Monday, June 18, 2012

Is “Death By Drone” Okay With This Christian Conservative?

By John Sykes

“Death by Drone”, President Obama’s use of aerial warfare to fight al-Queda, causes indigestion in many of us. I too want to kill those terrorists, to stop them from threatening peaceful and moral peoples worldwide.

Considering multiple Biblical and cultural contexts, I have no doubt that the Bible condones “war”. For instance Romans 13:4 says:

For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”

That said, the “just war” ethic has developed a common set of criteria that can be used to decide if going to war in a specific situation is right. Criteria #2, as laid out in Dr. Wayne Grudem’s Politics According To The Bible, calls for: “competent authority (has the war been declared not simply by a renegade band within a nation but by a recognized, competent authority within the nation? cf. Rom. 13:1)”

Is any one individual, our Commander-In-Chief, or small group of individuals like the Pentagon, a competent authority? No! The only competent authority in our secular case is our Constitution, “death by drone” requires a declaration of war, and only Congress is empowered to do so. To put these decisions in the hand of individuals terrifies me more than facing the terrorists.

Judge Napolitano, in What Is a Just War?, would seem to agree:

The concept of a just war can induce a debate without end, unless and until we repose the Constitution for safekeeping into the hands of men and women who accept the concept. If we do that, we will bring the troops home and save many lives and much taxpayer money and be free and safe and prosperous. If we don’t, it seems whoever is the president gets to fight whatever wars he wants. Is that what you want?

My conclusion, while it hurts, is Death by Drone” is not a “just war” and is not okay with me! We need to congressionally declare a War on Terror now!

Below the line I give you more from Politics According to the Bible along with links you may find useful. Please use them before you come at me with rants rather than facts.

From Dr. Wayne Grudem’s Politics According To The Bible:

Of course, there are wrong wars such as wars merely for conquest and plunder. How can we tell if a war is right or wrong? During centuries of ethical discussions regarding the question of war, one common viewpoint that developed, with much input from Christian scholars, is the “just war” tradition. That viewpoint argues that a war is morally right (or “just”) when it meets certain criteria. It also argues that there are certain moral restrictions on the way that war can be conducted.

It seems to me that this “just war” tradition, in general, is consistent with biblical teachings about the need for nations to defend themselves against their enemies. Here is a useful recent summary of the criteria for a just war, together with biblical references that support these criteria. I think that these criteria, in general, are consistent with these biblical teachings:

Over time, the just war ethic has developed a common set of criteria that can be used to decide if going to war in a specific situation is right. These include the following: (1) just cause (is the reason for going to war a morally right cause, such as defense of a nation? cf. Rev. 19:11); (2) competent authority (has the war been declared not simply by a renegade band within a nation but by a recognized, competent authority within the nation? cf. Rom. 13:1); (3) comparative justice (it should be clear that the actions of the enemy are morally wrong, and the motives and actions of one’s own nation in going to war are, in comparison, morally right; cf. Rom. 13:3); (4) right intention (is the purpose of going to war to protect justice and righteousness rather than simply to rob and pillage and destroy another nation? cf. Prov. 21:2); (5) last resort (have all other reasonable means of resolving the conflict been exhausted? cf. Matt. 5:9; Rom. 12:18); (6) probability of success (is there a reasonable expectation that the war can be won? cf. Luke 14:31); (7) proportionality of projected results (will the good results that come from a victory in a war be significantly greater than the harm and loss that will inevitably come with pursuing the war? cf. Rom. 12:21 with 13:4); and (8) right spirit (is the war undertaken with great reluctance and sorrow at the harm that will come rather than simply with a “delight in war,” as in Ps. 68:30?).

In addition to these criteria for deciding whether a specific war is “just,” advocates of just war theory have also developed some moral restrictions on how a just war should be fought. These include the following: (1) proportionality in the use of force (no greater destruction should be caused than is needed to win the war; cf. Deut. 20:10–12); (2) discrimination between combatants and noncombatants (insofar as it is feasible in the successful pursuit of a war, is adequate care being taken to prevent harm to noncombatants? cf. Deut. 20:13–14, 19–20); (3) avoidance of evil means (will captured or defeated enemies be treated with justice and compassion, and are one’s own soldiers being treated justly in captivity? cf. Ps. 34:14); and (4) good faith (is there a genuine desire for restoration of peace and eventually living in harmony with the attacking nation? cf. Matt. 5:43–44; Rom. 12:18).1

Grudem, Wayne (2010-09-14). Politics - According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture (pp. 389-390). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

1. “War,” in ESV Study Bible, p. 2555.

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