555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

497. How Can Christians Justify War?

How do you think Joshua, Gideon, David and other Old Testament saints felt about it? Do you suppose they did not know of the commandment "Thou shalt not kill"? They do not appear to have found any difficulty in reconciling their duty with it. Samuel could scarcely have been ignorant of it, yet he did not hesitate to hew a man to pieces in cold blood (I Sam. 15 33); Saul was blamed for sparing him, as Ahab afterwards was blamed (I Kings 2042) for similar lenity. Elijah appears to have been a good man, yet he butchered 450 men (I Kings 18:40) in spite of the Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." If you insist on literal obedience to the Commandment, we do not see how you can justify the butcher in his trade, since the Commandment (Exodus 20:13) does not limit the prohibition to human life. The ablest authorities agree that the Commandment is to be understood in its spirit It prohibits murder, in the sense in which the word is commonly used. It does not prohibit wars of defense or war in a righteous cause. Men like Washington, Havelock and Chinese Gordon, and Stonewall Jackson, were conscientious men and eminent Christians, yet they went to war without compunction when their duty required it On the other hand war is universally acknowledged as an evil and the logical outcome of evil conditions. It is the duty of the Christian to make war on war and to hasten to bring about peace with all men. The ideal condition is that which is pictured in Is. 24.