Thursday, February 14, 2008

just authority

As an addition to my last post, I'll also say briefly that not only do we disagree with just war proponents on whether it is ever right to harm others, but we also disagree on the issue of authority. And perhaps this is more important, because if we say God has given power over life and death to those in authority in civil governments, then we can follow those governments when they say, "Now it is necessary to override this prima facie obligation against harming others."

But if we say there is no higher authority than God, or some moral force that we feel and know to be true, and the government is not higher than my own conscience's understanding of what is morally required of me, then we cannot override this internal command against not killing.

That's all I'm going to say for now, because I'm in class...don't tell my professor I'm actually interacting with this stuff while he's talking about it!


Anonymous said...

Do we know GOD would never ask
us to go to war? If I believe in continuing revalation, and my belief that I can only know that of GOD that I have been shown, how can I say for sure that he will never ask something of me?(to many thats?)
Just some silly thoughts. I was in a war once and maybe I'm just trying to justify it.


cherice said...


Thanks for your comment. Of course, most people don't think that God would never ask us to go to war, but it's something that Quakers (and other peace churches) generally believe. I personally believe this based on the Bible (especially Matthew 5 and Romans 12) and my own personal experience of God.

I agree that it is theoretically possible that someday God might ask us to go to war--God can do whatever God wants, and who am I to limit God by saying God will never do anything? At the same time, I think God is pure love, and it's hard for me to imagine pure love killing anyone violently, or using violence at all for that matter.

Now, maybe (if you want justification for your action!) sometimes God asks some people to join the armed forces because it's the best option for them at that particular time. This wouldn't necessarily be God's first choice, but given other circumstances it's the best way forward--I don't know. I'm not sure about that, but I do see that sometimes people feel "called" to the armed forces and I won't say for sure that they aren't.

At the same time, I don't think God was joking putting stuff in the Bible like, "Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but repay evil by staying in the good" (Rom 12:21).

I'll let you duke this one out with God as far as justifying your previous actions... =)

But I agree on the continuing revelation part.

Swallowtail said...

To insert my perspective: I think life is basically very simple. People tend to endlessly overanalyze everything until issues become very complicated and muddled. So I always begin from the most basic essence of an issue and look at it from that perspective first.

In the case of murder, I believe it is against God's will for any human to take the life of another human. That doesn't mean that situations will not arise where human life is not taken, it only means that MURDER is wrong.

So it becomes a definition of murder. I'm using a standard accepted definition: the killing of another human being intentionally and with premeditation. The law accepts that self-defense is not murder; however, killing someone because you don't like what they're doing or because they got in the way of what you insisted on doing is murder.

People will always rationalize killing as being justifiable, but it usually isn't.