We’ve been wrestling through a very difficult topic over the past several weeks: one that has forced me to take stock of my own thoughts on the issue of violence and come to different conclusions than what I’ve held in the past and different conclusions than many I respect. To be clear, my conclusions are a matter of personal conscience and do not represent the position of New Life.
It was Preston Sprinkle’s book Fight that provoked this internal battle for me. In his book, Sprinkle argues that most of us have allowed our culture to shape our understanding of the ethics of violence. Sprinkle says that his own perspective on violence was rocked when he approached Scripture and re-considered the ethics of violence. If you haven’t read the first four posts, I would encourage you to read them before reading this post as you will likely dismiss everything from this point forward without considering the biblical record on violence for yourself.
We are certainly about to move into controversial territory. I have no doubt that the vast majority of those who read this blog will disagree with where I land on the issue of violence and the military. I hope you know that I certainly respect your position, and am, if anything, more comfortable with your position than my current position. However, I have felt compelled toward moving toward an ethic of nonviolence over the past months of scriptural study and I would encourage you to consider the matter biblically as well. And if you come to a different conclusion, I invite your dialogue around the issue.
Imagine this: a senior in high school, you stop by a military recruiter’s table at a jobs fair and your interest is piqued: the ability to serve your country, the job stability, and the educational perks are intriguing. Does your conscience allow you to join the military?
I believe this is the most difficult of all of the questions.