3) I will question American authority at every point if I am forced to put my life on the line. No country ever tries to invade us. Why would they be doing so now? Let DC fight with whomever they have aggravated. Why should I allow Washington to sucker me into killing people it has provoked for no good reason?

    I could go on and on, but I will spare you! 🙂


  7. I am an AMERICAN, and I’m proud of it. But first I am a CHRISTIAN. the WORD of GOD says that I am also a warrior. First it is very dangerous to think that we do not have an enemy. You can be sure that he has come to kill ,steal and destroy. Just like God works through people so does the devil.
    Go ahead lay back and do nothing and you surely will die. Death came through sin not war. SIN is the reason for war. We must hate evil and not allow the enemy to win. Islam is a cult, anti-CHRIST. This is evil.
    Their goal is to destroy Americans and Israel. If we ignore this they surely will do it. Just wait and see.

  8. Matty? Oh Matty? Where are you? You’ve been awfully silent (which seems rare 😉 ). How did the move go?

  9. Jeromy –

    I’m here, I’m here!!! I’m in Redding and, I am embarrassed to say, my folks only have *in a faint whisper: “dial up internet”* which is not conducive to doing much of anything! More soon!

    Andria –

    Islam isn’t a cult, it’s a religion. It comes from the same roots as ancient Judiaism and thusly from the same roots as Christianity. Is it the same? No, of course not. Our Lord said, He was “the way the truth and the life” and that “no one comes to the Father except through (Him)”. There are many reasons why militant Islamist wish to destroy Americans. Some of them are their own prejudices and some of them are actual legitimate complaints against America and it’s policies abroad.

    Adriana, you call America the “land of Milk and Honey” but that was a term for Israel, not the United States. The one true God does not claim citizenship to an Earthly kingdom. He doesn’t care more for us here in the states than he does any other people in any other country in the world. The belief that the USA is somehow set apart and blessed by God is a fallacy. I’m sorry, it’s just not the case. Our savior Jesus Christ preached in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the Peace Makers”.

    I have never claimed we do not have an enemy, but the enemy of Christians is the Devil… not other people.

    Hope you enjoy the blog. Welcome and I encourage you to continue to post/comment here.


  10. The Old Testament is part of the Bible too!

    The Old Testament makes the Iraq war look like a walk in the park.

  11. “No country on this planet has sent troops across our beaches to kill people in our neighborhoods. If they did, I would pick up a weapon and fight back. ”

    Japan: Pearl Harbour, thousands dead!

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