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Just War

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Introduction

"It is impossible to be a Christian and joined the armed forces!" Do you agree? Support your answer with evidence from Christian (and other) teachings. I believe that it can be very difficult to be a Christian and join the armed forces but I do not believe that it is impossible. War is defined as armed hostilities between peoples, frequently different nations, sometimes between different parties within a nation, as in a civil war, or between one small group and the state, as in a guerrilla war. For followers of world religions often caught up in conflict, war poses fundamental questions about human worth and dignity. Many have questioned the ethics of the great bombing raids of WW II, When British and American bombers rained down fire and destruction on millions of German women and children, and the use by America of the Atomic bombs on Japan. In addition, when the Americans waged war in Vietnam in the 1960's, their express desire was not to kill the enemy but to 'incapacitate' as many civilians as possible. ...read more.

Middle

Even Pope John Paul II, not usually a pacifist, has eloquently expressed the pacifist position: "Violence is a lie, for it goes against the truth of our faith, the truth of our humanity. Violence destroys what it claims to defend: the dignity, the life, and the freedom of human beings. Violence is a crime against humanity, for it destroys the very fabric of society... To all of you who are listening I say: do not believe in violence; do not support violence. It is not the Christian way. It is not the way of the Catholic Church. Believe in peace and forgiveness and love, for they are Christ." Pacifists maintain that early Christian pacifists perceived war to be incompatible with their Christian obedience; the requirement to love our enemy is absolute and the authority and function of the state is incompatible with this. "We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world. The spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing of ...read more.

Conclusion

For those who hold that the principle of the sanctity of life demands that all deliberate acts of killing - including those in war - are forbidden, the just war theory can never legitimise military action which is nothing more than state approved and state sponsored murder. "It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but murder." - Albert Einstein In my opinion Omar Bradley sums up our world's attitude to war in one paragraph: "Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants, we know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we do about living. We have grasped the mystery of the atomic bomb and rejected the Sermon on the Mount." John Stott proposes that Christian peacemakers should pray, set an example as 'a community of peace', promote public debate on issues of peace and war, and maintain a confident stance that peace is a realistic and desirable goal. Personally, I believe that this can be achieved much more easily if one is a part of the armed forces than if one is a protester or a campaigner. Gemma Durcan 11th Sept '04 ...read more.

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