Monday, September 03, 2007

The church in a militarized society

The fish doesn’t know that he’s wet.

“Can a man who served in a war be considered for elder since he might have killed?” Question asked in Piedras Negras, Mexico, during a training session on elders

“Can a Christian be a policeman?” Question asked in Córdoba, Argentina

This post isn’t about the answer to those questions. (Patrick Mead { } has been doing an interesting study on the question of whether or not a Christian may kill.) This post is about whether or not we ask these kinds of questions. Does living in a militarized society shape our views of Christian life? The obvious, easy answer is yes, but I’m not into obvious, easy answers.

Most countries have some sort of military. In many countries, military service is obligatory. Most who serve in the armed forces around the world will never be involved in combat activities; their military will never be used to fight. That’s not true in this country. For decades, our military has been almost constantly in action, so much so that we take it for granted. The use of force to accomplish goals is a given.

Rather than snap decisions about being pacifists or being pro-military, we need to learn to try and step out of our culture, step out of our current situation, step out of the emotionalism, and look hard at what Scripture has to say. It’s not easy. But it’s necessary. On every issue.

So to start with, give me suggestions on how we, the fish, take a look at things from a non-fish point of view. How do we step out of the water to look at the world around us? Don’t give me the answers yet to war, pacifism, self-protection, etc. Tell me about the process. How do we escape the cage of culture?

I’m going to be traveling a lot in the next few weeks, but I’ll try and stay with this study, stay with this discussion.

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