I recently heard an analogy that caused me to seriously question (not deny but critically evaluate) if I am able to “support the troops but not the war.” As you may, or may not know, I am not in support of the military actions of America in Iraq or Afghanistan. Despite that fact, I have always considered myself a strong supporter of the military and the troops that are obeying orders and dutifully serving.
My ethical quandry is related to the morality of these particular conflicts and those “dutifully” serving. I heard it put this way:
Saying you support the troops but not the war is like saying, during the Civil Rights movement, you support the police who are using the German Shepherds and fire hoses to attack African-Americans but not the policies of discrimination.
What do you think? Is this consistent logic. Should I rethink my classic bifurcation of policy and persons? Is it possible to support the persons carrying out a policy and be morally opposed to the policy itself?
*Note: If I have not been clear, I am seriously trying to evaluate the critique that was leveled against my position. I am very supportive and thankful of those who serve in the armed forces but am trying to honestly, critically, and realistically evaluate my positions. No one should read into this post anything other than what is here. I am not critiquing the military or the troops but merely asking a simple question in regard to my logic.
On the heels of our most recent Independence Day celebration I was contemplating the relationship between the Revolutionary War and the Bible. Paul says in Romans 13:1-7:
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Does America’s War for Independence follow these criteria? Many have argued on both sides of this issue. I see some serious problems with arguing that America was upholding the Biblical mandate during the Revolutionary War. I understand all of the reasons for declaring independence from Great Britain, but none of them could have been more compelling than Paul’s reasons to rebel against the Roman government.
I think I learned a few important lessons from this miniature historical exercise: (1) Do not to glamorize America’s past, realize that God can still bring good from bad. (2) Do not assume that every decision America has made in the name of “life and liberty” is perfect. America is not the standard for right and wrong — that is reserved for the perfect and holy God of the Bible.